Saturday, March 27, 2010

Obama's First Decisively Positive Month? Not in the Polls....

The Slow Slide Continues
So how is my thesis from a couple of weeks ago that President Obama might finally be turning a corner in polling looking now? Not so great.

The President's polling averages for the past two weeks have hung near the zero line, briefly dipping negative before turning back to mildly positive. In total, not a whole lot to get excited about. Most of this polling took place prior to the signing of the health care bill, although there is no immediate evidence of movement in either direction following the signing.

They aren't a disaster, mind you, but there is a continued trend...and it isn't an improving one.

When you filter out the noise and look at the monthly numbers, you see the trend clearly...President Obama has lost ground in the polls every month of his presidency, except for one, which was flat (it was technically a mathematical increase, but of less than 0.1%.)

What Would This Mean for an Election?
Since re-election campaigns tend to largely be votes about the incumbent more than a comparative vote between two contenders, approval ratings are a reasonable proxy for vote totals. So if an election were held today, how would President Obama fare?

It would be close, to be sure...

He won 365 electoral votes in 2008.

Let's immediately subtract the one vote he won in Nebraska.
Florida is gone: minus 27 electoral votes
So are North Carolina and Indiana: minus 26 more
Ohio is probably a loser too, although a closer one: minus 20 more

This leaves the President with a base of 291 electoral votes and some toss-ups to defend. But, wait, the 2010 census will be done, let's see what that does:
New York losses 2 votes
Massachusetts, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Iowa each lose 1
California and Nevada gain 1
(there are other changes, but they are in GOP states and we are tracking potential Obama votes)

So the President's new base reflects a loss of 6 and a gain of 2 electoral votes or a net loss of 4, leaving him with 287 electoral votes.

Now for those pesky toss-ups....the President has to defend the battleground states of:
Virginia (13 votes)
Colorado (9 votes)
Iowa (now 6 votes)
New Mexico (5 votes)
Nevada (now 6 votes)

He still needs 270 to win, so he could lose Iowa, New Mexico and Nevada if he holds the other two. Or he could lose Virginia and run the rest of the board and still win. If he losses Colorado, he could lose on of Iowa, New Mexico or Nevada and still win. So there are plenty of winning combinations, but he does need to defend and Virginia is the most critical state.

So what does this exercise tell us? In a close election in 2012, Virginia and Colorado are likely to be VERY important. Expect lots of mile high and Hampton Roads visits in 2012. It also shows the importance of Ohio -- while the Democrats can construct a win without it, the GOP has no reasonable path to victory without that state.

Enough of this 2012 stuff when we have a perfectly good election coming up this November. My projection updates next post.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

By 2012 the National Popular Vote bill could guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. Candidates would need to care about voters across the nation, not just undecided voters in a handful of swing states.

The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes--that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

The Constitution gives every state the power to allocate its electoral votes for president, as well as to change state law on how those votes are awarded.

The bill is currently endorsed by over 1,707 state legislators (in 48 states) who have sponsored and/or cast recorded votes in favor of the bill.

In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state's electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). The recent Washington Post, Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University poll shows 72% support for direct nationwide election of the President. Support for a national popular vote is strong in virtually every state, partisan, and demographic group surveyed in recent polls in closely divided battleground states: Colorado-- 68%, Iowa --75%, Michigan-- 73%, Missouri-- 70%, New Hampshire-- 69%, Nevada-- 72%, New Mexico-- 76%, North Carolina-- 74%, Ohio-- 70%, Pennsylvania -- 78%, Virginia -- 74%, and Wisconsin -- 71%; in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): Alaska – 70%, DC – 76%, Delaware --75%, Maine -- 77%, Nebraska -- 74%, New Hampshire --69%, Nevada -- 72%, New Mexico -- 76%, Rhode Island -- 74%, and Vermont -- 75%; in Southern and border states: Arkansas --80%, Kentucky -- 80%, Mississippi --77%, Missouri -- 70%, North Carolina -- 74%, and Virginia -- 74%; and in other states polled: California -- 70%, Connecticut -- 74% , Massachusetts -- 73%, Minnesota – 75%, New York -- 79%, Washington -- 77%, and West Virginia- 81%.

The National Popular Vote bill has passed 29 state legislative chambers, in 19 small, medium-small, medium, and large states, including one house in Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Oregon, and both houses in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. The bill has been enacted by Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, and Washington. These five states possess 61 electoral votes -- 23% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.