This is the post-convention look at the state of the Presidential election - the third part in a series that I started in December 2011.
One of the better sources for viewing the state of the Presidential race is RealClearPolitics. In addition to political news, the site features a collection of key polls for each individual state as well as an average of all of the polls to define in which direction each state is currently leaning. Here, using the map from the website, 270toWin.com, is how RealClearPolitics sees the race today based on their RealClearPolitic averaging of each state's polling results.
In this view, President Obama holds a clear electoral college lead, 237 electoral votes to Mitt Romney's 191. The critical swing states are identified as New Hampshire, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, Colorado, and Nevada - totalling 110 undecided electoral votes.
However, one of the challenges with the RealClearPolitics average is that they determine where a state leans based on the average of the recent polls taken within the state. The problem with this is that if some of the polls used to compute the average as based on a skewed polling sample - that poll will then skew the average and could impact the where the state is.
I consider this a major issue. Throughout many of my daily posts, I've highlighted numerous polls from what one would expect to be unbiased organizations, basing their samples not only on the outlier 2008 turnout, but on a stronger pro-Democrat turnout model today than we saw in 2008 which was a D+7 turnout.
For polling, the sampling data is critical. Here's a look at the historical party turnout data:
Historically, there has been more Democrats voting than Republicans - when measured by party identification. But 2008 was a huge swing, 7 point change from the previous Presidential election year. Only in the 10 point decrease in Democrat turnout between 1980 and 1984 surpassed the 7 point change of 2008.
Where do we stand today?
If we only look at the Presidential elections, then one can try to make a case to use either an average or to work around the 1996 and 2000 level which reflects a similar divided government to what we have today. Hugh Hewitt, the conservative talk radio host, had a very interesting interview with the Public Polling Director of the Marist Institute, Lee Miringoff, earlier this week where Miringoff made the case to justify, statistically speaking, the D+8-12 polls that we are commonly seeing today. The link is for the transcript of the interview.
I am as skeptical as Hewitt when it comes to the justification made by Miringoff for the D+8 or more poll samples that we are commonly seeing...and are part of the RealClearPolitic average.
For one point, this justification does not take into consideration that massive electoral blowback the Democrats and President Barack Obama received in the 2010 mid-term elections. The policies of the first two years of the Obama Administration and Democratic control of Congress swung the pendulum far in the other direction. Independents and Republicans were highly motivated to express their dissatisfaction with the policies and agenda of the Democrats leading our country.
Despite the assurances of the mainstream media that this level of dissatisfaction doesn't remain at the same levels in 2012, I believe that they do.
This is more than just a gut feeling of someone who is a self-professed conservative.
When I look closely at these polls with the D+8 or more sample skews, almost every time I see 2 factors that reflect on the race being significantly different than what we are being told by the 'experts' is the case.
The first aspect is that even with these D+8 or more samples, President Barack Obama holds a very small, tenuous lead - usually within the polls margin of error of 2 to 4 points.
The second aspect is that with these slight leads held by Barack Obama, in nearly every one of these polls, the independent voter is by a range of 8 to 12 points (or more), choosing Mitt Romney over the President. In both parties, their candidate enjoys a roughly 90% support level of their own party faithful. The keys to this election, therefore lie with the independents and their vote. In 2008, the independents went strongly to supporting Barack Obama over John McCain. In 2010, the independents went strongly to support the local Republican candidate over the Democrat candidate. In 2012, it appears that the independents are significantly lining up to vote against the reelection of Barack Obama - as is shown in these polls.
Given this, I see the map as starting at this point:
This map has three main differences from the first map. In addition to the other states listed as swing, I've added Connecticut, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Michigan to the list. This moves 32 electoral votes from Barack Obama into the undecided list - and makes the race a virtual tie, 191 to 189 in electoral votes.
Recent polls from Connecticut are starting to show a move in that state away from Barack Obama and the Democrat senate candidate seeking to gain the seat of the retiring Senator Joe Lieberman. The GOP Senate candidate, Linda McMahon, who lost to Richard Blumenthal in 2010, has had a number of polls showing her with a lead and the state's fiscal crisis, behind a tax and spend Governor seeking to increase taxes once again, are providing fuel for those who oppose progressive Democrats.
We are seeing a similar move in New Mexico. This was undoubtedly assisted by the superb speech given by the state's Republican Governor Susana Martinez during the Republican National Convention.
Pennsylvania remains a critical bell weather state for the President. With strong minority and union worker support in the key cities of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, this has usually been sufficient to offset the more conservative support from the rest of the state for the GOP. But Pennsylvania is being hit hard by the economic challenges we face as well as the effects of progressive policies. Add to this the effects in Pennsylvania by the EPA's 'War on Coal', and we have a state that is very well a battleground.
I also moved Michigan to the swing state category for very much the same reasons as both Connecticut and Pennsylvania. There are polls that are showing Romney in a slight lead - and the economic conditions combined with the economic policies of the progressive Democrats are impacting voters. While the union supporters around Detroit are applauding the auto industry bailout which Obama claims 'saved the US auto industry', there are still some major issues in play. Michigan is also very much like Wisconsin in terms of the now GOP controlled state government trying to reverse the economic challenges - and Wisconsin's success has provided a viable road map.
In this first cut of winnowing down the battleground states, I believe there are three that look strongly as if they are going in this direction. Barack Obama should be able to hold onto Connecticut at the Presidential level. The elite progressives outnumber the independents and conservatives. If he cannot hold onto Connecticut, then we are looking at an extremely bad night for Barack Obama and the Democrats in Congress.
From what I am seeing, I project that New Hampshire, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and New Mexico are very good bets to vote for Mitt Romney as President. All will be relatively close, but in each case, they will reject Barack Obama's request for a 2nd term in office on largely economic grounds. North Carolina has suffered under both progressive Democrat policies and the agenda of the Obama Administration. Wisconsin is acclaimed the birthplace of progressivism, but under the policies of GOP Governor Scott Walker, fiscal responsibility has been restored - and he remains in his office because of winning a recall election earlier this year that reflected the power of the GOP in the state.
New Mexico, under GOP Governor Susana Martinez, has also addressed some significant fiscal challenges her progressive predecessor created. Combine this with a superb RNC speech, and Martinez will help propel Mitt Romney to win her state.
While Mitt Romney has a lead, at this point, in the electoral college, both sides have over 20 possible winning combinations to push them over the 270 mark. The race is still at the point where the remaining battleground states will determine who will lead the US for the next four years.
As I noted, if Pennsylvania goes to Mitt Romney, as is a strong possibility, then Barack Obama realistically does not have a viable option (a mathematical option, but not a viable one) to propel him to reelection. This was the 'old' worst case scenario for Barack Obama - the 'new' one includes losing Connecticut (and perhaps some other traditionally liberal states in a Reagan-like election).
If the President retains Pennsylvania, that's 20 more electoral votes to his column. But on the east coast, we have 2 other battleground states. Despite the RealClearPolitics average of the polls, what I am seeing, particularly when I look beyond skewed polls, are Virginia and Florida both very likely to swing to Mitt Romney. I am seeing Tea Party strength in both states and stronger pro-Republican enthusiasm in campaign events in each. With the possible exception of the GOP Senate candidate in Florida, Connie Mack, I am also seeing signs of both states strongly supporting the GOP Congressional candidates.
In this event, the future looks very grim for Barack Obama. Mitt Romney would be only 3 electoral votes from the 270 needed to win - with 55 electoral votes remaining.
This sets the stage for how I see the election ending in the early hours of November 7th...
With the exception of Colorado, I see all of the remaining undecided states ending in the column for Mitt Romney. Colorado is a state that has trended more towards liberalism - and while there is a vocal and active conservative population in the state, they are becoming increasingly outnumbered - as well as gaining new liberal support from many who are relocating to the state. While not likely enthralled by 'Hope and Change' over the past four years, I think Coloradans are going to fall for the false bet that Barack Obama will do a Bill Clinton-esque triangulation in a second term - and support that second term.
Just as Wisconsin is rejecting progressivism and the challenges it created for the state, Michigan, Ohio, and Iowa will also reject progressivism. For Ohio and Michigan, it is their last opportunity to avoid falling down the same path as New York, Illinois, and California. They have a clear choice - to follow those states or to follow Wisconsin.
I suspect many Nevadans believed they made a huge mistake when they sent Harry Reid back to the Senate - particularly given Reid's record over the past 2 years. That said, they also didn't have the best possible alternative in the GOP candidate. No state has been hit harder by the failed policies of the progressives and Barack Obama than Nevada has been hit.
As I've noted in many of my daily QH posts, the mainstream media is actively shilling for Barack Obama's reelection. The level of bias and propaganda is incredible. They are pulling out all of the stops to try to spin reality and save progressivism. But reality for far too many Americans is too hard to spin.
Unemployed, under-employed, reduced wages and personal wealth, the distractions of class, gender, and race warfare, the real wars with radical islam, on energy, and the concept of equality of results over equality of opportunity cannot be easily spun away.
I continue to see and feel an undercurrent around the United States where people are starting to look at the places that are succeeding and those who are not, and determining for themselves why some are winning and some are losing. I think there are those in swing states, and states that will become swing states (the Oregon's, Washington's, New Jersey's) who are seeing that the fundamental problem with liberalism / progressivism is in the fundamentals of the ideology - not just in the implementation.
Barack Obama's victory in 2008 was hailed as the start of decades of Democrat / Progressive leadership in the United States. But I think that Obama's term in office, comparable in modern times only to the debacle that was the Carter presidency, will actually fuel another decade of conservative leadership and the start of a move, not to the compassionate conservativism of Bush 43, but far closer to the conservativism of smaller government, a safety net as opposed to an entitlement state, a strong national defense and foreign policy, and supporting the private sector.
At some point, reality will hit home in New York, Illinois, and California when they run out of other people's money. When that happens, what will the progressives do then?