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:
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.