The title on this post is perhaps a bit hyperbolic, but only a little bit. Romney is way behind in the Electoral College race. He has been all year. He has NEVER been in the lead. As of yesterday’s update even if Romney won every close state he would still lose. With today’s update two more previously close states move toward Obama, making Romney’s best case an even bigger loss and putting him in the worst position he has ever been in… by far.
Both changes today just barely take states out of my competitive zone, so new polls in the next few days could easily reverse today’s changes. But even if that happens, the picture for Romney remains bleak.
He needs a massive turn around in his fortunes to make this race competitive again, let alone to win. Impossible? No. But increasingly unlikely? Yes. To come back and win at this point Romney needs something huge that turns everything on its head. Could a big black swan event happen? Maybe. But aside from that, he is done. This is over.
Lets look at the details. From lower electoral college weight to higher:
Iowa (6 electoral votes) had consistently shown a small Obama lead in the five poll average. Always close. Always a state Romney could potentially flip. But then the convention happened, and 4 out of the 5 polls since then have shown Obama with a lead of more than 5%. (The one outlier is a poll actually showing Romney ahead by 3%.) Today the five poll average hits 5% (exactly) and so I move the state from “Lean Obama” to “Weak Obama”. If the election was held today, this isn’t a state where you would think Romney had a chance. It is now out of reach.
As usual, I must say this is “for the moment”. The five poll average now sits at exactly 5%. The next poll could move the state back into competitive territory.
And now the big one…
Florida, with 29 electoral votes, was by far the largest of the close states. It has gone back and forth between a Romney lead and an Obama lead in the five poll average, although most of the time there has been a small Obama lead. But it has been close and competitive nearly all year. With today’s update Obama’s lead hits (exactly) 5%. So the state moves from Lean Obama to Weak Obama. As with Iowa, Florida is just barely in this category. The very next poll could make things look more competitive. And we probably should expect some “reversion to the mean” as we go forward. For the moment though, this means that even in Romney’s best case where he wins all the close states, he still loses Florida.
Without Iowa and Florida as Romney possibilities, where do things stand?
|Romney Best Case||225||313|
|Obama Best Case||191||347|
Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.
Yesterday I said:
So how lopsided does this matchup need to look at this stage in the game to start just saying outright that absent an event of cosmic proportions the race is over and Obama will certainly win? We are very very close. It is tempting to just say so right now. But I will hold off a little bit.
But if Romney’s best case gets ANY worse… or if there is no major move in Romney’s direction starting in the next week or two… then it will be very difficult to construct Romney win scenarios with a straight face…
I still feel a little hesitant about outright saying this is over. There is still after all more than a month for Romney to turn things around.
But Romney’s best case DID get worse. Yesterday Romney already would lose even if he won all of the close states. Today, with Iowa and Florida also moving out of reach, Romney’s best case is starting to look like not just a loss, but a very comfortable Obama win.
Iowa and Florida today, and Ohio from yesterday, and maybe some of the other “Weak Obama” states, could move back and get closer before the election. This would not be surprising at all. In fact it would be surprising if Romney slipped too much further behind. At some point he has to rebound a bit, right? But even if he starts closing the gap and stops the free fall, it looks like a really tall order to actually pull ahead.
Even at his best point this year the most Romney could say was that if he flipped a few more states from Leaning Obama to Leaning Romney he could win. He was never actually ahead. Even if he does well in the next few weeks, is there anything that indicates he could improve on his position from the beginning of September when he last peaked? Because even then, he was losing. Just by less.
Yes, there could be more bad economic news. Yes, Obama could start making huge mistakes and somehow screw this up. But the magnitude of what would be necessary to reverse this gets larger by the day and the scenarios less likely.
At this point Romney needs Obama to catastrophically implode. That is unlikely.
This is done. Obama wins.
Uh… umm…. unless Obama himself screws it up, or something completely unexpected of epic proportions happens.
Gotta always add the caveats. :-)
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.