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Electoral College: Florida Flips Back to Obama

One change today.  Just barely Romney Florida becomes just barely Obama Florida:

Now, some of you may remember my commentary on August 22nd when Florida moved to Romney.  I mentioned that what pushed the average over to Romney was a poll showing a 14% lead for Romney…  which was way out of line with any polling in the previous year…  many sites that do poll analysis were just dropping it entirely as an outlier.  I explained that I just leave everything in, and figure outliers will wash themselves out on their own before too long.  That is exactly what happened here.  As soon as the outlier poll aged out of the “Last 5 Polls” that I use for my average, Florida popped right back to being (just barely) leaning Obama.  If I had simply excluded this poll, Obama’s lead in the five poll average would have dropped to 0.2%, but it would never have gone negative.

In any case, the five poll average now stands at an 0.8% Obama lead in Florida, so the state gets moved back into his column for the moment.  I will caution, as I always do, that even leads up to 5% can be extremely ephemeral under the right circumstances.  That is why I consider all states in that range as able to go either way pretty easily. A lead of less than 1%?  That really is completely up for grabs.  So nobody should read too much into Florida being just barely on one side of the line vs just barely on the other.  Either way, Florida is still looking like a tossup.

This does put the “current” model right back to where it has been most of the year though:

Romney Obama
Romney Best Case 317 221
Current Status 206 332
Obama Best Case 180 358

In the most recent episode of Curmudgeon’s Corner recorded yesterday and released today, I mentioned that my “gut feel” was that we have seen Romney’s post-primary high water mark, and that we’ll start seeing Obama gaining ground going forward from this point.  Despite today’s Florida change, the numbers don’t show that yet.  We only have a small amount of post-RNC state level polling, and of course no post-DNC state level polling since that event isn’t even done yet. The right set of things hitting the news and things could break rapidly in Romney’s direction.

In recent times though, challengers have usually lost ground between their convention and the election.  Nate Silver recently looked at this in detail.  Silver of course points out that this is not a universal rule.  1996 and 2008 both did not fit this pattern.  There is still lots of room for the daily ebb and flow of national and international events…  and campaign rhetoric…  to change the shape of this race.  Generally speaking though, if Romney follows the typical pattern, he is done.  To date he has never been ahead in this race.  He needs to be gaining ground to win.  He has no room for the sort of “normal” decline that Silver describes.

Romney needs something big to vault him into a clear lead.  His convention was one of the biggest chances for that, and so far it looks like if he got any boost, it was minimal.  Assuming we don’t see a very unexpected negative effect coming out of the Democratic convention that ends up helping Romney, this means Romney’s next big chances are the debates…  which usually don’t have much of an effect unless someone screws up…  or to just hope that Obama just gets pounded by bad news, economic or otherwise, that ends up eliminating Obama’s lead.

Romney could indeed win the debates decisively, or Obama could get hit by those waves of bad news…  and that would change things…  but like I said, my gut is saying the beginning of September will have marked Romney’s post-primary high water mark in my models.  So write that down.  I’m going out on that limb.  You can all call me on it when it proves to be completely wrong.  Which now that I’ve said it “out loud”, will almost certainly happen. :-)

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.