By RONNIE ELLIS
Mike Duncan doesn’t get too high or too low as presidential polls bounce around.
The chairman of the Board of American Crossroads, former Chairman of the Republican National Committee and Inez banker, “takes the long view when it comes to polls.”
“I think the race is still a toss-up,” Duncan said Thursday morning from Lexington before heading here for that night’s debate between vice presidential candidates Republican Paul Ryan and Democrat Joe Biden.
He’s not surprised the polls have tightened and in some cases shown Republican nominee Mitt Romney ahead of President Barack Obama after last week’s presidential debate. But he’s not too excited either.
“I never thought the race got out of hand as the national media thought it did,” Duncan said of polls before the debate showing Obama widening the gap with Romney.
“I’ve always thought this race was within the margin of error,” he said. “Last week, I didn’t get giddy but our numbers at American Crossroads never showed the race much outside the margin of error in those key swing states.”
Those are states like Ohio, Florida, and Virginia, the states where Duncan and both campaigns expect the race to be won or lost.
Duncan expects a good debate between Republican congressional budget expert Ryan and the populist Democratic Vice President Joe Biden. Ryan, he said, “first has to show he could be president of the United States, show he’s got command of the issues.”
He pointed out Biden is an experienced debater who many thought won several debates during the 2008 Democratic presidential primary. Duncan also doesn’t buy into the image Democrats want to paint of Ryan as “extreme” or “radical.”
“I don’t buy into that — that’s just wishful thinking by Democrats,” Duncan said. “Paul Ryan is a very effective member of Congress who knows the budget and understands the revenue and expense sides. I think all of that will come through tonight in the debate.”
Ryan, Duncan pointed out, remains popular in his Wisconsin congressional district, a district won by Obama in the 2008 general election.
Duncan is also the new president and CEO of the American Coalition for Clean Coal and Energy, a group that has been running heavy advertising on national television in support of coal.
Inez, Duncan’s home, is in the heart of Kentucky’s Appalachian coal region and Duncan hopes coal will be part of Thursday’s debate discussion.
“I’m very hopeful that our energy policy is part of the discussion tonight,” Duncan said.
The coal industry has consistently opposed Obama and his Democratic supporters in Congress and Obama has conceded major coal states like Kentucky and West Virginia to Romney.
But the issue remains important in southeast Ohio and in Virginia and Duncan said those two key swing states will be affected by the two candidates’ opposing views on coal.
RONNIE ELLIS writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort