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Electoral College: Florida Goes Blue, Romney’s Best Case Now to Lose by 18

Map and chart from the Abulsme.com 2012 Electoral College Prediction page.  Both assume Obama vs Romney with no strong third party candidate.  Both show polling as it currently exists. Things will change before election day. On the map Red is Romney, Blue is Obama, Gold States are too close to call.  Lines on the chart represent how many more electoral votes a candidate would have than is needed to tie under several different scenarios.  Up is good for Obama, Down is good for Romney.

Remember how a few days ago I said things were starting to improve for Romney?  Well, that didn’t last long…

Obama’s lead in the five poll average for Florida increases to over 5%.  It leaves the swing states and moves to “Weak Obama”.  My “best case scenarios” give one candidate or another all of the swing states.  Florida makes a big difference.  So what do things look like now?

Romney Obama
Romney Best Case 260 278
Current Status 210 328
Obama Best Case 170 368

Yes, that is right.  With current state polling, if Romney wins ALL of the states that are close…

He still LOSES 260 to 278.

There are major caveats to give:

  • November is still far away. Romney hasn’t geared up his campaign machine. Important states are not yet being blanketed by advertisements. We haven’t had the conventions yet. Most people aren’t paying attention yet.  News events will change the agenda.  The situation in April is not a good predictor of what will happen in November. Obama has a head start. That is all that can be said.
  • State polling is still sparse. In Florida, five polls goes back to January. Florida is more frequently polled than many others. Some states actually haven’t been polled at all. Until polling ramps up, this projection will lag events.

Despite this, it is remarkable for Obama to be showing this kind of lead. Romney has a lot of work to do. But wait…. haven’t there been polls in the news lately showing Romney ahead? What is going on?

First, never pay attention to individual polls.  Instead look at one of the places that aggregate. Lets look at RCP’s Average. Obama’s lead was usually between 4% and 6% from February until April. It was 5.3% on April 10th. It declined to 2.4% on April 14th. This dip is eight days old. Too short to be picked up in state polls. The projection here is consistent with the lead Obama showed until the last few days. If the new trend is sustained, it will show up in the state results soon.

Second, the president is not elected by popular vote. It doesn’t matter if Obama is ahead in California by a little more or less. Obama will win California. But that will show up in national polls. Popular vote and electoral college will only diverge in close elections, but the election is decided by the electoral college. Look at the popular vote polls as leading indicators, but in the end, look at the electoral college. That is how Presidential elections work.

11 comments to Electoral College: Florida Goes Blue, Romney’s Best Case Now to Lose by 18

  • Bruce Morton

    If Romney wins the popular vote, but loses the general election. We can all say amen to the electoral college.

  • From SC via Facebook:

    Too bad that map does not agree with CBS polling showing an even race 46%-46%.

    18 minutes ago via mobile

  • BM: That’s what they said after 2000. :-) Of course, given the current geographic distribution of support for the two parties, if anything the Electoral College generally will overrepresent red states, so in a close contest where the EC and popular vote go in different directions, generally that will work in favor of the Republican.

    To eliminate the electoral college you would need the support of a significant number of the low population states that would have their influence lessened by such a move. So it has always been a hard sell. The National Popular Vote moment has passed in a number of states already though. Perhaps having two elections go counter to the popular vote in less than 20 years would be enough to tip the balance.

    I think a lot would depend on how big the popular vote margin was for the candidate that lost the electoral vote, and the specific distribution of the electoral collage. It would take quite a lot for the small population states to agree to a change that would effectively eliminate them from relevancy in future presidential elections.

  • From SM via Facebook:

    SC: Did you click through and read my whole post? Or just look at the headline? :-) I specifically addressed the national polling that has been heading in Romney’s direction recently and why that doesn’t show up here. The main relevant bit is that state by state polls are still very sparse. So even in frequently polled states like Florida, when we look at a five poll average (to make sure we’re not swayed by individual poll outliers) we’re looking at the average state of the race over several months. As we get closer to November, the pace of state polls will pick up dramatically. At the moment though for a change in the direction of the race to register on a map like mine, the change has to stay in place long enough for there to be a number of polls in the swing and weakly leaning states. The recent swing toward Romney started in earnest only 8-10 days ago… too recent to show up in the above. The map here is very consistent with the 4% to 6% lead Obama has averaged in the national polls over the last couple of months. If the new trend toward Romney is sustained, my map should show a bunch of states moving in Romney’s direction as new polls are taken in those states over the next few weeks. And if you read some of my earlier posts in this series, you’ll see that is very much anticipated. Now that Romney is able to start concentrating on the General election, the lead Obama built during the primary season will almost certainly diminish.

    2 seconds ago

  • From SC via Facebook:

    So you are presenting this as an accurate and current model but then say the data is sparse.

    Considering unemployment is a half-percent higher than the level it has been for any incumbent President has had while being reelected, it does not appear mathematically that Romney’s best case and Obama’s worst is a more decisive win than Bush had either time.

    2 minutes ago via mobile

  • From SM via Facebook:

    SC: The commentary on my posts when there are changes, and the wiki page that is linked to with every post that contains the details of the methodology are very straightforward about how the model works. It is based on a “last five poll” number for each state, categorizing the states by how big a lead the leading candidate has. Then I lay out three scenarios based on how the close states get split. At this early stage in the race, state by state models will react slowly to events as things play out. As we get closer to November, it will be very reactive and respond to changes within days as the pace of state polls turns from a trickle into a torrent. Also, as I mention pretty frequently, April is not very predictive of November. At this time four years ago, McCain was ahead in a similar analysis. Obama moved 110 electoral votes his direction during the course of the campaign between April and November. If Romney moved 110 votes in his direction from the current state of the model, he would win easily in November. The map and charts show the best we can say looking at current state level polls… which react more slowly than national polls, but better represent the way presidential elections actually work. But there is a LONG way to go before November.

    2 seconds ago

  • From SM via Facebook:

    SC: New Update for Thursday. Some movement toward Romney. :-) http://www.abulsme.com/2012/04/19/electoral-college-obama-weakens-in-wisconsin-new-hampshire-leans-obama/

    2 seconds ago

  • Bruce Morton

    Whoa, a lot of responses for my brief comment.

    Yes. I did read the whole post, I was just contemplating what would happen if 2000 happened again, but with Republicans on the losing end.

    I see what you mean about the rural advantage that the EC brings to close races.

    I’m impressed by your analysis. I look forward to the data as more frequent polls come available.

    I hope you have a large audience. You should.

  • Bruce Morton

    Oh, I get it. You are copying the FB posts. Duh!

  • BC: Yes, the “have you read” was directed at the other commenter on the post. :-) My posts get linked to on Twitter, Facebook and Google+, but I like to make sure the full comment history is here, so if I get any comments in the other places I copy them here, with initials replacing the full names. :-)

    And thanks for the complements. As you can see, some others are less impressed. :-) Both SC on this post and Dodson on Thursday’s update seem very dubious about the approach. What they are mostly seeing though is the fact that because polling is still very sparse, my map will be somewhat slow to respond to changes in the race. As the polls do become more frequent, it will become much more responsive. I very much look forward to the more frequent polls in terms of getting a better grasp of the “now” of the race.

    I do not however look forward to my 20-40 minutes a day updating the data and charts and blog posts for this to grow into the 1-2 hours a day it becomes by late October. (At least that is how it went in 2008… :-) )

  • Oh, and as for audience size… I imagine at the moment I could easily host a dinner party at my house for all my regular readers, and I would recognize most of them on sight. :-) In 2008 when I did this as the election approached the number of visitors I got on my website increased dramatically though. They mostly went away after the election when my blog reverts to its more normal form… mostly pictures of my kids and the occasional book or movie review. :-)

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