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Electoral College: Ryan’s Home State Gets Closer

Chart and map from the 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.

This is the first status change in my models since Romney announced Paul Ryan as his running mate.  Appropriately enough, it is Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin moving a bit in Romney’s direction:

The five poll average in Wisconsin (10 ev) has been hovering right around the 5% Obama lead mark, which means over the past few months it has bounced back and forth between my “Lean Obama” and “Weak Obama” categories.  With today’s update, it moves once again into the “Lean Obama” category, meaning I consider the state to be “in play” and Romney’s best case scenario now includes Romney winning here.  The most recent poll (and the only one since the Veep announcement) actually shows Romney slightly  ahead in Wisconsin.  It is of course yet to be seen if the selection of Ryan will leave Wisconsin permanently in this competitive category, or even move the state into Romney’s column, or if this is just Wisconsin continuing to bounce around.

For now, Wisconsin is again classified as a swing state leaning toward Obama.  This improves Romney’s “Best Case” in my models:

Romney Obama
Romney Best Case 301 237
Current Status 206 332
Obama Best Case 180 358

This puts Romney in his best position in several weeks.  He is not only better off than the “even his best case loses” situation he was in at the beginning of August, but enough states are now “close” that Florida isn’t even a must win state any more.  Romney has a variety of different “paths to victory” as they say.  If all the close states go his way, and even if he loses a couple, he can still win.

He does have to get a bunch of these close states though, and he still has work to do.  Right now there are 10 states where the margin is less than 5% in my averages.  At the moment, Obama is ahead in 8 of them.  The next step in making this election close and competitive is to start moving some of the states that currently lean Obama over to his side of the fence.  The biggies right now are of course Florida (29), Ohio (18), Virginia (13).  These are not only big in terms of the electoral college, but Obama’s lead in all three is less than 2% right now, which makes them very vulnerable.

Is this the start of a Romney bounce from the VP selection?  It is really hard to tell.  “Bounces” usually last a week or two.  State polling is still slow enough that even in the most frequently polled states, I am looking at the last month or so usually.  A short term bounce may be missed entirely, or its effects could be exaggerated and appear to last longer than they would otherwise, so looking for those short term effects in this kind of model is probably futile.  Things will be somewhat unsettled from now through the end of the conventions anyway.

After that though, polling frequency will probably increase significantly, the number of people paying attention to the race will increase, and it will start getting close enough to the election that maybe, perhaps, the state of the polling starts looking like an actual predictor of November rather than just a hypothetical “if the election was today”.

Fun stuff ahead.

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