An ‘Electoral College’ President?

Many of the news outlets here in the UK continue to predict Mitt Romney as the eventual winner of the 2012 US Presidential Election (Reuters, UK Guardian) but I continue to see a different trend in the data. Just under a week ago, after his strong comeback against Mitt Romney in the second debate, I predicted that the incumbent President would be returned to the White House with 319 electoral votes to Governor Romney’s 219.

Since the third debate, even though instant polls showed Obama having won decisively, many have continued to look at the national picture through the kaleidoscope of just a couple of polls; namely a Gallup and a Rasmussen. Both of these have reported the Mitt Romney had overtaken the President in the national opinion polls and then drawn down conclusions from the national picture to impose on the battleground swing states. A recent article by Clare Kim has suggested that Mitt Romney’s campaign may be artificially inflating their own momentum to try to increase enthusiasm among a flagging Republican base and increasingly disillusioned undecided voters.

My own interpretation of the polls, at state and national level, shows a different picture:

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In this scenario, I predict that Obama will increase his lead to 332 electoral votes against Romney’s diminished 206; carrying the state of Virginia with its 13 electoral college votes and confirming his consolidation of victory in reelection. I also think that, although trending Republican, Colorado will stay Democratic whilst the outfielders within the polls that are painting Florida red are just that; marginal blips at the extremes of the consensus.

The recent poll of likely voters in swing states conducted by Quinnipiac University, The New York Times and CBS News place President Obama twelve points ahead of Governor Romney in Pennsylvania, ten points ahead in Ohio, five points ahead in Virginia, three points ahead in Wisconsin and, more crucially, nine points ahead in Florida. Similarly, the RealClearPolitics poll average places Obama ahead by more than two points in Iowa, Nevada, Wisconsin as well as leading against Mitt Romney in Ohio and New Hampshire. Whilst it does show the two candidates locked in a dead heat, I think the trend of popular opinion towards Obama’s campaign is only likely to gather steam. Especially after former-Republican presidential candidate, and outspoken Obama critic, Donald Trump’s farcical deal offer to the President earlier.

A recent Morning Call / Muhlenberg College opinion poll in Pennsylvania places Obama on 50% of the vote and Romney on 45%; data released this week from Public Policy Polling places Obama ahead in Colorado (50, 47) and a point clear in both Iowa and Virginia (49, 48). SurveyUSA / WFLA-TV had a poll out today that showed the President leading in Nevada by three points and, again critically, ahead in Florida. Another poll, this time from NBC News / Wall Street Journal / Marist had Obama winning in Iowa by eight points and Wisconsin by six points.

All of these state-wide polls reflect data collected in the last seven days; a mixture of pre-debate, post-debate, and combined results. I expect that over the next couple of days we will see in new polling data the effect of the third debate on both the share of the electoral college votes and the remaining number of undecided voters. Given that instant polls after the debate showed that 53% of those watching thought Obama had won compared to 23% for Mitt Romney (there were more undecided voters than supporters of Romney, 24%), the ‘trend to Obama’ continues to gather momentum in the final days of this election.

The pattern continues as more recent national polls show a surge in support for President Obama; a Town Hall poll tracker average has the two candidates ties at 47% each of the national vote and a Reuters/Ipsos poll placed Obama a point ahead 47 to 46%. There are three results from two polls that are of specific interest: a Gallup poll has Obama still behind Romney but with a significantly reduced deficit of only three points; the same poll, considering only registered voters, has Obama pull ahead to a point clear at 48%; and the Reuters/Ipsos poll of earlier, again this time considering only registered voters, has Obama with a four point lead and 46% of the vote.

Whether or not President Obama can cement his lead in the national polls is uncertain; if it were up to the rest of the world, we would surely see Obama reelected with 50% of us favouring the President compared to only 9% in favour of a Romney administration. France, which has at times been the subject of ridicule in (Republican) America, was the country most in favour of retaining a Democrat in the White House with 72% of the public voting for Obama.

What is clear is that President Obama’s pathway to victory is straight and narrow; he has a variety of different paths along which he can walk to victory against an electoral arithmetic nightmare for Governor Romney. It would take a monumental upset in Obama’s campaign, or a significant upturn in Romney’s, for the Republicans to retake the presidency; it would be a taste of revenge for the Democrats if Romney were denied the White House in a similar manner to Gore in 2000.

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14 thoughts on “An ‘Electoral College’ President?

  1. I would be considered a true fence-sitter in this election. I know several people within both campaigns (somewhat close to inner circle of both candidates oddly enough). Although they obviously view some data differently, there are points of agreement within both campaigns as well. Privately both are in close agreement that Fla is lost for the Democrats. The state of Colorado is now seen as lost for the Democratic party as well. Republican projections show Virginia to be Republican by early next week. Democratic sources are not completely sold on that but best number I have heard is 60-40 chance it goes Republican.
    Both parties privately agree Nevada is going to be Democrat as will Pennsylvania. However several Republican strategists are not as convinced yet. Probably the same situation as Virginia for the Democrats.
    If this holds up statistically, Mitt Romney needs only Ohio to become President. As there is a lot of conjecture from both sides I can say that Republicans I have spoken with are very pleased with the numbers they see thus far. Their projections have Romney winning the state by 2% on election night barring an unforeseen game changing event which is unlikely at this juncture.
    To be fair, Democratic strategists are still bullish on Ohio but a fraction of them are aware of the numbers which their Republican counterparts are speaking of and are really trying to step up the pace with their advertising. Should be interesting to follow, not sure who will be victorious but were I a betting man I would have to say 52-48 Mitt Romney is the next President.
    Just one man’s thoughts.

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  3. Wow…Mr. Ben in the previous post is a great example of the great DELUSION SICKNESS afflicting the Repugnant…I mean Republican party. The ONLY way the Repugs have even a atomical chance of winning the presidency is if they pull their 2000 scam on not only Florida, but Va, Ia, Co, and most especially Ohio.

    Unfortunately for the Repugs, Obama is WAY too smart for that trick to succeed twice.

    There is ABSOLUTELY no chance in this election (or any others) for Romoremoney. In fact, I am going on record (and from sources deep within BOTH campaigns) that Obama is expected to CRUSH this election with AT LEAST 320 electoral votes in a mandate-handing landslide victory.

    The reason is simple: the Rupugnant…I mean Republican party, already marginalized, has completely destroyed itself by allowing the tea party wackos to take control. The amazing tipping point of these is when the Repug leadership in the House or Reps came out and stated that their number 1 goal was to oppose the president…Wow! Can you imagine that? A president trying mightily (and succeeding greatly) to fix a country totally screwed by another Repug jackass.

    Another tipping point of the extinction of the Repugs is their requirement that each of their members sign a pledge to some demagogue never to raise taxes for the rich. Sickening.

    It will be so much fun watching the landslide that occurs on Nov 6, when this country finally tells this party full of self loathing, racist, women hating cave dwelling inbreeds to screw itself, and then go straight to hell…

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    • Wow! Somebody needs a nap huh? I have voted for members of both parties over the years and have no leanings one way or the other. I would tend to disagree with your assertion that our current President is some sort of a miracle worker as his record can be interpreted as paltry at best with many of his policies being highly unpopular amongst the populace. But Mitt Romney does not do much either to really stir emotions that things will get better with his leadership. Many people are disenchanted with both options and really wish a true leader could emerge from one of the parties.
      There are several ways this election could break on Nov 6th. But one is probably not an Obama landslide as you suggest. I think you would be hard pressed to find a person within Democratic circles who feels this as well. Most likely is really tight with Ohio really proving to be the tipping state. There are many numbers from both sides stating why they will win that state so in essence nobody really knows for sure.
      Let’s discuss election results in a bit more positive manner perhaps on the 7th regardless of the elected candidate.
      Work for you Jack?

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      • I like the sound of the discussion on the 7th; I’ve booked the day off work so I can follow the live coverage on the 6th (on far too late here in the UK for me to do otherwise).

        In the meantime, keep following and discussing :)

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  5. Ben…I appreciate your calm tone…however with all due respect, your statement that you and the country are seeking a “true leader” smacks of the same Repugnant…I mean Republican, racist belief that a non white can never be a “true leader” as you put it.

    You are kidding right?

    If converting the steaming pile of crap Obama was given when he took office by “true leader” George W Bush to the current greatly improving conditions is not leadership, then what is? Perhaps you would prefer the “true leadership” in countries such as Spain, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Ireland, etc? The fact that you are sitting comfortably in your house somewhere with the peace of mind to access the internet and type whatever you want, and not on some breadline somewhere with your stomach rumbling is testament to the AMAZING TRUE LEADERSHIP of Barack Obama. And unbelievably, he has achieved all this DESPITE the stated contemptible and treasonous efforts of your pals – the racist, and woman-hating Repugnant…I mean Republican part to block his every move (Wouldn’t Thomas Jefferson be proud? The founder of the Repugs would undoubtedly be a Democrat today and is surely turning in his grave..)

    Whether you like it or not, Ben, Obama will be seen as THE GREATEST, if not one of the greatest presidents this country has EVER had.

    It’s truly amazing that the Repugnant…I mean Republican party would rather see this country sink than allow it to be saved by anybody who looks different than them. Well, Ben, take a seat, get some popcorn, and enjoy the entertainment as Obama does just that in his 2nd term (alas, to the frustration of the Repugs)

    The ONLY future hope for this country beyond Obama is that the Rupugnant…I mean, Republican party CONTINUES to be marginalized, eventually becoming extinct, and hopefully replaced by another party such as the Libertarians.

    November 6 will be the first sign of this as Obama wins in a LANDSLIDE, taking practically EVERY swing state, AND the Dems amazingly recover their filibuster proof 60+ Senate seats.

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    • Wow Jack, settle down there. I’d like to apologize to Ben for the childish response here, and reply from a more reasonable, leftish perspective. I think Tommy’s prediction is a bit too bullish on Obama (i’d love to picture a landslide and a filibuster proof senate, but it isn’t going to happen). Florida is *probably* lost to Obama by about a 2-1 margin. However, polls hold steady albeit small leads in Ohio – putting him at about a 3-1 margin there. Not coincidentally, that’s probably the margin for the whole race: Obama 75%, Romney 25%. This is not my predictions but that of a far greater stats whizkid – Nate Silver. Tommy obviously reads and comments on this blog, and is probably heavily influenced by Nate’s analysis. See his most recent blog post here: fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com

      It looks like there might be a split EV/NPV return this year with a 49/48 Romney NPV win, but a 281-257 EV split for Obama. I give Obama OH, IA, NV, and NH, and Romney Fl, CO, VA, NC. This would reflect a country who’s closest polls – VA and CO break for Romney b/c of the National Poll advantage, but that Obama’s inherent state advantage in OH, IA, NV, and NH absorbs the 1 point deficit nationally and still remains ahead. While I support NPV going forward, it’ll certainly be a sweet taste of revenge from 2000 if that’s how it breaks this year. And yes, Ben, I would love to debate Nov 7th.

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  6. Pingback: Governor Chris Christie – Obama champion-in-chief? | Tommy Gilchrist's Blog

  7. I am inclined to agree. But I think your interpretation is a little off on the American character. Debates 2 and 3 significantly improved Obama’s numbers, but not nearly to the degree that Debate 1 shredded them. Americans like (not love) winners, but they despise losers, particularly when someone loses due to his own lack of preparation. If it is the sort of blowout you predict, it will be because of Obama’s response to Hurricane Sandy. Americans want their government to care about them as well as help them, and Obama takes that to be part of his job. Many Presidents haven’t. A similar rise in fortunes occurred after Bill Clinton’s response to the Oklahoma City bombing. Such things shift the perceptions of the occupant of the office from “the President” to “our President”. Try as I might, I can’t imagine any British PM having this happen them.

    Joseph Marshall

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    • In Britain we don’t tend to rally around the PM as much as Americans do the President, (y)our President. Although an example might be Margaret Thatcher’s 1983 general election victory for the Conservatives which saw an increase in seats in the House of Commons for government MPs of 58 despite an overall swing away from the Tories of 1.5%.

      This was widely attributed to Mrs Thatcher’s magnificent performance over the Falkland Island crisis (back off Fernández) and Labour’s manifesto (including leaving the European Economic Community, abolishing the House of Lords, abandoning the United Kingdom’s nuclear deterrent by cancelling Trident and removing cruise missiles) being called the ‘longest suicide note in history’,

      Also – don’t forget, the President is your Head of State. Ours is Her Majesty The Queen who in her Diamond Jubilee year is enjoying an approval rating of 89%.. any American Head of State would kill for those kinds of figures!

      And yes I know she doesn’t do much ;)

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      • The sense I get from reading about Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, and Elizabeth’s coronation is that the Sovreign doesn’t just head the state, she embodies it. There are certainly other reasons, but the movements for independence in Scotland and Wales seem to me to be due, in part, to the eclipse of the Sovreign as a presence there, leaving them isolated from a (no longer truly) United Kingdom. Some of this resonates with the fairly recent shift in usage of “the UK” instead of Great Britain, a feeling of a loss of touch with Sovreignty itself by the people. When people spoke of Great Britain, it implied that a Scotsman and (say) a Yorkshireman were two different varieties of essentially the same people and this link appears to be almost gone.

        At least it looks so from this far perspective. As a Republic, some of the constant American restlessness comes, on some deep level, from an emotional void whose place is filled for you by the Queen.

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