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Thread: Obama vs. Romney

  1. #1
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    Default Obama vs. Romney

    Careful readers of this space may recall this from me:

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach
    A huge political pet peeve of mine: national polls showing Presidential Candidate X against Presidential Candidate Y. Obama 46, McCain 44, that sort of thing.

    Those polls are meaningless in the general election. Rather, if you want to report something meaningful (although even this is debatable given the recent validity of polls), it makes more sense to project electoral votes using state by state polls. Fortunately, www.electoral-vote.com does exactly that.
    For the 2004 election, I'd done a similar analysis for Kerry v. Bush. I was planning to do the same for the current race, but found that Five Thirty Eight (whom I'd also examined in 2004 and 2008; and yes, I'm aware of Rasmussen, but no, I don't give it as much credence) now presents the race in almost exactly the way that I'd been thinking. Rather than reinvent their wheel, I'll simply link to their work.

    The right column of the Five Thirty Eight blog shows electoral vote projections over time, starting in June and ranging through the present. Obama's lead hovered in the 290 to 250 range for the first two months, then began to widen to its current margin of roughly 320 to 220.

    For Romney to close this gap, he'll need to steal on the order of 50 electoral votes (EVs) from Obama's column. Five Thirty Eight gives Romney the best chance of doing so in FL (29 EVs, 30% of winning), CO (9 EVs, 25%), IA (6 EVs, 25%), and VA (13 EVs, 25%). What happens if Romney pulls off this unlikely quadfecta? He'd steal 57 Electoral Votes, bringing his total to 275 and eeking out a victory. What odds does Five Thirty Eight put on Romney pulling off this or a similar coup? About 16%.

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    I didn't record the EV vote projection from last time, but I think that it was on the order of 319 to 219 in favor of President Obama. Following Governor Romney's better performance in debate 1 (of 3), that margin has dropped to 314.4 to 223.6. The President's odds of winning dropped correspondingly, from on the order of 84% to 83.6%.

    As far as I can tell, no states actually flipped from the President to the former MA Governor--rather, the odds within each state changed.

    OBAMA
    90%+ chance of winning: HI, WA, OR, CA, NM, MN, WI, IL, MI, PA, NY, MD, DE, CT, RI, MA, VT, ME
    80%+: NV, OH, NH
    70%+: IA, VA
    60%+: CO, FL

    ROMNEY
    90%+: AK, ID, UT (100%!), AZ, MT, WY, ND, SD, NE, KS, OK, TX, MO, AR, LA, IN, KY, TN, MS, AL, GA, SC, WV
    60%+: NC

    It's interesting that Governor Romney has only one remotely weak state (NC at 65.3%).

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    Based on the latest Pew poll (which takes into account post-debate opinions), Romney has gained (although no states have changed hands):

    ELECTORAL VOTES
    Obama: 307.6
    Romney: 230.4

    CHANCE OF WINNING
    Obama: 78.4%
    Romney: 21.6%

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    I haven't dug in to see how 538 converts its blue vs. red state map to electoral vote projections. Clearly, it's not a one-to-one correspondence, since the map hasn't changed color (only shade, indicating strength in each state) while the EV projection has changed.

    If you add up the EVs on the 538 map, Obama gets 303 vs. 235 for Romney. This differs from 538's EV projection of 296.7 to 241.3. Perhaps the latter takes trending into account?

    For Romney to get to 270, he needs to add 35. To do that, he'd have to take 3 of the larger states in play: OH, VA, and CO, for instance.

    The NY Times election map puts states into solid, leaning, and toss-up. Of the 110 tossup EVs, Romney would need to take 79. To do that, he'd have to take FL and NC (both of which 538 gives him) in addition to OH, VA, and CO.

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    Governor Romney's gains nationally may not be translating as strongly to the swing states, according to this The New Republic article.

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    538 now has Romney ahead in CO and VA, puts Obama's EV lead at 285.4 to 252.6, and shows Obama's chance of winning to be 62.9%.

    The more "black and white" (ha!) examination of tallying EVs for the Obama vs. Romney states based on the 538 map gives Obama 281 to Romney's 252.

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    This election has been very close and remains close. Even now both candidates have good chance of winning. In my opinion, the current 60-65% odds in favor of President Obama winning are accurate and just like in 2004, it boils down to OH.

    What I found funny about the 538 blog was their 87% chance of President Obama winning on October 3rd. They were essentially bootstrapping a 3% lead in national blogs and a shortlived convention bounce to that absurd winning odds.

    About Rasmussen polls, it is easy to discredit them as Republican-leaning and not accurate. But results matter. In 2008, their last 30 daily opinion polls pointed out that Obama was leading by an average of 6 points and in ended up winning by 6.5 points. Also Rasmussen polls were the first to point that the Scott Brown and Martha Coakley race was tightening and then they accurately predicted that Brown had caught up and was leading in the end. We know how that one played out. Similarly in this Presidential election, they have always indicated that this is a close race with about 3 points separating the candidates. Unlike 538 blog, they did not lose credibility by giving an absurd 87% winning odds to President Obama. An incumbent is always under pressure if their support is not above 50% and Obama's support has consistently been in the 47 - 49% range.

    Not for a second, I am saying that Romney is winning but that it remains a close race with 2 more debates to go. If I remember correctly, 5 months ago, I had predicted about 290 electoral votes to Romney. I had expected PA to be in play by now but WI and CO are in play, meaning 290 electoral votes are still possible.

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    President Obama now on a slight upswing:

    • EVs from 285.4 to 287.2
    • Chance of winning from 62.9% to 65.7%

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    The upswing continues. Not clear the extent to which post-debate 2 results are included.


    • EVs from 285.4 to 287.2 to 291.6
    • Chance of winning from 62.9% to 65.7% to 70.4%


    On the state front (per 538), VA and CO had flipped to Romney, but have now moved back to Obama.

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    I try to keep my "analytical" posts factual and free of argument in favor of one candidate or the other. This post is an editorial exception. And only in favor of one candidate.

    To be sure, Romney hits home when he challenges Obama's accomplishments on the economy. We'd all like the economy to be stronger. But as I see it, there are three reasons why Romney's charges don't stick.


    1. Obama inherited a poor economy heading in the wrong direction. It took time for the economy to turn, and it's not yet clear that it's turned for good, but we're clearly better off than we were four years ago.

    2. Obama has been faced for the most of his term with an obstructionist Legislature. They've taken the "normal" political approach of voting against Obama where they disagree with him and stretched it to voting against him on just about everything. Now, one might argue that it would be better to have a President in synch with the Legislature, but I disagree if the outcome of such a "pairing" is likely to be policy that continues to favor the wealthy while being socially Neanderthal. (And I fear that Democrats in the Senate won't have the backbone to oppose the GOP when appropriate the way that the GOP opposes the Democrats always.)

    3. Romney thinks so little of his own tax plan (drop rates by 20% and make up the difference with ... well ... he won't say) that he won't explain it.


    I want President Obama making the case (however well it's received) for infrastructure investment to spur job growth when companies have the cash to hire but not the customer to buy. I want President Obama fighting the backwards social policies too often coming from the right. I want President Obama appointing the next 1-2 Supreme Court Justices.

  11. #11
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    Unhappy What?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    I try to keep my "analytical" posts factual and free of argument in favor of one candidate or the other. This post is an editorial exception. And only in favor of one candidate.

    To be sure, Romney hits home when he challenges Obama's accomplishments on the economy. We'd all like the economy to be stronger. But as I see it, there are three reasons why Romney's charges don't stick.


    1. Obama inherited a poor economy heading in the wrong direction. It took time for the economy to turn, and it's not yet clear that it's turned for good, but we're clearly better off than we were four years ago.

    2. Obama has been faced for the most of his term with an obstructionist Legislature. They've taken the "normal" political approach of voting against Obama where they disagree with him and stretched it to voting against him on just about everything. Now, one might argue that it would be better to have a President in synch with the Legislature, but I disagree if the outcome of such a "pairing" is likely to be policy that continues to favor the wealthy while being socially Neanderthal. (And I fear that Democrats in the Senate won't have the backbone to oppose the GOP when appropriate the way that the GOP opposes the Democrats always.)

    3. Romney thinks so little of his own tax plan (drop rates by 20% and make up the difference with ... well ... he won't say) that he won't explain it.


    I want President Obama making the case (however well it's received) for infrastructure investment to spur job growth when companies have the cash to hire but not the customer to buy. I want President Obama fighting the backwards social policies too often coming from the right. I want President Obama appointing the next 1-2 Supreme Court Justices.
    Jeff you have a bias? I am shocked, stunned. What does this say about all of your other posts? I am speechless.

  12. #12
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    Ben, I figure that after 1200+ wholly neutral and objective posts, I'm entitled to express an opinion just this once. I promise it won't happen again.

    Well, until we have two challengers facing off in 2016 to see who will succeed President Obama at the end of his second term.

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    The back-and-forth continues.


    • Obama EVs (270 needed to win) from 285.4 to 287.2 to 291.6 to 287.8
    • Obama chance of retaining the Presidency from 62.9% to 65.7% to 70.4% to 67.9%
    • VA swings back to Romney


    Presidential Debate 3 on Monday night goes up against MNF and blue state Bears against blue state Lions--I'm sure that 538 will factor that in to their post-debate analysis.

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    The EV back-and-forth continues to continue (per 538):

    ...
    285.4
    287.2 (10/18)
    291.6 (10/19)
    287.8 (10/20)
    288.6 (10/21)

  15. #15
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    The general trend of the last week or so has been a widening of the Electoral Gap in President Obama's favor. Click here to see this in chart form on the 538 page (right margin, toward the top).

    ...
    285.4 (10/13)
    285.6 (10/14)
    289.2 (10/15)
    287.0 (10/16)
    291.6 (10/17)
    287.2 (10/18)
    287.8 (10/19)
    288.6 (10/20)
    288.0 (10/21)
    290.8 (10/22)

    [Note that I've adjusted the dates from prior posts to agree with the dates on the 538 chart.]

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