15 September 2012

Bonncaruso's Electoral Landscape No. 3 - September 15, 2012


Bonncaruso's Electoral Landscape: Obama vs. Romney
September 15, 2012

This is my third major electoral landscape prediction-output for the 2012 election.

The first one was on July 15, 2012, which you can see HERE or HERE.

The second one was on August 28, 2012, which you can see HERE or HERE.

For those who know my analyses, they know that while I am a Democrat, my electoral analyses are non-partisan and brutally fair. I simply let the numbers speak for themselves.

There were a good number of polls in 2010-2011, you can see them all HERE (national), HERE (Alabama through New Hampshire) and HERE (New Jersey through Wyoming).

As of 2012, here are the stats on all 2012 polls, all of which are in one EXCEL-document (through 15 September 2012).

Here the raw stats on polls, per state:


State Polls through 2012-07-015 Polls through 2012-08-028 Polls through 2012-09-015 Change
08/28 to 09/15
Alabama 1 1 1 0
Alaska 0 0 0 0
Arizona 10 11 12 1
Arkansas 1 1 1 0
California 11 14 16 2
Colorado 9 15 19 4
Connecticut 3 6 7 1
Delaware 0 0 0 0
District of Columbia 0 1 1 0
Florida 25 36 43 7
Georgia 5 6 6 0
Hawaii 0 0 0 0
Idaho 0 0 0 0
Illinois 1 2 5 3
Indiana 2 3 3 0
Iowa 5 7 8 0
Kansas 0 0 0 0
Kentucky 0 0 0 0
Louisiana 0 0 0 0
Maine 5 6 6 0
Maryland 1 1 1 0
Massachusetts 11 13 14 1
Michigan 13 21 25 4
Minnesota 4 5 7 2
Mississippi 0 0 0 0
Missouri 6 15 18 3
Montana 4 6 7 1
Nebraska 4 4 4 0
Nevada 6 10 11 1
New Hampshire 8 12 14 2
New Jersey 9 12 16 4
New Mexico 6 8 10 2
New York 11 14 15 1
North Carolina 17 22 28 6
North Dakota 2 3 3 0
Ohio 20 31 35 4
Oklahoma 1 2 2 0
Oregon 3 3 3 0
Pennsylvania 17 24 25 1
Rhode Island 0 0 0 0
South Carolina 0 0 0 0
South Dakota 1 2 2 0
Tennessee 3 3 3 0
Texas 4 4 5 1
Utah 1 1 1 0
Vermont 2 3 3 0
Virginia 22 29 32 3
Washington (State) 7 11 14 3
West Virginia 1 1 2 1
Wisconsin 19 30 30 0
Wyoming 0 0 0 0
Total STATE POLLS 281 399 457 58
National 277 400 457 57
National – specialty polls 14 19 20 1
Total – without specialty polls 558 799 912 113
Total – with specialty polls 572 818 934 116


There were 457 state polls since the beginning of 2012 up through September 15. All 932 polls (including the national matchups) are in the EXCEL document that is also hyperlinked above.

The specialty polls (ACA, latino vote, swing state votes) are not per-se directly involved in the state calculations, but worth a look nonetheless.

As of September 15, 2012, the following „states“ have not been polled at all in 2012:

Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Wyoming. (11 states), as was the case with the last electoral landscape on August 28th - no change since then. The other 41 „states“ have been polled. It is pretty safe to assume that these 11 states will vote in 2012 in the same direction as they did in 2008. None of them are likely to be competitive.

Most of the states that have been polled the most are also those considered the most competitive in the GE:

Florida (43, was 36)
Ohio (35, was 31)
Virginia (32, was 29)
Wisconsin (30, not polled in the last two weeks)
North Carolina (28, was 22)
Pennsylvania (25, was 24)
Michigan (25, was 21)
Colorado (19, was 15)
Missouri (18, was 15)
California (16 , was 14)
New Jersey (16, was 12)
New York (15, was 14)
Massachusetts (14 , was 13)
New Hampshire (14, was 12)
Washington State (14, was 11)
Arizona (12, was 11)
Nevada (11, was 10)

Alone from these 17 states in the Union we have received data on 367 of those 457 state polls, or 80.30% of all polls. Strangely enough, one state that is an absolute tossup has barely been polled: IOWA.


Based on the polling results, which, as mentioned above, you can find all in this one EXCEL table, I come up with the following electoral landscape:


Obama 284
Romney 206
Tossups 48

Margin: Obama +78 EV.







This is not the same EC predictions as the polling tracker from TPM, which currently shows the following:





To-date, there are no special predictions for the congressional districts in either ME or NE, both of which do elector-splitting.

My methodology is similar to TMP's, but not identical. I take the average of all the last polls, no more than the last 7 to 9 polls within two weeks time, (in July, it was within one months time) and with no repeater pollsters. Closer to election day, this time-frame will be reduced to one week. Any average at +2% or less is pure tossup. Otherwise, I designate a prediction.


So, what is NEW in this electoral landscape:

This is the EVERYTHING TABLE for polling comparison purposes to 2008.

Because it is so detailed, I will do a legend before the table itself.

The entire table is color coded: blue = DEM, red = GOP.

Column 1: "Rank '08" is a listing of the partisan rankings for that state based on the results of the 2008 GE and is not a predictor of that state's performance in 2012. The Obama states go from 1-29 in bolded blue, the McCain states go from 22-1 in bolded red. Think of it as an hourglass, with the narrowest of margins in the middle.

Column 2 is self-explanatory.

Column 3: lists the current EV total for each state. If that total is underlined with another number in parentheses next to it, then this state has undergone a change in EV total since the 2010 Census. Those states are: NY, MA, MD, IL, WA, MI, NJ, NV, PA, IA, OH, FL, MO, GA, AZ, TX, LA and UT (18 states).

Column 4: the exact winning percentage margin from 2008, with a link in the title to Dave Leip's uselectionatlas.org website, as proof. Here the same LINK. His site is the DEFINITIVE repository of electoral data.

Column 5: the final polling average for each state going into election day 2008. The title in this column is linked to the entire polling data I put out 11/04/08, with simple averages. Here the same LINK.

Column 6: "Diff. 1" is the difference between the actual winning margin from 2008 and the predicted margin average, based on the end polling in 2008. The closer this value comes to "0", then the closer the polling average was to reality in that year. Of the 29 states that Obama carried in 2008, he actually won with a margin ABOVE the final average in 22 of those states, and with a margin BELOW the final average in 7 states. Of the 22 states that John McCain won, he won with a margin ABOVE his average in 17 of those states and he won with a margin below the final average in 5 of those states. Therefore, we could say that the final polling averages in 2008 were "conservative" in their estimates, but there is a caveat here: anything in columns 5, 7 or 8 that is in italics indicates one single poll and NOT an average, for in that case only one poll was available. This data is important in looking at current polling data for 2012 - to compare.

Column 7: is the current polling average in 2012, for which all of the polling to-date been posted as a large, tabbed, EXCEL table HERE. Again, anything in italics indicates one single poll, either because there has only been one poll of the state, or too much time has elapsed between this poll and the one or ones before.

Also, the current polling average is the decider of predicting how the electoral landscape looks right now. Anything below a +2 margin average means a toss-up, and those values are shaded in light green. Right now, there are only three pure tossups on this map: Iowa, Florida and Virginia. Anything above +2 will be designated a predicted winner. So, the numbers and only the numbers drive the electoral map presented in this electoral landscape.

Column 8: is the difference between the current polling average right now in 2012, per state, and the final polling average from 2008. Though this is somewhat an "apples to oranges" comparison, it can tell us if there has been massive change in that state. And in the next electoral landscape, I will update these figures and we can see if they get closer to the 2008 averages or not.

One more note before citing examples: if the value in "Diff. 1" (Column 6) is a large number, that means that the candidate well outperformed his predicted polling average, something to consider when looking at the values for 2012 as we now go into the "hot phase" of the presidential campaigns.

My recommendation is that you first take a good look at your own state and get used to reading the numbers in this way. Once the eyes get used to this, it is easy to visualize trends in no time!

Examples under the table

Rank '08
State
EV 2012
Diff. 1
Diff.over 2008 PA

1

DC

3
+85.93
+69.00
+16.93
+72.00
+3.00
2
HI
4
+45.26
+36.00
+9.26
---
----
3
VT
3
+37.01
+27.00
+10.01
+37.00
+10.00
4
RI
4
+27.81
+18.10
+9.71
---
---

5

NY

29 (31)
+26.86
+29.00
-2.14
+28.50
-0.50
6
MA
11 (12)
+25.81
+21.33
+4.48
+16.00
-5.33
7
MD
10
+25.44
+17.30
+8.14
+23.00
+5.70
8
IL
20 (21)
+25.11
+24.90
+0.21
+18.77
-6.13

9

DE

3
+24.98
+20.70
+4.28
---
---

10

CA

55
+24.03
+24.00
+0.03
+22.45
-1.55

11

CT

7
+22.37
+21.33
+1.04
+9.33
-11.00
12
ME
4
+17.32
+17.15
+0.17
+15.00
-2.15

13

WA

12 (11)
+17.08
+14.60
+2.48
+14.67
+0.07
14
MI
17 (16)
+16.44
+14.44
+2.00
+5.46
-8.98

15

OR

7
+16.35
+15.57
+0.78
+8.00
-7.57

16

NJ

15 (14)
+15.53
+16.00
-0.47
+12.25
-3.75

17

NM

5
+15.13
+9.26
+5.87
+10.00
+0.74

18

WI

10
+13.90
+11.34
+2.56
+2.71
-8.63
19
NV
6 (5)
+12.49
+6.83
+5.66
+2.50
-4.33
20
MN
10
+10.24
+12.00
-1.76
+8.50
-3.50

21

PA

20 (21)
+10.31
+7.30
+3.01
+9.67
+2.37

22

NH

4
+9.61
+10.43
-0.82
+4.50
-6.43

23

IA

6 (7)
+9.53
+12.75
-3.22
+0.00
-12.75

24

CO

9
+8.95
+6.62
+2.33
+2.75
-3.87

25

USA

--
+7.26
+7.54
-0.28
+3.81
-3.73
--
VA
13
+6.30
+4.93
+1.37
+0.22
-4.71

26

OH

18 (20)
+4.58
+2.30
+2.28
+3.62
+1.32

27

FL

29 (27)
+2.81
+1.79
+1.02
+1.60
-0.19

NE-02*
1*
+1.21
+4.00
+5.21
+1.00
-3.00
28
IN
11
+1.03
+1.18
+2.21
+16.00
+14.82
29
NC
15
+0.33
+0.62
-0.29
+4.40
+5.02

--

--


--



St.
EV
Margin
PC 12
Diff. 1


22

MO

10 (11)
+0.13
+0.46
-0.33
+8.75
+8.29
21
MT
3
+2.38
+1.64
+0.74
+11.00
+9.36
20
GA
16 (15)
+5.20
+3.85
+1.35
+3.00
-0.85
19
SD
3
+8.41
+7.50
+0.91
+6.00
-1.50
18
AZ
11 (10)
+8.48
+4.43
+4.05
+9.00
+5.43

17

ND

3
+8.65
+1.34
+9.99
+17.00
+18.34
16
SC
8
+8.98
+12.55
-3.57
---
---
15
TX
38 (34)
+11.76
+13.00
-1.24
+15.00
+2.00

14

WV

5
+13.09
+7.66
+5.43
+14.00
+6.34
13
MS
6
+13.17
+10.50
+2.67
---
---

12

KS

6
+14.92
17.00
-2.08
---
---
11
NE*
5
+14.93
19.00
-4.07
+12.00
-7.00
10
TN
11
+15.06
+14.00
+1.06
+7.00
-7.00
9
KY
8
+16.22
12.40
+3.82
---
---
8
LA
8 (9)
+18.63
10.43
+8.20
---
---

7

AR

6
+19.85
10.75
+9.10
+24.00
+13.25

6

AK

3
+21.54
14.58
+6.96
---
----

5

AL

9
+21.58
19.33
+2.25
+15.00
-4.33
4
ID
4
+25.30
23.00
+2.30
---
---
3
UT
6 (5)
+28.02
24.00
+4.02
+42.00
+18.00
2
OK
7
+31.29
30.15
+1.14
+30.00
-0.15
1
WY
3
+32.24
23.00
+9.24
---
---

Two examples of extreme stability, as interpreted from the table:

Oklahoma:

McCain won this state by +31.29% in 2008, it was number 2 in the conservative rankings. The polling average for Oklahoma was +30.15%, so McCain did just +1.14 better than the polls. That is a very low difference. This year doesn't look much different. There have only been two polls of Oklahoma, called "The Sooner Poll". The first one showed Romney at +35, the last one shows him with +30. Too much time has elapsed between the two to make an honest average, so all that remains in the one poll value of +30.00, which is in italics, and only 0.15% less than the average from 2008. Oklahoma was the most stabile state of 2008 on the Republican side vis-a-vis the 2004 results and it looks very much like a repeat performance will happen again in this year.

New York:

President Obama won the Empire State by +26.86% in 2008, but the polling there was somewhat inflated: the end average had him at +29.00, so technically, he underperformed there by -2.14 points. However, just as in the case of Oklahoma, a predicted +29.00 is such a crushing margin that two points makes no difference in the outcome. Right now, the current polling average in NY is +28.50, almost identical to the end average from 2008. So, assuming that the President may slightly underperform in NY vis-a-vis polling, since there is statistical precedent, it looks like it will still be about a +26% margin win.

So, both states, when you measure them against the averages from 2008 at the end, show absolutely no erosion for their respective sides. That is not the case in all states.

What to make of this and the current polling data?

First, at the national level, we are seeing that President Obama got an observable bounce that is larger than Romney's bounce - from their respective conventions. The next 2-3 weeks will show how much of that bounce ebbs, as is historically the case. Either way, it is looking to be more and more like 2004, a relatively close race, a "base" race.

Now, to the tossups. There were 7 last time, there are only three now (3 states, 48 EV):


IA (absolute tie, was Obama +1.5)
VA (Obama +0.22, was Obama +1.00)
FL (Obama +1.94, was Obama +1.60)

Notice that in two tossup states Obama still has a slight advantage.

1.) There are only two polls in the mix in Iowa right now, a PPP poll from 28.08 (Obama +2) a RAS poll from 10.08 (Romney +2) - which makes for exactly 0.00 - an absolute tie. But all of these polls are old. It is really impossible to know what exactly is going on in the Jayhawk State.

2.) Virginia has narrowed since the last Electoral Landscape analysis. a must-win state for the GOP, which Obama won by +6.30% in 2008. Of 32 polls in 2012, Obama has won 22, Romney has won 8 and there were two absolute ties. His current margin average is +0.22, it was +1.00% in August. In a very large analysis of Virginia from January 2009 (which you can read in full starting HERE), I wrote the following conclusion:

However, in VIRGINIA, there was real resistance to Obama, but in counties that are „emptying out“, so to speak. We see a large poli-demographic shift in VA, with the north and the SE gaining greatly in political strength for the Democratic party. Here there were obviously far fewer GOP defections, if at all (McCain scored more raw votes in VA than Bush from 2004), but far more newly registered and democratic dedicated voters. This poses a far larger problem for the GOP than either Indiana or Ohio, for Obama's 1.03% margin in Indiana can be overcome and Ohio is expected to be a battleground state is virtually every cycle, but the addition of more than 500,000 voters to the democratic rolls in just one cycle is much harder for the opposition to overcome. The best case scenario for the GOP is that Virginia becomes a bitter battleground state. However, +6.30% is hardly a battleground margin. It is a better margin that Obama scored in OHIO, FLORIDA, INDIANA and NORTH CAROLINA. It is a lean winning margin, but a comfortable one and will require a minimum 12.60% shift back in order for the GOP to regain the state, and I doubt that this shift will come from those 500,000 new voters. The worst case scenario for the GOP is that Obama cements Virginia into the Democratic column in his first term, adding the state to core Democratic territory and thus making the electoral math for the GOP more difficult.

And I believe this is exactly what the Obama team has been doing: working to „cement“ Virginia into the Democratic column as a new blue state. The fact that, in spite of a bad economy, Obama has been able to maintain the upper hand until now - and I expect he will visit the Old Dominion quite often. Look what Virginia does for the electoral math. If Obama retains all the western states and cements Virginia into the Democratic column, then were we to consider OH, MI, FL, NC and IA as pure tossups, Obama would have 263, Romney would still still at 191. Obama would only need to win one of the five to get over 270.

3.) Florida is back in the battlegrounds, at Obama +1.60; it was in the Romney column at the end of August, but only because of one wild outlier poll from the same firm that did the one wild outlier MI poll. That firm, Foster-McCollum / Baydoun, put out a poll showing Romney suddenly at +14.58% over Obama in a state where the two have been neck-and-neck for the last 16 months. Nate Silver at 538 tore this poll apart because the projected demographics are just so far away from the actual demographics of the Sunshine State and even farther off from the demographic break-down from 2008 that this poll is very likely to win OUTLIER POLL of the year award in my book. With this poll in the statistic, it is now Romney +2.97, but without this poll, it is Romney +0.06. Yes, +0.06, which would make Florida look eerily like Florida of 2000. I wrote in August that this poll would fall out of the statistic in little over one week, and as predicted, Florida has returned to the tossups. Of 43 polls in the Sunshine State, Obama has won 25, Romney has won 17 and there was one absolute tie. Two polls are now easily identifiable as gross outliers: GSSG from January and the Foster-McColllum mentioned above. Florida is a MUST-WIN state for Mitt Romney.


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Probably more important are the states that have moved demonstrably out of the tossup column, the most important of which is:



1.) Ohio has been reliably Obama leaning and is actually continuing to do this. Obama's current +3.62 average in the Buckeye State has shown reslience throughout the year - Obama has been at around +4 more often than not, which is critical as it is just outside of the MoE. John Kerry never polled this well in Ohio in 2004. And the last five polls, including from very Republican pollsters, all show President Obama ahead. The convention bounce is showing in Ohio. And in a move that I can only describe as bizarre, Mitt Romney pulled his advertising OUT of Ohio during the DEM convention, especially in the NE Ohio market where he would need to pick up as many votes in heavy DEM territory as possible. If you go to the link, you will see my argument that no matter what his logic was for this, Romney just lost one critical thing he can never get back: TIME.

And much more critically, Obama is polling now, on the average, HIGHER than he did just on the day before the election of 2008: his polling average on November 4th was +2.30, but he won the Buckeye State with a +4.58% margin when all was said and done. He outperformed the polling in Ohio in 2008 and is without a doubt in a stronger position now than he was four years ago. This is the most ominous warning sign for the Romney campaign, above all other states.

Since Ohio and Nevada are the two most reliable bellwethers in the nation at this time, impending Obama wins in both of those states would pretty much assure a national victory. Likewise for Governor Romney: if end polling shows him ahead in BOTH states, then most likely Governor Romney would be the next President of these United States.

2.) In Nevada, Obama has moved to a +2.5 average, he was at +2 in August and has therefore moved out of the tossups. But Obama has won 10 of the 11 polls conducted in NV this year, so his lead in the Silver State is more resilient than it currently looks on paper. It looks astonishingly like George W. Bush Jr.'s small but resilient lead that he held in the Silver State all through 2004.

3.) Michigan is slipping away from Mitt Romney. Apparently, his campaign realizes this as well and they pulled advertising out of the state. Even the Foster-McCollum polling group that put out such unrealistic data based on crazy demographics in the Wolverine State in August is showing the President ahead here. His current average is +5.46, which is decidedly leaner than his massive +16.44% unsung landslide win in 2008, but still larger than Kerry or Gore's wins from 2004 and 2000, respectively.

4.) North Carolina has been a bitter battleground all year long and maybe it will be that again. but the state has moved demonstrably more toward Governor Romney in the last two weeks, in spite of the DNC being held in Charlotte. Currently, the average is +4.40 for Romney, is was +1.20 pre-conventions. And four of the last five pollsters all show Romney ahead. We have moved away from micro-numbers and micro-shifts that have been a hallmark of the Tarheel State for practically the entire year. Two weeks ago, I wrote that NC would be the closest state of the election. I am not so sure any more. Far more telling will be how much energy the President invests in NC. If he holds onto OH and FL, he doesn't need NC or VA, but surely he would love to have both stay in the Democratic column. Nate Silver at 538 did an outstanding column on North Carolina in the last days and remarked that the state flipped into the Democratic column perhaps a few cycles earlier than the demographics normally would have allowed. His article is recommended reading.


5.) Colorado has moved more toward the President again. There is an added factor of difficulty for Romney in Colorado in that Gary Johnson, former Republican presidential candidate and now Libertarian nominee for President, is on the ballot in Colorado, which is a neighboring state to his home state of New Mexico. The Ron Paul supporters are already giving signals that they are willing to move their allegiance to Gary Johnson, and even nominal support for him in this critical state could practically ensure an Obama win and therefore, most likely, holding the entire West of the nation, just as it was in 2008. So, the factors to watch here, in the next two weeks, will be: how much Romney invests in airtime in Colorado, how often the President visits key counties like Arahapoe County and how visible Gary Johnson becomes in this state. There are only maybe two or three states where a minor candidate could really play spoiler in this election, for instance, Virgil Goode in Virginia, but there is no doubt that the Gary Johnson factor should not be ignored in Colorado.

6.) The state that looks like it has really completely slipped away from Romney is the Keystone State. Polling in Pennsylvania has the President at close to a double digit margin: +9.67. Obama won PA with +10.31% in 2008, and as you can read from the EVERYTHING TABLE, he outperformed the polling in Pennsylvania by a healthy +3.01%. So, in spite of the draconian voter ID laws that are being enacted in PA, a near +10 margin in almost impossible to overcome. And as is the case in Michigan, Mitt Romney has pulled his advertising out of Pennsylvania, at least for now.


7.) For most of 2011, New Hampshire was looking like a very solid GOP pick-up in 2012, but since then, President Obama has retaken a lead in the Granite State (average: +4.50, it was +5.00 end of August and was +2.67% in July). More importantly, in NH polling, the President is now hitting 50%, an important mark. In the case of a very close election, however, it is still conceivable that Governor Romney can overtake the lead in New Hampshire once again.

8.) With its very turbulent recall elections, Wisconsin has become a hotbed of partisan activity, but in reality, President Obama is still holding an average lead of +2.71% over Governor Romney in the Badger State, in spite of Romney's selection of Paul Ryan to be his running mate. That figure has not budged since end of August as the state has not been polled since the end of August.

That being said, Obama's average in Wisconsin was +6.67% in July, so there has been measurable erosion here and a strong possibility that Wisconsin will enter the tossup zone before the election. Obama won Wisconsin by a landslide +13.90% in 2008, the largest presidential winning margin for any candidate since 1964. Therefore, Obama has lost a lot of ground here. However, Wisconsin is a 6-for-6 Democratic state with enough of a solid Democratic base to pretty much insure an incumbent Democratic win in 2012, even if just a narrow win. The only Democratic incumbent to not win WI in the last 64 years is Jimmy Carter, who lost the Badger State to Ronald Reagan by 4.72% in 1980, far under Reagan's +9.72% national average. This means that most likely, if Romney is winning in WI, then he is winning by close to a landslide nationally, which the national numbers are currently not predicting.



What about some other battlegrounds from 2008?

Missouri was the closest race of the night in 2008 and it took 15 days to finally declare a winner: John McCain, by +0.13%. For months on end, I complained about the sparse polling coming out of Missouri. No more, however. In the last 8 weeks, 12 polls have been taken in Missouri, in no small part due to the „legitimate rape“ statements of GOP senatorial candidate Todd Akin, which has really caused a shake-up in the numbers in MO. That being said, the state is trending more and more conservative from year to year and is likely not going to be a battleground unless Obama is nationally around 8 points ahead of Romney, which is not the case right now.



Likewise, Indiana, which Obama won by +1.03%, had been polling in upper single-digits for Romney. The last poll, a Rasmussen poll, jumped Romney to +16 in the Hoosier State. Indiana is no longer in play. Romney will win the state. I did a massive analysis of Indiana in 2009 (which cuts through a lot of propaganda), which you can read starting HERE. The latest

One state that is very noticeably NOT on the battleground radar this time around is New Mexico, which, as a minority-majority state, firmly in President Obama's column. He won NM by +15.13% in 2008 and his current average is +10. The GOP has also pulled its ad money out of the state. Also to note is that NM is one of the states from 2008 where Obama vastly exceeded the final polling average, again a sign that the Latino vote in many states in 2008 was not correctly weighted into the polling results.

How about the rock solid states?

Well, one would think that there should not be much ado about the rock-solid core states for both parties, but they would be wrong. The margins coming from polling of those states can indeed tell us a lot about the direction of the race. New York was already covered under the EVERYTHING TABLE.

In California, where Obama won by +24.03% in 2008, the current average shows Obama at a whalloping +22.50, way up from the +16.95% at the end of August. Obama is now on track to match or get very close to his 2008 margin, which has measurable ramifications in the national popular vote.

On the Republican side, in Utah, the only poll thus far for 2012 shows Governor Romney ahead by a whalloping +42 over the President. This is not a big surprise, as UTAH has the largest Mormon population in the Union and before 2008 for 8 cycles in a row, it was the most conservative state in the Union. John McCain won UT by „only“ +28.08% (still a massive margin, ala Obama in New York), but Bush 43 won UT by +45.45% in 2004. The chances are very strong that Governor Romney will smash all records in UTAH in 2012. To date, there has been no polling from either Wyoming or Idaho (both states with sizeable Mormon population),but as Utah goes, also goes Wyoming and Idaho, to be sure.

In Arkansas, a state the Bill Clinton won easily in both 1992 and 1996, the one poll for 2012 shows Governor Romney up on President Obama by +24. This is important as data, for Arkansas was one of the five bible belt states in the Union to buck the Democratic trend in 2008 – and of the five, Arkansas bucked the trend the hardest. McCain won AR by +19.85%, and a +24 for Romney shows that the state is moving even more to the Right.

However, in neigboring Tennessee, which also bucked the Democratic trend in 2008, polling shows a leaner race between Governor Romney and President Obama. The last two polls showed Governor Romney up by +6 and +7, respectively, far under McCain's +15.06% win in 2008.

There has been individual motion in polling in other solid states worth noting:

In Vermont, the latest Castleton poll has the President at +37 over Romney. Obama won VT with +37.01%, identical to this polling average. This is a massive improvement for the President in Vermont since the first Castleton in February, which showed him at „only“ +25 over Romney.

Conversely, in Connecticut, the President is still ahead and still over the 50% mark, but his margin average is +9.33 (it was +7.67 in August) in a state that he won by +22.37% in 2008. There is large and measurable erosion for the President here – not enough to cause him to lose the state, but interesting to note. Likewise, in neighboring MA, Obama's current margin average is +16 (it was +13.5 in August) over Romney, again, in a state that he won by +25.81% in '08. That being said, the margin is being affected by a Republican poll showing him up by only 11, which is pretty unlikely here. Nonetheless, Romney IS having an effect on some states on the East Coast.

But not in New Jersey, where the polling margin has Obama at +12.25 in a state that he won by +15.53% in 2008. And in Maine, the President is holding at between +14 and +15 in a state he won by +17.32% in '08. So, the „Romney-effect“ is not evenly spread in the NE.

In Minnesota, the President's average is +8.5. The DEM average or this state over the last six cycles is: +8.49.  Remember, the North Star State is a 9-for-9 Democratic state since 1976, the ony one to resist the Reagan landslide from 1984. And were it not for the Nixon landslide of 1972, it would be a 12 for 12 Democratic state. Minnesota is NOT in play.

In Montana, Gov. Romney's average is +11 (PPP vs. Rasmussen).

So, on both sides, in the so-called „safe“ states, we are seeing some growth and some erosion.

What would this mean in the case of an impending landslide win for either Obama or Romney?

It would surely mean that the margins for the losing side would be DRASTICALLY reduced, and that is simply not happening right now. Most of the Obama double-digit states from 2008 are still double-digit states in 2012. Most of the McCain double-digit states from 2008 are still double-digit states for Romney in 2012. And the subtle changes we are seeing in many polling values is more evidence of the theory of slow electoral shift than of an impending change in 2012.


What about CONVENTION BOUNCES?


At the end of August, I wrote:

"Uncomplicated answer: easy to guage if the conventions are at least a week apart from each other, hard to guage if the conventions are back to back, as they were in 2008 and as they will be this year. Normally, both sides get a bounce, which then fades, so likely we will be looking as similar national and state numbers when I put out the next electoral landscape in the middle of September..."

Well, it is September 15th and Obama's bounce is just now beginning to subside. It looks like Romney got a 1.4 bounce and Obama around 5 - but a number of pollsters moved directly from RV screens to LV screens right at the DEM convention, for instance, the PPP polling for KOS, which used RV until the last polling. So, in being forced to compare apples to oranges for lack of new apples, Obama's bounce has also been somewhat muted by screening changes. ON the other hand, in a number of state polls, the LV screening has actually brought higher margins for the President.

FACIT: a lot of things can happen until election day, but in the Electoral College in September, it is decidedly advantage Obama, for four specific reasons:

1.) As in 2004, there are really very few true "undecideds" left to sway and Obama's lean but resilient leads in critical states have simply not faded, Ohio being the most important example of them all.

2.) The bulk of battleground territory consists of states that had been traditionally much more Republican leaning: NC, VA, CO, FL being the four best examples. Of the traditionally DEM leaning states that Romney would love to make a real play, he cannot do so much if he is still scrambling to get FL and VA on board. States like MI, PA and WI all look like delicious targets, but the ads game and the travel schedules of the two major teams tell me that no one really thinks that these states are going to switch sides. The perpetual battleground states of OH and NV are in the mix no matter what. But IA, which has been DEM leaning, really looks like Romney could pick it up. Conversely, no one is talking about NM in this cycle, which says something critical about the Republian Party and its obvious problems with minority voters, most notably Hispanic and Black voters.

3.) Time is running out. September is the month to be campaigning all over the place, but, barring a massive world-changing incident like the market crash of September 2008, most voters are waiting to see what happens in the debates in October. This is shaping up to be a GOTV and a "base" election, ala 2004. Because of the hardened fronts and diametrically opposing stands on a number of issues, swaying new voters will be less crictical than holding onto established voters, which means that voter registration becomes critical. In fact, the current numbers on many fronts right now remind me very eerily of 2004, just in reverse-colors.

4.) Obama is far closer to the magic number 270 (he has been all along) and needs a smaller combination of battleground states to hold in order to get over the top than Romney. And there is a pyschological factor that comes into play when one candidate has held the lead for a long, long time, which usually causes the cards in key battleground states to fall all in one direction.

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