Monday, November 05, 2012

303 or 332 Obama to Romney's 235 or 206? Senate: Watch MT, ND, and WI.

     The race has tightened in Florida to the point where President Obama could net as much as 332 electoral votes tomorrow. Nate Silver (fivethirtyeight.com) switched his Florida rating from slightly favoring Romney to slightly favoring Obama. I was little confused by the switch since Romney leads in Nate's polling average and his state fundamentals rating for the state. Obama leads in the adjusted polling average though, which in much part is due to the NBC/Marist poll. Major news networks, major newspapers, and universities are the only groups that can typically afford the thorough live call polls. It had Obama up by 2. That being said, I'm still not convinced that we're going to get Florida tomorrow. I'm sticking with 303 to 235, but a good ground game/turnout could flip the state to Obama. In fact, Obama's ground game flipped three states in 2008:

"Imbued with unprecedented financial resources, the Obama 2008 presidential campaign established more than 700 field offices across the country, mostly in battleground states. To what extend did this form of campaigning actually affect the presidential vote? This article examines the county-level presidential vote in 2008 in eleven battleground states. The findings show that those counties in which the Obama campaign had established field offices during the general election saw a disproportionate increase in the Democratic vote share. Furthermore, this field office-induced vote increase was large enough to flip three battleground states from Republican to Democratic."

"In three of the states under analysis—Florida, Indiana, and North Carolina—Obama won the actual election but would have lost if the mobilized voters had instead voted for McCain. McCain would also have won Indiana and North Carolina had the mobilized voters simply chosen to stay home on Election Day. These three states were worth a total of fifty-three electoral votes—not enough to actually cost Obama the White House, but certainly enough to make it a much closer election."

"The results suggest that Obama very likely would have won the national contest without these field offices, but that the offices had a measurable impact on the election, likely changing the results of several closely contested states."

http://poq.oxfordjournals.org/content/73/5/1023.abstract

See below for the full study:

http://poq.oxfordjournals.org/content/73/5/1023.full

     On the Presidential level, there shouldn't be anything as dramatic to watch as FL, but VA, CO, or maybe NC could get interesting. OH looks solid for Obama.

     On the Senate level, MT has become much more interesting. Fivethirtyeight still gives Rehberg a 69% chance of winning, but pollster.com has Tester in a slight lead:

http://elections.huffingtonpost.com/pollster/2012-montana-senate-rehberg-vs-tester

     Nate Silver has Tester behind by so much because of his state fundamentals rating of MT. His state fundamentals for MT are so strongly Republican ("Rehberg +9.1") that they outweigh the fact that Tester leads Nate Silver's polling average ("Tester +1") and his adjusted polling average ("Tester +1.7").

     There's a similar thing occurring in ND, but it is a little harder to read. Pollster.com has Heitkamp up by .3%:

http://elections.huffingtonpost.com/pollster/2012-north-dakota-senate-berg-vs-heitkamp

     However, you can't compare this to Nate Silver's charts as well because he does not include Pharos Research Group's polls in his polling aggregate because they refuse to give him the details of their polling methodology (sample size/etc.). It is usually a bad sign when a pollster hides the details so I don't blame Nate Silver for not including them. Nate would have the state leaning red because of state fundamentals either way though.

     Tester definitely has better odds of winning MT than Heitkamp has of winning ND, but both should be interesting to watch. These two races will decide whether Fivethirtyeight.com's state fundamentals ratings are justified in outweighing the polling (and adjusted polling) averages.

     The two other Senate races to watch will be WI and VA. In WI, Thompson has made up a lot of his lost ground in this race though Baldwin is heavily favored on Fivethirtyeight.com (77.2%) and very slightly favored on pollster.com (.8%):

http://elections.huffingtonpost.com/pollster/2012-wisconsin-senate-thompson-vs-baldwin

     In VA, Kaine is up by a healthier margin, and I still expect Baldwin (D) and Kaine (D) to win.

     No big changes in the House races (overall). The GOP still looks prepared to keep a majority in the House. However, the national polls finally became in line with the state polls (which is great news for President Obama). For a little bit, election experts were wondering whether the national polls or the state-level polls were telling the true story about the state of the election. The media pointed to national polls because they give off the impression that the race has been much closer than it actually is. As far as the popular vote goes, it will be a close race percentage wise; however, the state-level polls have shown an Obama lead in the electoral college the entire election cycle.

For more on this topic, see below:

http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/04/state-and-national-polls-come-into-better-alignment/

     Towards the end of my recent prediction post, I stated that "[t]he main two I could see myself switching on are FL (from Romney to Obama) and MT's Senate race (from Rehberg to Tester); however, this late in the campaign things are usually fairly set in stone." It appears that was one good prediction on my part so far (without Nate Silver's help this time :P).

     I've been heavily keeping up with election numbers/predictions since 2004. As much as I believe in the research/thought behind the experts I follow, I realize that an extremely low or very high turnout could prove the likely voter models being used by all of the pollsters wrong, which would cause all of their predictions to be off. That being said, Nate Silver and most of the other poll aggregators have been on target for the past 4 years, and I don't expect that to change tomorrow.

     The best part about being a prediction/polling junkie is that you get an election day every two years. For one day the various pollsters/poll aggregators will be proven right or wrong, and then we can sleep in November to the sound of the blame game blaring from cable news channels.

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