Most of the recent polls have shown John McCain increasing his support – and closing the gap – in New Hampshire. Romney’s lead, once near 20%, has dwindled down into single digits. To many, this might sound like a good reason for Romney supporters to panic, but I don’t think we need to start running for the exits just yet.
Much of McCain’s recent rise can probably be attributed to the wave of endorsements McCain received over the past week, mostly from Newspapers, but also from Sen. Lieberman. These endorsements have gotten McCain’s name back in the headlines, and allowed him to focus on only the positive aspects of his record. Unfortunately for McCain, however, I believe that he lacks both the time and the resources that would be necessary to capitalize on these endorsements in a big way.
Also, mostly because of the endorsements, McCain has had a much better week than Romney. A debacle over a civil rights march in which George Romney and MLK may or may not have marched together also took up some of his time. I’m not going to get into that, because there is really a real lack of evidence on either side. Through all of that, Romney’s numbers have remained solid, with little or no drop. Once McCain stops having his name on the front page of every paper (which has probably already happened), I expect his numbers to fall back down.
Another thing that is not usually mentioned is the number of other questions asked in the course of a poll and their results. At least in New Hampshire, these other questions show good news for Romney. Firstly, almost half of New Hampshire voters are still not set in their choice. Secondly, of those who are set in their choice, a larger number favor Romney than any other candidate. Thirdly, when you combine 1st and 2nd choice picks, Romney usually leads, and fourthly, Romney leads when it comes to important questions like “who do you think can beat the Democrats?” and “who do you think is the strongest leader?”, or even “who do you think has new ideas for Washington?”. So what does all that mean? Well, it means that some people will change their mind, and that, when they do, Romney has the best chance of picking them up.
Finally, and this kind of ties into the last question, this week is Christmas, and, at least for the next four days, more people are probably going to be thinking about gifts and dinner than elections. Once the Christmas holiday passes, people will start to pick their favorite candidate, the one who they are going to vote for, and, at least if some of the questions mentioned above are any indication, I expect Romney to gain some new supporters.
We will see what happens, but at this point, like I said, I don’t see any reason to start worrying yet. We should have a clearer picture of where this race stands after Christmas.