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2012: Lower expectations

Latest polls: USA Today/Gallup Swing State: Romney 51-46% among likely voters. Obama leads 49-47% among registered voters. In a Center for Rural Strategies poll, among rural voters in swing states, Romney leads 59-37%. McCain won the group 53-45%. States: PA: Obama leads by just 4 in Quinnipiac, 50-46%, and Muhlenberg, 49-45%.

Debate expectations are lower for Obama this tie around. By 41-37% this time, people think Obama will do better than Romney in a Pew survey. Before the first debate, that margin was 51-29%.

“As the presidential polls get tighter and more volatile down the final stretch, the fights over those polls are growing only louder and more complex,” the Wall Street Journal writes. “Latest case in point: a Gallup/USA Today poll of the top battleground states, which has Mitt Romney up over President Barack Obama by four percentage points among all likely voters, and tied among women. … If accurate, the poll reflected a dramatic collapse in Obama support in swing states, and all the more so among women voters, which have long been a core plank in his coalition. So the Obama campaign swiftly shot back, disputing Gallup’s methodology. In a memo distributed to reporters, Obama pollster Joel Benenson called the poll ‘an extreme outlier, defying the trends in every other battleground and national poll.’”

The New York Times: “Now Democrats Suggest Polling Is Flawed.”

The L.A. Times points out there are two other trends happening below the essentially tied horse race: “One trend shows an improving image for Romney. The other shows a continued improvement in how voters judge the state of the nation.”