Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The 2012 Big Electoral Map - I Think We Are Down to 6 Real Battlegrounds

Days Until The Election: 7
Projected Popular Vote Total: Romney +0.4% (Romney up 0.3% in the past 2 days)
Projected Electoral Vote Total: Obama 290, Romney 248 (Obama up 9 in the past 2 days)
Current Betting Odds: Obama 64%, Romney 36% (Obama up 1% in the past 2 days)

Not a lot has changed on our map in the past two days (or frankly, the preceding three weeks), but time is running short for either camp to move the numbers.  In today's numbers, Romney moves up slightly in national polling and Obama picks up Colorado again, which has been right near the zero line and flipping back and forth. 

Now it is certainly not impossible in the last week of the election that some profound (or not so profound) news could break that changes the shape of the race very late.  It happened in 2000, when late-breaking news of George W. Bush's youthful DWI conviction appeared to have at least a 2-3 point impact on the national popular vote late as it reinforced the image of him as an immature, irresponsible blue blood.  He won anyway, after a long fight in Florida, but the revelation definitely caused him to lag his prior poll numbers. 

In the last two election cycles, we've seen no such late break in either direction and the actual results on election night mirrored pretty closely the perspective a week before the election.

In 2008, 7 days before voting, I was projection Obama to win the popular vote by 7.4% and win the electoral vote 375-163.  In actuality, 1 week later, Obama won the popular vote by 7.2% and won the electoral vote 365-173.  My "lag 7 days" vote projection was off by 0.2% and at that time I had only 1 state incorrectly called: Missouri (Obama wound up losing Missouri's 11 electoral votes by 0.1% but picked up 1 by winning a Nebraska congressional district.)

Of the closest states, the difference between my projection 7 days before the election and the actual result in the closest states was as follows:
Missouri: Projected: Obama +0.7%, Actual McCain +0.1%           (0.8% error)
North Carolina: Projected: Obama +1.3%, Actual Obama+ 0.3%  (1.0% error)
Indiana: Projected: Obama +1.6%, Actual Obama 1.0%                 (0.6% error)
Montana: Projected: McCain +1.8%, Actual Obama +2.2%           (0.4% error)
Florida: Projected: Obama +3.8%, Actual Obama +2.8%               (1.0% error)
Ohio: Projected: Obama +6.1%, Actual Obama +4.6%                  (1.5% error)

So, without an October or November surprise, none of the 6 closest states were projected more than 1.5% wrong 1 week out and the 5 closest states were all projected within 1%.

Note: You may notice that all of the "1 week out" projections I had in the close states were more favorable to Obama than the actual result.  You might conclude that this is because of some sort of methodology bias on my part, but in actuality, the race tightened in the final days somewhat, as I noted the next day in my blog.

The point of all of this is that barring an October or November surprise this time around, I feel confident that the states where a candidate has a 2% lead or greater in our aggregation methodology will be won by the candidate currently leading.  That still leaves us with the 6 outlined in purple: Florida, Virginia, Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire and Ohio.

Putting these as "toss-ups", we get an electoral count of 253 for Obama and 206 for Romney, leaving a very narrow path for Romney to navigate.

If Obama wins Ohio, it's over.  271.  Game done.

Ditto that Florida.

If Romney takes both Florida and Ohio, he still has work to do as that just evens the map at 253 apiece.

The map then becomes simple.  The candidate that wins Virginia has to win 1 other state to win.  The candidate that loses Virginia has to get all 3 of the remaining states to win (Iowa, New Hampshire and Colorado.)  Unless Romney takes an elector in Maine, which is improbable but not impossible.  That could create some messy tie scenarios.

Of course, I could be a lot less accurate than last time - maybe the polls I use are a lot less reliable this cycle, maybe my methodology just got lucky, maybe turnout will be way up or down.  Maybe Romney or Obama will have a late surge that does not resemble 2008 (although there is no indication as of now that anything is moving in the race.)  Maybe the hurricane will change something that I can't foresee (although logic would seem to indicate that it would tend to freeze the race where it is rather than move people to one candidate or another.)  Maybe lots of things, but I doubt it.

I think we are down to a 6 state race.  And Romney needs the biggest 3 plus one more to win (or everything but Virginia)

Advantage: Obama.

If you like this site, tell your friends.

No comments: