Ideally, journalists should be trying to help the public better understand the true state of the race rather than constructing their own narratives. There are important stories to be told about why Romney stopped making gains and what implications that fact has for the final weeks of the campaign, but they can only be told if the media sheds its crude notions of “momentum” and grounds its reporting in the data.

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Brendan Nyhan is an assistant professor of government at Dartmouth College. He blogs at brendan-nyhan.com and tweets @BrendanNyhan.