This is the US Election Watch Primer. As I would do this kind of analysis anyway, to prepare myself for the fun of the US Presidential Election count on TV on Tuesday-Wednesday night, I thought I'd share this with my readers, if anyone else would like my guide to watching the race on TV.
This blog is in two parts. The top part is the TV guide. The bottom part is a deeper analysis of the race at the end, for those who might be interested, why I think some states are in play and others not, and what kind of chances are there for a Romney Wave or an Obama Wave. But as some readers may want only the TV guide, or to come back to this blog later, let me do the TV guide here on the top, first.
TOMI'S TV GUIDE TO US 2012 ELECTION
This is the guide to the race by time, ie the closing hours, and only the states that really matter, that will decide the race.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY PAGE
States in likely order that they will be called and who should win them in close election. EC means Electoral College. RCP is Real Clear Politics, and these numbers are now at the end of Monday 5 November. I used their final published number using their methodology here in the summary. A bit more detail (last 2 weeks, last week trend) in the state detail section next. The 2008 Obama percent is his winning percentage of that given battleground state last time.
NORTH CAROLINA - 15 EC (closes 19:30). RCP Romney at 3.0% (Obama won 0.3% in 2008). Should go to Romney early, Romney Must-Win. If NC is still being counted when other battleground states are called, bad sign for Romney and likely Obama wave.
NEW HAMPSHIRE - 4 EC (closes 20:00). RCP Obama 2.0% (Obama won 9.6% in 2008), Probably goes to Obama, NH is very unlikely to be decisive in this year's election in final count, but is the first sign of who might win whole election. Very much the knife's edge state, who wins NH is likely 2012 winner
WISCONSIN - 10 EC (closes 21:00). RCP Obama 4.2% (Obama won 13.9% in 2008). Should go to Obama. If Romney wins Wisconsin, its a Romney wave
NEVADA - 5 EC (closes 22:00). RCP Obama 2.8 (Obama won 12.5% in
2008) Should go to Obama, if Romney steals Nevada, he's cruising to being
VIRGINIA - 13 EC (closes 19:00). RCP Obama 0.3% (Obama won 6.3% in 2008). Likely long count, Romney Must-Win. If Virginia is called for Obama before midnight, is a very strong sign of an Obama wave building
IOWA - 6 EC (closes 22:00). RCP Obama 2.4% (Obama won 9.5% in 2008). Should go to Obama, if goes long count, is good for Romney, but like NH, Iowa can't win the race to either side.
OHIO - 18 EC (closes 19:30). RCP Obama 2.9% (Obama won 4.6% in 2008). Favors Obama, If Romney has already lost Wisconsin, this is the decision.
FLORIDA - 29 EC (closes 20:00). RCP Romney 1.5% (Obama won 2.8% in 2008). Likely very long count, very tight, Romney Must-Win. Very likely counted past Ohio, possibly even past Colorado. If Romney loses Florida the race is over.
COLORADO - 9 EC (closes 21:00). RCP Obama 1.5% (Obama won 9.0%
in 2008). Likely long count, very tight. Romney Must-Win
POPULAR VOTE - the current 'Likely Voter' screens seem to suggest total voter turnout at about 130 million. The larger the turnout, the more this should benefit Democrats, and the lower the turnout, the more it should benefit Republicans. If a 130 million turnout model suggests about 2% win for Obama in the popular vote, a 120 million turnout would suggest a 0% nail-biter election and a 140 million turnout a 4% win for Obama. in 2008 the vote count was 133 million and the population has grown since then. Most North-Atlantic states hit by Hurricane Sandy might see suppressed turnout, which be very unlikely to affect the state-by-state results, but could mean that in typically Democratic-friendly states of the NorthEast, the turnout is down. Thus keep an eye on Midwestern and Southern states to measure real turnout levels. I have included the early hour states that close with their 2008 vote counts and 120 million, 130 million and 140 million target levels, after the state-by-state analysis here.
FULL TV GUIDE TO 2012 ELECTION BATTLEGROUND STATES
Here is now my full version of the above, so you can keep track as the states close, to see what is at stake and who is ahead and what is going on in that state this year. Note that I have collected all campaign visits by the top candidate only (Obama or Romney) which I think is the biggest sign of where the end game emphasis is, ie the only resource the campaign cannot create more of, is the time of the top guy, and only for the last 5 days when both Obama and Romney were back campaigning. And I counted the TV advertising money spent in the last week, as that was the best number I could find, and I used both the campaign's own money, and the supporting ad dollars from Super PACs. In both cases I ranked the top 10 battleground states (including Pennsylvania). The battleground status is the combined amount of both of those numbers to show where the electorate is most exposed to the election final battles.
AT 19:00 VIRGINIA (plus Obama state Vermont, and Romney states Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky and South Carolina)
VIRGINIA - 13 ELECTORAL VOTES - ROMNEY MUST-WIN STATE
Polls close at 19:00
Was called about 22:45 in 2008, this time likely take longer
Obama won in 2008 with 6.3%
RCP polling average last 2 weeks Obama edge 0.6% (9 polls)
RCP latest trend: last week average Obama edge 1.0% (4 polls)
Obama Campaign final push effort 10% (4th) Obama personal appearances 1, TV ad money $6M
Romney Campaign final push effort 24% (1st) Romney personal apperances 6, TV ad money $13M
Battleground status 2nd: 17% of total final push effort by both parties
Virginia is a must-win for Romney. It is close and highly contested, it will likely be counted late and likely won't be the first battleground state to be called during the evening. The state is a mix of just about everything so you have students, you have military voters, you have minorities, you have religious conservatives etc.
The polling has been slightly favoring Romney recently but now last trend suggests Obama surge. The state has truly been worthy of 'swing state' status. At the start of the year it was getting polls pretty evenly favoring Obama and Romney till April. Then Obama favoring polls dominated except for brief August blip for Romney, till October and the first debate. That debate put Romney on top with him leading in seven of the next nine polls. Now the last 2 weeks have 3 polls with Romney ahead, 3 polls with Obama ahead and 2 polls tied. It could hardly be more even. Except, that the very last trend, the last 2 polls in the last week, were both for Obama.
Virginia has a highly contested Senatorial race with Democratic incumbent Kaine facing a strong challenge from Republican Smith. The state electorate is very activated as Virginia had a state law earlier this year about mandatory forced vaginal ultrasound probes before abortions (later amended to be non-vaginal) which strongly activated the female voters in big protests. They are perhaps the most agitated female voter constituency of any state, so the female voter gap will be significant in this state. The US Navy has huge bases in the state and the military vote would be impacted by Romney's promises of a larger Navy.
If Virginia is called early (before 22:00) for Romney, it would be a very good sign for Romney. If Virginia is at any time called for Obama, the race is essentially over, because other states that Romney also would need (Ohio or Wisconsin and New Hampshire) are even more likely to go to Obama than Virginia. For Romney to recover from loss to Virginia, he must win Ohio (or get the miracle winning Pennsylvania). Virginia might go even to recounts.
TIGHT SENATE RACES at this hour:
Indiana Senate: Democrat DONNELLY vs Republican MOURDOCK (to replace Republican Senator Lugar's seat) This - Mourdock - is the 'rape child is god's gift' Tea Party guy
Virginia Senate: Democrat KAINE vs Republican ALLEN (to replace Democrat Senator Webb's seat)
Also at this time closing Obama state of Vermont
Also at this time closing Romney states Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky and South Carolina
AT 19:30 OHIO & NORTH CAROLINA (plus Romney state West Virginia)
OHIO - 18 ELECTORAL VOTES
Polls close at 19:30
Was called about 21:40 in 2008, this time likely take longer
Obama won in 2008 with 4.6%
RCP polling average last 2 weeks Obama ahead by 3.1% (12 polls)
RCP latest trend: last week average Obama ahead by 3.0% (9 polls)
Obama Campaign final push effort 32% (1st) Obama personal appearances 7, TV ad money $11M
Romney Campaign final push effort 21% (2nd) Romney personal apperances 4, TV ad money $18M
Battleground status 1st: 27% of total final push effort by both parties
Ohio will most likely decide the election, but the state is very tight and will likely take very late into the night to make that call. Romney doesn't have to win Ohio, but if he loses it, he would have to win both Wisconsin and New Hampshire instead. The state is a mid-western industrialized 'rust belt' state with several big industrial towns. The battle has recently been focused around the Auto industry bail-out by Obama ie Romney's editorial entitled 'Let Detroit Go Bankrupt' and his recent advertising suggesting that Jeep is moving production to China (strongly rejected by Jeep, Chrysler and even GM is accusing Romney of lies in his ads). Ohio's governor Portman was a finalist considered as Romney's VP choice and has been promising Ohio would land in Romney's camp. Ohio also has a highly contested, close race for Senator with incumbent Democrat Brown ahead of Republican challenger Mandel.
The polling in Ohio has been consistently favoring Obama. Even the Romney first debate success did not turn the polling advantage to Romney. Out of 80 polls in Ohio since January 2012, Romney has been ahead only in 9. Of the past two weeks, Romney was ahead in one of 14 polls released, but that was Rasmussen, who has since released a newer poll this past week, which downgraded the race from Romney's side to a tie. So of the 12 polls still counted for the RCP average, not one suggests Romney is ahead in Ohio. The trend the past week is slightly in Obama's favor, moving the 2-week average of 2.8% to 3.0% for Obama. You have to be a severe optimist to hold hope that Romney can win in Ohio, especially considering how hostile the car industry is now against him and his last minute TV ads etc.
I think Ohio will be counted late, it often is. There are many big metropolitan areas that have big counts to manage and they will often 'dump' large vote counts, so the Ohio count is often also one with 'big swings' from one side to the other. Don't have a heart-attack. But Ohio should be called to Obama sometime in the wee hours of Wednesday and if Wisconsin has already been called for Obama (it should be faster count and bigger Obama win) then that call will likely decide the race, even if Florida and Colorado (and perhaps even Virginia) are still being counted. If Romney loses Wisconsin and Ohio, the race is essentially over with his only chance being running the table on all other 7 battleground states. If Obama loses Ohio, it will be a true nailbiter race and then Obama needs luck in states like Colorado and Florida where he was more behind than in Ohio. The way for Obama to recover from losing Ohio would be either to win Virginia alone, or to win both Colorado and New Hampshire. In either case Obama would then have to cover all other states where he is now ahead.
NORTH CAROLINA - 15 ELECTORAL VOTES - ROMNEY MUST-WIN STATE
Polls close at 19:30
Was called close to noon the next day in 2008 as one of last states to be decided and one of the closest.
Obama won in 2008 with 0.3%
RCP polling average last 2 weeks for Romney +3.0% (5 polls)
RCP latest trend: last week average for Romney +2.0% (2 polls)
Obama Campaign final push effort 1% (10th) Obama personal appearances 0, TV ad money $1M
Romney Campaign final push effort 1% (10th) Romney personal apperances 0, TV ad money $2M
Battleground status 10th: 1% of total final push effort by both parties
North Carolina is apparently not contested anymore by either side
North Carolina is absolute must-win for Romney but Obama seems to have conceded this as not worth fighting for long ago, and Romney has stopped defending it. Recent polls do show it only tenuously in Romney's camp. The state was very evenly polling Romney and Obama all through September 2012. There were 36 polls up to the first debate, and Romney was ahead in 17, Obama ahead in 16 and 3 were tied. That is 50/50 folks! But after the first debate, Romney took a clear lead he never relinquished. From October there have been 13 polls and Obama has not led in even one of them. The latest RCP average of the polls of the past 2 weeks have Romney in a safe lead of 3.8%. While the last two polls this past week have tightened the race a little bit, it is still a safe 2.5% lead for Romney. He should win the state without too much panic.
Romney should win North Carolina with the count done well before midnight. If this state were to go for Obama, it would be signs of a landslide for Obama.
TIGHT SENATE RACES at this hour:
Ohio Senator: incumbent Democrat BROWN vs challenger Republican MANDEL
Also at this time closing Romney state of West Virginia
AT 20:00 FLORIDA & NEW HAMPSHIRE (plus Obama states Connecticut, Delaware, District of
Columbia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachussetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island; and Romney states Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma and Tennessee)
FLORIDA - 29 ELECTORAL VOTES - ROMNEY MUST-WIN STATE
Polls close at 20:00
Was called in the early morning hours of the next day in 2008 as one of last states to be decided and one of the closest.
Obama won in 2008 with 2.8%
RCP polling average last 2 weeks for Romney +1.1% (10 polls)
RCP latest trend: last week average for Romney +1.6% (5 polls)
Obama Campaign final push effort 12% (3rd) Obama personal appearances 1, TV ad money $8M
Romney Campaign final push effort 11% (3rd) Romney personal apperances 1, TV ad money $14M
Battleground status 3rd: 12% of total final push effort by both parties
Florida is the big prize on the day, and an absolute must-win for Romney. The state is habitually counted long and long (in year 2000 the Florida recount went for weeks until decided by the Supreme Court). It is likely to run well into the morning hours again. If Romney loses Florida the game is over.
Florida has three regions, the South is highly Hispanic with other minorities and a safe Democratic zone. The North is retirement homes and military and part of the 'Bible Belt' of the South, with evangelicals, and is safely Republican. The state is decided by the middle of of the State where the 'swing voters' live. Florida's Hispanics are the most conservative by nature, mostly of Cuban background and well supportive of Republicans. In 2008, the total state Latinos broke for Obama only 56/41 in 2008 where nationally the Latino vote went for Obama 68/31. 14% of the total voting electorate in Florida was Latino in 2008, that may be up markedly this year, if Spanish-language polling is proven to be correct. Meanwhile the elderly vote (over 65 years of age, ie retired voters) counted for 22% of the State (tied for highest in nation) and went for McCain 53/45 in 2008. Obama has tried to win this segment over with the fear-mongering about Medicare turned into a voucher under the Ryan plan, and issues with Social Security and Medicaid.
Polling in Florida have been very VERY even through mid-September. Almost every alternate poll went Romney, then Obama, then Romney, then Obama. But in mid-September the 47% video surfaced and suddenly Obama took all polls (10 polls over 2 weeks) up until the first debate. Of the next 13 polls, only two favored Obama, the rest went to Romney. Now in the last two weeks, 11 polls have been released with 7 for Romney, 3 for Obama and one tied. RCP shows a tiny lead by an average of +1.4 for Romney but in the last week, that grows to a more comforting +2.0.
Florida is likely to be counted long into the morning hours and could go either way. A classic battleground and 'swing state' where both sides legitimately feel they have a chance, clearly this is also the third biggest battleground for the election in the last weekend, we will not know until long into Wednesday. In the end, it may be the get-out-the-vote margins for Latino voters that may decide this state. Florida may well go into recounts and we might be in limbo for days, even weeks like in year 2000.
NEW HAMPSHIRE - 4 ELECTORAL VOTES
Polls close at 20:00
Was called by around 20:30 in 2008
Obama won in 2008 with 9.6%
RCP polling average last 2 weeks for Obama at +2.0% (7 polls)
RCP latest trend: last week average for Obama at +2.0% (6 polls)
Obama Campaign final push effort 5% (8th) Obama personal appearances 1, TV ad money $2M
Romney Campaign final push effort 8% (7th) Romney personal apperances 2, TV ad money $5M
Battleground status tied 7th: 7% of total final push effort by both parties
New Hampsire is apparently not contested anymore by Obama
New Hampshire is a strange state in this contest, it only comes to play if Romney loses Ohio but wins Wisconsin (and carries all of his must-win states ie Florida, NC, Virginia and Colorado). Why is Romney putting so much effort in this tiny state and that one chance of being relevant? I believe it is because NH is still competitive, and it is one of Romney's home states. He will definitely lose his other home states (Massachussetts where he was Governor, and Michigan where he was born and his dad was Governor). So I think this is Romney's pride also playing a part, if he is going to lose, he does want at least to win one of his home states. What makes the final push in NH all the more weird by Romney's campaign, is that they have abandoned Wisconsin, the only state which they need to make NH worthwhile. If Romney wins Iowa instead of Wisconsin, even with NH the election is lost. I think this is once again a case of the Romney campaign not being very smart or professionally run. This investment in time does not make sense, but suggests once again that the Candidate is calling the shots on the Campaign and is over-ruling the Campaign Manager (as has so often been the case in Romney mistakes, like allowing Clint Eastwood onto the Convention floor in prime time, without anyone pre-screening his monologue to the chair). The Obama campaign is wisely not contesting this state knowing it will not be decisive in this year's race.
The recent polling in New Hampshire has given the Romney
camp some hope, every fourth polls or so has shown the race for the Governor
but the majority of the polls have been giving it to the President. In the past
2 weeks, out of 7 polls, only one gave it to Romney, one found the race a tie,
and 5 give it to Obama. RCP average past 2 weeks says its 1.5% for Obama
definitely too tiny a lead to breathe easily, but in the past week that grows
to a slightly better 2.2%
The state is relatively small and compact, not complex to count its votes, and typical of New England states of the NorthEast, it is usually very efficient. I expect this state to be called among the first of the battleground states maybe at around 23:00. A win to Romney would signal a generally good competitive night for him, a win for Obama means it might be a big win night for Obama, but really, the only meaningful sign for either side is if NH is called very early, like by 21:00. The longer they count in NH, the more this sounds like a nail-biter election night.
PENNSYLVANIA - 20 EC votes - is not a battleground state no matter how much Republicans now desperately try to wish it was. Pennsylvania may go long in the count, but will land in Democratic hands and Obama will win it by several percent. (see more in my long election essay down below)
TIGHT SENATE RACES at this hour:
Connecticut Senate Democrat MURPHY vs Republican McMAHON (to replace departing Independent Senator Lieberman)
Florida incumbent Senate Democrat NELSON vs challenger Republican MACK
Massachussetts Senate challenger Democrat WARREN vs incumbent Republican BROWN
Missouri Senate incumbent Democrat McCASKILL vs challenger Republican AKIN (this is the 'legitimate rape' Tea Party guy)
Pennsylvania incumbent Senate Democrat CASEY vs challenger Republican SMITH
INTERESTING HOUSE SEATS
FL-18 Florida House challenger Democrat MURPHY tries to unseat perhaps wackiest Tea Party incumbent Republican WEST
IL-8 Iraq war veteran female both-legs amputated hero challenger Democrat DUCKWORTH tries to unseat incumbent Republican WALSH
Also closing at this time:
Obama states Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachussetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island
Romney states Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma and Tennessee
(At 20:30 Romney state Arkansas)
AT 21:00 COLORADO & WISCONSIN (plus Obama states Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York;
and Romney states Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming)
COLORADO - 9 ELECTORAL VOTES - ROMNEY MUST-WIN STATE
Polls close at 21:00
Was called in the early morning hours of the next day in 2008
Obama won in 2008 with 9.0%
RCP polling average last 2 weeks for Obama at +1.4% (8 polls)
RCP latest trend: last week average for Obama at +3.2% (4 polls)
Obama Campaign final push effort 9% (tied 5th) Obama personal appearances 2, TV ad money $3M
Romney Campaign final push effort 9% (tied 5th) Romney personal apperances 2, TV ad money $6M
Battleground status 5th: 9% of total final push effort by both parties
Colorado is another Romney must-win state. It used to be safely Republican a few years ago, but has been trending to swing-state status and voted by a large margin for Obama in 2008. This year its been very tight in the polls and of Romney's must-win states, Colorado has been the most troublesome in this campaign season. The State has a large Hispanic minority (13%, 7th most in the nation) which went for Obama 61/38 in 2008. The age pyramid is somewhat strange, Colorado has very few elderly voters compared to other states, but also far less than average youth voters, so this is perhaps the most 'middle aged' of any state. Energy and oil and gas matters are relevant in Colorado as are environmental factors as with many Western states. The gun lobby is strong with the outdoors-types.
Recent polls in Colorado had a relatively 'safe' Obama year through the Spring and Summer with very rare Romney polling occasionally ahead. That changed decisively at the first debate, when Romney become competitive in Colorado. Of the 19 polls of Colorado since the first debate, Romney has been ahead in 9, Obama been ahead in 9, and one has been a tie. You can't get more close than that. Of the past two weeks, RCP finds Obama with a tenuous 1.0% lead in the average of 8 polls, but when that is limited to the last week, it shrinks to 0.6% lead in five polls. Colorado is definitely too close to call and the slightest thing could swing it now, including weather on voting day.
Colorado is very likely going to count deep deep into the night, and recent polling suggests this is the tightest race there is, so it could be that Colorado is the last state called, and it could also at that time be the state that decides it all if for example Romney has won Florida, North Carolina, Virginia and Ohio. It is more likely, that Colorado is still being counted into late in Wednesday, after the election has been called for one side or the other. But we'll see. Colorado is the tightest of the races and is very possibly decided with such a tiny edge and be decisive to the final outcome, it could go to recounts.
WISCONSIN - 10 ELECTORAL VOTES
Polls close at 21:00
Was called early in 2008, around 22:00
Obama won easily in 2008 with 13.9%
RCP polling average last 2 weeks for Obama +4.6% (7 polls)
RCP latest trend: last week average for Obama +5.0% (2 polls)
Obama Campaign final push effort 12% (4th) Obama personal appearances 3, TV ad money $3M
Romney Campaign final push effort 4% (8th) Romney personal apperances 0, TV ad money $8M
Battleground status 6th: 8% of total final push effort by both parties
Wisconsin is apparently not contested anymore by Romney
Wisconsin is part of Obama's 'firewall' states in the West and Mid-West that his campaign believes they will win to hold onto the Electoral College majority. Romney had contested Wisconsin hard, especially as his VP choice Paul Ryan is a Congressman from Wisconsin, and the early thinking in the summer by the Republicans was that Wisconsin would be 'in play' because of Ryan's choice. There are several other prominent Republican politicians also from Wisconsin now, such as Republican Party national chairman Reince Priebus. The State had a high-profile 'recall election' to try to oust the current Republican Governor Scott Walker, which the Republicans won so he got to keep his seat. Wisconsin was the alternate path to 270, if Romney lost Ohio. So if Romney won the must-win states, but lost Ohio, he could still get to 271 by winning both Wisconsin and New Hampshire. While Romney continues efforts in NH, he has now abandoned Wisconsin (bizarre, why not then abandon both). The campaign has switched those funds and time to Pennsylvania which does not need NH to get Romney over 270 (but is a futile attempt otherwise, for reasons I'll explain in the essay below).
Recent polling in Wisconsin is nearly completely Obama. The last time Romney had a poll with him ahead in Wisconsin was in August. All year, only three polls have had him ahead in the state. Currently RCP gives Obama a 4.6% lead in polls of the past 2 weeks, which increases to 5.0% in the past week. Romney camp is conceding the state, so this is just about certain to go for Obama, the only question is, will it be a fast or slow count. Fast count suggests Obama big win, slow long count suggests tight race.
Wisconsin is nearly certain to be called to Obama, so that should not be a surprise. The issue is more of when that call will come, expect it around midnight.
TIGHT SENATE RACES at this hour:
Arizona Senate Democrat CARMONA vs Republican FLAKE (to replace departing Republican Senator Kyl)
North Dakota Senate Democrat HEITCAMP vs Republican BERG (to replace retiring Democratic Senator Conrad)
Wisconsin Senate Democrat BALDWIN vs Republican THOMPSON (to replace retiring Democrat Senator Kohl)
INTERESTING HOUSE RACES
MN-6 Minnesota House Democrat GRAVES tries to unseat Tea Party favorite and losing 2012 primary Presidential candidate incumbent Republican Michelle BACHMANN
WI-1 Wisconsin House Democrat ZERBAN is trying to unseat current VP choice incumbent Republican Paul RYAN (this race is not competitive, would be huge upset)
Also closing at this time
Obama states Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York
Romney states Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming
AT 22:00 IOWA & NEVADA (plus Romney states Montana, Utah)
IOWA - 6 ELECTORAL VOTES
Polls close at 22:00
Was called early in 2008, around 23:30
Obama won easily in 2008 with 9.5%
RCP polling average last 2 weeks for Obama +2.0% (8 polls)
RCP latest trend: last week average for Obama +2.5% (4 polls)
Obama Campaign final push effort 9% (tied 5th) Obama personal appearances 2, TV ad money $3M
Romney Campaign final push effort 10% (4th) Romney personal apperances 2, TV ad money $7M
Battleground status 4th: 10% of total final push effort by both parties
Iowa is a mostly agricultural state of modest relevance with only 6 electoral votes and seems to have heightened importance at the end. It is part of Obama's Western Firewall, not strictly a must-win state but one that also won't really bring the victory to Romney either. It has been trending rather consistently, but only slightly, in Obama's favor in the polls and should end in the Obama camp.
Recent polls in Iowa show some promise for Romney, maybe every fourth poll or so shows him ahead but the majority of polls have the President ahead in the state. Past two weeks RCP gives Obama a lead of 2.5% which grows to 3.2% counting only the last week. Still, of 8 polls in the past two weeks in Iowa, two - Rasmussen and University of Iowa polls, have given Romney a 1.0% lead, while the other polls have Obama's lead in the ranges of 2% to 6%. It is clear advantage Obama by the polls but not impossible for Romney to steal, if he has a really good day.
Iowa is one of the states that is part of the early primary season, they take their elections rather seriously and with many small communities, usually are rather efficient and fast in counting the votes in this relatively small state. We should have the tally by midnight, it could come earlier even the earlier the better, assuming it goes to Obama. If Romney wins Iowa, he'd be looking very strong for winning the whole contest.
NEVADA - 10 ELECTORAL VOTES
Polls close at 22:00
Was called early in 2008, around 23:00
Obama won easily in 2008 with 12.5%
RCP polling average last 2 weeks for Obama +3.3% (4 polls)
RCP latest trend: last week average for Obama +4.0% (1 poll)
Obama Campaign final push effort 6% (7th) Obama personal appearances 1, TV ad money $3M
Romney Campaign final push effort 3% (9th) Romney personal apperances 0, TV ad money $6M
Battleground status 9th: 5% of total final push effort by both parties
Nevada is apparently not contested anymore by Romney
Nevada is a safe state for Obama, part of his Western Firewall, and not even contested anymore by Romney. It has trended safely Democratic all season and often is not even considered a true battleground state anymore by many analysts. Not one polls out of Nevada all year has had Romney ahead. Only two polls all hear even had the race tied, the latest time that happened was in early October. RCP ranks Obama's average lead at 2.8%, not huge, but significant. It grows to 4.0% in the last week but that is only one poll in that 'sample' so perhaps not too reliable. Expect Nevada to be called for Obama relatively early, around midnight or so.
TIGHT SENATE RACES at this hour:
Montana incumbent Senate Democrat TESTER vs challenger Republican REHBERG
Nevada Senate challenger Democrat BERKLEY vs incumbent Republican HELLER
Also closing at this time Romney states Montana and Utah
(At 23:00 Obama states California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington, plus Romney state Idaho)
(At 01:00 Romney state Alaska)
TURNOUT MODEL ESTIMATOR
The polls leading into the election have used 'Registered Voter' and 'Likely Voter' measurements. Likely voters tend to favor Republicans, as they are more reliable voters. The Democratic organization has emphasized its efforts in the final 'turn-out-the-vote' to try to get more of their supporters to vote. Thus, most analysts seem to think, that the last polls suggest the race nationally at about a 1% to 2% race - 8 national polls released during November had the race between +3% for Obama and +1% for Romney.
Extrapolating from the Registered Voter vs Likely Voter numbers, the expectation is of roughly of a 58% turnout, and about 130 million voters for the 2012 election, by an average of the pollsters. If we deconstruct the model to a level of 120 million turnout, the vote becomes about a 0% election either way, totally 'toss-up'. And at about a 140 million voter turnout level, the vote becomes something like a 4%-5% 'almost landslide' election for Obama. For those interested to monitor how the turnout in 2012 is forming, I have included the early closing states, that are likely to be more-or-less counted by the time we expect the decision to be made in the main election. These may serve as a preliminary 'radar' to suggest, is it a nailbiter or a landslide. Also in case there is some party-oriented variances, I have colored the states red for Republicans and blue for Democrats. The states in bold were significantly affected by Hurricane Sandy. PS the easy milestones - at 10%, you can multiply the reported count by 10 to get the early estimate of that state's total popular vote, its not yet very accurate but an easy way to do the math. Then the 50% level you can double the number, get a good estimator, and by about 95% of the polling precincts called, you will have a very good sign, because even most counties that are not 100%, will have sent in the plurality of their votes already, so after the 95% votes counted level, you will see the popular vote very accurate, near 1% of the final result in most cases (states in black are battleground states).
Closing at 19:00
STATE . . . . . . . . . 120 M level . . . 130 M level . . . 140 M level
Georgia . . . . . . . . 3.51 M . . . . . . 3.80 M . . . . . . 4.09 M
Indiana . . . . . . . . . 2.45 M . . . . . . 2.66 M . . . . . . 2.86 M
Kentucky . . . . . . . .1.62 M . . . . . . 1.76 M . . . . . . 1.89 M
South Carolina . . . . 1.71 M . . . . . . 1.85 M . . . . . . 1.99 M
Vermont . . . . . . . . 0.28 M . . . . . . 0.30 M . . . . . . 0.33 M
Virginia . . . . . . . . 3.33 M . . . . . . 3.61 M . . . . . . 3.88 M
Closing at 19:30
North Carolina . . . 3.85 M . . . . . . 4.17 M . . . . . . 4.49 M
Ohio . . . . . . . . . . . 5.07 M . . . . . . 5.49 M . . . . . . 5.92 M
West Virginia . . . . 0.63 M . . . . . . 0.68 M . . . . . . 0.74 M
Closing at 20:00
Alabama . . . . . . . . 1.88 M . . . . . . 2.03 M . . . . . . 2.19 M
Connecticut . . . . . 1.47 M . . . . . . 1.59 M . . . . . . 1.72 M
Delaware . . . . . . . 0.37 M . . . . . . 0.40 M . . . . . . 0.43 M
DC . . . . . . . . . . . . 0.23 M . . . . . . 0.25 M . . . . . . 0.27 M
Florida . . . . . . . . . . 7.52 M . . . . . . 8.14 M . . . . . . 8.77 M
Illinois . . . . . . . . . . 4.92 M . . . . . . 5.33 M . . . . . . 5.74 M
Maine . . . . . . . . . . 6.47 M . . . . . . 7.01 M . . . . . . 7.55 M
Maryland . . . . . . . 2.34 M . . . . . . 2.53 M . . . . . . 2.73 M
Massachussetts . . . 2.72 M . . . . . . 2.94 M . . . . . . 3.17 M
Mississippi . . . . . . . 1.15 M . . . . . . 1.25 M . . . . . . 1.35 M
Missouri . . . . . . . . . 2.61 M . . . . . . 2.81 M . . . . . . 3.04 M
New Hampshire . . 0.63 M . . . . . . 0.68 M . . . . . . 0.74 M
New Jersey . . . . . . 3.46 M . . . . . . 3.74 M . . . . . . 4.03 M
Oklahoma . . . . . . . . 1.32 M . . . . . . 1.43 M . . . . . . 1.54 M
Pennsylvania . . . . 5.35 M . . . . . . 5.80 M . . . . . . 6.24 M
Rhode Island . . . . . 0.39 M . . . . . . 0.42 M . . . . . . 0.45 M
Tennessee . . . . . . . 2.32 M . . . . . . 2.51 M . . . . . . 2.71 M
That should help you monitor the races as the states get counted, and see if the election in 2012 is going to be a large turnout-election or a tight low-turnout election. Remember, any single few states may be affected by something strange this year or last time, ie a highly emotional ballot initiative like gay marriage or a highly contested local race for Governor or Senator etc, so don't use just a few states to make assumptions, try to find a clear pattern, but if a pattern appears this table should help you discover it early. The Republicans would prefer the leftmost column, the Democrats, the right-most column.
UPDATE - As we await the closing of the polls, I just posted a blog about what happens next for all the big names we've grown to know in this cycle or should I say soap opera. Its the next steps for everybody, from Mitt and his boys, to Barack's future in 2017, to speculations about Hillary vs Christie and where Michelle goes next etc. Read all about it in As Romney Loses the Election, What Next?
THE BIG RELATED ELECTION ANALYSIS ARTICLE FOLLOWS
After the break there is a long detailed article about the election, these state battles and whats happening there, plus other issues such as can there be a Romney Wave including Pennsylvania, and what prospect is there for an Obama Wave etc, and what do we know of the Obama ground game, etc. If you like this kind of stuff, follow me past the break:
- - - - - - (Break) - - - - - - - - -
THE BACKGROUNDER TO MY ANALYSIS IN THE ABOVE
The USA is stubbornly a 50/50 electorate. It may go 51/49 in
a given election, but it alternates nearly like clockwork - 2 years Republican
President, then 2 years Democratic President, then again 2 years Republican
etc. The elections are remarkably often 50/50 elections, decided by usually less
than 2% of the popular vote (2004 Bush 2 - Kerry 2%, 2000 Bush 2 - Gore 0.5%,
1976 Carter - Ford 2%, 1968 Nixon - Humphrey 1%, 1960 Kennedy - Nixon 0.2%,
The 2008 election between Obama and McCain was a rare 'landslide' in the popular vote by which Obama won by 7%. Obama got 53% and McCain got 46% of the popular vote. But in reality, the US electorate was not split 53/46 that election, on their core political views. That election had a few exceptional, even once-in-a-lifetime kind of events, that all broke into Obama's direction. Sarah Palin - rarely does the vice presidential choice influence the election more than perhaps his or her home state. Even the much derired Dan Quayle didn't really damage George Bush 1 in the Bush 1 - Dukakis election. But Palin did in 2008. She became a national joke and while there were conservatives who voted for McCain because of her, there were more voters - according to the exit polls - who cast a vote against McCain (ie for Obama) because of Sarah Palin. She actually damaged McCain. Ie the election result was even worse than it should have been, just because she was selected as VP, rather than some other 'generic' Republican.
Then there was the unpopular Iraq war, McCain was on the wrong side of an anti-war movement. There were many Republicans who voted against their political view, because of the war. There was Bush 2, by now a highly unpopular presidency, and one that Obama effectively tied McCain to. And then the economy cratered. And worst of all, McCain's campaign reaction to the economic crisis - to suspend the campaign - was seen as incompetence and panic.
What should have been a 51/49 election under normal
circumstances, became that 53/46 blowout by Obama. Yes, Barack Obama was an
exceptionally powerful candidate, far superior to McCain whose old 'Truth
Express' image from year 2000, of the modern honest and rebel Republican was
tarnished now 8 years later. And yes, Obama had a great modern message of hope
and post-partisanship, better than McCain's 'rebel' of drill-baby-drill and
staying the course in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And the Obama campaign
was far superior to the Republican campaign of 2008, in particular in the
fund-raising and the ground-game of the get-out-the-vote side of the final days
of the election. Taking nothing away from excellence on the Obama side, his
campaign managers, David Axelrod, Jim Messina and others - aka Chicago, the
Obama political campaign management - know that their winning margin in 2008
was a fluke. Obama was lucky. He didn't in reality govern a country that was
53% for the Democrats. He took control of a country that was at best 51%
This acknowledgement of honest facts, is what has driven Chicago now. They knew they were very lucky to win Indiana in 2008, a state that regularly votes Republican. But Chicago saw going into the Autumn that year in 2008, that Obama had strong winds behind him, and they went into traditional Republican states like North Carolina, Indiana and Missouri - and fought hard for them - winning two of those three (Missouri was lost by a handful of votes). Early on few pundits gave them any chance of winning North Carolina or Indiana or to be seriously competitive in Missouri.
This time Chicago knew the reality is a 51/49 election, maybe a 50/50 election, maybe they were even looking at 49% of the popular vote and decided they will push very hard on only a few states, and ignore the rest. If you think you can win 53% you fight for all you won last time, but if you think it will be a 51/49 election 'at best' you do abandon some of those battles, and consolidate your forces to those where you have a better chance of winning.
This time Chicago put no effort in Indiana - a state it won by a percent in 2008. Chicago also didn't try to win Missouri, sending no resources there. They did decide to try for North Carolina and staged their convention there, but after the convention, Obama has not made one personal visit to the state of North Carolina. That tells us how tight Chicago thinks this election will be, and is willing to abandon NC for ensuring they fight to win the true battleground states, like Ohio, Virginia, Wisconsin, Florida and Colorado. This is a very sharp, disciplined and smart campaign. Knowing reality, and dealing with it, ensuring that under the worst conditions, Obama has the chance to win. Even if winning by only a thin margin, but if a win can be squeezed out of this year, they knew where the real battles had to be fought.
ROMNEY SHOULD BE FAR AHEAD
So then Romney? The Obama campaign feared Romney the most of any potential rival candidates going into this election. Obama had a fund-raising advantage over Hillary Clinton and John McCain in 2008. But Romney is the richest man ever to run for President by either major party, and could easily bankroll the whole campaign (as he mostly did in 2008 in the primaries against McCain). Obama had good relationships with Wall Street, partly due to the Clinton machine's support, but Romney is a Wall Street guy himself - he would take most of the big money. Romney was known as a centrist, the most dangerous kind of rival - not an ultra right-wing nutter like say religious fanatics like Rick Santorum or Mike Huckabee. And obviously, as the economy refused to improve, with unemployment stuck at over 8% - the danger level (no President had ever been re-elected with unemployment above 8%) - Romney was the worst possible rival to Obama - a genuine successful businessman, who had personally built his business, and then transferred that into successful Governorship and the rescue of the economic mess that was the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. Mitt Romney was the perfect 'solution' to the economic malaise which was the US economy under Obama.
The US electorate has consistently rated the USA being on
the wrong track in national polls, every single poll has the majority saying
the direction is wrong. The US electorate also rated President Obama
consistently at under 50% job satisfaction. After his initial new President
honeymoon period, his job satisfaction fell under 50% and didn't raise above
until the news of killing Osama Bin Laden, but after that it again fell under
50% and was so until now. The average of polls at Real Clear Politics had
Obama's job satisfaction rating (averaged across all polls) at 49.9% as late as
Friday 4 days before the election. On Saturday it finally hit 50% and this is
in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
The US economy was a mess, the US was on the wrong track, and the job satisfaction of Obama was under 50%. Any one of those three issues usually means the president loses re-election. Chicago knew this was going to be a tough election. And Romney was - on paper, and by past history - the most dangerous rival in this specific economic situation. Romney should be now ahead 53/47 or 55/45 by all 'logic'. Yet he never caught on with the US electorate.
TWO POINT RACE
The 2012 race has been stuck on 2% almost as far as one can remember. After Romney won enough delegates in his nomination fight to become the Republican candidate, he has trailed Obama by 2%. When the race went into the summer, the gap was still 2%. When Romney announced his choice of Paul Ryan as Vice President, the gap remained at 2%. If Romney had a problem like his foreign policy tour, the gap did not grow, it was still 2%. If Obama had a rare mis-step like the taken-out-of-context statement 'you didn't build that' - the gap between the two remained at 2%. (I am of course referring to the RCP average of polls, there were individual polls that might swing, but the national poll average remained incredibly stable, at a gap of 2%, never only 1%, never as much as 3%).
The gap finally closed only at the Conventions. The Republican Convention gave Romney a slight bounce, and brought him on par with Obama - not ahead, but exactly even according to RCP average - but then the Democratic Convention instantly reversed that, and returned the race to.. a two point race.
Why is that? I think this was an election where most voters knew very early which way they would vote, and their vote was 'sealed' very early. Remember both candidates were introduced in 2008, a rare year where neither side had any legacy candidates. Usually there is an incumbent president running for re-election, or his vice president is running like Al Gore from the Clinton years in 2000, or Bush 1 after the Reagan years in 1988. But in 2008, Bush 2 was out, and his VP, Dick Cheney was not running. Also previous Democratic President Clinton's VP, Gore, was not going to run. A very rare total break of out with the old, and totally new guys coming in.
Romney ran against McCain and got to be well known by the Republican base, many who liked him and were unsure of McCain. After Romney dropped out early, he then became an enthusiastic supporter of McCain and was seen a lot on the campaign trail. Meanwhile on the Democratic side we saw the epic nomination battle between Obama and Hillary Clinton, and then the final race between Obama and McCain.
Now the electorate knows Obama from four years as President, but the Republicans had changed the rules to make the nomination fight longer - and had an unprecedented number of televised debates in that process. Those interested at all in politics, got to see Romney very many times taking on the Republican field. Out of any outsider candidate (excluding past vice presidents) in recent memory, Romney was probably the best known candidate in 2012 by the time his Convention came along. People already knew pretty well what Massachussettes Governor and millionaire Mitt Romney was, in general terms. A Mormon, the 'savior of the Olympics' and butt of many late night jokes for being 'too handsome'.
This was then 'helped' or hurt by Chicago deciding to run anti-Romney ads all summer in the battleground states, to poison Romney's image as a greedy plutocrat, a secretive tax fugitive and interested only in the richest 1%. This all fed the narrative that the Republican primary season and the endless Republican TV debates had already seeded. So Romney's image was not very unfamiliar, it was well formed and thus his ability to move the polls now, is very difficult. The same of course is true of President Obama. Fox News has done its share of poisoning the right wing voting populace to believe Obama is a secret muslim, a socialist, marxists, unpatriotic man not even born in the USA, and intersted only in increasing taxes and redistributing wealth. These were candidates whose images were exceptionally well solidified and any individual 'revellation' or bit of news, good or bad, would not really move the needle at all.
Roughly half of the nation was leaning Democratic, and was happy - more or less - with most that Obama had achieved, inspite of some unfinished business, and would vote for him and not vote for the Republican. Ending the war in Iraq, Obamacare, Wall Street regulations, ending Don't Ask Don't Tell, getting Bin Laden, rescuing Detroit - these were plenty of reasons if you voted for Obama and were leaning to Democrats to vote for him again. And similarly, if you were in the roughly half of the nation that was leaning Republican - remember under normal conditions, the USA is very close to a 50/50 nation - then there was plenty to hate in Obama's first term, starting from Obamacare, and the 'apology tour' of the world, and 'weakness' during the Arabic Spring, and the deadlines for leaving Afghanistan, and how Obama was infringing on religious liberties with the Catholic Church and contraception, or the advances to gays (ie threats to marriage) or how Obama went after Arizona's laws on immigration issues etc. And conveninently ignoring how much of the deficits were built by Bush 2, the Republicans were blaming Obama for the massive deficits now. Yes. Most of the electorate had pretty well decided by the summer and the election was headed to a tiny 2% re-election margin for Obama, and nothing Romney could do, seemed to move that fact.
And those who were naturally right-leaning who ended up
voting for Obama in 2008 (or against Sarah Palin perhaps) would be very prone
to becoming disappointed and disillusioned by the fact, that Obama did not heal
the rift in partisan politics, and the 'new world' his campaign message of
'hope' turns very easily sour, in particular with all those who voted for him,
who are not at heart, liberal-leaning or traditional Democrats. They would
'come home' now to the Republican party and be likely quite vocal about their
disappointments in Obama. So the 53/46 nation is getting back to near 50/50.
Then came the collapse. The one thing that suddenly started to destroy the Romney campaign was the 47% video. Now, in mid-September, finally the election was shifting - but in a disasterous direction, with the gap growing to 3%, 4% even 5%. Romney supporters were panicking and many suggested the election would be a rout.
And then came the first debate, and Obama seemed to sleep-walk through it. Romney emerged as a knock-out winner, very rare in Presidential debates, and got a huge bounce from it. For the first time in the whole election cycle, Romney surged ahead of Obama and even as the Vice Presidential debate was judged to be a win by Biden over Ryan, Romney's surge continued. Even after the second debate, which was clearly given as a win by Obama, Romney's surge continued and he climbed to over 2% in the polls on the popular vote, until his gains ended after the third debate, which Obama also won decisively, and the Romney gains started to subside. The lead was down to 1% and the trend was in Obama's favor (with Romney still in the lead, but the lead shrinking) when Hurricane Sandy hit the shores.
Now the very last polls in the last week, as we get the effects of Sandy and the US populace's judgement, the election has returned to a slight Obama lead, it was at under 1% of a lead by the weekend before the election. The election is about a 50.5% to 49.5% race by the weekend, and with the current trend, could well end up at that 51/49 we expected from the beginning of this blog. The same 2% race that the Romney-Obama race has been almost the whole time. The 'natural equilibrium' has returned, more or less.
ELECTORAL COLLEGE WAS NEVER IN DOUBT
So we've had a remarkably stable race - I do believe that this has been the most static US Presidential race election season of modern times, with Obama holding a steady 2% kead most of the way, only one momentarily tie, the brief peak of Romney's bump after his Convention, and one crash with the 47% video, one big jump with the first debate, but otherwise a 2% race. What about the electoral college?
The Real Clear Politics site has published their average of polls, nationally and by state, and based on the state-by-state vote, they rate states as solidly or leaning one way or the other (red, pink for Republicans, light blue, deep blue for Democrats) and the few 'battleground' states which are too close to call. The race has been incredibly stable, also by this analysis, far more so than any race I have monitored. There has been almost no movement. A few states have moved from very red to light red, and back to very red again (and blue, same thing). A few states have momentarily moved into battleground status but soon gone back, like say Missouri from the red side, or Michigan from the blue side. But for most of the past 6 months, there have been about 9 battleground states, those same Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin. Thats it. A Michigan or Pennsylvania or Minnesota has been in a few times but those nine have been the real states that have been contested.
And how has the race been there. This is the remarkable bit. RCP headlines the safe states and the battlegrounds. But they offer the feature of 'No Toss Ups' which assigns the current lead, however tiny, to either party, to break the ties, and thus assigns all Electoral College votes. I have monitored that count almost daily.
Not one day, not for one day, in this year's election cycle,
has Romney had even a tie in the RCP state-wide poll for the Electoral College
vote, when the analysis is pushed to 'No Toss Ups' ie if the election was held
today. Sometimes it has been close, but literally, every single day, Obama has
held a 'win' status in the electoral college, when using recent state-wide
polls and across the battleground states. Sometimes Romney has held leads in
Florida, Virginia and Colorado. Temporarily even in New Hampsire. Most of the
time he's also held a lead in North Carolina. But those states have not given
him enough electoral college votes to get to 270 votes. Romney has not held a
lead in the electoral college for even one day in this season. Not one day!
In a race where Obama has been behind by as much as 2% nationally, and was behind as recently as two weeks ago, for Obama to never lose the lead in electoral college votes is incredible. It speaks volumes to how well Chicago knows how to win Presidential elections, and also, how inept the Romney campaign, ie Boston, is.
If you want to have sensational headlines, you can find a poll where Romney is ahead. If you want to be serious and consider the chances to win the election, Romney has not once been even tied. That is why someone like Nate Silver's projection of who will win the election, has had Obama with a safe cushion this whole season. It is why the gambling sites all give Obama a huge advantage. And why honest, non-partisan propagandist Republicans, admit that Romney is behind. Not by much, but he is behind. And many Republicans are already preparing for the life after Romney's loss, by talking about what were causes to it (Sandy, Governor Christie's sudden friendship, etc)
There is plenty of Republican propaganda and bluster, but the election is decided in the Electoral College vote. There, the facts are clear, that if you believe polls will reflect reality, reasonably closely, and an average of polls is a very accurate indicator of that situation - then yes, this is not a close race. Obama is ahead. This is an uphill battle for Romney and all other things being equal, he is likely to lose this election. It is for example why Ryan's team is quietly exploring the plans of what to do after Romney loses, and what are Ryan's options to carry his fame to a successful run for President in 2016. And why some Republicans like Chris Christie have pretty openly been preparing for their run in 2016. They know that unless some miracle happens, Romney is going to lose this time. The 'smart money' is on Obama winning re-election, even if in a very tight race. A 2 percent race.
REPUBLICAN WAVE PROPAGANDA
There was some evidence of a Romney surge, yes, especially after the first debate. There is evidence of a race where Obama is not doing as well as in 2008. But these are not the same as a Republican wave now. The Romney surge came after the first debate. That surge had ended and was in decline by the time Sandy came along and long before Chris Christie started to say nice things about Obama. There is no Romney surge now, all polls by major pollsters both nationally, and in key states, that reported in the past week, compared to their previous poll in the previous two or three weeks, show a decline in Romney support and an increase in Obama support. The wave is going the other way. So too are the national polls, all of them, and all polls in all battleground states (on average).
Yes, the support to Obama is less than it was in 2008 - but that was going to be so, in any case, 2008 was an exception, not the rule. Obama was going to get less votes this year in any case. But the Republicans have to maintain an illusion that there is good results coming, because they need their voters to come out to vote on Tuesday. If the Republicans knew the Presidential election was lost this year, they might not bother to vote at all, and that means the other races, for Senator, Congress, Governor etc would be in trouble. So the Republican leadership, more than Boston per se, need their base to believe this is a winnable race, so their base shows up to vote. But there is no Republican wave, no wave for Romney this year. Absolutely zero evidence of any kind of movement that way, anywhere. In fact there is evidence, lots of it, of a mild wave forming against Romney, in favor of Obama.
A Presidential election wave comes from the middle, not from the fringe. There are not enough right wing (or left wing) uncommitted voters to build a wave. You might get 1% or at best 2% more by activating those extremists who weren't going to vote otherwise. No. the wave is built in the middle, like Obama did in 2008 or for example Reagan did in 1980. Its why they are called 'Reagan Democrats'. They came from the middle, usually Democratic voters who went for Reagan (or in 2008, moderate Republicans willing to vote for Obama).
Waves build in the middle, that is where your 7% or 9% tidal wave landslide election can only come from. And what has Romney done to the middle in the past week? Nothing. He has spent most of the year alienating the middle and pandering to the extreme right. He has not gotten any meaningful middle-ground support and has no meaningful middle-ground actions to get him press attention. Rather, quite bizarrely, he is avoiding any press visibility in the last weeks, its been over 3 weeks since he gave any interviews to the press (not even to Fox News). Compare that with Obama who is happy to go on any kind of TV appearances including the Daily Show twelve days before the election.
Romney is getting ever more deeply into trouble with his last political acts from the red cross mis-steps with Sandy (they don't take canned goods, they only take money or blood donations) or his silly TV and radio ads about Jeep production going to China which has Chrysler CEO feuding now with Romney and the related GM references to losing jobs, while GM has added jobs, which has GM also feuding with Romney. This is not how you win the middle. Same with the social media. Chicago has steadily built followers on Facebook and Twitter etc, Obama has over 20 million Twitter followers. Romney? Under 2 million. The most-seen videos on YouTube relating to the election are almost as a rule videos from the Obama campaign or its supporters, not those of the Romney campaign. The 'Romnesia' joke campaign on Twitter is a perfect example of how the Obama team is nimble and capable of capitalizing on news events and expanding it into social media.
While the right-wing blogosphere tries to imagine a fantasy world where a Romney wave is building - like reporting 30,000 attending a Romney rally in Ohio when only 15,000 went through the security gates, and half of those left after the band stopped playing, before Romney started to speak - there is none. So Romney's best chance is, that this race is about 50/50, and he is luckly with things like weather and voter motivation and ekes out a slim victory.
A PENNA MIRACLE
Pennsylvania is the fantasy hype now of the 'suspend reality' troops for the Romney and Republican propaganda machine. Pennsylvania is a solidly blue state, it went for Obama by 10% in 2008 and has been solidly Democratic most years before. As the national polls have closed from the 7% win Obama had, to the 1% they might be now, then yes, Pennsylvania can be expected to be something like 4% today, but that is not because Romney is suddenly more popular, it is just the natural range of where PA should be. The Democrats have more than a 1 million voter registration edge in the state, a long-standing very strong ground game and almost every poll in the state has shown Obama with a safe lead all year. Neither side has thought of contesting the state.
In previous years, the Republicans have made last-minute lurches towards Pennsylvania with the Candidate making a last-minute visit to the state, and always been burned. Its not happening. You can't take what is a 4% disadvantage by RCP average polling, and suddenly, over a weekend, with a blitz of ads and one campaign visit, turn a state with 13 million people including two major metropolitan areas (Philadelphia and Pittsburgh) - and somehow magically 'flip it' to your party. Especially not, when the other side also threw quickly a TV ad campaign to counter yours, and while Obama isn't visiting Pennsylvania, his surrogates went in to do some events there.
There was a chance. The Pennsylvania Republican party had orchestrated quite a cunning plan to force PA voters to show photo ID registration to vote, where many Democratic-leaning voters would not have such ID, and tried to orchestrate voter suppression that way. The Republican leadership in the state even stated that the Voter ID law would ensure Romney would win the state. That was until the courts struck down the law.
And Sandy? Theoretically, Hurricane Sandy did also cause its destruction in the Philadelphia metropolitan region, where the biggest collection of Democratic voters live in the state of PA, but this was not the ocean front and total destruction. Most of those polling places will be up and fine by election day.
Now, if you are Romney, and you know Ohio is lost, and you have the choice of going to Michigan - 'Let Detroit Go Bankrupt' or try to fight in Wisconsin, or instead go to Pennsylvania, perhaps you think that the Romney brand is badly tarnished by six months of negative ads by the Obama campaign in Wisconsin, and irreparable in Michigan, and thus you move the effort to Pennsylvania. Yes, its totally a 'hail Mary pass' type of last-minute gimmick, done with big prayers, maybe just maybe there is a miracle under that rainbow. But realistically, no, you don't move 4% in one weekend, not with one visit, and the other side doing a TV ad campaign to fight against your sudden TV ad campaign. If Romney had attacked Pennsylvania methodically from the first debate, it maybe could have been done, but not now. This is too late. Penna will be close, but no cigar. As usual.
So Romney will win the regular red states. Of the 9 battleground states, he has been holding a slim but nearly steady lead in North Carolina, and the Obama campaign is not contesting NC, so thats the likely win for Romney. Florida, Virginia and Colorado have recently been more in Romney's camp than Obama's but those are again now tightening and recent polls show Obama inching ahead. These three states are still very possible Romney wins. New Hampshire is a big push for Romney but he has been behind in most NH polls. Yet he is pushing even at the last weekend, and finishes his campaign there. I guess its a matter of pride, Romney doesn't want to lose every one of his home states, so NH is a possible win. With a bit of luck, those five states are very plausible Romney wins.
Then it gets hard. Ohio is quite unlikely, due to the 'Let Detroit Go Bankrupt' issue and the recent ads now about Jeep. But Romney is spending tons on TV ads and visiting the state during the end game. He might eke out a win in Ohio. And if he takes those six states, he's the next President. Iowa is even less likely, but is still plausible, although Romney has never been close in that state. Wisconsin is in a similar class, it is plausible but highly unlikely, even with Ryan the Wisconsinite as his running mate, Wisconsin is not close. But Romney could, in a lucky 'all things break his way' kind of day, take Iowa and Wisconsin too. The last of the battleground states, Nevada, is truly beyond reach for Romney now, under any circumstances. It is not plausible. Nevada has held clear if slight Obama leads in every single poll released there and Romney isn't even contesting the state.
It means, that if Romney has a perfect day, wins 8 out of these 9, only losing Nevada, he would end with 295 Electoral College votes. Romney cannot breach 300 EC votes, under any situation. And with Romney at 295, it would mean Obama cannot do worse than 259 EC votes (McCain lost in 2008 with only 173 EC votes, as Obama took 365 EC votes to win)
AN OBAMA WAVE?
What of an Obama wave? Nobody really is suggesting one, and rather, many pundits are saying its impossible. Yes, I see that because Obama's job approval rating has been stuck at 49% or less for most of the election cycle and most polls show it a dead heat at best Obama up by a point or maybe two, but across all polls Obama has never hit 50% nationally, there is no obvious sign of a wave heading the Democrats way either.
But the past week was the perfect storm for Obama. Lets say, first, that the national 'equilibrium' was at a 2 point race, even as it was often 48/46 or 49/47, that would mean 51/49 on election day. Lets say that was 'reality' just before Sandy hit the shores. Now we have Romney losing many days of precious - in the case of the challenger one could say vital - press coverage, while Obama gets to shine being presidential. That alone is useful and helps Obama while denying Romney the chance to match.
Then comes the success bit. When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, President Bush 2 was seen as inept, and FEMA was blamed for being useless and clueless. Or remember the BP oil spill and how helpless the Obama administration was, there was literally nothing the US government could do with that disaster so deep under water that no standard safety gear existed to go stop the leak. But this time FEMA was well prepared for Sandy and Obama flew in, was just the correct level of presidential and caring and seen on TV several nights doing just the right things - to the degree that Romney resumed his campaigning before Obama did. Thats what 'a President' does, Obama got very good reviews for handling this crisis. If you were an independent voter, uncertain which way to go, this was a very strong sign of leadership from Obama, and a botched attempt to try to get publicity by Romney with the staged canned goods event which then transpired, Romney's campaign had gone buying food that Romney supporters could give to Romney pretending to be donating.
And this, then combined with the keynote speaker at the Republican Convention, Governor Christie of New Jersey praising Obama many times on TV for being a great President in this crisis. (And another major speaker from the Convention, Condaleesa Rice also in the news, supporting the State Department and Obama administration in the Libya shooting aftermath). A Republican praising a Democrat. Praising Obama for leadership. This from the guy who only a week before had been campaigining on Romney's behalf accusing Obama of a lack of leadership. If you were a moderate Republican or a right-leaning independent, who was unsure which way to go, and felt that Obama was perhaps weak or too partisan or not leader enough, suddenly here is your excuse to vote for Obama. If Chris Christie praises Obama, and Christie is nothing if not honest, then why not, Obama is not such a bad person after all, and he did handle that Sandy very well...
To this comes Mayor Bloomberg's endorsement. The only politician richer than Romney, the ex Republican ex Democrat now independent came with his surprise endorsement. The businessman's businessman, who runs his own business news network. Who didn't endorse anyone in 2008. Suddenly endorsed Obama, and in a nasty way showed that the old Romney was worthy of a vote, but the new Romney is not. And also, echoing no doubt the thinking of many undecideds or perhaps-still-wavering voters, he was not fully supportive of Obama, but on so many points, showed that Obama was on the right side of history, from women's rights to gays to yes, global warming. If there are those in the traditional 'business' wing of the Republicans who would be unsure of voting for Romney, now there is ample cover by Bloomberg no less, who in 2008 did not endorse Obama, who now endorses the President - and explicitly, said the 2012 version of Romney is not worth voting for. Bloomberg, also, plays very well in Florida where many retired New Yorkers go, and him being Jewish, especially in those Jewish retirement communities.
To which we get General Colin Powell's endorsement. Not a big surprise as he also endorsed in 2008, but this is a registered Republican, was Bush 2's Secretary of State and highly respected moderate Republican. Who is also highly respected by the military wing of the Republicans. His endorsement gives cover for those on the military and foreign policy side of independents and moderate Republicans who were not yet sure which way to vote.
And add to that the Economist. Another 'not perfect' endorsement, they say they were disappointed in Obama yet endorse him over Romney. That Romney's economic math is impossible and can only work if one assumes Romney won't do anything he promised to do, etc. A conservative, business-oriented paper read widely and one with a lot of influence, especially among older voters - Romney's base where Obama lags. (And yes, the Financial Times, same story - Romney's economic math doesn't add up).
To this we have Bill Clinton, definitely a full partisan Democrat, but highly beloved among Democrats and respected among independents, stomping full time for Obama and managing clever one-liners as he is prone to do, to get himself in the news almost every day. And poised against that backdrop, suddenly emerges George W Bush, out of hiding, in the news that he gave a keynote speech in the Cayman Islands, about how to use tax shelters in that country. How bizarre timing, just before the election, when Romney is known for hiding his money in the Caymans.
Then the unemployment numbers were not great but the unemployment rate was for the second time in a row under 8% and a lot of new jobs were added, giving the perfect cherry to the top of the economic news of this past week that housing is up, the stock market is up, consumer confidence is up, manufacturing jobs are up, car sales are at recent record levels etc.. If you were thinking earlier this year, that you are voting against Obama because the economy is rotten but felt that you were torn otherwise with the candidates, now the recent news is all 'good enough' to perhaps give Obama the benefit of the doubt.
None of these points alone would swing one percent of the vote. Arguably no endorsements anymore matter, but I gotta say, that the unexpected Bloomberg endorsement all alone, could count for half a percent. That may seem like nothing, but if the election is otherwise a 2% election, going from 2% to 2.5% is yes, a quarter more in votes for Obama. It is big in a tight election. The other endorsements, Economist, Colin Powell, and the visual image of Chris Christie and his kind words, while not endorsing the president of course - when added to Bloomberg's, could amount to a full percent in the President's favor. The other news, economy, Hurricane Sandy, etc, could easily add another percent.
I honestly do think this will end up a 2% election. And I am 100% certain, a Republican wave is impossible. But a Democratic wave, specifically an Obama wave, is not likely but it is definitely possible. A tiny wave could be formed right here, in the above. Lets say we would hit 4% now with the above, all added together. That is not a landslide or tidal wave. It is still only a 52/48 election. But there is one big nasty cloud on the horizon, a potentially violent storm cloud about to hit SS Romney. Because now we get to Axelrod's Last Act. Axe's Last Axe.
WHAT IS AXELROD'S LAST ACT?
Axelrod and the rest of Chicago have played the near perfect campaign. There was only one clear mis-step (Debate 1) and one minor miscue (Obama's Acceptance speech). Everything else so far has been perfection in a campaign, under enormously negative conditions. Look at their TV advertising for example. Romney and the Republicans have more money, and have outspent Obama and the Democrats almost exactly by 2 to 1, across this campaign season. Yet the recent measurement of TV ads seen, has the race essentially tied at 1 to 1. How is that possible? Chicago has been very smart to buy TV ads cleverly, at best rates, planning well in advance. Boston has played a very jerky 'react' ad game, buying ads at the last moment, when the prices are higher. Chicago buys often on cable TV, targeting more precisely. Boston buys more on network TV where prices are higher and audiences more diluted.
Then look at the TV ads themselves. Have we seen any 'pants on fire' or 'four pinocchios' claims of blatant lies in Obama ads? No (yes, there have been some by independent Super PACs supporting the Democrats but not by Obama's own campaign itself). Meanwhile Romney's campaign regularly gets accused by fact-checkers, even to the point of now GM and Chrysler attacking Romney's ads as untruthful.
Chicago has been able to use a clever mix of ads of more whimsical and funny nature, to cut through the clutter, like the one about Big Bird, or the one attempting to list all of Romney's tax increases in Massachussetts or the one about the virgin girls' first ever time - voting. Chicago often gets its ads mentioned on the news - and shown for free - for being funny or clever, while Romney gets its ads shown on the news for being factually untrue. I am not a psychologist, but I do feel in my gut, that Chicago is getting better electoral effect out of its ads, than Boston does. And it cannot help their candidate's image problem with stretching the truth, if their ads are regularly paraded on the nightly news as being untruthful.
Boston arranged the most disorganized and confused Convention ever, from the silly day theme 'you didn't build that' which was so pointless, it has since been dropped by the campaign, to Clint Eastwood speaking to an empty chair; while Chicago ran the most potent Convention ever, with the best ever first lady speech rivalling most Presidential Acceptance speeches in its quality, added to by the excellent keynote by the Latino mayor of San Antonio, to the nomination speech by Bill Clinton - first time ever that a past President has nominated another. Yes, Chicago has run a picture-perfect campaign. Even after the messed-up first debate, Axelrod prepped Obama just right for the second and third debates, to ensure he won those but didn't come off as too cocky or aggressive.
That is the master. And what was his winning ace in 2008? It wasn't the TV ads or the convention (remember the stadium and the greek pilars?). It was.. the ground game! The get-out-the-vote game. The last mile of the campaign. Everyone who analyzed the 2008 race said that the Democrats were far superior in the get-out-the-vote part of the campaign, the last day(s). In 2008 the McCain campaign was able to contact 24 million voters - 18% of the electorate, but Obama's campaign contacted 34 million voters, out-performing the McCain campaign by 44%. And the end result - Obama's campaign turned out 7.7 million more voters out of the direct contact than the McCain campaign managed. Now, obviously, many of those might have shown up and voted for Obama anyway, but it is a huge advantage. If that was the deciding factor alone (and definitely it was not) that would be 6% of the total vote. So the 'ceiling' of the benefit of the Chicago machine get-out-the-vote effort was as much as 6% - in 2008. In reality, probably far less than half that, maybe 1% or at most 2%. Nonetheless, this is above and beyond all of the 'regular politics' of speeches and conventions and debates and TV ads. That is a Chicago bonus. That is an Axelrod bump.
In 2012 the Republicans have caught up a lot. The recent Pew study for example found that the Republicans have been contacted by nearly as often as the Democrats, the gap is now only about 10%. In contacts 'recently' it is a bit bigger, but still, no more than 20%. But the Republicans are still learning how to do this. Axelrod learned in 2008 and has had four years to plan his final move. We have not seen what Chicago plans to do with this insight, and what is their last play. Only we know, this is Axelrod's last move. This is not Obama, this is not Joe Biden, this is not Michelle Obama, this is not Bill Clinton. This is pure Axelrod.
And get this - most of Romney's campaign money went to TV ads. Not Obama's. Most of Chicago's campaign spending went to the ground game! Axelrod has had umpteen millions to build his secret army and prepare it for this weekend and Monday and Tuesday. The final charge is upon us now. We do not know what that gambit is, but it is massive and it was prepared with four years of prep-time and with more money than any campaign ground game, ever, by the master of that game.
We do know that Chicago has far more field offices than Boston. We do know Chicago has far more volunteers, and far more employed staff. We know they have some very clever computer programs for targeting and voter databases and supporter data. But how that all will play out, we have to wait until Wednesday to see and learn as the election aftermath starts to report on what happened. What we have learned, however, is that they have 700,000 actual 'shifts' of get-out-the-vote work for which volunteers have signed up. If we say that there are 65 million voters for the Democrats to contact, and one third has already voted, meaning some 42 million left to contact, and those 'shifts' are say 2 hours in length, they could literally telephone everybody once, and speak for 2 minutes..
Or yes, go help drive elderly people to voting places, or send SMS text message reminders to voters on election day, etc. And just to be clear, for example, the Democrats have been developing a 'voting report card' that they intend to mail or hand-deliver to their voters, to drive voter turnout, by 'gamifying' voting, where your voting past is given a grade like in school, compared to your neighborhood average score in reliability in voting. This kind of stuff is what we can expect. And those 20 million Twitter followers, yes some are foreigners or teenagers who can't vote, but its far better than 2 million Romney followers, and they can be activated on Tuesday with Tweets. And so forth.
WHY VOTE EARLY
So then while yes, Obama has a great ground game and get-out-the-vote effort, and yes, Romney's team has learned from 2008 and is doing no doubt far better than McCain did, what of the early voting? This I have not seen much reported but it makes so much sense to me, thinking of it tactically. You want to get about 65 million people to vote for your guy. If you have a great get-out-the-vote effort, and everybody votes on Tuesday, you have to split all your forces very widely. But if you get a third of 'your side' to vote early - it means there are less actual bodies to activate, and your team can achieve more contacts and more actual support on voting day! Anyone who votes early, doesn't need help on Tuesday, and doesn't need a call or text message reminder. That vote is 'banked'. But you still have an army, so now your activation army can focus far more thoroughly on those that are left, still to vote. It means, that for the Democrats, who always suffer from worse voting percentage than Republicans (who vote more reliably) - those lazy ones who need many reminders, can get more attention on the weekend before the election, and on election day.
Pew's final election survey for example, a very large sample survey of 3,151 people, gives an interesting view to how Pew forecasters model the 'Registered Voter' vs 'Likely Voter'. So their RV voter raw survey result has Obama winning by 7%, but then Pew uses its assumptions of how reliable those voters are, and reports the LV results as an Obama lead of only 3%. And before you say - thats cheating - no, this is how most pollsters have done for many years, because RV results are not as accurate as a well-designed LV 'screen'. And here is the part that illustrates my point. Because Pew gives also the raw data, we can see what kind of voting loyalty they are assigning by party. Republicans or Romney voters are expected to lose only 4% of their total support going from RV to LV. 96% of Republican suppoters are very reliable voters. How does that compare with Democratic voters? The Obama side loses 12% out of RV voters going to LV voters. Yes, only 88% of Democratic supporters - who are registered to vote, are expected to show up and vote. You see my point. This is a huge margin - thats potentially 8.9 million Obama supporters, already registered to vote, who are expected not to show up. Its yes, 7% of the votes. If the Democrats were able to somehow magically get all those 'lazy' voters to show up, they would boost the total vote margin from 2% Obama win to a massive landslide 9% win - and the Pew latest election poll would still be correct, they had already measured that support but found it unlikely to show up on election day.
For the Republicans this is not really useful. They are reliable anyway. Their supporters are the elderly - who vote very faithfully and reliably - they look forward to voting day as a break to their routines. Their support includes the military who don't need reminders, their daily life follows set routines and schedules. Their support is in the evangelical base in rural areas where you get your church and community to support the voting, etc.
Take the Republican reliable voter, who was going to vote on Tuesday anyway, and ask them to vote on early voting day, say the previous week Monday - they will do that. But it won't get you more votes. That is one voter who won't show up now on Tuesday. And because Republican voters are reliable, even 'reminder calls' and other get-out-the-vote actions, will not suddenly turn non-voters into new Republican voters. That voter already voted, there is nothing more to do. But on the Democratic side, there are millions of lazy voters who might or might not show up. They need a lot of encouragement - but the beauty is, that if reminded, every cycle of reminders brings more of them to vote. Democrats can increase their turnout just by continuous reminders (and banking those by voting early where possible).
The point is, that while I don't doubt at all that Boston now is far better at early voting, and the contacts to voters, and the get-out-the-vote than McCain's campaign was in 2008, the actual gains to Republicans to get 'more' votes out of this, are minimal - their ceiling is 4% of their supporters or 2% of the total electorate, if they were going to be able to do this 'perfectly'. That is about what Axelrod was able to do four years ago, when he was still practising...
It is good tactics for either side, if getting early votes, for example with Hurricane Sandy, it does mean those voters got their votes in before any chaos at the voting places. Or if there is a blizzard for example on voting day in the NorthWestern states or mountain states as in some years. Also its good to get early votes, in case there is bad news from the TV news through early exit polls that your side is losing the contest, that may suppress late voters in the Western States that vote later, etc. But the upside to the Republicans out of this same activity is minimal, whereas to the Democrats it is potentially big.
This year more people voted early than in 2008. This year Democrats have an even better prepared, trained and funded ground game than in 2008. And in 2008 it probably gave them 1% or 2%. Because of early voting, the Democratic ground game can focus even more on those who haven't yet voted (and are perhaps unreliable voters) so the gains on the Democratic side will have to be at least as good as in 2008, perhaps better. But on the Republican side, because they are reliable voters anyway, the gains are minimal if anything. Which is perhaps why Boston has not put that much money into the ground game.
THE ELEMENTS ARE THERE FOR AN OBAMA WAVE
So if we say the race was a 2% game, then we add the perfect storm of Sandy and the various good news such as the unemployment data, and several major endorsements the past week to Obama plus the Chris Christie kind words, at another 2%, and finally, add Axelrod's last gambit, which could be anything from 2% to even 4% in its impact, we have the scale of 6% to 8% as the total margin for Obama, under the perfect scenario. Remember 7% is what Obama had in 2008 in his landslide. So the elements are there, theoretically, 'plausibly' to have a similar landslide election in the popular vote in 2012, as was in 2008. I must stress, this is unlikely. I do think its a 2% election, not more. But while a Republican wave is impossible, a Democratic wave is plausible. Where would that then bring the Electoral College vote count?
So what would that mean? It really would not help much. So Obama can win the electoral college even if he is down by 1% nationally, rather easily, by recent polls in the battleground states. If Obama carries just Nevada, Ohio and Wisconsin, and loses the other 6 battleground states, he is still re-elected President with 271 Electoral College votes to Romney's 267. That is really all Obama needs. He will win Nevada, so he only needs Ohio and Wisconsin, and he is in. The full national popular vote could easily go 51% to Romney and 49% for Obama and those three states would still give Obama his second term as President. That is his floor, so to speak. But where is his ceiling?
If the vote goes about 3% nationally to Obama, he should carry all 9 swing states, including barely North Carolina and Florida, which have been recently about 2% in favor of Romney when the national polls were tied. At that point, Obama would be at 347 EC votes to Romney's 191. But this is just about the ceiling. If Obama won 4% or even 5%, there is nothing on the horizon that would come into play. Georgia, Arizona, Indiana and Missouri are all according to recent polls close to 10% or even more, beyond the reach of Obama. Some polls have hinted in the ranges of 7% or 8% but that is still well beyond reach, just by applying math to the solution. I don't see any of them in any way breaking to Obama under normal election conditions. However, these states, not being considered battleground states, have not been polled often on the Presidential level, there might be some room for movement. As neither side has contested them, they are not as 'polluted' by negative ads, so the hostility to 'the other side' is not necessarily as strong as it would be in the nine battleground states. That means that the electorate is not necessarily as solidly certain to vote either Romney or Obama. There is theoretically more room for movement.
But these are all four reliable red states, Missouri perhaps
the least, it used to be considered a swing state but recently has become more
reliably red. But yes, my math and modelling says that even if Obama got a 5%
swing, these four states are truly out of reach. We might see their count go
deep into the night, but they will not be decided by something under one
percent, even in that scenario. But if the Axelrod last act is something truly
incredible, and all other parts fall perfectly into place, and we look at a 7% or
8% race in the popular vote, then there are three states with something unique
that could just do it.
THREE LITTLE MIRACLES
These are very unlikely to happen, but there are three states, that if there was a big Obama wave, just could bring a surprise to Chicago. First there is Akin. Missouri's Tea Party extrimist Republican Congressman decided to run for Senate, to take on the unpopular Claire McCaskill, the Democratic Senator. Todd Akin was well ahead in the polls until his infamous statement about 'legitimate rape' and that somehow female anatomy could reject rape sperm in cases of 'real rape'. Today McCaskill is far ahead in all polls from Missouri. But even those polls that ask for both, say Obama meanwhile is behind by a large single-digit percentage in the same state where the Democratic Senator is ahead. Same poll, McCaskill is ahead, Obama far behind.
Now imagine Missourians, many who did vote for Obama in 2008, who had previously thought they'll not vote for him again, and seeing the Sandy stuff, and the many endorsements, especially those that remind voters that Romney is also questionable on womens' issues etc, and then imagine those who vote for McCaskill. I could imagine that in Missouri, the 'coat tails' of Claire McCaskill could help bring Obama close to parity with Romney. Then add the Axelrod last day magic and this nailbiter could perhaps, turn into a surprise with two Democratic underdogs winning in Missouri. While yes, the recent polling is not suggesting this is about to happen, remember, in my scenario, we are assuming a last week / last weekend sudden shift to an Obama wave that could nationally be as big as 7%.
Or the Indiana version of the same. You'd think that after one Tea Party extrimist Republican well ahead in the polls gets his chances torpedoed by rape comments, other Republicans would learn, but no. In Indiana, Tea Party favorite Richard Mourdock defeated Indiana's long-standing Republican Senator Dick Lugar in the primaries, and now just a few weeks ago, was easily cruising to a victory in the reliably red state of Indiana. Then he had his silly rape statement - that a child born out of a rape is a gift from god - which sunk his chances and he now severely trails Democratic underdog Joe Donnelly. Donnelly is very likely going to run away with the Indiana Senate seat turning one 'certain' Republican seat from red to blue, thanks once again to the Tea Party. Can this help Obama? Not as such, Obama was massively behind in the few polls released concerning Indiana, and while last time Obama spent a lot of time and resources to win Indiana, this time they have stayed away.
But in a big wave, maybe. What might help Indiana just a little bit more, is the Romney troubles from next door in Ohio, where he is now in a big feud with his silly TV ads and the car industry. Remember, Indiana went to Obama by a 1% margin in 2008, so there are theoretically more those who actually voted for Obama than who voted for the Republican ticket. While many no doubt have misgivings and disappointment, this might be a slightly easier 'conversion' because at least slightly more had actually voted for Obama in Indiana (than in Missouri).
The biggest surprise potential, to me, however, is Arizona. In Arizona there is no rape sillyness but first, in 2008, the actual vote margin was 9% for McCain, but that margin was articially big for McCain because he was the home boy Senator from Arizona. In reality the margin for the Republican should have been perhaps closer to half that. Yes, Arizona is still a red state, but rated pink, not deep red, and is expected to go purple soon (battleground) because the population mix is getting ever more Latino, who are strongly voting Democratic, in particular in that part of the USA (In Florida many Latinos are strongly Republican, especially those of Cuban descent). In 2008 Arizona was the state with 4th biggest Latino vote (18%) behind New Mexico, Texas and California, and the Latino vote in Arizona broke 56% for Obama and 41% for McCain. Nationally Obama bested McCain by 37%, but only 15% in Arizona last time. This year, polling suggests Obama is favored over Romney by even larger percentages than Obama did over McCain, thanks in part to Obama's very good record with Latinos like the Dreamers executive order and the appointment of the first Hispanic Supreme Court Judge, while Romney is seen as hostile to the Latino community from 'self deportation' to supporting Arizona's hated papers please laws.
Latinos have generally voted at far lower participation rates than voters overall. But this year, in particular with the Dreamers executive order by Obama, the Latinos seem to be exceptionally energized. There are a vast array of Latino celebrities endorsing Obama. And here is one voter segment who would particularly benefit from Axelrod's ground game. The more unreliable you are, the better effective is the get-out-the-vote activity. Note, in terms of any poll catching this part of the wave - the ground game on eleciton day is explicitly something that cannot be caught beforehand in any polls. So this part of the wave would be not unlike a Tsunami wave, it is building under the ocean but we can't see it until it hits the shore. There also has been some Latin specific polling which seems to suggest stronger Hispanic involvement and even stronger Obama support than the normal national or state-wide polls conducted in English and Spanish. There could be room for a surprise here.
Again, the numbers are not really strong enough, even in Arizona, for this to tip the balance, but if it was a 'wave' election, and a few other things went Obama's way.. So then we get the military vote (General Colin Powell) and the elderly vote - Arizona is one of the retirement states. The Democratic play of scaring elderly voters about turning Medicare into a voucher, privatizing Social Security, and cuts to Medicaid, could be things that might just help to tip the scales. I do think Arizona will be a suprisingly close state in any case, it won't be anywhere near the 9% it was last time. If the perfect storm hits Obama, he just might take Arizona, on a very long count and under 1% margin.
I honestly don't think those will go blue this time but those are the only three states I see that are within 'plausible' range of flipping, if there is a big wave for Obama. Most likely Arizona, then Missouri, least likely Indiana. If it was a 7% national vote, and we learn of some stunning Axelrod gimmick that just turned out astonishing numbers of Democratic sleeper supporters, and these three all went for Obama, then - the ceiling for his support would be in Electoral College votes 378 and Romney's absolute disaster floor minimum is 160 EC votes.
So, under normal situation, if its a massive Romney win, he wins 8 out of the 9 battleground states (obviously also losing Pennsylvania) he becomes President at 295 Electoral College votes and Obama loses at 243. If Obama has a big day, sweeps the 9 battleground states, he wins with 347 EC Votes to Romney's 191. If there is a wave now, it can only be one benefitting the Democratic side, in that case the absolute ultimate giddy superduper day for Obama and gang, is a landslide of 378 EC votes and Romney's nightmare loss is at worst 160 EC votes.
UPDATE - As we await the closing of the polls, I just posted a blog about what happens next for all the big names we've grown to know in this cycle or should I say soap opera. Its the next steps for everybody, from Mitt and his boys, to Barack's future in 2017, to speculations about Hillary vs Christie and where Michelle goes next etc. Read all about it in As Romney Loses the Election, What Next?
For the record, one week ago, I made my prediction that the election will be a 1% nailbiter, but Obama ends up carrying 7 of the 9 battleground states: Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin for 347 EC votes and Romney will win Florida and North Carolina and end with 147 EC votes. If you want to read my analysis why, its here (my prediction).
If you want to know when and why I think the election was won by Obama, its the 47% video, and my blog when I called it as the end of the Romney dream, here.
If you want to really read some 'conspiracy theory' stuff about why Obama suddenly tanked his first debate, and why his Convention speech was so flat, you may enjoy my Billiards Hall 'Pool Shark' Gambit theory.
And just so you know, most of this blog is about mobile telecoms tech, social media, digital technology, so for the political topic readers, don't bother to surf my other long blog posts, they are boring technological posts about smartphones etc.. Thats my day job, I've written 12 books on those matters and lecture on those topics at Oxford University etc. I am a Finn, I am not allowed to vote in this US Presidential election, so this blog is just an indication of my fascination with the race for the most powerful elected office on the planet..