Is Obama’s Ohio Firewall Really Just a Maginot Line?

@NumbersMuncher (real name Josh Jordan) has the best read of the morning over at National Review’s “The Corner” where he dismantles the argument that Obama has any advantage in Ohio. The entire piece is a must read:

First, he breaks down the party ID in Ohio from 2008 of D +8 is wrong; the real spread was D +5.

Last cycle was a wave election and Barack Obama took Ohio by 4.6 percent, 51.5 to 46.9. The exit polls showed a split of 39 percent Democrats, 31 percent Republicans, and 30 percent independents. If that had been the actual turnout, according to exit polls’ measurement of how members of each party said they voted, Obama would have won 52.8 to 45.6, for a 7.2 percent margin victory, substantially bigger than the margin by which he actually won. This means that the exit polls were off a little, which is unsurprising since they are, after all, just polls. But we have actual vote totals to compare these polls to. If you use the exit-poll numbers for reported voting by party and then look at what kind of a turnout by party you’d need to get to the actual state vote tally, you come out with this breakdown: 37.5 percent Democrats, 32.5 percent Republicans, and 30 percent Independents (that gives you a vote of 51.6 percent for Obama and 46.9 percent for McCain — pretty close to actual results). So while the 2008 exit polls show an eight-point Democrat advantage, in reality it was likely closer to five percent.

Independents have swung 16-points in favor of Romney versus Obama’s 2008 performance.

In 2008 Obama beat John McCain by 8 percent among independents in Ohio. Of the seven current RCP polls that give independent numbers, Romney is up by an average of 8.7 percent.

Turnout in 2012 will not meet 2008 levels

Of the seven current RCP polls in Ohio, the average Democratic advantage in party ID is 5.5 percent. That is, if we assume 2008 advantage was D+5, as explained above, then the average poll in Ohio right now assumes a 2008-level turnout. While anything is possible on November 6, there are not many people on either side thinking Obama can match his 2008 turnout advantage.

Early voting favors Republicans versus 2008

[F]rom CNN today: “Four years ago, Democrats made up about 42 percent of the early and absentee vote while Republicans made up 22 percent. Through Wednesday, however, the margin has narrowed: Democrats account for 36 percent of the early and absentee vote while Republicans make up for 29 percent.” The current polls have been seriously inflated for Democrats because they’re reporting Obama with 30+ percent leads in early voting (which is then automatically counted in “likely voter” samples), which seems to be vastly overestimating the Democratic advantage among these voters. As CNN explains, Romney is making huge gains from 2008.


Obama won in 2008 largely because of a healthy lead among independents and a highly enthusiastic base’s turning out votes. Right now Romney is leading big with independents, has a more enthusiastic base, and is drawing crowds in Ohio that rival Obama’s. While he is down 2.5 points in the polls, the average poll is assuming 2008 turnout which is unlikely to repeat itself this year. Adding the fact that early voting is trending more Republican than in 2008, there is a lot of reason for optimism that this race is much closer than the current polls suggest. Not bad for a candidate who was declared dead in the state just a few weeks ago.

Just an outstanding deconstruction of the media/Obama spin on his Ohio firewall


  1. Tom
    Posted October 20, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Gravis has Ohio tied 47-47. Party id d/r/i (41/32/27). Yes that’s D+9! Ohio is Romney’s, the mini-landslide begins!

    • Posted October 20, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Yet another poll where Obama is below 48.

    • Brian
      Posted October 20, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Permalink | Reply

      The internals for that poll are even worse for Obama than the laughable D+9 sample that only gets him a 47/47 tie.

      Romney wins independents 52-33.

      50% of voters disapprove of Obama’s job performance, only 44% approve.

      49% say the country’s going in the wrong direction, only 43% say the opposite.

      This is a brutal poll for Obama. When Ohio – and the Presidency – is called for Romney on Election Night, the media meltdown about how all the polls were “wrong” about Ohio will be amazing.

      • Tom
        Posted October 20, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

        I’m going to love seeing Chris Matthews head explode for real, just as Sat. Night Live forsaw. He will be at about 120 decibels insisting the GOP cheated and stole this election with saliva flying out of his mouth with every other word when …. BOOM .. head explodes.

  2. Posted October 20, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Permalink | Reply

    The only plausible argument I’ve seen is that republicans have abandoned it in favor being independent as tea party voters. I’ve seen some national backing of this that seems legit, but nothing in Ohio. But that’s the dem case.

    • William Jefferson Jr.
      Posted October 20, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Permalink | Reply

      That theory doesn’t account for the high number of Democrats, though. Movement of Tea Partiers shouldn’t drive up the number of Dems.

      Dem turnout the last four state-wide elections:
      2010: 36%
      2008: 39%
      2006: 40%
      2004: 35%

      41% would be a highwater mark.

  3. jvnvch
    Posted October 20, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I find it extremely difficult to believe President Obama won’t lose at least 2.5 of his 51.5 from the 2008 election in Ohio to Romney this year. I strongly suspect he will lose more than that to him. This year is nothing like 2008, but just that small a switch would turn the state from blue to red.

    • jeff
      Posted October 20, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Have you heard that Ryan will be in NJ today or tomorrow? The fact that they see New Jersey as an opportunity should make headlinrs. Of course the media wont make anything of it. Just imagine if Romney started campaigning in Texas. The MSM would be all over it declaring Romney in trouble.

      • jvnvch
        Posted October 20, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

        No, I hadn’t heard that, but I think it’s just like sending your scouts out behind enemy lines to see where their strengths and weaknesses really are. If nothing else, it’s a good diversionary tactic.

  4. johnfisher
    Posted October 20, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Good Lord! The Gravis poll is HORRIBLE for O.

    • jeff
      Posted October 20, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Permalink | Reply

      The Fox Ohio poll released yesterday is almost as bad for Obama.

  5. Greg
    Posted October 20, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Permalink | Reply

    What was the party ID in 2010? Kasich won even with the LB ties. Kind of shocked me after the O tidal wave. I have many friends on FB with O support but you aren’t seeing it on the yards. Don’t know why RR aren’t coming out with more about Ocare as that got resoundly defeated in 2011 even with union issue on ballot.

    Good to see the independents are going RR way. It will be close though when newspapers are promoting the decline in unemployment rate here and not the loss of jobs. An ad about GM stalling and Ford thriving with Chrysler going foreign would seal the deal.

    Kudos on the site … Makes a lot of sense on why Romney needs to survive one more debate then coast into the chair currently vacated by a missing President. Just repeating Os words, my NATO ambassador wouldn’t mislead people should do it. Imagine if fair press was a reality.

    • Eric
      Posted October 20, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Party ID in 2010 was R+1

      2006 was D+3

      It’s normal for a presidential election to be about 2% more favorable to Democrats than midterm elections in party ID. So a reasonable number in Ohio should be about D+1. That’s assuming if nothing has changed from 2008.

      However, Rasmussen polls for party ID numbers and his polling has detected a 2% shift towards Republicans since 2010 (nationally). If this is replicated in Ohio, that would mean a R+1 turnout for Ohio. That’s what I fully expect (or somewhere around there). Anything that is D+3 or higher for Democrats is completely unrealistic.

    • Eric
      Posted October 20, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Permalink | Reply

      That also points to an even turnout election nationally.

    • Eric
      Posted October 20, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Ohio is just slightly more Republican than the nation.

      When this campaign season first began, and I was looking at the state historical trends and voting patterns, I was honestly more worried about Virginia than Ohio. I was running scenarios for how to win without Virginia but winning Ohio.

      • jvnvch
        Posted October 20, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

        Same here.

  6. Posted October 20, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I independently picked up the same thing numbersmuncher is talking about when I was looking at the data last night.

    If Obama won Ohio Indep. by 8% as the exit polls shows, 92% of GOP voted McC as the exit polls show and 89% of Dems voted Obama as the exit polls show, then election day was D+5, not D+8. This would be consistent with exit polls in swing states always oversampling Dems. The partisan loyalty (GOP 92%, Dem 89%) and independent numbers (Ob. +8) are also totally credible.

    Furthermore, because we know for certain that early ballots were D+20 and accounted for 30% of the total vote, that would mean the election day partisan split in Ohio in 2008 was R+1 – about 5 points below the election day partisan split in 2004 and completely consistent with the trend of the GOP showing up on election day and Dems not showing up.

    This year, if we assume early voting equals 20% of the total (and that’s generous), that Obama continues his current partisan split in early voting of D+7, that Romney gets another R+1 election day partisan split (very conservative to assume he only equals McCain in relative partisan enthusiasm and GOTV on election day) and wins Independents by even 4% (half of his current polling margin) he wins Ohio by around 200,000 votes.

    This is all a very fancy way of saying Dems don’t show up on election day, so in swing states, the Dem candidate needs a huge lead in early voting and Obama’s lead in early voting is miniscule.

8 Trackbacks

  1. […] « Is Obama’s Ohio Firewall Really Just a Maginot Line? […]

  2. […] ID is D +7, almost equal to the reported  D +8 in 2008 — a turnout credibly shown to actually be D +5. And as any reader know, Obama’s 2012 turnout will be nothing like his 2008 […]

  3. […] of D +9. In 2008 Ohio turnout was reported as D +8 although this has been disproven in favor of the real split of D +5. The 2004 party ID was R +5 so the fact that this poll ends up somewhere in the middle says […]

  4. […] turnout which we write as D +8 based on the CNN party ID generally used.  This is even though the actual 2008 party ID was really only D +5 making this D +9 that much more […]

  5. […] turnout which we write as D +8 based on the CNN party ID generally used.  This is even though the actual 2008 party ID was really only D +5 making this D +9 that much more ludicrous.  Here is the key graph on early voters: “In Ohio, […]

  6. […] turnout which we write as D +8 based on the CNN party ID generally used.  This is even though the actual 2008 party ID was really only D +5 making this D +8 that much more implausible. How many statistics on changes in enthusiasm favoring […]

  7. […] (Dem 35, Rep 40, Ind 25).  And as we have shown you numerous times, the real 2008 party ID was really D +5. Obama leads among Independents by 23-points 46 to 23.  Umm-hmm. Just because Obama’s entire […]

  8. […] is expressed as D +8, based on the CNN party ID generally used. This is even though the actual 2008 party ID was really only D +5 , making the CNN/Time poll using D +9 that much more […]

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