Tag Archives: RCP

The Political Landscape Ain’t So Bad for the GOP

As usual, Sean Trende provides invaluable sober insights into the post-election self-flaggelation by Republicans as well as the “adapt or die” dishonest counsel from Democrats and weak-kneed Republicans. There are problem with the party, no doubt,but they also have a great many successes.  As a party we need to build on these successes and coalesce around a unifying message that brings Americans together rather than pitting one group against another.

Trende lays out the current post-2012 landscape and Republicans are in far better shape than the media dirge would have you believe:

  • Republicans are still almost at a postwar high in the House of Representatives, with only 1946 and 2010 resulting in a larger share of the chamber going Republican.
  • The Senate picture does show some signs of decline for Republicans, although it is still nowhere near the depths it plumbed from the late 1950s through the early 1970s.
  • Republicans have steadily increased the number of governorships they have held since their debacle in the mid-1970s. In fact, since 1876 there have only been six years where Republicans held a larger percentage of our nation’s governorships
  • If you look at the number of individual statehouse seats held by the party, once again, Republicans are near postwar high
  • These last two data points are especially important for the Republicans, since governorships and statehouse seats represent the “farm teams” for statewide and national office.

Keep fighting the good fight because there are plenty of reasons to be hopeful in 2014 and 2016.

Battleground State Polls: Where are We Today?

After that craptastic effort by Neil King in the Wall Street Journal, it was refreshing to read a straight forward look at the polling changes in the Battleground States following the game-changing first debate.  My one nit is the author points out Romney’s lead in Florida is skewed by the one poll giving him a 7-point lead but he doesn’t point out the same issue exists on behalf of Obama in Ohio with an outlier poll giving him a 6-point lead.  Otherwise here is a clear, sober look at the state of the polling in the Battlegrounds with the electoral vote count in parenthesis:

Mitt Romney’s overwhelming debate victory has tightened the presidential race in the dozen or so battleground states that will determine the winner of the election.

Florida (29)

Romney enjoys a two-percentage-point advantage in the Real Clear Politics (RCP) average of polls after crushing Obama in their initial debate. He had previously trailed the president by 1.6 percentage points. But it’s possible Romney’s numbers are being boosted by one poll. The Tampa Bay Times released a survey Thursday that showed him up by 7 percentage points, a finding the looks like an outlier compared to other polls. The Tampa poll showed Obama’s 11-point lead among independents swing to a 13 point advantage for Romney. In addition, Hispanic voters in the poll favored Romney 46 to 44 percent over Obama, despite the president’s more than 50-percentage point lead among the group nationally.

Ohio (18)

Obama has only a 1.5 percent lead in the RCP average, a sign things could be tightening. The president has been ahead in Ohio for months and may have lost a chance to lock-up the state with his debate performance. It was thought before the debate that Romney might have to focus his resources on other states. Democrats are hopeful that gains made early in the cycle, when Obama effectively portrayed Romney as an out-of-touch corporate raider to the state’s blue collar voters, is enough to withstand the GOP challenger’s late charge — particularly since voting has already started.

Virginia (13)

Obama held a nearly 4-point advantage in Virginia in the RCP average heading into the debate, but that’s been completely wiped out and the candidates are now tied. In addition, the last two polls in the state show Romney with 1 and 2 point leads.

Wisconsin (10)

After Romney selected home-state favorite Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate, the GOP ticket spiked in Wisconsin, but Obama has since regained his lead. But Obama’s lead has been greatly diminished in the wake of the debate, falling from 8 points in the RCP average to 2 points.

Colorado (9)

Colorado is the most fickle swing state for Democrats, who were hopeful the state’s popular Democratic governor, concentrated pockets of social liberalism and rising Hispanic population had flipped the state permanently in their favor. But Colorado has strong independent and libertarian streaks, and appears to be headed for a photo finish. Obama held his biggest recent lead of 3 percentage points in the RCP average heading into the debate. Romney has since inched ahead of Obama, although by less than one percent, with recent polls split and showing the candidates in a statistical dead heat.

Iowa (6), Nevada (6) and New Hampshire (4)

With the race essentially tied, any of these three small delegate prizes could tip the race either way. Obama presently has small leads in all three, although Romney is within the margin of error. Both Nevada and Iowa went for Bush in 2004 and Obama in 2008. New Hampshire has gone for the Democratic candidate the last two elections, but went for Bush in 2000.

Pennsylvania (20) and Michigan (16)

Obama appeared to be cruising to victories in both states before the debate, but things have tightened. A win by Romney would dramatically alter the race and greatly increase his chances of winning. That said, at this point a victory by Romney would be a surprise. Obama once had an eight-point average lead in the Real Clear Politics average of polls in Pennsylvania, but now has only a 4.5 percent advantage. The president had a commanding 10-point lead in Michigan before the debate, but Romney since then has closed to within 4 points in the RCP average.

Obama’s National Lead Based Entirely on Over-Sampling Democrats

I went to great lengths to debunk the over-sampling of Democrats in polling used across polling outfits.  As a brief reminder, they use the prior election as their base model (7 percentage points more Democrats than Republicans) for consistency sake but not for accuracy sake.  Only Rasmussen Reports aggressively surveys the public to get a sense of current party affiliation and weights his polls accordingly.  This is why, despite hysterical protests from the Left, Rasmussen consistently calls the Presidential races better than his competitors. One of the commenters, greymarch, mentioned some good work by @NumbersMuncher showed the +3.1% lead for Obama in the current (September 15) Real Clear Politics average of national polls was based on polls where Democrats were being oversampled by on average +6.1%. Now we have this disparity in graphic detail:

As you can see the X-Axis is the % over-sampling either way: movement to the left is Republican over-sampling while movement to the right is Democrat over-sampling. The Y-Axis is the attendant Obama lead which loosely correlates to how greatly Democrats are over-sampled. The real take-away which I have mentioned the times I blog national polls is that many of those national polls are HORRIBLE for Obama, namely the ABC/Washington Post and CBS/New York Times polls where you have large Democrat over-samplings but rather small leads for Obama. This means if Obama doesn’t meet or beat his stellar 2008 turnout advantage he’s in for a drubbing on election day.

These over-samplings serve a few purposes but mainly drive down enthusiasm for Republicans while assisting the Obama campaign with “bandwagon” supporters who simply like being on the winning team (they’re real and they count). If pollsters in conjunction with the Obama campaign create a negative feedback loop for Republicans such that the marginal voter doesn’t show up (definitely a well documented top priority for the Obama campaign) and assist with the bandwagon voter — a small but meaningful voter in close elections — then Obama can create the perfect storm he needs to eek out a close victory following one of the worst four-year performances for any President in modern times (Carter is the only arguable comparable).

That is the what and why pollsters are doing the massive Democrat over-sampling this election cycle.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: As mentioned in the comments section, Rasmussen Premium subscribers know that Rasmussen Reports polls are weighted D +1, not not D -2 (or R+2 however you like it) like the original chart posted.  @NumbersMucher has a chart reflecting this corrected information and the chart above reflects the corrected data.

Why the Obama Campaign is Super Nervous — Today’s Must Read

Nervous nellies on the Right have their panties in a bunch over a couple stories I won’t link to about alleged Romney people lamenting how strong Obama is and how there is no way Romney can win.  This story has the same ring of truth like the Politico story with 36 anonymous GOP insiders lamenting how selecting Paul Ryan lost the election.  Each of these stories has no basis in reality but are definitely planted stories by major advocates of one political campaign — guess which one? So instead of letting your friends grasp their blankey a little tighter, let’s take a reality check on repeatedly debunked stories on Team Obama’s irrational over-confidence, changing polls, and the electoral college.

I’ve blogged a few times about the seemingly absurd level of confidence emanating from senior Obama campaign officials. I have no problem with them believing in their candidate but they genuinely do not believe they can lose (which is a fatal flaw for anyone in a dogged election battle). Polling in the race remains air tight both nationally and among the Battleground States. The Real Clear Politics average of polling is invariably the most accurate gauge of any state race or the national contest. So I decided to assess the electoral map coming out of the Conventions.

As we have pointed out over-and-over again, the vast majority of this polling has been of both registered voters and for a voter turnout quite similar to the 2008 Democrat wave election when party ID shifted from dead even in 2004 to a seven point advantage for Democrats. Both of those factors skew heavily Democrat which when accounted for tell a very different story than the “sky is falling” crowd.

Registered Voters

Nate Silver of the New York Times 538 blog analyzed registered voter polls versus likely voter polls in 2010 and found registered voter polls produced results 4-points higher in favor of Democrats than the far more accurate polls of likely voters. 2010 was a strong Republican year and without Obama on the ballot it is understandable why the 2010 figures don’t perfectly apply to 2012 polls. For these reasons a 4-point adjustment seems a bit much with a Presidential ballot likely to increase Democrat enthusiasm to vote versus off-year elections. As such, for my own purposes, I adjust registered voter polls 2-points in favor of the Republican to reflect the quantified differences between registered voter polls and the more accurate likely voter surveys.

The shift from registered voter surveys to likely voter surveys had the expected impact and, as of today, President Obama leads five of the Battlegrounds by ~1% easily within the margin of error for every survey: Iowa +0.2, Virginia +0.6, Ohio +0.7 (ex-PPP poll because how many times do you need to see their bias before you ignore them too), Wisconsin +1.4, Florida +1.7. And if I backed-out PPP from every state, Romney would be even closer if not winning some of these states but let’s move on.

This is where it gets really interesting.  A two-point swing would move each of the above mentioned states into Romney’s column and hand him the Presidency without winning Colorado, Nevada, Michigan or New Hampshire (let alone even considering Pennsylvania).

Party Identification in Polls

This has been a sticking point throughout this election season. The typical polling service constructs and adjusts its polls to reflect the electorate as it was on election day in November 2008. They do this for consistency sake but not for accuracy sake. In an exhaustive post worth everyone’s read anytime this topic comes up, Jay Cost at the Weekly Standard completely debunked anyone believing the current polling reflects the electorate who will show up on election day in November. His bottom line is that the election in 2008 had a legitimate partisan advantage of more self-identified Democrats showing up at the polls than Republicans by 7 percentage points — a great showing for Democrats.  Today, his highly educated opinion is that Democrats advantage will shrink to only 3 percentage points (read his post for the well argued explanation).  I personally think the advantage will be no greater than 2 percentage points but no matter.  The key is the big drop in democrat enthusiasm and self-identification that is true in every single poll no matter how biased the source.

With that, if we see only a 2% shift towards Republicans and not even the 4-5% shift Cost and myself believes will occur Romney wins Iowa, Virginia, Ohio, Wisconsin and Florida. That’s based on the electorate right now.  Before Romney’s ~$200 million war chest gets unleashed.  Before Obama has to debate and defend economic policies with sub-2% GDP, 23 million unemployed, and a $16 trillion deficit. Before the real battle for undecideds begins (which is right now). Therefore, with just the slightest adjustment for a voter identification turnout in November that will certainly be more favorable to Romney than current polling reflects, the electoral map looks like the following:

Mitt Romney: 282 Barack Obama: 256

Democrat Perspective: Why Obama Will Win Nevada

Despite my strong political leanings, I challenge myself to find thoughtful opposing views on important issues rather than fall into group-think by only viewing facts, figures, and reasoning that support my position.  With this in mind I hope to regularly feature a liberal view or two arguing against Romney or for Obama in a given Battleground state. With Mitt Romney fundraising in Nevada right now I figure that state is as good as any to kick-off this feature. Tom Kludt at Talking Points Memo took an extensive look at the problems in Nevada and why it should be fertile ground for Romney yet still favors Obama.

From a distance, the state should favor Romney based on 3 factors:

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