Posts Tagged ‘swing states’

Romney Doesn’t Have The Mojo

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

Well, here we are.

After all of the blood, sweat, tears and trash talk, the election is one and a half days away. I don’t think a day has gone by in the last four months in which I didn’t check the polls for the day. Real Clear Politics is the biggest aggregator of polls in the country, and I’m on that website every day despite their obvious Republican bias. One thing you do get from Real Clear Politics, is a sense of how different news sources provide alternate realities. The Republican flacks have all come out to predict their candidate’s victory on Tuesday. To read Michael Barone and Dick Morris, we are headed to a Mitt Romney Electoral College landslide. Even George Will, an Obama hater to be sure, but at least someone who has been intellectually honest in the past, predicted a Romney Electoral College victory of 321 to 217 (including Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Nevada, and New Hampshire). 

I do find that the Left is more intellectually honest in their analyses of the situation, but then again, they have had the numbers in their favor for the last year. Statistician and election prognosticator Nate Silver has been a target of the Right lately because his model has consistently been predicting an Electoral College win for President Obama. Currently, his model is forecasting an 85% chance of President Obama winning the Electoral College. Do I think that Barack Obama is an 85% favorite in this race? I’d say that’s aggressive, but it’s very difficult to argue that he is not the favorite.

When you are winning an argument, you don’t need to jump up and down to mke your points. You usually just need to calmly recite the facts. Silver has done exactly that over the past few days and in the process has made a very convincing case for an upcoming Obama victory. The key to the Obama victory is what has been called his “Electoral College Firewall,” comprised of Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa and/or Nevada. The theory in a few sentences: in the week and a half after the first debate, Mitt Romney caught up in Colorado and Virginia and took a narrow lead in Florida, but his gains were not enough to overtake Obama in enough states to win the Electoral College. The easiest path for Mitt Romney to flip this result are winning either Ohio or Wisconsin, and Iowa or Nevada. Even with a win in Ohio or Minnesota, he’s not guaranteed victory unless he can hold Virginia and Florida (and in some scenarios Colorado). 

Looking at Ohio specifically, Real Clear Politics currently has Obama up by 2.9%. Republicans pundits argue that this result is within the margin of error of most individual polls, and that makes it a tossup, but this ignores the fact that across 12 Ohio polls in the last week and a half, Romney has not led in one.  One pollster had him down by only one and Rassmussen (a notoriously Republican biased pollster) has it a tie. This is not what a tied race looks like. If you want to see an actual tie, look at Virginia, where Obama and Romney often switch leads by a point or two, depending on the pollster and date of the polls.

Silver looks at Romney’s momentum in the swing states over the past few weeks and concludes that, if anything, Obama’s firewall is solidifying in these states:

There were 12 polls published on Wednesday among Iowa, Nevada, Ohio and Wisconsin. Mr. Obama held the lead in 11 of the 12 surveys… On average, Mr. Obama led in the polls of these states by 3.9 percentage points.    

In a more broad based look at the race from Thursday, Silver takes on the pundits that argue Romney is ahead or that the race is a tossup. He basically demolishes the arguments that Mitt Romney has been showing any momentum since his post-Denver debate bounce, as well as the idea that undecideds usually break for the challenger (they have in some elections, but not in the past 3 presidential elections). This really only leaves two options: either the state polls are getting it completely wrong, or Obama is a very big favorite to win. It’s not impossible that the polls are wrong, but it seems exceedingly unlikely that so many polls showing the same thing can be that far off.   

My take on this? In order to unseat an incumbent, you need to make the case for two main things:  1) the incumbent needs to be fired, and 2) you’re a better alternative. There’s certainly an argument that Romney and Co have been successful at the first. Although Obama is close to 50% approval, the popular vote is too close to call, and I get the sense that most of the country would be at least open to a change in leadership. But while Mitt Romney may have done a good job of convincing the country that Barack Obama might not be a great leader, most people look at Romney and don’t believe that he is a credible alternative. The reasons for this are myriad, but they include the complete demolishing of Romney’s business record by the Obama campaign, the ideological contortions that we all witnessed him go through in order to get the Republican nomination and the fact that he just doesn’t seem like a guy that most Americans will want to see on their TVs for the next four years.

I don’t take anything for granted and an upset is still possible, but it’s looking less and less likely that Romney has the mojo to turn this around in the next 40 hours.

Can Romney Swing Iowa?

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

John Dickerson’s profiles  Iowa in Salon.com.

Iowa was the emotional center of the 2008 Obama campaign. The state launched him when he beat Hillary Clinton in the caucuses. Obama went on to win the general election in Iowa by 10 percentage points, but that margin of victory was out of character for the state. President Bush narrowly won Iowa by 10,000 votes in 2004 after having lost it by less than 5,000 votes in 2000. Now, like the rest of the country, Iowa is reverting back to its normal condition—a 50/50 state with narrow electoral margins.

In the most recent NBC Electoral College analysis, they have Iowa as Lean Republican, which may be a stretch, but they feel that the avalanche of negative attacks on Obama in the months leading up to the Republican Caucuses and Republican takeovers of the Iowa legislature and Governorship in 2010 gives an edge to the Romney in a tight contest. Also, Dickerson cites the importance of the debt to Iowan’s and the fact that Romney has a significant advantage when asked who would do a better job on the issue. Among Obama’s advantages in Iowa are his ground game (which could be decisive in a close swing state) as well as (surprisingly) the economy. Unemployment is 5.2% in Iowa, which is well below the national average  (an advantage that Obama has in Virginia and New Hampshire as well). 

Current polls show a tossup in Iowa, and the stakes are high for the president. He can win without Iowa, but a loss in the state would mean that he would need to carry states like Virginia or Ohio, both of which went to Obama by smaller margins than Iowa in 2008.

Virginia, Virginia, Virginia?

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

It’s been a rough couple of weeks for President Obama, starting with the anemic jobs report, continuing with the Wisconsin recall, and culminating with the continuing coverage of his gaffe about the private sector. Along with the stumbles has come a tightening of an already tight race.

A close look at the polls shows an interesting trend. While Obama’s support seems to have slipped a little bit, Romney has been thus far unable to pickup those votes. It almost seems like the jobs numbers have caused a few people along the margins to reconsider their support for Obama, but not quite bring themselves to make the jump to Romney.

While Obama still maintains a lead in the Electoral College, the President has begun to see some swing state slippage. For the first time this year, Romney has pulled ahead of Obama in two Ohio polls and one poll even showed him winning in Michigan (which still seems very doubtful to me).

By contrast, the president seems to be maintaining his lead in Virginia, which could turn out to be key to his re-election. To understand why, let’s begin with the Al Gore’s 2004 map (you can follow along at 270towin.com), giving the president the Midwest states of Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan, Gore’s Northeastern states from DC to Maine, then throw in New Hampshire (which went for both Kerry and Obama) and New Mexico. This gives the president a base of 257 electoral votes. Now give him Colorado and Nevada (both of which show tight races,  but also bucked the national trend in 2010 mostly on the strength of Latino voters). This gets Obama to 272, and a win.

But let’s suppose that Romney makes inroads in one of the Midwestern states, or that Obama can’t pickup Colorado or Nevada. Virginia gives him the cushion to lose both Nevada and Colorado, Wisconsin, or some combination of Iowa, New Hampshire or the Southwest states. In short, Virginia could provide the insurance that Obama needs if he finds his easiest path blocked. Of course, if Obama wins either Ohio or Florida, it’s pretty much over for Romney and vice-versa for Obama in Michigan.

Scott Conroy breaks down the Virginia race in Real Clear Politics this week, noting that growth of Fairfax county as a suburb of Washington DC and a recent influx of immigrants that came with it has made Northern Virginia look more like a Northern state and proved fertile ground for Democrats (Obama beat McCain 61% to 39% in Fairfax County on the way to a 6 point victory in Virginia). Obama seems to have the early edge in organizing and ground game, but Republicans are hoping that the new turnout model that propelled Governor Bob “Trans-vaginal Ultrasound” McDonnell to victory in 2010. A tight Senate race between George Allen and Tim Kaine also promises to drive turnout and keep the focus on the state.

All reasons that, on election night, it could come down to Virginia, Virginia, Virginia.