Chart and map from the Abulsme.com 2012 Electoral College Prediction page. Both assume Obama vs Romney with no strong third party candidate and 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 moves today. A big state, an important state.
Ohio has 18 electoral votes. In the last year, Romney has never been ahead in the 5 poll average in Ohio, although there have been a smattering of individual polls showing him in the lead (the last one in June). But for most of the last year the polls have shown Ohio with only a narrow Obama lead… a less than 5% lead that put it within reach for Romney. The right things happen, good campaigning, bad news cycle for Obama, whatever, and you could see it pulling over the line to Romney.
The last few polls have been quite favorable to Obama though, and Obama’s lead in Ohio now climbs to 5.5%. So I paint the state light blue, and remove it from the list of close states that I include in Romney’s “Best Case”. Ohio may not stay here. The next poll could pull this back in Romney’s direction. But for the moment, Ohio looks like a blue state.
So where does this put us?
|Romney Best Case||260||278|
|Obama Best Case||180||358|
Yup, that is right. For the third time since I’ve been tracking*, if Romney wins all the states he is clearly ahead in, plus all the close states, including the ones Obama is ahead in… he still loses. Put another way, Obama can afford to lose every single state that is “close” in the polls, and he will still win 278 to 260.
In a quick comparison to 2008, McCain didn’t get to this bad a position in the polls until October, Romney has been there three times so far in my model. Now… each time he has subsequently improved his position… he hasn’t stayed in this kind of dire strait for too long. But rather than those being permanent moves to make the race more competitive, both times the gains Romney made have eventually eroded away, and we end up back here with his best case being to lose.
Yes, yes. We have three months to go. We have conventions coming up. Most “normal” people won’t start paying attention until the fall. Indeed. All this is true. It is not yet time to call a winner. Not by any means. But… Romney has a lot of work to do if he wants to win this. His current position just doesn’t look good at all.
(Or, as we’ve said on the podcast, Obama has to screw up badly, that will also do the trick.)
* The second time did not appear on my charts when it happened. My charts back then showed Romney with a slight lead in his best case, but this lead disappeared when I later added a Virginia poll I’d missed originally.
Edit 2012 Aug 1 15:40 to add the last parenthetical and the note about the second time Romney’s best case was to lose.