Reëlection Watch: June 2, 2012
It’s been a more active past two weeks than one might previously have thought.
So, how are things going for the President lately?
Obama’s approval/disapproval rating in the Real Clear Politics average remains as it has been for a couple of months…no signal, just noise. Likewise with the Right Track/Wrong Track polls, though we’re now sitting at the local minimum, against which it’s bounced for the past three months.
And the same can be said for Congress’s approval spread, and the generic Congressional ballot. Basically, the national approval polls have become a big yawn.Things also look stable in the national popular vote matchup of Obama versus presumed Republican nominee Mitt Romney, with Obama leading by 1.5 to 2.0 points. What’s remarkable is that the two are trending in tandem, i.e., when Romney rises, so does Obama, and when Romney falls, the President does, too. It’s an unusual behavior.
As of yesterday, Intrade had Obama at a 54.7 percent chance of reëlection, down 3.3 points from last time. The trend of deflating Intrade odds continues, though the latest economic news accelerated that trend.
Things are still in a somewhat pro-Obama state, but with a continuing trend moving toward a close race.
Yesterday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released a report showing employment growing at a significantly reduced rate. Nonfarm payroll grew by only 69,000, a significant drop from two months ago. While it’s still a positive number, it’s sufficiently tepid as to be a worrisome sign, particularly since the report didn’t really have any silver linings.
Unsurprisingly, the stock market didn’t react kindly to the surprisingly down labor report, dropping to its lowest level since Christmas. If you look at the long-term trend of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, you’ll notice the shortening cycles (18 months, then 11 months, then 9 months), with smaller growths in the peak each time. That behavior is indicative of approaching a ceiling, probably at about 13,500 points. On the plus side (in terms of Obama’s reëlection potential), the trend also suggests a rebound to begin in July, with the next drop occurring after the election, perhaps as late as January. This means that it is possible for the current slump (which probably has another 500 points to go before it hits bottom, based on recent trends) to become a memory before November.
In terms of oil, West Texas Intermediate crude continues to fall, now at $83, down nine percent in the last two weeks, while Brent crude (representing the European market) has fallen over seven percent to about $99. As I noted last time, the drop in oil prices is unusual for this time of year. With more overall economic data, it strongly suggests reduced overall economic activity. Of course, the lower price supports more economic activity going forward; it’s a question of timing as to whether it would boost the economy in time for the election, though. The continued drop in oil prices has been reflected in gasoline; the national average is $3.61 per gallon, down a dime from two weeks ago, and 16 cents below the same week last year.
Natural gas prices are still above their March bottom of two dollars per million British Thermal Units, but down a bit from their recent peak of $2.65 to about $2.40. This is still half the price of natural gas this time last year.
The economic skies are pretty cloudy right now, and it remains to be seen how long this will last. The big question is whether things will look sufficiently better with enough time before the election to stick in the minds of the voters. From where I stand now, it’s going to be really close, and that timing may be the critical factor in the final vote tally.
The Electoral College
Last time, I showed you a Cook Partisan Voting Index (PVI) trend model, which I readily admit was overly simplistic. I’m in the process of tuning it with some other data to produce a better prediction of the PVI of the swing states in this year’s election.
For now, let’s see what the current Electoral College looks like, based on current polling data:
Things have shifted around a hair in the past two weeks. Here’s what’s changed since last time, from most reddest to bluest:
- Arizona is still called a tossup by RCP. The most recent Public Policy Polling poll gives Romney a seven-point edge. To me, that means it’s possibly in play, but I see a Grand Canyon between the polls and tossup territory; it’s a solid “Leans Romney” state.
- Missouri got a new Public Policy Polling poll, showing a one-point Obama lead. I suspect that’s too generous in the President’s favor, but it is probably on the red end of the tossups.
- North Carolina got a couple of new polls, one from SurveyUSA and one from Republican-hired Civitas. They both show small leads for Romney, and keep North Carolina just below Missouri on this list. It does not appear that Amendment 1 has had any discernible impact on the polls here.
- Florida, had two new polls, one from Quinnipiac and one from NBC News/Marist. Just like two weeks ago, the two new polls straddle the even mark, leaving Florida a pure tossup from a polling perspective, and again without a change in its position on this list.
- Nevada had one new NBC News/Marist poll, giving Obama two points. It’s enough to push the Silver State up above Ohio on the list, but it stays purple.
- Ohio had two new polls since last time. NBC News/Marist showed a six-point Obama lead, while Rasmussen gave the edge to Romney by two points. With the Rasmussen lean, Ohio remains tinged a little blue, but not quite enough to leave “Tossup” land for “Leans Obama”.
- Virginia got a new poll from NBC News/Marist; its four-point Obama lead is within the error margin of the last month’s polls. That aggregate keeps Virginia in “Tossup”.
- Colorado has two new polls, one from NBC News/Marist, and one from Democrat-funded Project New America/Keating. The two are close enough to the even mark that I’m now convinced that the Purple Strategies poll was correct. This is the one state that moves columns; it’s gone from “Leans Obama” to “Tossup”, and moves above Pennsylvania on the list.
- Pennsylvania had two new polls, one from Public Policy Polling, and one from Rasmussen. The two continue to suggest that the Keystone State is bluer than Virginia, and just over the border into “Leans Obama” territory.
- New Mexico got a new poll from Public Policy Polling, reinforcing its status as a solid “Leans Obama” state.
Based on this month’s polling, Obama needs 29 electoral votes (up from 20 last time) out of the 116 in the tossup group. Many combinations would do the trick, with the most likely being Virginia and Ohio, though Colorado, Nevada, and Ohio together would also work. Romney would have to nearly run the table of tossups to eke out a victory.
It’s still a close race, and getting closer still. The sad thing about all of this is that it’s only a close race because both sides are weakened, though each for a different reason.
The new employment report hasn’t yet had time to percolate through the polls. Tune in next time; we may see some more significant movement in a few key states.
- How low can he go? Intrade chances for Obama’s reëlection fall after awful jobs report (twitchy.com)
- Reëlection Watch: May 19, 2012 (logarchism.com)
- Obama Leads In The One Presidential Poll That Counts: The Electoral College (alan.com)
- Electoral college snapshot: Barack Obama 303, Mitt Romney 226 (dailykos.com)
- Obama loses a silver lining (salon.com)
- Obama Continues to Hold Big Lead in Michigan (elections.firedoglake.com)
- C’Mon Man: Why Joe Biden Is Starring in Obama’s Reëlection Campaign (swampland.time.com)
- For Team Obama, Now Is Not The Time To Panic. Tomorrow Is the Time To Panic. (minx.cc)
- Obama strategists openly admit they plan to carry out one of the ugliest general election campaigns ever (theblaze.com)
- What next for Romney? Undercut Obama, raise money (onlineathens.com)
- TRENDING: Bill Clinton, predicting Obama win, calls Romney’s business career ‘sterling’ (politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com)
- Logarchism » The Battle for Florida
- Logarchism » Hemp of Your Garment
- Logarchism » Reëlection Watch: June 16, 2012