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Electoral College: Florida flips back to Romney, Other Movement on the Edges

Three states change category today, but before I get to those, let me highlight changes to the chart showing the trend over time. I’ve zoomed in to show only the time period since August and have annotated some of the notable events of the campaign in these last few months. So a few thoughts on what you can see here…

First of all, you can easily see that the two events that seem to have the most visible impact are the 47% video and the 1st debate. But it is also clear that Obama’s peak was quite a bit before the first debate. I searched for specific news events around the date of that peak, but I didn’t find anything particularly memorable. So one interpretation is simply that folks who had moved based on the 47% video started to bake that in and think maybe the whole thing was overblown, so movement back toward Romney began.

Second, it is pretty clear that Romney peaked between the VP debate and the 2nd presidential debate. Obama began to recover slightly before the 2nd debate. The overall trend has been toward Obama since then. (Even with today’s movement toward Romney on the “Current” line.) Romney’s October peak was beyond his beginning of September high, and therefore higher than I thought it would be. But at this point Romney has still NEVER taken the lead in my analysis. The “Current Poll” line has always shown an Obama lead. Romney has never been ahead in this race. Never.

Third, for all but a few short periods of time, Romney’s best case, if he were to win all the swing states, includes winning. Romney can indeed win. It is not out of the realm of reasonable possibility. It is close enough that either campaign events that move things in the last week and a half or just Romney over-performing the polls by a few percent on election day could result in a Romney win.

But Obama’s lead is real and persistent, and has been in place all year. If we just have a ho hum continuation of the campaign as it has been straight through election day, then Obama wins. Something has to happen to push Romney into the lead.

Obama has to make a big mistake, or Romney has to do something outstanding that is unexpected, or some news event has to make Obama look bad on the eve of the election. Something. With the status quo, Obama wins the electoral college. (As we mentioned Wednesday, the popular vote is another story.)

OK, now lets review the states changing categories today:

Not much to say here. The five poll average had briefly topped 10% in Montana. Now it drops below that line again. This puts Montana back into the category it has “normally” been in. Romney has a 9.0% lead in Montana. Romney will win Montana. This state is not in contention.

Same kind of thing here. Romney’s lead in the five poll average goes over 10% in Indiana. This is a big move compared to 2008, when Obama won the state by 1.0%, but Indiana has never been close in 2012. It is just an even bigger lead for Romney now. Romney is ahead by 11.0% in Indiana. Romney will win Indiana. Indiana is not in contention.

Unlike the others, Florida actually is moving from one candidate’s column to the others. And it is a big state. So this is significant, right?

No.

Prior to today’s update the five poll average had Obama up by 0.6%. With today’s new data, the five poll average has Romney up by 0.8%. These numbers both reflect the same thing… Florida is too close to call.

Florida has moved back and forth across the line many times this year. There has been no significant movement in either direction to indicate that Florida is moving definitively toward one candidate or another.

It is close. We’ll know which way Florida goes on election day.

So, this gives us a new map and summary:

Romney Obama
Romney Best Case 301 237
Current Status 235 303
Obama Best Case 191 347

Once again, since the best cases include both candidates winning, we need to look at the specifics of the close states:

  • North Carolina (15): 2.4% Romney lead – 2/5 polls after last debate
  • Florida (29): 0.8% Romney lead – 5/5 polls after last debate
  • Virginia (13): 0.2% Obama lead – 5/5 polls after last debate
  • Iowa (6): 1.2% Obama lead – 2/5 polls after last debate
  • New Hampshire (4): 2.2% Obama lead – 2/5 polls after last debate
  • Nevada (6): 2.4% Obama lead – 5/5 polls after last debate
  • Ohio (18): 2.5% Obama lead – 4/5 polls after last debate
  • Colorado (9): 2.6% Obama lead – 5/5 polls after last debate
  • Wisconsin (10): 3.2% Obama lead – 2/5 polls after last debate

Once again Romney starts at 191 electoral votes with no close states. Add in North Carolina and Florida where he is ahead and he is up to 235. That leaves him 34 electoral votes short.

Going in order by how easy it should be for Romney to pull ahead, add in Virginia, Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada… all of which Romney is behind in at the moment… and you get to 264. Still five electoral votes short.

And that brings us once again to Ohio. To win Romney has to get most of the states mentioned previously, but then also win Ohio. (If he wins Ohio, he could afford to lose some combinations of Virginia, Iowa and New Hampshire, but generally speaking if Romney wins Ohio, he will probably win those other states too.) Obama’s lead in Ohio has been increasing. On Tuesday Obama’s lead in Ohio was 1.2%. It is now up to 2.5%. Will that hold? Who knows.

But as we get closer to the election, 2.5% starts to morph from looking like a small number, to looking like a large number. In the last year Romney has NEVER been ahead in the five poll average in Ohio. It has usually been close. But Romney has never been ahead. Never. Ohio is indeed looking like a firewall.

A uniform move in the polls of any more than 2.5% toward Romney across the close states would give Romney the election. But Romney is running out of time, and most people have made up their minds.

This is once again looking like a steep uphill climb for Romney. Not impossible. It could happen.

But it is not looking good for Romney.

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.

[Edited 2012 Oct 26 23:58 to correct chart of Florida polls over time. While my text was correct, I inadvertently included a chart missing some recent polls. Fixed. I also slightly adjusted some of the arrows on the electoral college trend chart.]

Electoral College: Michigan blue again, Indiana weakens for Romney

The rate of polling has increased dramatically since the convention ended. It is now not uncommon for my daily sweep for new polls to pick up six or more new polls. In the pre convention days, having three polls on a single day would be a big day. This increase in poll frequency of course makes it likely that we’ll have more days where states flip categories, even if it is just from the natural jittering of random samples rather than real movements. So be sure to watch not just for the states that change on a given day, but also look to see if that change “sticks” as time goes on and new polls come in.

Today we have two states change status. In order by Electoral College weight:

First up Michigan with 16 electoral votes. It has bounced back and forth across the 5% Obama lead line the past few weeks in the five poll average. September started with Obama having an 0.7% lead in the state. September 13th his lead increased to over 5%, but then dropped below 5% again on the 16th. Now on the 19th it heads above 5% again.

The general trend has been toward Obama, but at 5.2% the state is still quite close to the boundary between my categories. So it would be easy for the very next poll to pull the average back below 5%. For the moment, the state moves from my “Lean Obama” category to my “Weak Obama” category, meaning that I no longer consider Romney winning Michigan a possibility strong enough to include in his “best case”.

But don’t be surprised if it gets closer and changes categories again. It looks like it is having fun bouncing back and forth at the moment.

Next up, Indiana with 11 electoral votes. Indiana has been very sparsely polled. Only four Romney/Obama polls in the state since the 2008 election. To round out the five poll average I have to include the 2008 McCain/Obama election results. In any case, prior to the last poll, the five poll average (which then included the 2004 election too) had the state with a 10.1% Romney lead. Shifting the new poll in, and 2004 out… 2004 was a huge 20.7% Bush victory over Kerry in Indiana… makes Romney’s lead drop to 7.2%.

This moves Indiana out of my “Strong Romney” category into my “Weak Romney” category, but make no mistake, Romney’s lead in Indiana is still quite substantial. At the moment nobody is expecting Obama to be able to reprise his 2008 win in the state. We’d need more polls than just the four to discern if there is actually any sort of trend making the state closer, but a little bit closer or not, it still isn’t close enough to be one of the states that could go either way.

This is a Romney state this year unless we get a huge Romney collapse in the next seven weeks.

So only Michigan changes anything in the models, making Romney’s best case slightly weaker, but still a win:

Romney Obama
Romney Best Case 301 237
Current Status 206 332
Obama Best Case 180 358

Once again no mathematically “must win” states for Romney, but the paths are still narrow… this is a hard map for Romney. If he doesn’t win Florida, he has to win every other close state to win. If he does win Florida, he can afford a few losses in the close states, but not many. But if he loses Florida, it is hard seeing how he wins the other close states he would need to win.

Romney still needs a game changer to move things in his direction. And I’m pretty sure the events of the last few news cycles are not the kinds of game changers he needs.

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.

Electoral College: Indiana Gets Redder

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.

One change today, in a very sparsely polled state…

As far as I have found, there have only been THREE polls of Obama vs Romney in Indiana since the 2008 elections. To get my five poll average I actually include the 2004 and 2008 election results as proxies for real polls of the current candidates, just to “kick start” the state. Prior to today, the average was at an 8.7% Romney lead. That put Indiana in my “Weak Romney” category, meaning that Romney had a pretty good lead in the state, but not so much of a lead that he could take it completely for granted. With the right combination of events in the campaign, Obama could conceivably make it closer again… although winning might be a stretch.

Well, the newest poll shows a much more substantial Romney lead in the state, bringing the five poll average to a 10.1% Romney lead, enough for me to move it to the “Strong Romney” category. This means that Romney has a big enough lead here at the moment that he probably doesn’t even need to bother doing any defense in this state, and Obama would be wasting his time if he tried to contest it.

Now, since Indiana wasn’t and isn’t even remotely one of the “close” states, this does not change any of my models… Romney continues to win Indiana in all three…

Romney Obama
Romney Best Case 260 278
Current Status 206 332
Obama Best Case 180 358

…and continues to lose the election in all three too.

2012 Republican Delegate Count: NC, IN, WV Results – Santorum Eliminated

Charts from the Abulsme.com 2012 Republican Delegate Count Graphs page. When a candidate gets down to 0%, they have clinched the nomination. If they get above 100%, they have been mathematically eliminated. The first chart is by date, the second is by “% of Delegates Already Allocated”. These numbers include estimates of the eventual results of multi-stage caucus processes which will be refined as the later stages occur.

Yawn! This is so past over it isn’t funny, but I’ll be doing these posts until Romney gets to 1144!

Anyway, the new delegates awarded tonight are:

  • North Carolina – Romney 36, Santorum 6, Paul 6, Gingrich 4
  • Indiana – Romney 27
  • West Virginia – Romney 22, Santorum 2

So that makes the total for today Romney 85, Santorum 8, Paul 6, Gingrich 4.

Hmm. Wonder who won tonight?

With 82.5% of the delegates, Romney did way better than the 29.7% of the delegates he needed to continue on pace for clinching the nomination.

Meanwhile, Santorum finally reached the point where even if he got 100% of the remaining delegates he could not catch up and win.

So now there is only one. But Romney still has to finish mopping up the delegates.

He now only needs 23.0% of the delegates that are left in order to get to 1144. Next up is Oregon on the 15th. Then Kentucky and Arkansas on the 22nd. Then Texas on the 29th. Texas will probably be the state that puts Romney over the top unless he does much worse than expected between now and then.