Throughout the summer, Mr. Romney always had a minimum of 205 points in his pocket. He could count on all the McCain states, Missouri and Indiana. And while it was and is a little too close for comfort, North Carolina was always in the Romney column during the summer months. Florida, Nebraska’s 2nd district, Nevada, Iowa, Colorado and even Wisconsin were not firmly in either camp and switched sides throughout the summer. Perhaps due to statistical error, a few of these states actually leaned initially towards Mr. Obama soon after Mr. Ryan was chosen as VP candidate. However, Ohio (with 18 points) went from tipping point state (the most Purplish state) to Burgundy and getting Redder. While it is true, that Mr. Romney has only won one Ohio poll recently, he was able to come very close in a recent Ohio poll in which the Democrats had a significant advantage in voter demographics. Furthermore, a few polling companies have stated that Mr. Romney has had a good week in the 11 or 12 Swing states. After the last Presidential election, I have learned to take internal polls with a grain of salt, but one local candidate told me excitedly that since Mr. Ryan’s selection as VP, not only has Mr. Romney surpassed Mr. Obama in the state of Ohio, but the Romney/ Ryan ticket is doing rather well in Eastern Ohio now. As an aside, I told him that he would be elected to sit in our state capital on his own merit.
With both Florida and Ohio being key swing states, but leaning towards the Romney camp, the Romney total jumps from 205 to 252 EC point. I am not ready to believe my own model, but interestingly, Oregon is also now firmly in the Romney camp to bring the EC total to 259. It has been a long time since we had a poll from Oregon and that poll actually did have Mr. Obama slightly ahead in Oregon. However, two of three polling companies that release regional results claim that Mr. Romney is recently increasing his popular vote in the Western United States faster than the rest of the country, if these regional numbers are even within the margin of error, it would actually be mathematically a little difficult for Mr. Romney to be losing Oregon. Not that approval number mean much, but numbers released a few days ago show that more Oregonians disapprove of Mr. Obama than approve of him. Mr. Ryan was also sent to Oregon to publicly campaign. So perhaps, internal Republican polls are also suggesting that Oregon could in deed be winnable for the Romney camp.
The key state of Colorado joined the Romney camp at the end of August by just a few 10th of a percentage point, but with good swing state and western polling for Mr. Romney this week, Mr. Romney now leads Colorado by more than 2 points and it has thus now become a Reddish Burgundy battleground state instead of a key Purple state, giving Mr. Romney a total of 268 points.
Prior to July, Mr. Romney was polling quite well in Nevada, but after that, only one poling company gave him the lead in that state, so finally about 2 thirds into the month of August, enough bad polling put Nevada in the Obama column by a slight margin. A few recent Nevada polls have put him within the margin of error (almost a literal tie) and this week’s Swing state and Western polling put Nevada back in the Romney camp. Mr. Romney leads that tipping point state by about a point and a half despite currently losing the national popular vote due to the Obama convention bounce by about a point.
For most of the summer, Mr. Obama had a structural advantage; Mr. Romney would have had to win the national popular vote by 1 or 2 point in order to get to 270. Now the tables are finally turned. Whether it is due to the Ryan pick, the conventions or statistical noise, the landscape appears to have changed in Romney’s favor. While Mr. Romney only barely gets to 270, he is very close in the other key states; he is behind in the key states of Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and Nebraska’s 2nd District by less than a point. He also trails Virginia, Michigan and Wisconsin by less than 3 points so while the popular is close, Mr. Obama is having a challenge to get much past the 200 point mark.
The two biggest surprises for me is that Mr. Romney is winning Oregon, but not Nebraska’ s 2nd District. However, the fact that it is a close race is not a surprise to me. Among other things, the state of the race in Ohio and Virginia are not surprises to me. As the official campaign is under way, both camps must be somewhat disappointed that they are not leading by a health margin. A few months ago, both camps expected to be somewhat comfortably ahead, but they have come to the realization that the contest will probably remain close (like 2004) and that both sides need to get their bases out to vote in November.
Way back in the primaries, we were told by the Romney camp that not only was Mr. Romney more electable, he would have an electoral advantage and he might even be able to transform the Electoral map. Some of these statements might be true, some are not and some are of course difficult to prove either way. One thing that is not true yet, is that the electoral map is transformed. Yes, it appears that the 2000 swing state of Oregon is in the Romney camp, many things are not transformed. Many Romneyites predicted that their candidate would do well in Oregon and it appears that they are correct on this one. Back in the Spring, some in the Romney camp (as well as neutral pundits) thought that it would be possible to get to 270 without Ohio. While it is still technically possible, for Mr. Romney to get to 270 without Ohio, it is now highly Unlikely. Yes things are close in Michigan and PA is not far behind, but it is becoming clear that is geographically illogical for Mr. Romney to win either PA or Michigan without Ohio. Many of them argued that after comparing the education level of White in Ohio to those of PA and other states, Ohio was needed in the GOP column. Not only did these pundits forget that we are not going back to 1996 demographically, these pundits have only examined some aspect of the education level of White Ohioans and have not considered comparing non-White Ohioans white non-Whites of other states. We have heard all kinds of behind the scenes stories about the choosing of Mr. Ryan as VP candidate, but perhaps it was a realization by the Romney camp that they actually needed Ohio to get to 270; failing that, they need Wisconsin. Kind of like 2004 when Mr. Bush needed either Ohio or Wisconsin to put him over the top.
While not every state is moving towards Mr. Romney at the same speed, the Midwest is moving in that direction at close to the national average, so by definition that region is the most crucial despite more significant shifts in the political landscape that does not matter. Of course, the political landscape can change before November 6th, but it appears that Mr. Romney will win narrowly and that demographics will continue the path of the last two election cycles in part because the GOP is running against Mr. Obama and not one of the Clintons. While Mr. Romney is winning Nevada again and not far behind in New Hampshire, it is perhaps surprises to some that he is not doing even better in these two states. Another example of the political landscape being what it is regardless of who is the candidate.
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