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Ohio Poll Analyst: Voter Turnout Modeling Predicts Big Ohio Trouble for Obama

Conventional wisdom turned upside down: massive drops in registered Democrats and independents in Cuyahoga County will be tough for the president to overcome.

by
Paula Bolyard

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October 5, 2012 - 10:59 am
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“Simply stated, Cuyahoga County has lost enough Democrats and independents since 2008 that, when projected across the state of Ohio, Obama’s big 2008 gains are all gone. Given how drastically voter registration has changed in Cuyahoga County since 2008, it is likely that Romney can carry the state of Ohio, which is quite contrary to what popular media polls are saying.”

That’s the analysis of Clinton Cooper at Election Insights, an Ohio firm that uses geographic information systems (GIS) and election data to illustrate the political landscape of the electorate.

While most pundits and media outlets are focused on the latest polls, flitting from registered voters to probable voters to undecided voters to disaffected voters to Karl Rove’s trusty whiteboard, Cooper claims the polls are inaccurate and that there’s a more scientific method for determining both voter turnout and the probable outcome of the election. In an exclusive interview with PJ Media, he said that his “simple model estimation shows that with certainty, current polling estimations in Ohio are based on outdated or ill-informed assumptions resulting in wrong conclusions.”

Cooper has been involved in local and regional government and politics for the last 10 years, serving in a policy advisory role for several government agencies and consulting firms in Ohio. He has a master’s degree in city and regional planning from The Ohio State University and 10 years of progressive experience in geographic information systems and statistical modeling. His company, based in northeast Ohio,  blends geographic information systems with predictive statistical modeling to help candidates develop and implement winning campaign strategies.

After hearing a report that Ohio voter registration rolls have shrunk by 490,000, Cooper wanted to see if media reports that Obama is enjoying a wide lead in the state would stand up to a statistical analysis based upon actual voter registrations and historical voting patterns.

He decided to analyze Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland and is the state’s most populous county. He says it’s representative of the state because “it has a large enough number of registered voters and you can statistically determine how many total votes each candidate will get in Ohio based on how many votes are cast for each party in Cuyahoga County.”  In fact,  from 1980 to 2008 an average of 17% of the total Democrat votes cast in Ohio presidential elections were cast in Cuyahoga County. In recent years, this has declined (to around 15.6% in 2008). During the same time period, an average of 9.3% of the total Ohio Republican ballots were cast in Cuyahoga County. That number declined to 7.5% in 2008. Since 1980, the average voter turnout for Cuyahoga County is 64.57%. Obviously, this is a fairly significant sample size.

Cooper found that Cuyahoga County has 208,207 fewer total registered voters in 2012 compared to 2008. The county has lost 48,872 Democrat-registered voters and 194,199 independent-registered voters. The difference — and this is significant to Cooper’s prediction — is made up by a surprising gain of 34,864 Republican voters since the 2008 election.

While undoubtedly the Great Ohio Republican Sweep of 2010 contributed to the increased Republican voter registration in Cuyahoga County, Mitt Romney’s campaign strategy during the Ohio primary this year can also be credited with some of the gains. ABC News reported earlier this year:

The campaign has been fielding teams to focus on growing Romney’s support in the central part of the state around Columbus; the northeast, including Cleveland and its suburbs; the northwest region around Toledo; Cincinnati and Dayton in the southwest; and Ohio’s sixth congressional district that hugs the border with Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

There was a clear focus on Cuyahoga County and other urban areas of the state and Romney’s efforts paid off. If you watched the Fox News coverage on Super Tuesday, you waited until late into the night for Ohio’s urban counties to report their returns. And you suffered through Karl Rove torturing our beloved “Cuyahoga” all night, calling it “ky-OH-guh” (it’s ky-uh-HO-guh, Karl). Though Rick Santorum led most of the night, Romney gobbled up all but one of the urban counties (he lost Lucas County by a couple hundred votes) and won the state. Though it was a discouraging moment for Ohio conservatives and some declared it was proof that Romney is a liberal, this strategy may turn out to be what helps Romney win in November.

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