Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Big Electoral Map - Obama's Big Convention Bounce - Will It Last?

Days Until The Election: 58
Projected Popular Vote Total: Obama +5.0% (up 4.2% from 2 weeks ago)
Projected Electoral Vote Total: Obama 332, Romney 206 (Obama +38 from last week)

We are just a few days removed from the back-to-back conventions and the polling verdict is in: advantage Obama.

He has surged in the national polls, breaking out of a range he had been in of +0-3% to go up a full 5 points nationally.  He reclaims all of the ground on the electoral map that Mitt Romney had chipped away following the announcement of Paul Ryan as his running mate.

There is good news and there is bad news for Romney related to these latest batch of polls.

The good news is that not all convention bounces stick.  Michael Dukakis was famously up versus George H.W. Bush in 1988 and went on to lose badly.  Bounces often happen for a few days as people bask in the patriotism and unity presented at these events, then fade as cooler heads prevail and people remember the reasons that they didn't like a candidate in the first place.

The bad news for Romney is that the shifts in national polling are not even yet fully reflected in the state polls as many of the state polls in my averages are still from prior to the DNC.  It is very possible that Romney is behind in North Carolina as I write this and that Obama's margins in key states like Ohio, Florida and Virginia are larger than I am currently reflecting.

There is still a lot of race left - 58 days is an eternity in Presidential politics and there are still the 4 debates (3 Presidential and 1 Vice-Presidential) to take place, all of which represent potential key turning points in the race, but Romney has his work cut out for him.

To give perspective - the odds on this race are presently at 59%-41% on Intrade, favoring Obama, but not by a massively larger amount than it has favored him for the bulk of this year.

As a reminder, here is the debate schedule for this year (all times are Eastern):
October 3rd - Denver, Colorado - 9 PM - Focus: Domestic Policy (Moderator: Jim Lehrer - PBS)
October 11th - Danville, Kentucky - 9 PM - VP Debate (Moderator: Martha Raddatz - ABC)
October 16th - Hempstead, New York - 9 PM - Focus: Open - Town Hall Format (Moderator: Candy Crowley - CNN)
October 22nd - Boca Raton, Florida - 9 PM - Focus: Foreign Policy (Moderator: Bob Schiffer - CBS)

Notably losing out on debate moderation is NBC, which hasn't had the same kind of gravitas in the political world since the death of Tim Russert, who surely would have scored one of the moderator roles, had he wanted it.  Also missing are the partisan MSNBC and Fox News.

What will be interesting in the lull period between now and the debates (which is almost 4 weeks) will be to see if Obama's post-convention bounce fades and if Romney's series of ads in 8 key swing states have an impact.

If Romney can chip away at Obama's lead in the next 4 weeks and make it a 1 or 2 point race come the first debate, then he will only need to perform solidly to stay in contention.  If he is not able to move the needle between now and then, he will need a game-changing performance.

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