Reëlection Watch: July 28, 2012
How are things going for the President now? Let’s dive in.
There’s been just enough of a shift in Obama’s approval/disapproval rating in the Real Clear Politics average to call it a trend. It’s been the same story of oscillation right around zero for the past few months, but has now settled just a hair in negative territory. The slight worsening in the Right Track/Wrong Track polls I mentioned the last two times still appears to have peaked.
The improvement in Congress’s approval spread continues seems to be leveling off. The generic Congressional ballot now shows a perfect tie between the two parties, though still with a degree of noise. We’re getting more frequent polling on this metric, so we can expect the noise to diminish over the next month or two. It does look mighty close, either way.
In the national popular vote matchup of Obama versus presumed Republican nominee Mitt Romney, the President maintains his narrow lead, which appears to have narrowed a bit recently. However, keep in mind that there are enough people in the undecided column to exceed by a factor of eight the gap between the two candidates. If the election were based on the national popular vote, it would be anyone’s game.
Obama’s favorability polls continue to be generally over 50 percent favorable among “Americans” or “registered voters”, but less so on polls of “likely voters”. The polls are still noisy, though. A CBS News/New York Times poll, clearly an outlier when looking at the trend, showed Obama with a 12-point deficit. The other recent polls suggest that there aren’t any statistically significant changes of late. Romney’s favorability polls haven’t changed in a statistically significant manner, though for the first time he’s getting favorables in some polls that exceed Obama’s.
While these polls still indicate a possible Obama victory, they are typically farther removed from the key signal of electoral votes than are many other indicators. We’ll hit the others down below.
As of yesterday, Intrade had Obama at a 56.5, up a point from last time. This is the third increase in a row, and big enough to indicate a trend, reversing his April-through-June decline.
Things remain in a pro-Obama state on the national scene, though the outlook is a little more mixed than last time.
Mitt Romney’s supporters remain more anti-Obama than pro-Romney, which is a problem for a challenger. This election, more than perhaps any in modern American history, will be more about getting the base out to vote than capturing the middle.
And Americans are still being reminded of why they aren’t enthusiastic about the former Governor of Massachusetts.
This time, as noted over the past couple of days, Romney went to London, where he proceeded to tell them that they don’t know how to run an Olympiad. Even if he were correct about this (and it’s far from clear that he is), one doesn’t go to somebody’s house, sit down to dinner, and then criticize the cook…even if the food is inedible. This event reinforces the Romney Meme of being out of touch, resulting in saying the wrong thing to a host. Remember his cookies gaffe? Remember him trying to connect with NASCAR voters by telling them that he has friends who own NASCAR teams? Whether or not Mitt is truly that socially inept, these are the sorts of situations that reinforce the meme.
As a reminder of the power of such memes, recall that President George H. W. Bush appeared out of touch in his reëlection bid in part because of the meme-reinforcing story that he didn’t realize grocery stores had barcode scanners. These memes do have a lasting impact.
The Electoral College
This is the last July Reëlection Watch. Starting next time, we’ll again have a slightly narrowed band for tossups. This time, though, we’re using the July bands.
Here’s what the Electoral College looks like, based on current polling data:
Real Clear Politics has added a new category on each side, drawing a distinction between “likely” and “solid”. I’m not bothering to do that; I draw no distinction between “likely” and “solid”, since they really don’t tell us anything meaningful with respect to the projected outcome of the election.
Here are the states with new data since last time, covering only those discussed around the Internet as “leans” or “tossups”, from reddest to bluest:
- Missouri had a new poll from WeAskAmerica, who found a nine-point lead for Romney. WeAskAmerica seems to be pretty noisy, swinging wildly away from the trend in both directions in many instances…so it’s really hard to use them for much. Even so, with the latest poll corroborating the earlier trend, Missouri is showing me that it’s a “Leans Romney” state.
- Iowa was polled by Public Policy Polling, who showed an unadjusted margin of five for Obama. This corresponds to an adjusted result of about a half-point for Obama, which is in line with polls over the past two months. It’s a perfect “Tossup” state.
- Florida had three new polls this time. SurveyUSA and Mason-Dixon give Obama a five– and one-point lead, respectively, while Purple Strategies shows Romney up by three. The noise is still of larger magnitude than the margin, making it impossible to determine a leading candidate in the Sunshine State from polls alone. Florida remains a total enigma, and thus an up-the-middle “Tossup”.
- Colorado has one new poll from Purple Strategies, indicating a one-point lead for Obama. This is in line with the past two Purple Strategies polls, all of which use “likely voter” models, and so Colorado remains on the blue side of the middle, but still within Tossup range.
- Virginia had three new polls, from Quinnipiac, Rasmussen, and Purple Strategies. The range of margins is zero to two for Obama, which keeps Virginia a Tossup, but on the blue side of the middle.
- Ohio was polled by WeAskAmerica, Rasmussen, and Purple Strategies in the past two weeks. All three showed Obama with a lead, ranging from two (Rasmussen’s unadjusted, corresponding to three points adjusted for the house effect) to eight (noisy WeAskAmerica). Ohio’s polling continues to be noisy overall, but the broader trend suggests that we’re now pulling away from the point where the noise is a larger amplitude than the margin. Ohio now looks like a “Leans Obama” state, though just barely.
- Nevada was thrice polled in the past two weeks. Rasmussen, Republican-funded AFP/Magellan, and WeAskAmerica all found Obama ahead by four to six points. I have long doubted that Nevada would cast its electoral votes for Obama, but with such a long and consistent trend, I’m now convinced that the Silver State “Leans Obama”.
- New Hampshire was polled by WMUR/University of New Hampshire, who came away with an Obama lead of four points. Romney hasn’t been ahead in a New Hampshire poll since April, and Dartmouth, who conducted that poll, has consistently been to the right of the trend. It’s hard to see New Hampshire as anything but “Leans Obama”.
- Michigan had three new polls in the past two weeks. Mitchell Research showed Romney up by one point, while Public Policy Polling gave Obama a 14-point unadjusted lead (corresponding to a nine-point Obama lead), and Rasmussen’s unadjusted poll gave the edge to Obama by six (corresponding to seven points when adjusted for house bias). We don’t have enough data to determine what, if any, house bias Mitchell has, but it looks like an outlier poll compared to the overall trend. Michigan looks like a “Leans Obama” state.
- New Mexico had been lightly polled for a long time. We finally have two new polls in the Land of Enchantment, one from Public Policy Polling, and one from WeAskAmerica. PPP gives Obama an unadjusted five-point lead, which adjusts to a tie, while the noisy WeAskAmerica shows an 11-point Obama lead. With such conflicting data, particularly since the historical trend looks more like WeAskAmerica’s numbers, I’m inclined to consider the PPP poll an outlier until we get a confirmation to the contrary. I’m leaving New Mexico in the “Leans Obama” column.
- Minnesota was polled by KSTP/SurveyUSA, who concluded that Obama has the edge by six points. That’s a bit smaller than the overall trend has been, but not so far as to move the state to a new column; Minnesota stays “Leans Obama”.
- Wisconsin was polled by Rasmussen, who indicated that Obama has an unadjusted three-point lead (which adjusts to four) and noisy WeAskAmerica, who found Obama up by seven. These are both within the bounds of the long-term trend. Wisconsin belongs in the “Leans Obama” column, and Real Clear Politics agrees, having moved it from Tossup to Leans Obama in the past two weeks.
- Pennsylvania was polled twice in the past two weeks. Public Policy Polling found an unadjusted six-point Obama lead (adjusting to about 1.5 points), while Rasmussen came away with Obama ahead by five (adjusting to six). Together, they line up with the overall trend that calls the Keystone State a “Leans Obama” state.
- Washington was recently polled by SurveyUSA, who found a nine-point lead for Obama. It fits the long-term trend of Washington being a “Likely Obama” state.
- New Jersey was polled twice in the past two weeks. Monmouth University found an eight-point Obama lead, while Quinnipiac found that Obama is up by 11. There’s no reason to move the Garden State out of the “Likely Obama” column.
In the past two weeks, nearly every state of interest was polled, most by multiple companies. Missouri moved toward Romney, while Nevada and New Hampshire moved toward Obama. This gives Obama a likely 275 electoral votes, a far cry from two weeks ago. It’s the first time the Logarchism electoral vote projection has put Obama into a victory stance, even if he loses all tossup states.
Romney has been improving in some polls, but it may not be enough to change the occupant of the White House. The Electoral College continues to show signs of moving in Obama’s direction.
If I had to predict an Electoral College result, I’d keep things exactly where they were last time, though I have greater confidence today than I did two weeks ago. That prediction would give Obama 303, and Romney 235. In that scenario, Obama would be 62 votes shy of his 2008 tally.
How do you feel about these predictions? Do you differ on them? If so, how, where, and why?
- Reëlection Watch: July 14, 2012 (logarchism.com)
- Electoral math shows Obama faces a tough reëlection battle (timesofisrael.com)
- Religion has little impact in U.S. race: poll (news.yahoo.com)
- Michigan and surprise swing states (salon.com)
- Poll: Less than half of voters think Obama is Christian (washingtontimes.com)
- Poll: Ugly campaign polarizing candidate’s favorability (politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com)