Saturday, September 22, 2012

Electoral College Prediction - 45 Days Out

Back in June, I published a very early look and prediction of how the 2012 Electoral College results may shake out.  At that time looking at the safe states for each candidate and at the potential swing states, the result based upon early polls, a state's particular voting history, and coin flipping yielded a tied election of 269 to 269.

Now that we are 45 days out from the election the potential result is much clearer.  Both party conventions are behind us.  Polls are now modeled on "likely voters" which is far more accurate. The fall campaign is fully underway and some definitive changes are trends are now emerging.

Bear in mind this prediction is following a simply awful month for the Romney campaign.  Mistake and gaffe have been plaguing the campaign while the President Obama's campaign is running like a well-oiled machine.  In an earlier posting I speculated that if this election is  choice rather than a referendum that it bodes well for Obama.  The president's team has masterfully made this a choice despite continuing sub-par economic figures.  This coupled with Romney's ineptitude and tone-deafness has swung what was a toss-up election clearly in the President's favor.

Lets look at the landscape...

Based on the site the red and blue states indicate the "safe" states for each campaign with the swing states shown in beige.  Let's look at each swing state and see how things have changes from my June analysis.  My new analysis for each state is indicated in italics.

North Carolina - 15 EVs: The Tarheel State which is historically Republican was captured by Obama by a whisker in 2008.  This was mainly driven by high African-American and college student turnout. Current head to head polling shows Romney with a small, but consistent lead, but some recent polling shows it now tied.  Unless there is a total meltdown, I still think Romney squeaks it out here.  Early prediction - Romney  September Prediction - Romney.

Nevada - 6 EVs: This state is an interesting mix with both a sizable Hispanic and Mormon population.  Won easily by Obama in 2008, Nevada is a battleground once more. However, I think that the president's advantage among Hispanics will pull it out for him in the end.  Still agree with this analysis although the polls remain fairly close. Early prediction - Obama;  September Prediction - Obama

Iowa - 6 EVs: Recent polling shows this state as tied which is good news for Romney. Obama is well-organized here and this will be nip and tuck.  However, Iowa is very white and this is a group that has been deserting Obama in droves since 2008. Current Polling shows a neck and neck race here.  Both candidates are working very hard at this one.  Obama is in better shape in Iowa now than he was a month ago and based on his momentum, I will flip Iowa to the Democrats...for now.. Early prediction - Romney; September prediction - Obama

Colorado - 9 EVs: This is an eclectic state with a conservative rural and military population combined with liberal meccas like Boulder.  A high Hispanic turnout should help Obama, but early polling shows a very close race.  I have to flip a coin on this one. The coin I flipped in June is still on edge, but state polling is showing either a tie or small Obama lead so we will keep this the same as well. Early Prediction - Obama; September Prediction - Obama

Florida - 29 EVs:  This is a must-win for Romney and lends some weight to selecting Sen. Rubio for VP. Florida historically leans Republican, but Obama will be very competitive here.  But I see Romney pulling it out in the end based on his strong lead among voters over age 50. Polls show an absolute tie in Florida.  Not good news for Romney who hoped to put away this swing state early. Without a win here, his path to 270 becomes almost impossible. No longer think Romney has the advantage here as he is being hammered over Medicare and immigration.  But with the state's economy in poor shape comparatively I will leave it where it was, but would not be surprised at all if it flips back to the president. Early Prediction - Romney; September prediction - Romney

Virginia - 13 EVs:  The Old Dominion is getting more purple than it was thanks to an influx of wealthy, educated, and socially liberal whites in the DC suburbs, but much of it remains part of the old South.  Republicans won big here in 2010, but I think Obama prevails here for a second time due to a large and enthusiastic turnout in Fairfax County. This will be very closely contested.  Polling now shows Obama expanding his lead.  This is another must-win for Romney, but if things continue as they are I see him losing by at least 5 points. Obama really has solidified his lead in northern Virginia and the DC suburbs.  The addition of former VA Rep and Libertarian presidential candidate Virgil Goode also drains some votes that would likely go to Romney.  Early prediction - Obama; September prediction - Obama

Pennsylvania - 20 EVs: Described by strategist James Carville as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh on the ends with Alabama in the middle, PA is a state with a split personality.  Romney will win in the rural central part of the state and in coal country while Obama will rake in the urban areas.  The election will be won in suburbia but with a historic Democratic lean I will place PA (for now) as an Obama state.  Polling shows this state leaning further into Obama's camp.  The fact that Romney is not campaigning or advertising heavily in PA is another indicator that he is writing this state off.  Obama should win by a comfortable margin, some polls now have him in a double digit lead. Early prediction - Obama; September prediction - Obama

Ohio - 18 EVs:  Another must win for Romney; no Republican has won the presidency in recent history without the Buckeye state. Again this is a battle to be waged in suburban Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati with Romney winning big in rural areas and Obama holding the cities.  This will be close, but I give the edge to Romney at this point. Not any more.  Romney is consistently down by ever widening margins especially over the past couple of weeks.  Looks like the auto bailout and Ohio's comparatively good local economy is boosting the president.  In some polling he is winning women by 20 points and the race is even among men.  Romney needs to turn this one around immediately or he is in deep trouble. Early prediction - Romney; September prediction - Obama

Michigan - 16 EVs:  Obama seemed very strong here a month ago, but recent polling shows a closer race.  Romney has family ties here, but his opposition to the auto bailout has hurt him. MI has been trending Democratic in recent years and while close, I think Obama will squeak it out here. Like Ohio, the president seems to be pulling away.  Another state where Romney has stopped advertising as well. looks like another state Obama does not have to worry about or dedicate a lot of resources to  Early prediction - Obama; September prediction - Obama

Wisconsin - 10 EVs: This state was very close in 2000 and 2004, but was won easily by Obama in 2008.  The recent failure of the recall election against Gov. Walker and a strong Republican organization makes this very competitive this time around.  A possible Paul Ryan VP pick makes this even more interesting. Another coin flip...The Ryan pick has made this state competitive, but polling in WI is showing the same trend of independents and women to Obama.  Ryan may not be enough here as Romney continues to falter, in fact, I am now thinking that Obama wins this by a few.  Early prediction - Romney; September prediction - Obama

New Hampshire - 4 EVs:  In an election as potentially close as this one, the Granite State's four electoral voes may decide the winner. Historically Republican, but trending Democratic, this will be close.  Romney has spent a lot of time here, but polling shows that his move to the political right may hurt him in this libertarian state.  One more coin flip.  Based on consistent polling showing an Obama advantage, I am keeping this where it is. Early prediction - Obama; September prediction - Obama

Thus based on recent developments this is no longer a tie...

 As I said before this is a snapshot.  If I called it today, President Obama wins a fairly comfortable victory of 303 to 235.  If Florida trends in his direction, Obama would best Romney by 332 to 206 - which is getting close to a landslide by Electoral College measures.

National polling is showing the same trend toward Obama with AP, Pew, the NY Times and the Wall Street Journal giving Obama a lead from 3 to 8 points. However two polls (Gallup and Rasmussen) are showing the race remains a dead heat.

The troubling thing for the Romney campaign is that the polls are consistently showing that his ace in the hole on the economy is now gone.  Many voters appear to give the President the benefit of the doubt and agree with former President Clinton that he needs four more years to did the nation out of its current debacle. Romney s muddled messaging and continuous gaffes are compounding the issue and time keeps slipping away.

We still have 45 days to go - recall that Gore had a small lead at this point in 2000 and than had three poor debate performances.  The debates are now Romney's best (and maybe last) change to change to direction of this race.  The first debate on October 3 looms large.

I will run one more Electoral College analysis after the debates toward the end of October and of course publish final predictions on Nov. 5.


The Prof