2012 Presidential Election – 2 Weeks Out

2 Weeks to go to fill this place.

We are less than 2 weeks away from Election Day, as voting will be in full swing on Tuesday, November 6.  The race was highlighted on this site in June, with the projected winner in doubt due to a large contingency of swing states.  A little has changed, but the outcome is about as murky as it ever was this summer.

President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney have completed their series of 3 debates, with mixed outcomes.  The first debate in Denver, Colorado was such a knockout punch for Romney, the other 2 were a severe catch-up game for the president, who did well in the remainder, but then again, so did the challenger.

The national polls have seen a massive shift in the popular vote projection, as some like Gallup have Romney up anywhere from 3 to 7 points on any given day.  Rasmussen Reports (whom I will cite throughout this article as they were shown to be the most accurate in 2008 and I’m not a journalist and don’t care about a bazillion sources, so bite it)  has it around 2-4 points for the challenger.  But we all know our presidents don’t get elected on pure popular votes across the nation.  The Electoral College still looms large and is the deciding factor when picking our executive.

As of 10/23, Mr. Obama holds 237 electoral votes, by which I mean he can probably bank on getting that many based upon polling and recent presidential election history.

OBAMA (237):  CA, CT, DC, DE, HI, IL, MA, MI, MN, ME, MD, NJ, NY, NM, PA, OR, RI, VT, and WA

Mr. Romney, who has been surging in the polls, can now probably claim 191 electoral votes going into Election Day.  This includes “flip” states (Obama won in 2008 but probably won’t in 2012) of Indiana and the 2nd congressional district of Nebraska.  That state and Maine have state election laws that prescribes the congressional districts having their own electoral votes rather than the state as a whole, as is the case in the other 49 states + Washington, D.C.

ROMNEY (191):  AL, AK, AR, AZ, GA, ID, IN, KS, KY, LA, MO, MS, MT, NE, ND, OK, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, WV, WY

Swing states are at the top of every pundits list of things to talk about, and the picture is much clearer in several of them.  Romney has pulled ahead significantly in 3 crucial states in the Southeast:  Virginia (13) , North Carolina (15), and Florida (29), with several news outlets and pollsters conceding all of them to the governor.  That’s a 57 point swing in the favor of Mitt Romney, bringing him up to 248 electoral votes without any stretch of the imagination.

Remember the goal is to get to the magic number of 270, so Romney is just 22 away from becoming the next president, and Obama is just 33 away from getting a second term.  Below are the states left “in play” after giving VA, NC, and FL to Romney:
COLORADO (9):  After the first debate was held here in Denver, the polls have dramatically shifted away from the president and towards Mitt Romney.  Rasmussen has it at a 4 point edge for Romney.  The state had nearly a 9 point edge for Obama over McCain in 2008.  Colorado is an interesting state considering the rural nature of much of its geography, but a large urban area (and liberal university) to skew the data back towards the Democrats.  Most of the state will probably vote Republican, but the Denver Metro area will no doubt decide it.

IOWA (6):  The place where national politics gets started, the Hawkeye State went with Obama by 9.5% in 2008, but Rasmussen has them as dead even as of Tuesday.  Eastern Iowa and the metro areas of Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, and the Quad Cities go heavily for the Democrats, with the suburban and rural areas going with the GOP.  Rasmussen had this an an 8 point Obama win heading into the last election.  Just from living here, I see Romney-Ryan signs at a 5:1 rate for every Obama-Biden yard sign.  Hard to tell with small sample sizes, but my gut tells me Iowa will flip and go with Romney, but there is a real possibility every congressional district gets won by the Democrats.

OHIO (18):  The Buckeye State is still the big prize out there yet and Rasmussen also has this one tied at 48 apiece.  Similar to Iowa in voter turnout and behavior (suburbs vs. urban), Ohio will have to weigh their economic standing and whether or not the last 4 years is what they want to repeat.  In 2008, Obama won Ohio by 4.5%, although Rasmussen had it at a tie.

NEVADA (6):  Obama captured the Silver State by a whopping 12.5% in 2008, but that advantage in the polls has waned to 2 points, or within the margin of error.  The state of Nevada is still wracked with high unemployment and the housing crisis really never alleviated itself.  One would think Obama would have a tough time repeating here considering things have not really improved, but Las Vegas has a very strong union presence, and pardon my expression, but unions are about as close to drones as there is outside the beehive, and are lock-step with Democrats, even if they are campaigning to eat their lunch and then tax them for the privilege.

NEW HAMPSHIRE (4):  The lone holdout from a solid blue Northeast once again, New Hampshire is polling at Romney +2 right now.  Adjacent to Massachusetts and also a free thinking state due to the first primaries being held here, it is plausible that Romney could capture the 4 votes New Hampshire is offering, but would have to overcome a 9.6% deficit that McCain saw just 4 years ago.  Again, the polling suggests he can.

WISCONSIN (10):  In the summer, right after Governor Scott Walker retained his seat in the Wisconsin White House (the first time a sitting governor won a recall election in U.S. history), the Badger State appeared poised to flip to the GOP, taking a nearly 14% advantage away from Obama in the blink of an eye.  But Wisconsin is back to a +2 for Obama in the most recent polls.

Okay, now time for some manipulation to see what it would take to get the candidates over the edge of 270.  Below are some scenarios in order for each candidate to win the White House.

Romney (assuming VA,NC,FL are in his column):

  1. OH and one of CO, IA, NV, WI
  2. CO and WI, then one of IA, NH, NV, OH
  3. CO, IA, NH, and NV
  4. IA, NH, NV, and WI

So, it is feasible to win the election without going through Ohio or Wisconsin, as illustrated by the 3rd bullet.

Obama:

  1. OH, WI, and one of CO, IA, NV
  2. OH, CO, and one of IA, NV
  3. CO, IA, NH, NV, and WI
  4. OH, IA, NH, NV

Obama can also retain the presidency without winning Ohio, although he must carry all of the rest to do it.

A note on the polls:  I know the polling firms have their stuff down to a science, but they vary so widely that they can’t all be spot-on with their methodology.  Do they sample registered or likely votes (huge difference, as 35% of registered voters won’t show up), did they oversample one party or the other, did they include cell phones or just land-lines, etc.

My take on this is the enthusiasm gap for nearly all demographics (age groups, gender, ethnicity, party affiliation, etc.) has widened in this election.  More people are excited to vote for Mitt Romney than those excited for Barack Obama, a stark shift from 4 years ago.  If Obama’s camp can’t push out their people to vote, the advantages he holds with women (shrinking dramatically as of late), voters 18-34 (ditto), blacks, latinos, Democrats (Romney +7 in his own party versus Obama), and Independents (Romney up big), he will lose.

My friends and family, in discussion on politics, note that unlike 2008, there will be no novelty vote (first African-American president), no guilt vote (get called a racist for having a McCain-Palin sign in your yard), anti-Bush vote (a very real thing), Republican antipathy (2008 vs. midterms in 2010 when GOP overtook the house and took back several seats in the Senate and took majority of state houses and governorships), or the need for change and hope over a real plan.  All of this swung the election in favor of Obama, who trailed as late as the first part of September in 2008.

In my eye, there’s no way the turnout from 2010 doesn’t carry through this year.  Most of the methodologies (from what I can gather) are predicated on “scaling up” the results of their 500 sampled voters to the rest of the state by applying turnout and enthusiasm polls and trending from recent elections, most notably 2008.  But I believe they are ignoring the monumental election of 2010.

Yes, 1996 was an election not too dissimilar from this one in background.  An incumbent Democrat president (Bill Clinton) facing re-election after a humiliating mid-term (Newt Gingrich’s Contract With America Revolution) in 1994 put his seat in the Oval Office in doubt.  But the economy was in good shape (thank to a GOP Congress), the budgets were balanced (ditto), and no wars were on-going.  Plus, the candidate (Bob Dole) didn’t resonate at all with independent voters, or even excite the right-wing base.

Obama has the uphill battle of a disastrous national debt, going up over $6,000,000,000,000 on his watch, and with no end in sight.  No budget has been passed since 2009, meaning the vaunted “Stimulus” has never come out of the budget, leading to bloated and wasteful spending.  Unemployment is improving, but still vastly too high for the amount of money thrown at the problem.  The economy as a whole is also starting to slow its recovery, creeping along at less than 2% quarterly growth.  And, Romney has been an ideal candidate, saying all the right things and bringing the experience of a successful businessman who has turned around struggling companies for a living.

My guess, 2 weeks out:  Romney wins the election 285 to 253 by going with Ohio, Colorado, Iowa, and New Hampshire.

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~ by goetgre on October 25, 2012.

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