Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Big Electoral Map - Could This Already Be Close to Over?, A Survey of the Projection World

Days Until The Election: 52
Projected Popular Vote Total: Obama +3.3% (down 1.7% from last week)
Projected Electoral Vote Total: Obama 332, Romney 206 (unchanged from last week)

We are now a week removed from the conventions and one thing is very clear to me: Mitt Romney has a big uphill climb if he is going to unseat the President.  It is not so much that the polls are dramatically different from prior to Romney's selection of Paul Ryan and the two conventions, it is that time and the number of potentially game-changing events is dwindling.

Looking back at the history of the race, we are more or less exactly where we were the first week in August, when Obama led by 3.8% and had an identical electoral vote total (332) to today.  Since then, Romney selected Paul Ryan, surging to within 1.1% on the eve of the conventions and closing the electoral gap to 294-244.  GOP loyalists at that point no doubt hoped that a successful convention would vault the race to parity or better.

There are a few disconcerting things about what has happened since:
(1) In spite of a widely lauded pick of Paul Ryan, Romney's initially bounce from that pick has been entirely wiped out.
(2) We are now 52 days out from the election and Mitt Romney has never led and never had a map that is higher than 244 electoral votes.
(3) Romney's best chance to make hay between now and election day is in the debates and Barack Obama has historically shown a strong ability to compete in those events
(4) All of this is in spite of what would appear to be lousy economic news and unsettling news in the Arab world.
(5) To win at this point, Romney virtually needs to run the table in the remaining swing states, as he needs 64 of the 91 possible electoral votes in play and especially needs Ohio and Florida, both of which show the President with stable, although not huge leads.

The oddsmakers have noted these trends and the President has broken out o;postID=6984005523815463150Obf the range of betting odds on his victory, which had been bound between 50% and 60% for the entire year and, as of this morning, is a 66% favorite to win re-election.

The election is certainly not over as some unforeseen event could no doubt shift the balance of the race, but the natural arc of the race at this point would be an Obama victory.  Mitt Romney needs an ultra-strong victory in the first debate and a much more organized strategy.  Taking cheap midnight potshots at Obama's foreign policy isn't going to cut it at this point.

Maybe, just maybe, Romney will conclude that he needs to take a risk and present a real economic and budgetary plan, with details.  I sure hope so.

A Survey of the Projection World
I'm obviously not the only one looking at these electoral maps.  Here is a view from some of the other major sites that look at this stuff:

realclearpolitics (no toss-ups) -  Obama 332, Romney 206
CNN - Obama 237, Romney 191, 110 Toss-Up
Karl Rove - Obama 225, Romney 191, 122 Toss-Up
Joe Trippi - Obama 270, Romney 191, 77 Toss-Up - Obama 332, Romney 206
Huffington Post - Obama 316, Romney 206, 16 Toss-Up - Obama 332, Romney 206
New York Times - Obama 237, Romney 206, 95 Toss-Up

So, the picture others are looking at is largely similar to the one I am.  The 3 sites that don't have toss-ups all show an identical map to me.  The other sites largely give Romney either all the states I've given (the ones with 206 totals) or all the states I've given less North Carolina (leading to a 191 EV total) and don't give the President many of the states that I have as very light blue.

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