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Electoral College: Michigan Swings!

Chart and map 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.

One state changing status today, and it is a big one heading in Romney’s direction…

So Michigan, where as recently as the end of May, Obama’s lead in the five poll average had been more than 10%, is now too close to call as Obama’s lead falls below 5%.  The state is still leaning Obama, but with the five poll average at an Obama lead of only 4.8%, that lead could disappear overnight with the right combination of events.

This change in Michigan has been very dramatic.  In fact, the rapidity with which Obama’s lead in Michigan collapsed should be a reminder than things can and do sometimes change quickly.   It is tempting to say in retrospect that the two polls in February showing Obama with 15%+ leads in February may have been outliers… without them the drop would look less dramatic, but still…  with sparse polling it is hard to distinguish outlier polls from actual movements in opinion.  And there were two of them, not just one.  These could have been outliers, but in February Romney was getting beaten up in Michigan by Santorum, so a decline in his support at that time also seems reasonable.

In either case, the most recent five polls show a close race, slightly in Obama’s favor, so Michigan is once again a swing state in our model. This improves Romney’s “best case” where we have him winning all of the states that are currently “close”:

Romney Obama
Romney Best Case 297 241
Current Status 206 332
Obama Best Case 159 379

At this point Romney’s best case gives him 28 more electoral votes than is needed to tie. This makes Florida the only “must win” state. Romney can now afford to lose any one of the other close states, or multiple of the smaller close states. He has many more paths to victory than he had a few weeks ago.

Romney’s “Best Case” line is now better than it has been since February. It finally looks like Romney may have put most of the damage caused by the primary season behind him, and is now pulling things his direction… moving this in the direction of actually becoming a competitive race. Romney’s best case still isn’t back where it was in January, but it it certainly looks a lot better for him than it did in April and May, at least in terms of his best case.

Now, the “everybody wins every state they are even slightly ahead in” line still shows a pretty clear Obama victory. But in order to bring states onto your side of that line, you first have to bring down Obama’s lead in those states… and that is exactly what has been happening. Romney is pulling states that looked pretty safe for Obama and starting to make them competitive. If the trend continues, he will start to pull into the lead in some of those… and maybe take some that look competitive now and make them start looking like safe Romney states.

It has also been a bad couple weeks for Obama in the news cycle of course. It is also possible recent events will blow over and Obama will pull some of these states back in his direction. Stay tuned.