Looking at the Real Clear Politics website it would be understandable if you were a skeptic right now about Mitt Romney’s chances of winning today. Swing state polls all lean towards Barack Obama.
Don’t be fooled. Mitt Romney will win and I’ll tell you why.
Obama’s base isn’t as strong as it was four years ago…Romney is stronger than McCain.
Barack Obama won a wave election in 2008 when over 131 million came to the polls to vote. It was an historic election that brought out voters who wanted to be a part of something special. Taking into consideration historical averages and an enthusiasm gap from ’08 – turnout should be in the neighborhood of 134 million when all is said and done. In 2008, Barack Obama won the solid blue states by 22 points (61-39) with a spread of nearly 12 million votes over Sen. McCain. States like California, New York, and Illinois all went for Obama by over 60%. Today, that 22 point margin, according to state polls, has dropped to just a ten point lead and shifts two-and-a-half million votes from Team Obama to Team Romney.
From that list, one state is even less supportive of Barack Obama than before and that’s Pennsylvania. Recent crowds for Romney rallies have been overwhelming. 30,000+ for Romney in Bucks County alone. There is a clear shift in direction in the Keystone State. A recent Susquehanna poll, which has a large sample size, has the race tied at 47 apiece. What was safe for the president is no longer safe, and Team Obama knows it. There is a reason President Clinton has been a fixture in the Keystone state. And the coal miners union has decided to sit 2012 out after endorsing The One four years ago. Might have something to do with Obama’s attacks on coal mines?
Romney, on the other hand, have seen Republican margins rise in the traditionally red states. Romney is up by three points, a shift of +6 to Romney or a million-and-a-half more votes.
That’s four million more votes for Romney and takes Obama’s overall lead down to just 2.7 million votes nationwide.
Don’t trust the polls…
If you think Real Clear Politics is the gold standard when it comes to polling news, you might be looking at fools-gold. RCP includes, just about, every poll in their averages despite some questionable samples and poll weighting. On their screen, they give you the sample size and margin of error but do not give you how the poll was weighted. In 2008, the exit polls identified Americans as being 38 percent D, 34 Percent R, and 28 percent Independent. That’s a D+4 model. Politico reported in 2011 that number had fallen to 31 percent compared to 29 percent who said they considered themselves Republican, or a now D+2.
Pollsters have been struggling with how to weight polls in 2012, most of which have seen their weights to be even more Democrat than in 2008. Real Clear Politics even pointed out sampling issues with a Quinnipiac Swing State poll that over-weighted Democrats. To put into layman’s terms – if you polled a thousand people on who America’s favorite baseball team was but only asked people from New York – you’re likely to get a high percentage for the Yankees. Red Sox fans would cry foul, and have a legitimate point.
The polls continuously told us that Scott Walker was going to have a tough time fending off his recall this past June. Many were left wondering just what went wrong with the polls. It just proves polls can be off, way off. At this point in 1980, it was “too close to call” and Reagan went on to win in a landslide. Why, because the poll weight was way off. Could that happen again in 2012? Breitbart’s John Nolte wrote that “while every single poll on the planet predicts Democrats will enjoy a turnout advantage of three to eleven points, the latest Rasmussen survey of party affiliation taken throughout October shows that Republicans enjoy a huge 5.8% Party ID advantage going into the 2012 election.” If these polls, which have consistently weighted a higher turnout for Obama than he got four years ago…despite the magic wearing off, turn out to be wrong (which my guess they will) – there will be many wondering just like they did after Wisconsin.
As Breitbart.com put it, “If the 2012 race is D+2, Romney’s probably going to win. If the race is R+6, Romney’s going to enjoy a landslide.” The Washington Post/ABC News Tracking poll shows President Obama up by three…but…as said by Ed Morrissey writes at Townhall, “The WaPo/ABC has Barack Obama leading 50/47, but the partisan split in the sample is a D+6 at 35/29/32. That would be the lowest Republican turnout for a presidential election in long memory, while Democrats kept their 2010 midterm performance pace. I’d call that highly unlikely.”
2008 is not 2012
Four years ago, many conservatives and Republican constituencies sat out. Despite dire warnings from Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, they didn’t see the destruction to America Barack Obama would bring. John McCain did not excite the base, but Mitt Romney’s strong debate performances have moved voters to want to vote for Romney versus just not wanting to vote for Obama. Politico has yet to see the shift writing “unlike Republicans, many of whom have no particular love for their nominee, Democrats admire and sympathize with the president.” Talk to anyone on the ground in the swing states and they will tell you that more and more people are saying that they are for Romney because of Romney.
Romney continues to draw crowds of tens of thousands in states that are normally blue like Pennsylvania. John McCain was using the Keystone as a bluff, Romney is using it to expand the map a la Reagan.
Four years ago, Barack Obama won Ohio with a strong early voting turnout. The final margin of victory was just over 262 thousand votes. This year, through early voting, those 262 thousand votes have evaporated according to Karl Rove. Indiana is going to flip to the Republicans along with Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida. If Rasmussen is right and the electorate is R+6; states like Iowa, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, and Michigan can all fall into Romney’s camp.
Romney was attacked mercilessly over “47%,” but if Barack Obama cannot get over 47% in a poll – he’s in real trouble.
It’s the Economy stupid & Independence Day
James Carville famously used “It’s The Economy Stupid” to torpedo George H.W. Bush’s re-election campaign in 2012 – and Mitt Romney is viewed better by voters as someone who can fix the economy versus Barack Obama. Undecided voters will vote their pocketbook and Independents are straying away from Obama in droves this time around. Rasmussen has Romney up by 17, CNN is +22, Monmouth (+16), and ARG (+12).
Finally, a positive versus a negative message…
Obama’s campaign spent millions portraying Mitt Romney as a felon, an accomplice to murder, and everything including the kitchen sink to make him the most despised politician in U.S. History. It wasn’t hope and change anymore, it was destroy your opponent because you couldn’t run on your record for Team Obama.
Then the debates came and Mitt Romney showed America he wasn’t evil, that he was competent to be President, and the polls changed. Millions in negative ads were wasted. Obama has been forced to close out his campaign with a negative argument versus the positive message offered by Mitt Romney. When Obama said vote for the President out of revenge, that fit squarely into Romney’s positive wheelhouse.
The most out on the limb predictions have been from Dick Morris and the Professors at the University of Colorado who say it will be a landslide. I’ve made the case here where that could be the case, but the most pragmatic prediction is from Karl Rove. Beware of the Exit Polls on Election day, John Kerry would have been the 45th President if they were right in 2004…but they were wrong.
After looking at the state by state statistics, here is my final prediction: Romney wins 50.68% & 315 ECV to Obama’s 48.11% & 223 ECV.
Swing States for Romney: North Carolina (56% +13), Colorado (52.5% +6.5), Florida (52% +5), Virginia (52% +5), New Hampshire (51.5% +5), Iowa (51% +3), Ohio (50.5% + 2), Wisconsin (50% +1), and Pennsylvania (50.5%).
Now, we’ll just have to see…