Nate Silver of 538.com, and the NYT, says that Obama is still ahead in the electoral vote count, regardless of what national polls are saying. Meaning, the national polls are showing a close vote, in terms of absolute votes. But in the states, pretty much everyone agrees that Obama is ahead.
Nate shows that, according to the popular vote, the President has 50.3% and Romney 48.7%. But Obama’s chance of winning vs. Romney is still 67.9% vs 32.1%.
Why the difference? As I mentioned before, the state polling. In order to win a presidential election in this country, you need to win a majority of the electoral votes, and that is sometimes, though not often, different than winning the popular vote nationwide. And at the very least, your percentage in the popular vote will not necessarily match the percentage of electoral votes that you get.
Nate has a neat little chart showing how according to four pollsters, Obama is still ahead in the key swing states.
But it looks more complicated than that. It looks like the swing states really didn’t like Romney’s debate performance. It looks like Romney debate “win” was really a “loss” in the states he needs to win in November. Read on.
Look at HuffPost’s aggregation of key swing state polls, you see that Romney started to turn things around in mid-September or so, but that the debate on October 3 didn’t seem to have much of a positive impact, in those states. In fact, you see things slightly improve for Obama, even if it means Romney’s rate of increase in the polls is diminished, following the October 3 debate. Here’s a quick summary of several key swing states following the debate:
- Colorado, Romney increase slows.
- Iowa, no effect.
- Wisconsin, Romney increase flatlines.
- Ohio, Romney increase blunted, Obama now rising.
- Virginia, Romney increase flatlines.
- North Carolina, Romney decrease flatlines – so in this state, it worked to Romney’s advantage.
- Florida, Romney increase flatlines.
I’ll show you a few of the states, via HuffPo:
Colorado – note how Romney doesn’t do any better after the debates, and in fact his several week growth spurt slows down.
Virginia – Romney’s increase, and Obama’s fall, stop around the time of the debate.
Or Ohio, in which Obama’s fall, and Romney’s increase, both stopped dead in their tracks and turned around right about the time of the debate:
And Virginia, where Obama’s fall, and Romney’s rise, both flattened out right at the time of the debate.
So the only state in which Romney didn’t seem stunted after the debate was Iowa.
Now, you could argue that the drop-off was simply the post-debate effect petering out. But the polls of these states don’t show any post-debate positive for Romney at all. At best, for Romney, there’s no change his momentum, and at worst, in all but one of the states, Romney’s momentum is suddenly slowed or stopped right around the time of the first presidential debate. And to have this happen in every state but one suggests that something is going on.
I’d be very curious to have Nate or someone look at this and try to figure out what’s really going on.
UPDATE: Markos over at DailyKos argues that if you look at the polls you can trust – he says a number of the state polls lean too far right and aren’t trustworthy – that Obama did a hit in the swingt states post-debate, albeit a smaller hit than he took nationally. This chart shows Obama taking a hit in every state, except Missouri, after the debate.
The bad news is obvious. President Barack Obama took a serious hit in the national polling, and a serious, but smaller, hit in the battleground states. The good news is that his previous lead was big enough that only Colorado has flipped over to Mitt Romney, giving Obama a healthy 323-215 lead in the Electoral College. The other good news is that the daily trackers indicate a fading bounce. Gallup should be really interesting the next two days as last Thursday and Friday roll off their average.
Also, I’ve kept in the plethora of fly-by-night GOP pollsters who have proliferated late this cycle. I figure having them push the averages down lower than what credible polling suggests gives us a good worst-case scenario.
Obama suffered an average loss of 1.5 points in the battleground states, compared to 4.4. in the national polling. He’s still above 46 percent everywhere, and of course, still has more than Romney in all of these states except for Colorado.
Interestingly, this was the best-case scenario for both individual candidates—Romney gained more where it mattered, while Obama lost least where it mattered.
Romney’s problem remains the same one he’s always had—he’s still losing and faces a difficult electoral map. And if he can’t take the lead now, after a major Obama stumble, when can he take a lead? Seemingly, only if Job Biden and Obama continue stinking it up in the debates. Absent that, the polling will show bigger Obama leads in next week’s battleground polling.