Two 2012 Electoral Landscape MAPS as of November 16, 2011
(This is cut and dried mathematical stuff - little or opinion is involved)
At the end of May 2011, I published all the state polling matchups (plus the national matchups): Obama vs. Republican field. At the end of June, 2011, I did likewise. At the end of August, I published the 3rd set of landscape maps.
It is time to update, once again differentiating between Obama vs. Romney and Obama vs. “not Romney”.
Last time around I wrote: "next time around I will be adding Obama vs. Perry as well, but right now, there is not enough state data to make this possible."
As it turns out, Perry has fallen so steeply in the polls that it is not necessary to do a separate Obama-Perry workup.
Poll statistics: Since November 2010, I have recorded 263 polls resulting in 1,163 total matchups.
Of those 263 polls, 179 are state polls and 84 are national polls.
From those 179 state polls, there have been 728 candidate matchups, of which President Obama has won 550 (75.55%), the GOP has won 163 matchups (22.39%) and 15 matchups were absolute numeric ties (2.06%)
The remaining 84 polls were the national polls, with 435 candidate matchups, of which President Obama has won 393 matchups (90.34%), the GOP has won 26 matchups (5.98%) and 16 matchups were absolute numeric ties (3.68%). At the end of the analysis, a chart with this data, per state.
RAW DATA (hyperlinked):
Here is the page with all of the state polling up through November 16, 2011.
Here is the page with all of the national polling up through November 16, 2011.
At the end of June, 33 states in the Union had been polled. Two months later, that number has risen to 36 (Utah, Vermont, New York). As of November, 40 states have been polled (HI, KS, KY, LA were added to the list of states polled for the first time).
It is probably easier to first look at the states that have not been polled yet:
AL, AR, DE, DC, ID, IL, IN, MD, ND, OK, and WY
Of these 10 states plus DC, we are really quite sure about the tilt of 9 of these 10, for these 13 states were massive landslide wins for their respective candidate and went either entirely or mostly for that same party in the last 6 presidential cycles in a row, from 1988-2008. No one is seriously considering OK as a DEM pick-up target in 2012. Equally unlikely is IL as a GOP potential pick-up. Two states were wins under +10 in 2008: ND and IN. Barring polling that really shows ND being competitive, I am logically scoring it for the GOP in 2012.
The state that stands out is IN, which has still not been polled. IN, which had the largest cross-partisan shift of 2008 (DEM +21.73%), is the state most likely to revert to the Republican column in 2012, especially if it is a tough re-election for President Obama. But since there is no empiric data from IN to-date, we cannot even make an informed choice yet. Therefore, for the lack of data, IN currently remains a tossup state.
Six states have not been polled in the last 3 months: AK, MT, NM, OR, SD and VT. The tilt of all of these states is pretty clear. The case could be made for NM as a battleground, but current polling does not show this.
As was the case last time, the statewide polling trends lead to the following conclusion: one can make two equally valid projection maps: one for Obama vs. Romney and one for Obama vs. all other GOP candidates (not-Romney).
According to the current data, against all other GOP candidates, Obama is set to keep the pick-up states he won in 2008 and probably add some to his column.
Against Romney, Obama is losing in NH, is extremely weak in PA, FL, VA and NV but holding in all other pick-up states. He is showing resiliency in two western pick-up states (NM, and very notably, CO). NC is just as battlegroundy as it was 4 years ago. The one major difference that sticks out immediately is Obama's increase in strength in OH, which would seem to go against the grain, since he is struggling so much in PA. But the data shows that at this moment, even against Romney, OH is not even a toss-up state, technically speaking.
So, I am publishing 2 electoral scenarios, based purely on polling results.
Here Obama's electoral column has statistically improved over August 2011. The statistical shift to note in Ohio and Arizona, but also the solidification of the GOP in Georgia, are the major differences in this map over August.
This map is almost unchanged over August 2011: against any other candidate than Romney, it is a romp for the President, plain and simple.
Does this correlate with the national polling data? Yes, mostly. On the average, Obama is 8-11 points ahead of Paul and Gingrich, 10-13 points ahead of Perry and Cain, 13-18 points ahead of Bachmann. These are all margins larger than his national margin from 2008.
There is also something else going on under the scene worth noting. In electoral politics in the USA, the phrase "a rising tide lifts all boats" is not quite right. It is more like "a rising tide shifts all boats", and we are seeing this now.
There are three possibilities:
1.) The GOP runs away with IT and democratic bastion states begin to weaken tremendously. Think about it: Reagan needed a +18% national winning margin in order to win MA and RI by around 3 points each.
2.) Obama runs away with it and Republican bastion states weaken: In 1964, in order to flip the Republican bastion of Idaho by less than 2 points, LBJ, needed a +22.6% win nationally to get there.
3.) Both sides begin to harden their constituencies, thus reducing the number of battleground states.
We saw this in 2004.
In 2008, we saw a GOP weaking in 45 of 50 states, a pretty sure sign that Obama was going to win.
This time around, right now, we see a hardening of fronts. On the whole, Obama is just as strong in NY, MA, CA and NJ as he was in 2008. He is not as strong in HI as in 2008, but well above +25 on the average, which is still way above Kerry's take from 2004. Romney chews into some of the President's margins, but not enough to make the states, especially on the coasts, where Obama is leading, competitive.
Likewise, states like TN, LA, KS and NE are showing that the GOP is strengthening there and showing margins as good as or even better than 2008. But mostly in the case of Romney. In the case of other GOP candidates, the GOP numbers weaken some, but again, not enough to make a difference. Incidentally, CD polling of NE shows that one 2 CDs are quite competitive.
You should go through every state and see the numbers for yourself. You will be seeing a sea of bolded blue, as President Obama has clearly won more matchups that people realize.
Are there places where President Obama can suddenly weaken? Of course. His approval numbers are underwater, always a bad sign for an incumbent. However, the GOP approval numbers are even lower. This is primarily what is keeping the President in the lead.
There was a shock sign of weakening in Maine in one poll that showed Obama ahead of Romney by only one point (Critical Insight polling), but the next PPP showed major double digit margins for the President. However, I could see where Mitt Romney as the nominee could make a major play for one CD in Maine.
And of course, PA appears to be the President's "achilles heel". There is a real possibility that Mitt Romney could win the keystone state and therefore break the Democratic tendencies of this state. What irony it would be were the GOP in PA to go through with their plans to split PA's electors ala NE and ME, Romney would go on to win PA but Obama would still get enough electors to get over 270.
But equally shocking should be polling of MI for the GOP. Once again, a state in the Midwest where Obama is polling pretty close to his landslide margin from 2008: +11 over Romney (under his 2008 margin), +19 over Perry, +26 over Bachmann, +23 over Gingrich. In a close election between Bush and Kerry, Kerry still won MI by +2.5%. If Romney were really pulling up nationally, you would think he would do better in his own home state.
And it should be a cause for concern for the GOP that Obama has won every single matchup to date in: OH, IA, NM and CO - 4 critical pick-up states that the GOP needs back in order to get to 270.
Another point of weakness for the GOP that is coming onto the radar screen (as I predicted more than one year ago) is Arizona.
Missouri: the President is behind in MO by about 3 points. He lost Missouri in 2008 by a razor-thin 0.12%. So, Missouri is actually showing a gain for the GOP. Nonethless, +3 is in battleground/tossup category, just like Florida.
And finally, Florida. The composite polling puts the President ahead by just under 3%. Obama won Florida in 2008 by just under 3%. +3% is definitely a battleground number, but right now, Obama is holding where he was in 2008. Without Florida, the GOP has no chance of capturing the White House, plain and simple.
FACIT: Not a great deal has changed over August 2011: The President's secure electoral column is pretty much right where it was, ditto for Mitt Romney, except for Ohio. Against all other GOP candidates, we could see a near perfect replay of 2008.