Three states changing categories today. All three moving toward Romney. As usual, lets look at them from smallest to largest in electoral college strength:
First up, New Hampshire. Before the first debate Obama was up to a 9.9% lead here. Now with 4/5 polls after the debate, that lead slips to 4.6%. This is in line with the drops we’ve seen in a bunch of other states. Obama still has a lead here, but it is now small enough that it could easily slip away. New Hampshire has been here before. It had only spiked to a big Obama lead a few weeks ago, when Romney was at his nadir. So this is perhaps New Hampshire just returning to form as a close state leaning slightly toward Obama.
Last time Virginia changed status, I noted that it had been bouncing between Lean Obama and Weak Obama, but perhaps it was ready to break out of that pattern. Indeed it has. This time Obama’s lead continued to drop. After peaking at 5.1% a few days before the debate, Obama’s lead slowly disappeared, and with today’s addition, the five poll average now stands at a 1.0% Romney lead. Romney has been ahead before in Virginia, but it was very short lived. The question of course is if this time he can hold the lead or if Virginia will revert to “normal” which is a narrow Obama lead.
Just yesterday Obama had retaken a very slight lead in the Florida five poll average. Today that slips away, and with some relatively strong polls, Romney ends up with a 1.8% lead at the moment. Florida is still very close. All the states we have talked about today are very close. But the momentum here, as in most other states in the last week and a half, has been toward Romney.
So, the revised summary:
|Romney Best Case||337||201|
|Obama Best Case||191||347|
We are still seeing what is fairly obviously fallout from the first debate. It has just taken different amounts of time for there to be enough polling in different states to show it. All considered, it looks like we have seen one of the biggest debate effects ever in a presidential election. The level of self-inflicted damage by Obama is amazing.
Of course, when this started, Obama had a substantial lead. So even after all of this, Obama is still ahead and is still the favorite. Surely we must NOW be close to a ceiling for Romney, right? Well, maybe not if Obama doesn’t redeem himself in the next debate. But assuming the absence of another catastrophic fail, it seems like sometime soon we’ll need to start seeing some reversion to the mean, which in this case would mean a bit of strengthening for Obama.
I don’t have the time today to again do a rundown of the current margins in all the swing states, but suffice it to say that if Romney holds on to all of the states he is currently ahead in, Romney only needs 13 more electoral votes to win. He can get that in a number of ways at this point. The easiest way is still to win Ohio (18 ev). Romney is currently behind in Ohio by only 2.2%. Ohio is within reach. Romney just needs to convince a few more people, or energize greater turnout.
Alternately, and a lot more fun, Romney could win Iowa (6 ev) where he is currently behind by 3.2% and Nevada (6 ev) where he is currently behind by 1.6%. That would result in a 269 to 269 electoral vote tie. Assuming no faithless electors, that would throw the election into the House of Representatives, where Romney would almost certainly win.
The last time a Presidential election was thrown to the house was 1824. That would be so much fun to watch happen!
It is still unlikely though. But a guy can hope!
Bottom line though, right now Obama is ahead, but only by the very slimmest of margins. If Romney can hold on to his gains from the last couple of weeks (Obama actually peaked a little before the first debate) and move things just a LITTLE more, then he can win this.
I am quite sure Obama would like the Romney “debate bounce” to be over now.
We’ll start seeing polls that factor in the VP debate any time now. It is unlikely to have as profound an effect as the first debate and therefore I don’t anticipate Obama erasing Romney’s recent gains. But perhaps the bleeding will finally stop.
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.