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Electoral College: More Movement on the Edges (Plus New Chart!)

Minor change on the edges as New Mexico once again drops below a 10% Obama lead:

A few days ago Obama’s lead in the five poll average in New Mexico moved slightly above 10%, today a new poll pulls it back down to just below 10%.  Either way, Obama will win New Mexico.  So lets quickly move on so we can get to the good new stuff.  First of all, new map and summary:

Romney Obama
Romney Best Case 321 217
Current Status 235 303
Obama Best Case 190 348

While New Mexico is colored lighter blue on the map, the summary is unchanged from yesterday, since New Mexico wasn’t moving in or out of “swing state” status.

Since we still have a contest where Romney could win if he swept all the swing states, lets again look internally at how the polls stack up within the swing states, but rather than me listing the current margins in each of the swing states as I have done before, we’ll cut to the chase, and look at the “spiffy graph” I promised on Saturday.  Graph first, then explaination:

OK, in my recent posts I’ve listed the swing states, listed their margins, and then mentioned which states Romney would need to win if he took them “in order” by how well he is doing in the state.  When you do this, one state would put Romney over the top.  I then looked at the margin in that “Tipping Point” state.  In other words, if Romney improved his margin by the same percentage across the board in all states (or at least all the swing states) how much better would he need to be doing in order to actually win enough of those states to win the electoral college?

I base these margins off my five poll average rather than something more sophisticated, but the general concept of this is similar to Sam Wang’s “meta-margin” at the Princeton Election Consortium.  It shows another way of looking at the race, and one which gives a closer look at who is ahead and by how much than simply looking at the three model lines I usually present.  With the three lines I normally present you can tell who is ahead and that it is relatively close, but it is hard to get a sense of exactly how FAR ahead the candidate in the lead is when it is “close”.

So anyway, what does this show?  Well, basically the same trends we see in Romney’s Best case line and the current line.  Namely, the first part of October Obama was in free fall, but that stopped around the time of the VP debate, and since then there has been a pretty noisy signal, but with a slight trend toward Obama.  If you are generous to Romney, you can say that the trend has been flat since the VP debate, but any argument that there has been continuing Romney momentum is clearly false.

The “tipping point state” has almost always been Ohio, with a few days here and there when polling moved states slightly out of their normal order.  But be it Ohio, or occasionally Florida, Virginia or Nevada, Obama’s lead in the tipping point state has been staying in a fairly consistent band between 1% and 3% for the past three weeks.

Obama is no longer in the comfortable territory he was in before the 1st debate, where Romney would have to move the tipping point states by more than 5% to win…  a state I described before as Romney’s best case being to lose.  But he has a buffer there, and, so far at least, the key tipping point states are not showing the moment Romney would need in order to win.

Now, if something were to happen to induce a move as large as the decline Obama had at the beginning of October, then yes, that would potentially still be enough to flip the race. As I type these words though, there are 7 days and 55 minutes until the first polls close on election day.  There is very little time left for a last minute change large enough to flip this to Romney.

It could happen, it is just becoming a bigger and bigger stretch with every day that goes by that does not move things dramatically in Romney’s direction.

Meanwhile of course, even while NO electoral college model that I’ve seen has put Romney ahead at ANY time in the past year, all the aggregators of national polls have shown Romney ahead for almost all of the last three weeks, and that lead continues today.  If nothing happens to shake things up in the next seven days, the prospect of an electoral college / popular vote split seems to get more likely by the day.

Note: 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.

Edit 2012 Oct 30 22:43 UTC to fix some wording issues.

Edit 2012 Oct 30 23:19 UTC to fix typo.

Wind Map

@abulsme tweets from 2012-10-29 (UTC)