While the East Coast cleans up the soaked wreckage that used to be their homes from Superstorm Sandy, it’s important for us to remember that, yes, we’re still going to be electing a president. In less than a week. Like, real soon, now.
Let’s take a look at where we’re at.
The RealClearPolitics average for the national vote — which takes all major polls and then, after accounting for margins of error, disparity of methodology and a whole lot of other pollster nonsense that I don’t have the time (nor you the patience) to deal with, puts the race at a dead tie.
After President Obama’s decline in the polls post-first presidential debate, it appeared that former Governor Romney had momentum. Swing states like Colorado, Florida and Virginia were turning red.
Following the next three debates — the Vice Presidential debate included — Obama rebounded, and brought the race to a dead heat nationally. As I’ve said before, debates won’t win a campaign, but they can certainly kill one. Obama’s lackluster first debate nearly killed his chances, before his campaign was able to stop the bleeding.
But how are the state races?
RCP currently puts their count in the Electoral College at Obama 201 – 191 Romney, with the remainder listed as “tossup,” i.e., all the battleground states are still battlegrounds.
But RCP is a bit gun shy when it comes to those. Of course, it’s much better to be gun shy than to accept Huffington Post’s projection that Obama still has 277 electoral votes in the bag, and thus the presidency is still his to lose.
However, collectively, polls tend to accurately predict where the election is going to go in the final week, when they are averaged out. So while Rasmussen and CNN might differ in a given poll, when those and others are taken into account, and you toss out the extreme outliers, the polls are remarkably accurate.
RCP, without tossups, puts the race at Obama 290 – 248 Romney. While Obama’s lead has dwindled in many battleground states to put him within the margin of error, it’s a rarity in his numbers to be behind.
In Ohio, all but one poll (Rasmussen) puts Obama behind. It’s been that way since the beginning of the general election, and even Rasmussen isn’t consistently putting Romney ahead, there.
In places like Michigan and Wisconsin, again, Obama dipped to land within the margin of error, hence “tossup,” but the best numbers Romney can pull is a tie. Most polling groups believe that those will fall to Obama barring a catastrophic slip-up.
Colorado’s all over the place. RCP gives Obama a 0.6% overall advantage there, but at that point, we’re just grasping at straws. However, there might be other things on the ballot that could bring voters to the polls. There’s a ballot measure in Colorado that would legalize marijuana for recreational use (they already allow “medical” use like California). And yes votes have a ten point lead over no votes.
Initiatives like this, issue measures, can pull unlikely voters. (Let’s be honest: Stoners and libertarians.)
Overall, by no means is President Obama running away with it. Pollster Nate Silver says, “[The president's] chances of holding onto his Electoral College lead and converting it into another term are equivalent to the chances of an N.F.L. team winning when it leads by a field goal with three minutes left to play in the fourth quarter.”
To take that metaphor further, it’s a final-possession game. If this election were to go another month, we’d probably be seeing continuing bounces and drops. At this point, there’s no such thing as momentum, anymore. Momentum requires having room to go. There’s no room, no time left, to accelerate. The campaigns — and more importantly, voters — are on reserve tank.
Later, I’m going to be taking a look at the Senate and House races and breaking it down.
Question: Regardless of who you support, who do you think is going to win?