Let’s Just Say It: Obama Is Favored on Election Day

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A strange thing is happening as Election Day draws near. In normal times, we struggle to stay afloat in the sea of political opinions. Now the punditry has been afflicted with an epidemic of agnosticism. After living and breathing this race for 18 months, they say they have no idea who will win.

Politico’s Dylan Byers and MacKenzie Weinger note that the media are “stumped” by the 2012 race. “Gov. Mitt Romney’s campaign says it still has momentum. President Barack Obama’s campaign says that’s all spin. Meanwhile, there isn’t a single well-informed pundit between them who can tell you who’s right,” they write, enlisting venerable pundits from all points of the ideological spectrum, including my TIME colleague Joe Klein, to buttress the claim. “Anyone who claims to know who is going to win is blowing smoke,” Joe wrote on this blog earlier in the week.

Discretion may be the better part of valor. But battleground polls paint a clear picture of a race in which Barack Obama has consistently held a narrow but stubborn lead.

(MORE: Viewpoints: Why We’re Voting for Obama)

The polls are not “hilariously inconclusive,” as Joe writes. They’re fairly static. If anything, battleground surveys over the past two or three days have shown signs that Obama’s slim edge is slightly widening as we approach the finish line.

Take, for example, this recent batch of 11 swing-state polls, collated by Political Wire and covering nine battleground states. Romney is ahead in two: one in Colorado and one in Virginia, both conducted by right-leaning outlets (Rasmussen and Newsmax/Zogby, respectively). He’s also tied in two (from the same two pollsters). Obama leads in seven. Yesterday Romney’s political director, Rich Beeson, said Obama’s Midwestern firewall — Iowa, Ohio and Wisconsin — was “burning.” In this daily sample, the incumbent is up by six in Iowa, by six in Ohio and by three in Wisconsin, with an additional Newsmax survey from Wisconsin showing the race knotted. Another Badger State poll, released yesterday by Marquette Law School, which was both the most bullish on Scott Walker’s chances of surviving his June recall election and, ultimately, the most accurate, had Obama ahead by eight.

Individual polls are wrong much of the time, but they are rarely wrong in aggregate. The likelihood that Obama’s apparent advantage comes through flawed or systematically biased polling decreases as the sample size grows. So let’s look at the polling averages compiled by RealClearPolitics of the 12 states purportedly in play. (I am including Michigan, Minnesota and Pennsylvania because of the Romney camp’s expressions of confidence, though as I wrote yesterday, it smacks of spin.) According to polling averages from those dozen battlegrounds, Romney leads in three: North Carolina (by 3.8 points), Florida (by 1.2 points) and Virginia (by 0.5 points). Obama leads in nine. In only one of those — Colorado, where the President leads on average by 0.6 points — is his average margin as small as Romney’s edges in Florida and Virginia, two states the GOP nominee badly needs to win.

(MORE: Viewpoints: The Case for Barack Obama)

Now zoom in on Ohio, the state both sides must have. (Nate Silver estimates it’s roughly as likely to be the decisive battleground as the other 49 states put together.) RealClear’s list of Ohio polls isn’t completely comprehensive — it’s missing, perhaps among others, a poll released yesterday from the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling that showed Obama up five — but it is certainly an indicator of the trend. In the 11 Buckeye State surveys recorded since the third debate, Romney leads in one, from right-leaning Rasmussen. Obama has the edge in nine, with one tie (also from Rasmussen). On average, the President leads by 2.3 points.

Could Romney win Ohio? Of course. Could he win the election? Absolutely. I am not suggesting that Obama be crowned. Smart Republicans, including those affiliated with the Romney campaign, have consistently argued that the polling averages are wrong because the turnout models have been flawed. The national polls do show a toss-up race, which casts some doubt on the integrity of state polling. Pollster Mark Blumenthal estimates that “the potential for a rare ‘black swan‘ polling failure as big as the national polls of 1980 or 1992 is still real, given past experience — amounting to a roughly 1-in-3 chance that such an error would affect the outcome of states like Ohio and Iowa.” The race is tight, and Romney has a real and significant shot at winning. Perhaps reporters and pundits are better off withholding predictions on who will win. After all, the media’s track record on that score is lousy.

But according to the most reliable set of metrics we have, the race is not neck and neck. At least not in the battlegrounds that matter. Obama is the favorite.

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671 comments
BruceStrong
BruceStrong

President Obama's favorite line is "WE still have a long way to go..." Who are these WE people anyway? Let's examine our alternatives: OK, what is Obama’s plan for the next four years? All we get from the Obama administration are attacks on the Republicans and their plan, where is team Obama’s plan for the way FORWARD. I’ve heard it’s based on reducing the payroll tax for another year and borrow more money to invest in infrastructure along with more borrowed Federal money to put state teachers and police back on the public payrolls. Is that the Democratic plan, more of the same? Obama’s current plan has already increased the national debt by over 5 Trillion; Food Stamp participation went from 32 to 46 Million; gas prices have doubled and unemployment is up to 7.9%. Sounds like it’s going to be more of the same… So how's that "Hope and Change" thing working for you!Obama has extended the Bush Tax Cuts for two years NOW, as the Bush tax cuts were for 10 years only. Stop calling them the Bush tax cuts, they are the Obama tax cuts now and he wants to extend more than half of them again, but only for the middle class! Stop looking at the past and try focusing on today and then change government policies NOW... Your kid’s future is at stake, no more temporary tax cuts!!! Look to Europe for a perfect example of what a government should NOT do…

ahandout
ahandout

The independents are going to Romney.  It's over.

The Republican nominee is leading among independent voters 47% to 40%,in a new national Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. Independentsaccounted for about 14% of likely voters in the Journal survey.Bill McInturff, a Republican pollster who conducts the survey alongwith Democratic pollster Peter Hart, said that number represents a bigred flag for Mr. Obama."You are really flirting with trouble if you're losing independents by this margin," he said.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204755404578099141834504374.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

EdPiedra
EdPiedra

Nixon succumbed to Watergate, Obama will to Benghazigate -https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=374339219308210&set=a.349349441807188.80610.339902456085220&type=1&theater

In the Watergate nobody DIED. 4 americans were killed in Benghazi after --immediate help was denied , 3 TIMES. TO THEM by Obama and his administration. --THIS IS A PROVEN FACT ! ---Breaking news: There was a live feed into the White House during the hours-long siege of theEmbassy, murder of the Ambassador and mortar attack on the SEALs.This Administration opted to do nothing: No air support, no reinforcement of the embassy, no plan toprotect the SEALs who had the targets in their sites, nothing.They sat there and refused to lift a finger as these brave souls were murdered. ---The people asking for Obama's impeachment are in the right track. THERE IS 
IRREFUTABLE EVIDENCE and Obama has been FOUND OUT ! ---He and his administration are lying criminals ! -- Traitors and cover-uppers !
People supporting his reelection are his accomplices ! -- No place to hide !

GajananTaman
GajananTaman

Obama is sure to win.This is how we feel in india..Punditry inside will go awry and Republicans are in for a big shock.

AaronCohn
AaronCohn

I especially liked Obama's "Vote for revenge" comment.

Yeah, the dark side of the force is very strong with that one.

GoPalmBeaches
GoPalmBeaches

Hey, Alex, when Obama suffers an electoral crushing on 11.6, will you write a follow up article on how misinformed your assumptions were/are?  Just checking....

BobJan
BobJan

Romney has hired the George W. Bush team of economic and foreign policy advisers. Because the truth is that Romney's economic advisers, led by Glenn Hubbard, were also George W Bush's economic advisers. Not surprisingly, they have the same plan: tax cuts for the wealthy, de-regulation, subsidies for oil companies, ending subsidies for alternative energy, tax breaks for shipping jobs overseas and skyrocketing defense spending. Lurking not too deep behind the surface are plans to hand Social Security to Wall Street. It is also fair to conclude that Romney will continue the Afghanistan War well beyond 2014. Although the neoconistas have allowed him to agree with President Obama's timetable without publicly objecting during the campaign, it is difficult to believe that they will not be pushing for an escalation, aka, a "surge for as long as the eye can see." It is not in their nature to do otherwise. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has proposed as much.  Then, of course, there is Iran. The neoconistas have wanted to topple the government in Iran for a long time. Iraq was just supposed to be a steppingstone. President Bush was unable to get Russia and China to join in crippling economic sanctions. President Obama did. After Romney's references to Russia, how long after a Romney election is President Putin likely to stick with the sanction regime? And, once it falls apart, whom do you think will be pretending to be distraught that the only alternative to war has now been removed? Just take a gander at Romney's foreign policy/national security advisers. Seventeen of 24 have origins in the Bush Administration who helped lie us into Iraq. Since neither Romney nor Ryan knows anything about foreign policy, the ability of this neocon cabal to get its way is almost unchallenged. [But, don't worry. None of the Romney sons will be fighting].

Think_again
Think_again

You can tell the game is almost over for Romney, considering the can of crazy that's getting opened up in these comments. 

sandifjm
sandifjm

@BruceStrong You could have written that in 2009. It would have still been bog standard Republican talking points, but at least then it may have been relevant. Economic indicators are all pointing in the right direction, and (for the last time) gas prices were so low in 2008 because the country and world had just entered the worst recession in about 8 decades.  Your guy had no plan, and the guy before that is the reason we're in this mess in the first place. So let the current occupant of the White House have his chance to fix it. And maybe the GOP will cooperate a little bit this time around, now that their "#1 Priority" - making Obama a one-term President - isn't going to happen.

ScottJones1
ScottJones1

@BruceStrong Are you cutting and pasting chain e-mails?  Because these are mostly tired talking points and mindless catch phrases, not actual facts and figures.  Do you honestly think the president manipulates the price of gas?  Further: What's the justification for us having "cheap gas" anyway?  Why is it assumed that enabling ourselves to cheaply burn fuel is a GOOD thing?  Why do you assume spending money on teachers is a BAD thing?  Does more people on food stamps mean more people are poor, or that food stamps are easier to get?  Dontcha think extending the "Bush tax cuts" was a political move?  "We" is all of us.  Don't be willfully ignorant just because you want some guy you've never met to win political office.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@BruceStrong Lets see we went from losing 800,000 jobs a month to gaining 171,000 last month, which is a net swing of 971,000 jobs, Home builder confidence is at a 6 year high and we have wrapped up one expensive war caused by Bush and will soon be ending the other one. I like the direction we are going and would rather not return to the Bush like policies that created the mess he inherited in the first place.

sandifjm
sandifjm

@EdPiedra Just writing the phrase (in CAPS no less) "PROVEN FACT", doesn't actually prove a fact.  You're forgiven though.  You guys had a rough night.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@EdPiedra Still going with the Fox News lie. And yet Collin Powell, Condi Rice and Paul Wolfwicz all say otherwise.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

@ahandout Signs still point to L for Momney in OH.  

You won't admit you were wrong come Wednesday.  Apology not accepted.

sandifjm
sandifjm

@ahandout Reading this stuff the day after is hilarious.  You don't taunt in advance, silly.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@AaronCohn And I especially like Mitt talking about what a great country it is while consistently betting against it with where he moves jobs and banks his money.

AaronCohn
AaronCohn

@sacredh Just one more guru biting the dust in the spirit of Joe "I'm the greatest" Granville.

Another "messiah" who believed his own BS.

AaronCohn
AaronCohn

@sacredh Nate Silver is looking for a job on Nov 7th.  He's left himself no wiggle room for a Romney win.

AaronCohn
AaronCohn

@sacredh Great.  Now Nate will be unemployed, unemployable, and $2K in the hole.  Maybe Mitt can find him a job...

justin
justin

@ahandout If you are gonna call President Obama "Barry",  it's only fair that you call Mr. Romney "Willy".

Hollywooddeed
Hollywooddeed

@ahandout It's an idiom.  I realize baggers have trouble with subtleties of the English language, but try harder.

Your "Half the country is his enemy" reminds me of Willard's 47% comments.  It's not half, but almost.

Piacevole
Piacevole

Unlike, say, Romney, who thinks that 47% is the enemy?

I'm going to vote for President Obama because he's the best bet to get us out of the canyon that George W. Bush dug for us, since you ask.

justin
justin

@AaronCohn @GajananTaman 

Do you really want America to have a leader who was brought up with discussions of "The Negro question" that were as casual as discussions of "The Jewish question" were in Germany in the '30's and '40's?

Think about it!

or Better: Google it (the Mormon view that black skin is the Mark of Cain, to be inherited until every descendant of Cain repents, after which their skin will magically turn white)  and then think about it!  Read the Wikipedia articles on Mormonism.  

Read the actual Mormon doctrines! (avoid current copies of the book of Mormon, however, as they get rewritten every year, with an accumulation of minor changes, such as replacement of the phrase "white soul" with the phrase "pure soul", for example.  They are now trying to hide much of what was official doctrine until late in the 20'th century)

Everybody:

Don't take my word for it, however, or the word of anyone else here, for that matter.  If you don't look up the facts for yourself, you have no business having an opinion.  Most especially, don't parrot what your parents say.  They are not all knowing!    

You can't have a mind of your own without doing your own research!

AaronCohn
AaronCohn

@mantisdragon91 @AaronCohn You mean like the company Staples?  Or is it the Steel Dynamics corporation you're babbling about?  Or are you prattling on about the Olymics he salvaged?

The man creates jobs.  Not in China, and not in Hong Kong.  But in the USA.

sandifjm
sandifjm

@AaronCohn @sacredh Nate Silver went 50-0.  PLEASE try to explain how he could have done that with skewed data.  You guys are completely impervious to reality aren't you?

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

@AaronCohn @sacredh I doubt he's wrong...primarily b/c he's using polling numbers that are reliable.  But even if he's wrong, he's got more than enough chutzpah to admit it.  Guys on your side do not.

ahandout
ahandout

@justin @ahandout  There is no fairness involved with Barry Obama.  He's a total fake.  Maybe you are the only one that hasn't noticed yet.

ahandout
ahandout

@Hollywooddeed @ahandout Yeah it's and idiom out of the mouth of someone that thinks voting is revenge.  Obama is a little corrupt politician and you all swallowed the hopey change BS hook, line and sinker.  You have been duped. 

AaronCohn
AaronCohn

@nflfoghorn @AaronCohn @sacredh Reliable polling numbers... Yeah, right.  Polling numbers skewed to 2008 democrat turnout.  Now nobody in his right mind thinks that's correct.  Gallup published results of a very large poll with an error margin of 1% on 10/26, and the result was the population of likely voters in 2012 will be skewed REPUBLICAN between 1% and 3% (not the 10% democrat skew of 2008).

A very common saying in information sciences is "garbage in, garbage out".  It's clear that statement applies to Silver's results.  In the end, it may apply to Silver himself.

fitty_three
fitty_three

@ironyman2 @Piacevole  

That might be true, but I don't think that could be attributed to Obama any more than the Great Recession can.  His hands were tied at every turn by the GOP and in addition, during the eight years of Bush we saw millions of US manufacturing and IT jobs flow offshore.

Do you remember how the GOP and Bush touted Globalization and it's consequenses, which were lower wages?  I do:

Their solution: "Get Over It".