Sunday, October 28, 2012

Late October Polling Update - Presidential Contest

Mitt Romney's momentum has stopped, speaketh Lord Silver from his throne inside the Castle of the Gray Lady.  And the high lord of poll analysis was right -- it has been a pretty good polling week for Barack Obama overall.  The following graphs show the median of the active independent polls in each of the presidential battleground states.  I'll do the senate races in a separate post.

The presidential election will come down to these 11 states.  Last week I ran down the numbers from the perspective of Mitt Romney, so in the interest of fairness I will do it from Barack Obama's perspective this time.  His baseline is 201 electoral votes.

Michigan (O+5) (based on 7 active polls) - Michigan remains unchanged from last week, as only one (outlier) poll by Baydoun/Foster was done this week.  That poll showed an improbable tie in Michigan, but the pollster has a 3.2 point Republican-leaning house effect, second in magnitude only to Susquehanna in my database.


Pennsylvania (O+4.5) (based on 10 active polls) - Pennsylvania remains mostly aspirational for Mitt Romney.  Five polls released this week in Pennsylvania ranged from Obama +3 to Obama +6.  With Michigan and Pennsylvania looking like they're in the bag for Obama, his electoral vote total becomes 237.


Ohio (O+4) (based on 17 active polls) - There are varying definitions for swing state, but they all include this one.  Nate Silver's computers say that Ohio has a 50-50 chance of deciding the election, which basically means it's as important as all the other states combined.  This is great news for Obama.  

Nine polls were published about Ohio this week, and Mitt Romney wasn't leading in any of them.  The last two polls that had showed a Romney lead came from ARG (R +2.3) and Gravis Marketing (R +3.1); both firms have done more recent polls showing either a tie (Gravis) or a 2 point Obama lead (ARG).  Adding 18 more electoral votes to the total, Obama has 255, 15 to go.

Wisconsin (O+4) (based on 7 active polls) - It would seem that the presidential race in Ohio would be closer than Wisconsin or Iowa judging by all the polling done in the Buckeye State, but all three of them show similar numbers.  Three polls were released in Wisconsin this week.  The latest one released on Friday showed a tie, but it was a Rasmussen poll (R +2.6).


Iowa (O+3) (based on 7 active polls) - Gravis Marketing (R +3.1) and PPP (D +0.5) apparently switched names just for their Iowa polling this week.  PPP showed Romney up 1 point last weekend, while Gravis just released a poll showing Obama up 4, which was only their third poll out of 23 in my database to show a spread bluer than the median.  With Wisconsin and Iowa, Obama would have 271 electoral votes and a second term. But he'll win at least one more state.


Nevada (O+3) (based on 8 active polls) - No 3-point margin has ever felt safer for Obama than his lead in Nevada.  Five new polls this week all showed slender leads for Obama, and it's a lead that just makes sense given the demographics of the state and the recent election history.  With Nevada, Obama would have 277 electoral votes.


New Hampshire (O+1) (based on 7 active polls) - New Hampshire had four new polls this week: two showed a change in Obama's favor from previous polls, one showed a change in Romney's favor from a previous poll, and one was a new entry that showed a 3-point Obama win.  If Obama were to pull off a victory in this Democratic-leaning state, he would have 281 electoral votes.


Virginia (O+0.5) (based on 12 active polls) - Just this evening Virginia tilted to Obama for the first time in 9 days based not only on the 4-point Obama margin in the Washington Post poll but also on the latest poll from Gravis Marketing exterminating an older poll showing Romney up five. Virginia is the last state I show Obama winning as of right now, and it would give him 294 electoral votes.

North Carolina (R+0.5) (based on 8 active polls) - North Carolina suffers from partisan polling divergence, similar to the Pennsylvania senate race.  You can see from the chart that there are two pollsters (Rasmussen and Gravis) that show Romney's support well over 50% in the Tarheel State.  ARG showed Romney's support back in September right at 50%, and there was one Civitas poll that had Romney's support at 53% in early September (a new Civitas poll put it at 48% this week).  The one firm that does not have a Republican bias that has polled North Carolina at all this month is North Carolina-based PPP, which has this race tied.  Yet most other poll aggregators show North Carolina as Romney country, with Obama having a better shot at winning Florida than at winning North Carolina.  I don't agree, and I wish we could see some updated polling numbers from Marist and Survey USA that could back this up.  It may be moot to the electoral college, but I think Romney will win North Carolina by less than 2 points if he wins it at all, and it certainly less than the 6-point and 8-point margins Rasmussen and Gravis are showing.


Colorado (R+1) (based on 10 active polls) - Four new polls came out this week, and they were literally all over the place.  Rasmussen had Romney by 4, but PPP had Obama by 4.  The trend in three of them though favored Romney, while the fourth (PPP) only barely favored Obama (+3 to +4).  Therefore Colorado moved from a tie last week to Romney +1 this week.

Florida (R+1) (based on 15 active polls) - Five new polls came out this week, and Obama was ahead in none of them (though he did manage a tie in the Pharos Research Group poll if you round to the nearest whole percent).  One glimmer of hope for Obama is that the latest poll that came out (Rasmussen) showed a three point swing from the week before towards Obama.  If Obama wins all these 11 battleground states, he will have 347 electoral votes.

After Florida, there is a steep jump to the next nearest state (Arizona, R+8), so I feel pretty confident that the universe of potential Obama victories has a rigid ceiling at 347 electoral votes.  

I will have more on the Senate races tomorrow. 

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