President Obama has fought back since the Denver Debacle and stemmed the Romney tide, according to several polls. The Republican presidential nominee is ahead of where he was going into the debates, but I think his campaign peaked in early to mid-October, before the president showed voters he really wanted the job.
And so, as I look at the Electoral College map this week I see a slight move towards the incumbent in a couple of key states. Remember, this is not a national election but a series of elections in critical states that will ultimately determine the victor.
So, I’m revisiting my Electoral College map and am broadening my method—I’ve been using RealClearPolitics’ state poll averages and Nate Silver’s probability measures at The New York Times’ FiveThirtyEight blog. Now I’m adding The Huffington Post’s Pollster Model vote estimates and making my own admittedly subjective judgment on trends in each state’s polls.
I’m keeping Florida and North Carolina in Romney’s column. RCP gives the GOP candidate half-decent margins there and the polls have been moving his way. Team Obama has big get-out-the-vote efforts in both states, but I don’t think they will prevail on Election Day.
Similarly, I’m keeping Nevada with the president, because of the Silver State’s Hispanics, powerful unions and a Democratic machine that even got Harry Reid re-elected in 2010. NBC News’ Chuck Todd moved it from “toss-up” to “blue” last week.
I’ve also moved Colorado and New Hampshire from Romney to toss-up, joining Virginia. The momentum is slightly in the president’s direction in those two swing states, and I probably shouldn’t have given Romney New Hampshire so quickly. Nate Silver gives the Granite State a 70% probability and Colorado a 58% likelihood for President Obama. Colorado and Virginia are dead heats in RCP’s poll average.
The RCP average puts the president ahead in the central battleground of the Upper Midwest—Iowa, Ohio, and Wisconsin– by more than Romney leads in Florida. Nate Silver gives all three at least a 72% probability of going Obama’s way. The Huff Post’s Pollster estimates at least a three-point margin for Obama, and the polls’ momentum is going his way.
Iowa has been steady for the president, even though The Des Moines Register just endorsed Romney.
And in Wisconsin, Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin is hanging in there against former Gov. Tommy Thompson in a tight Senate race. Republicans are highly organized there after their battle to keep Gov. Scott Walker in office, and it may be the only state where the GOP can match Team Obama in the ground game. Still, this has been a Democratic state on the presidential level forever, and I don’t think favorite son Paul Ryan can change that this time.
Ohio, of course, is the must-win state for Romney. President Obama holds a narrow lead, and he may be at his strongest there, with the auto bailout, a 7.2% unemployment rate and what may be his strongest statewide organization. Silver gives him 74% probability of winning Ohio, and the early voters are breaking his way big time.
So, I’m keeping Ohio in the president’s column, which gives him that state’s 18 electoral votes and, by my calculation, the election: He’ll win least 277 electoral votes to 235 for Romney and 26 undecided. I’ll post my final map next week.
Also read: The Choice We Face