It may be hard to figure out whether President Barack Obama or GOP nominee Mitt Romney is leading in the presidential race -- but a panel with CNN's chief political correspondent Candy Crowley on "State of the Union" made it clear that it will be a close election.
Republican pollster Bill McInturff said pollsters could not predict who would win based on recent polling, saying the race was "(within) a 1-point margin with ...10 days left" and that it would be "hubris" to predict victory for either candidate. However, McInturff did predict we'll see the largest difference in voting by gender and ethnicity ever in a modern presidential election, with women and minorities supporting Obama. He also dismissed a recent Associated Press poll showing Obama and Romney tied among women voters with 47% each, calling it an "outlier."
That said, McInturff said it was important to look at the trends of the race, noting that Romney has improved in polling in every swing state since the first presidential debate and has kept his gains in almost all of those states since. He also said that Romney was leading with independents in nearly every Ohio poll since the debate and pointed to "historic low" consumer confidence. Based on these factors, said McInturff, the race was moving Romney's way.
Joining McInturff on the panel were Democratic pollster Anna Greenberg and Time magazine Executive Editor Mike Duffy.
Greenberg agreed that the election was hard to predict based on the national polls, but suggested it was a different story based on the average of state polls and early voting. Both of these, said Greenberg, favored Obama. She disagreed that there was a trend toward Romney, saying the polls "have been pretty stable," and thus the ground game was very important.
She also disagreed with McInturff regarding a large gender gap, saying Obama has been "surprisingly competitive" among men while at the same time struggling among women. Only about 51% to 52% of women support the president, said Greenberg, but only 51% of men support Romney.
McInturff said that was "totally wrong," pointing out that Obama was losing among white men by 30 points. He said Obama would lose among men by "a double-digit margin."
Duffy said the only poll that would be believable at this point would be on Election Day, but expressed surprise at how many states seem to be very close. Duffy said the only way something certain could be said about the direction of the race would be "if you froze the race," which is obviously not possible.
However, Duffy pointed out that white men, even those without a college education, were actually helping Obama in Ohio. Duffy attributed the support of these men in Ohio and in other industrial Midwest states to the auto bailout.
"It will be ironic," said Duffy, "if at the end of the day, it's white men who make a difference (for Obama in those states)."
Greenberg agreed with Duffy, but also pointed to those states' economies being better than the national economy.
As for what to expect in the campaign's final days, Duffy said that neither campaign had yet made its closing arguments, as both are still primarily concentrating on attacking each other.
Said Duffy, "(It) tells you just how much further we have to go in 10 days."