Final poll numbers are coming out in the few days before the election. There’s a good recap of the numbers by Political Wire here and here. The signs are not looking good for Team Romney, according to Taegan Goddard’s Twitter account:

  • Movement toward Obama in nearly every national poll released today.
  • Latest USA Today/Gallup poll of 12 swing states shows a tie. Romney held a four point lead a month ago.
  • 18 new swing state polls today so far. Romney leads in just 4.
  • Publicly, the Romney campaign is bullish about its chances on Tuesday, as evidenced by surrogates who appeared on the Sunday morning talk shows today. However, when granted anonymity, they tend to hedge their bets:

    CBS News:

    Romney’s advisers know it’s now anyone’s guess. “A knife fight in the phone booth,” is a phrase you hear a lot. One adviser this morning was even more candid: “I’m not saying (Mr. Obama) is definitely going to lose.”

    But the advisers see comparable concern and tension in the Obama campaign, for all of its own outward displays of confidence.

    “We’re the challengers. We always knew we could lose,” one aide told me here in Dubuque. “They never contemplated they could lose.”

    The Associated Press:

    But Ryan’s biggest boosters realize he probably can write his own ticket, win or lose on Nov. 6.

    These Ryan allies spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private proposals they were preparing for him. They insist Ryan is not worried about anything beyond the election and is not planning anything except being a governing partner to Romney.

    They say that if he fails, Ryan’s instincts will be to return to the House — he is running for re-election to his House seat at the same time he’s Romney’s running mate — and resume his role as Budget Committee chairman.

    Some senior Republicans caution it might not be that easy.

    If Romney loses, Ryan will be seen as a leading White House contender in 2016. He will be a national party figure even without being a top member of the House leadership. That could breed resentment among current Republican leaders and perhaps splinter coalitions within the already fractured GOP alliances at the top of the House.

    A return also would make Ryan a leading target for Democrats. For the next few years, Democrats would lay traps in legislation, forcing him to take sides on measures that could come back to haunt him during a presidential bid.

    That is why some of Ryan’s biggest boosters are considering whether it wouldn’t be better for Ryan to resign from the House. He could write a book — “saving America” is a theme often bandied about — or teach at a university.

    After all, on the campaign trail, Ryan is as much lecturer as campaigner. Aides routinely set up giant video screens so Ryan can use visual aids to walk audiences through the minutiae of budget politics. Graphs and charts are as common as yard signs and American flags at some events, with Ryan settling into his role as explainer in chief.

    It’s no accident he embraces the “wonk” label aggressively. It could make him an attractive figure as a guest lecturer or visiting professor.

    Or Ryan could set up an office at a Washington think tank and focus on issues that interest him. That would give him a platform to shape public policy without the frustrations of electoral politics.

    Republicans are also preemptively blaming Sandy for a possible Romney loss on Tuesday. See these comments from Karl Rove in the Washington Post:

    “If you hadn’t had the storm, there would have been more of a chance for the [Mitt] Romney campaign to talk about the deficit, the debt, the economy. There was a stutter in the campaign. When you have attention drawn away to somewhere else, to something else, it is not to his [Romney’s] advantage,” Rove told The Washington Post.

    Rove, who served as George W. Bush’s deputy White House chief of staff, said that in the wake of the storm, there are “advantages and a minor disadvantage” for the president as well as a “subtle disadvantage to Romney.”

    “Obama has temporarily been a bipartisan figure this week. He has been the comforter-in-chief and that helps,” Rove said. The slight disadvantage for Obama, Rove said, “is that people in Eastern coastal communities are going to be preoccupied by issues of getting food to eat and having a roof over their heads; some of them won’t be thinking as much about the election.” But he conceded that those people reside in the Northeast, and not in the battleground states most likely to decide the election.

    Anonymous Romney aides to CBS News:

    Campaign sources concede superstorm Sandy stalled Romney’s momentum. For eight straight days, polls showed him picking up support. The campaign’s internal polling, which is using different turnout models than most public polls, had him on solid ground in Florida, Virginia, North Carolina and Iowa. He had a slight lead or was tied in Ohio, New Hampshire and Wisconsin and was in striking distance in Pennsylvania, a state Republicans hadn’t won since Ronald Reagan in 1984.

    Coming off the pivotal first debate, the campaign pushed the message that the 2008 Barack Obama of hope and change had become the 2012 President Obama of divide and destroy, making the campaign about small things — Big Bird and binders — at a time the nation had big challenges. It resonated with voters in those swing states.

    But then came something very big: a natural disaster that left a path of death and destruction on the East Coast. Suddenly, there was little talk about small things.

    Those leads in Florida, Virginia, North Carolina and Iowa still hold in the internal polls, campaign sources say, but Romney’s movement flattened out or, as the campaign likes to say, “paused.” Nevada is now off the table, and those neck-and-neck swing states are even tighter.

    Haley Barbour on CNN:

    (CNN) – Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour on Sunday argued Superstorm Sandy not only wreaked havoc on the Northeast this week, but blunted Mitt Romney’s campaign as well.

    “The hurricane is what broke Romney’s momentum. I don’t think there is any question about it,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

    Barbour, a Republican, said the barrage of news coverage surrounding the storm replaced the political debate in the final days leading up to the election. He added, however, he doesn’t blame the media for covering the storm.

    “Any day that the news media is not talking about jobs or the economy, taxes or spending, deficit and debt, Obamacare and energy, is a good day for Barack Obama,” he continued, adding the news “blackout” on those issues has helped the president.

    “Whether it will be good enough remains to be seen,” he said.

    Also, Bush 2004 strategist Matthew Dowd on the three signs a campaign is losing:

    DOWD: …every time you feel a losing campaign, these three things happen. The first thing happens is, don’t believe — the public polls are wrong. That’s the first sign of a campaign that’s about to lose. The second thing, we’re going to change the nature of the electorate, and you’re not seeing it reflected in the polls. And the third thing is, the only poll that counts is Election Day. When you hear those things, you know you’re about to lose.

    Bottom line: if your side is preemptively making excuses or telegraphing the running mate’s backup plans before the election, odds are you’re going to lose. I’ll publish my pre-election predictions in the next day or two.

    Update: From Nate Silver: Between national + battleground state polls so far today: 29 Obama leads, 3 Romney leads, 5 ties.

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