Polls

Chris Christie's Sly, Futile Move

(Flickr/New Jersey National Guard)
Once again, Barack Obama has proven to be the luckiest politician alive. Just when the race was tightening to a dead heat in the election’s closing days, one spectacular betrayal and one rank miscalculation on the Republican side have turned the contest back in Obama’s favor. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who will tour his storm-ravaged state today with President Obama, was all over the networks Tuesday telling what a wonderful leader his president was. “I spoke to the president three times yesterday,” Christie boasted, calling Obama “outstanding.” When Fox co-host Steve Doocy meekly asked Christie if he planned any events with Romney, Christie snarkily replied, “I have no idea nor am I the least bit concerned or interested.” Christie’s caper, of course, is so opportunist that it almost makes Mitt Romney look principled—almost. What a swell party of back-stabbers is our GOP. For Christie, who is up for re-election next year in a blue state, this caper accomplishes three things:...

The Comeback Kids

Six months ago, liberals were preparing for the worst. After a winter of fast growth, the economy had begun to slow down and unemployment had begun to creep back up. Mitt Romney was close behind in the race for the White House, and there was little indication that President Obama could pull ahead and win. And the Senate, a stronghold for Democrats over the last six years, looked vulnerable. For most of the last eighteen months, the conventional wisdom on congressional elections was straightforward: Due to large majorities, Republicans would hold onto their House majority, and bolster it with a slim majority in the Senate. It wasn’t hard to see why; of the 33 contested seats this year, 21 belonged to Democrats and two were held by Independents Joe Lieberman and Bernie Sanders. It would be one thing if Democrats were only defending safe seats in blue states; they would be assured of holding the Senate. But the senators up for reelection won their seats in the Democratic wave of 2006. As...

Nate Silver, Artist of Uncertainty

(Flickr/Randy Stewart)
(Flickr/handcoding) W e’re heading into the last week of a tight presidential campaign, and polls are coming in too fast to count. Partisans everywhere are desperate for omens. But at moments like these, it’s people who care most intensely that the “right outcome” occur who run a high risk of getting it wrong—picking out positive polls for comfort, or panicking over an unusual and unexpected result they don’t like. Fortunately, our most prominent number cruncher has been giving us the straight story instead of capitalizing on this anxiety. In 2008, Nate Silver correctly predicted the results of all 35 Senate races and the presidential results in 49 out of 50 states. Since then, his website, fivethirtyeight.com (now central to The New York Times ’s political coverage), has become an essential source of rigorous, objective analysis of voter surveys to predict the Electoral College outcome of presidential campaigns. Publishers lined up to offer Silver a chance to write a blockbuster, and...

Fri, Oct. 26 Electoral Vote Predictor

Are We Heading toward a Split Decision? The closer we get to election day—and it is only 12 days away now—the more likely it becomes that the voters render a split decision with Mitt Romney winning the popular vote and Barack Obama winning the electoral college. A new WaPo /ABC national poll of likely voters puts Romney ahead 50 percent to 47 percent. This is the first time Romney has hit 50 percent in this poll. Both sides are enthusiastic, with 95 percent of the Obama supporters and 93 percent of the Romney supporters being somewhat or very enthusiastic. Noteworthy is that 52 percent of the respondents think Obama will win vs. 40 percent who think Romney will win. Yesterday's Gallup tracking poll also shows Romney ahead 50 percent to 47 percent, but this represents a 4-point gain for Obama in this poll in a week. Romney led by 7 points in Gallup's tracking poll a week ago. While it is difficult to compare results from different pollsters due to different methodologies, Gallup's...

Virginia Is Still a Toss-Up—and Romney Should Be Worried

In my dispatch from Virginia Beach, I wrote that the state was a toss-up: At the time, President Obama was tied with Mitt Romney at 47.4 percent, down from 48.5 percent before the first presidential debate. In recent days, however, Obama’s star in the commonwealth has brightened, if only by a little bit. The last ten polls, stretching back to the middle of the month, after the vice presidential debate, show a small move in Obama’s direction: Virginia, 10/14 - 10/24 Pollster Obama Romney Margin Public Policy Polling (D) 51 46 O+5 Zogby 49 46 O+3 Mellman Group (D) 46 45 O+1 Wenzel Strategies (R) 47.1 49.2 R+2.1 Public Policy Polling (D) 49 47 O+2 Rasmussen 47 50 R+3 Old Dominion University 50 43 O+7 Public Policy Polling (D) 49 48 O+1 Pulse Opinion Research 47 46 O+1 American Research Group 47 48 R+1 Average 48.2 46.8 O+1.4 The most recent poll comes from Democratic-leaning firm Public Policy Polling, which shows Obama with a five-point lead and strong performance with women (57–41),...

Thu, Oct. 25 Electoral Vote Predictor

Today's election-news roundup

The Battle for the West Heats Up While much of the campaign has been going on along the Atlantic coast (New Hampshire, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida) and in the Midwest (Wisconsin, Iowa, and Ohio), the West has been somewhat neglected. Nominally, there are three Western swing states: New Mexico, Nevada, and Colorado, but New Mexico has become so blue that it is really off the table now. Of the others, Colorado is the bigger prize (9 EVs) but Nevada (6 EVs) is also worth having. To emphasize that he hasn't written off the West, right after the third presidential debate Mitt Romney flew to Nevada for a rally, then went on to Colorado for another one, at the Red Rocks Amphitheater, where he spoke to an estimated 12,000 fired up supporters. Neither candidate regards Colorado as a "must win" state, in the sense of Ohio or even Virginia, but if Romney wins Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia, Colorado will become crucial. If this scenario prevails, the election results won't be...

Marry Me in ... Maine?

The sixth in a Prospect series on the 174 ballot measures up for a vote this November. Last week, I announced my caution about the chances of winning same-sex marriage at the ballot in Maryland . Just after I wrote that, a Washington Post poll showed that voters are leaning 52 percent to 43 percent in favor of upholding the marriage-equality law there. I got a lot of pushback, based on that poll. Look, that’s better than the reverse. But those of us who have watched same-sex marriage get voted on—and voted down—32 times since 1996 have learned a few basic things: The spread is meaningless. All undecideds vote against us. Our side loses two to five points at the ballot. We end up where we started before the campaign. I don’t think that voters lie to the pollsters. I think that most people don't think about lesbians and gay men very much. If they don't give the issue much thought, they vote for the status quo: marriage as they've always known it. Faced with the sentence “marriage is...

Let's Hold Off on the Champagne, Team Romney

One way to win any close contest is to project an aura of confidence. This is exactly what we’re seeing right now from the Romney campaign. From Politico , you have a campaign advisor declaring that Mitt Romney would win 305 electoral votes on Election Day. Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell says that he has a “permanent sustainable” lead, and Romney strategist Stewart Stevens declared that “The majority of Americans don’t want to vote for Barack Obama.” The spin here is dizzying, and unfortunately, political journalists—and not just at Politico —seem to be buying it. In his debate analysis, for example, ABC’s Rick Klein declared that “Mitt Romney may have done more to actually boost his chances of being elected.” Chris Cilizza maintains that Romney is still rising in the polls, and a whole host of Republicans outside the Romney campaign have declared the race over for Barack Obama. The polls paint a different picture. A quick glance shows a race that has stabilized, and begun to shift...

Are Pollsters Undercounting Latinos?

In the most recent national poll from Monmouth University, Mitt Romney leads President Obama by three points, 48 percent to 45 percent. If you dip into the internals, however, you’ll see something odd: Obama has a small six-point advantage over Latinos, 48 percent to 42 percent. What’s unusual about this is that it runs counter to every other survey of Latino voters, which—on average—show Obama with a 48.4 percent lead over Romney among the group. It’s possible that Monmouth’s result won’t matter much for the accuracy of the topline number—because of small sample sizes for particular groups of voters, a poll can still be accurate, even if it has an unusual demographic breakdown. But there’s room for disagreement, and as Matt Barreto explains in a must-read post at the Latino Decisions blog, this missampling of Latino (and African American) voters could have a hugely distortionary effect on perceptions of the presidential race. He explains: Let’s examine how these faulty Latino numbers...

Will 2000 Happen Again?

In the last week or so, conventional wisdom has begun to settle on the possibility of an Electoral College/popular vote split. The situation is straightforward: Thanks to a persistent lead in Ohio, Obama ekes out a victory in the Electoral College, but Romney wins a bare majority of the popular vote. Setting aside the question of politics— i.e. , how the parties and public would react to the second such split in just over a decade—just how likely is this scenario? If you go by current polling, it looks like a solid possibility; just this morning , the pollsters at Quinnipiac University found Obama with a five-point lead in Ohio. If you take an average of the three major polling averages—Talking Points Memo, Real Clear Politics, and Pollster—Obama has a 2.4-percent lead over Mitt Romney in Ohio. By contrast, that same average of averages shows a slight 0.2 percent lead for Romney nationally. If this holds, we could have the split. Of course, in addition to accepting this is as a...

Mon, Oct. 15 Electoral Vote Predictor

Obama Leads in Early Voting Early voting has started in over 40 states and 7 percent of the voters have already cast their ballots. These votes have broken strongly for President Obama, 59 percent to 31 percent, according to a new Ipsos poll . Both campaigns are urging their supporters to vote early because a vote banked early can't change, even if the candidate stumbles later. Typically, strong partisans are the ones who vote early. Fence sitters tend to wait until the last minute. Click here for full story

Sat, Oct. 13 Electoral Vote Predictor

Another Poll Shows Biden Won the Vice-Presidential Debate An Ipsos poll released yesterday gave Joe Biden a victory over Paul Ryan of 42 percent to 35 percent, with the rest undecided. Biden also won the CBS snap poll 50 percent to 31 percent but lost the CNN snap poll 44 percent to 48 percent. So the bottom line seems to be that Biden had two large wins and one small loss among the three major polls of the debate. Click here for full story

Laughing All the Way

The most pressing question that Joe Biden faced, heading into Thursday night’s debate, was a tricky one: How do you handle an opponent who’s going to be lying his well-defined buttocks off for 90 minutes? The lack of a strategy for dealing with serial dishonesty had left President Obama dumbfounded in his first debate with Mitt Romney. He shouldn't have been taken aback: The Republican ticket-mates know perfectly well that being honest about their policies and platform would make it impossible for them to win a general election. You can’t advocate deficit-reduction and a $5 billion tax cut and a few extra billion in defense spending and be up front about what all that would actually mean—or whether it’s even mathematically possible. You can’t say that you’ll do everything possible to see that Roe v. Wadeis overturned. You can’t say what replacing Medicare with “premium support” really means. Which means Romney and Ryan can’t not lie—unless they want to spend election night wondering...

Some Bounces Just Fade Away

The least interesting part of the latest Gallup poll is the fact that it shows Mitt Romney with a 2-point lead over President Obama among likely voters, 49 percent to 47 percent. Given the extent to which Gallup has shown a close race through most of the year, this was expected. What’s more interesting is the evidence, buried in the article, that Romney’s post-debate bounce was short-lived and is subsiding. Here’s the full range of post-debate polls among registered voters: This is in line with my earlier analysis: Romney received a sizable post-debate bounce, which leveled off on Saturday and declined on Sunday. Together with polls from Public Policy Polling and Rasmussen, there’s a chunk of evidence to suggest that this race will stabilize by the end of the week, and Obama will regain his slight advantage over the Republican nominee. Indeed, the fact that Obama’s approval rating went up —to 53 percent—is a sign he is still well-positioned to win reelection, even as the race tightens...

Obama: Giving Away Social Security

(AP/Rex Features)
Here is Mitt Romney’s proposal to cut Social Security benefits, from the Romney campaign website : First, for future generations of seniors, Mitt believes that the retirement age should be slowly increased to account for increases in longevity. Second, for future generations of seniors, Mitt believes that benefits should continue to grow but that the growth rate should be lower for those with higher incomes. In other words, cuts in benefits. In the first debate, I was waiting for President Obama to go to town on this. Instead, Obama had this to say: LEHRER: "Mr. President. Do you see a major difference between the two of you on Social Security?" OBAMA: "You know, I suspect that, on Social Security, we’ve got a somewhat similar position. Social Security is structurally sound. It’s going to have to be tweaked the way it was by Ronald Reagan and Speaker — Democratic Speaker Tip O’Neill." He’s got a similar position to Mitt Romney’s? On Social Security? Does this man just want to hand the...

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