I mentioned yesterday that several states were right on the edge of tipping if things went Romney’s way. Right on cue, a couple new polls and the biggest one, Florida, flips over to Romney…
For the past few months Florida has been leaning toward Obama, but only by the slightest of margins. Now the five poll average shows a Romney lead in the state for the first time since May.
Now, I will point out that the poll that pushed the five poll average over the center line was one from Foster McCollum that some places are treating as an outlier and therefore are not including in their averages. It has Obama up by 14%. By comparison no other poll has shown a Romney lead of more than 5% since May, and the biggest lead Romney has shown in any Florida poll in the last YEAR is 7%. Nate Silver actually specifically discussed this poll and the problems with it and why some people are excluding it in a recent post.
For my models, if a poll turns up in any of my several sources, I use it. I do not do any specific outlier removal. I let the five poll average do what the five poll average does, and if you have an outlier, it will still be balanced by the other four polls in the average, and soon enough as new polls come in, it will age out of the average anyway. With this poll, Florida shows up in my average with a 2.8% Romney lead. If you excluded it, you would have an 0.2% Obama lead. Either way, the polling shows Florida is very very close and could go either way.
I do count it though, and this means the first change in the “Current” line in my model since May (the last time Florida flipped).
|Romney Best Case||317||221|
|Obama Best Case||180||358|
This puts Romney back where he was in May in terms of the electoral college results if all the states vote according to current polling. That is, Obama wins 303 to 235. As I mentioned yesterday, in terms of his best case (where he wins all the close states and wins 317 to 221) this is the best position Romney has had since February.
Obama is still ahead in this race. But Romney has been gaining on him all month. Things look a lot closer now than they did a few weeks ago. And we’re about to head into convention week for the Republicans, so we should expect a further bounce toward Romney. (Although some analysts think it will be smaller than usual since so many people have already made up their minds.)
The things to watch will be if the bounce is wide spread enough and long lasting enough to actually put Romney in the lead for the electoral college for the first time ever. And if it does, can he keep any of those gains? The convention bounces are usually ephemeral and after the hubbub from both conventions die down, you end up pretty close to where you were before them.
Ohio (18 ev), Colorado (9 ev) and Iowa (6 ev) have Obama leads less than 2% at the moment. Will Romney pick off one of them next? If he is going to, the next couple of weeks are when you would expect it to happen first. So keep watching.
Note: 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.