Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Latest polls; Rove Forecasts Obama Victory

The latest summary of the polls from the WSJ web site:

Where the Poll Numbers Stand on Election Eve

On Monday evening, with most pollsters done tracking the presidential race, the public survey numbers point to a victory for Sen. Barack Obama. Keep in mind that polls said the same about the New Hampshire Democratic primary, which Obama lost by two and a half percentage points to Sen. Hillary Clinton.


Stipulating that these are hardly ironclad predictions, here’s a summary of the numbers.

National popular vote: In recent polls, Obama’s lead ranges from 2 points to 13 points. Various poll aggregators put the national Obama lead at 6.8 percentage points, 7, 7 and 7.3.

Many pollsters don’t call cellphones, meaning they miss about one-third of voters between the ages of 18 and 29. Because Obama tends to poll well with younger voters, and especially well among those without landlines, the surveys that reach these voters on their cellphones show bigger Obama leads — four percentage points larger, by two estimates.

Electoral vote: In the past month, Obama has led in every poll followed by the Online Journal’s poll tracker in the so-called battleground states of Iowa, Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hamsphire, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. Assign these as well as supposedly safe Democratic states to Obama and he gets 291 electoral votes, 21 more than the 270 needed to win the Electoral College. Give McCain his safe states, by that same criterion, and he can expect 137 electoral votes. That leaves 110 electoral votes in states where the polls have been less definitive: Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio and West Virginia.

The poll-aggregation site Real Clear Politics agrees with the above allocation, except it calls Virginia a toss-up, moves McCain’s home state of Arizona from a safe state to a toss-up, and assigns West Virginia to McCain.

There’s widespread agreement among prominent Web sites that are assigning all electoral votes to the two candidates that the polls point to a comfortable electoral margin for Obama. Obama’s expected share of the Electoral College on Monday evening was 338, 341, 346.5, 353, 353 or 357.5.

The vast majority of Americans have yet to vote, and no prediction can be definitive. Among the reasons the polls could be proved wrong:

• An election-changing event before the polls close.

• Undecided voters could break sharply for McCain — though history suggests this wouldn’t gain him more than a few percentage points.

• The so-called Bradley Effect, in which polls supposedly overstate a black candidate’s support (though that has been effectively debunked here, here and here).

• Turnout is one of the hardest numbers for pollsters to predict, and their methods vary widely. One example of the difficulty of turnout forecasts: A study last year suggested presidential-election turnout is dependent on weather. (The Tuesday forecast for most battleground states is free of precipitation.)

Here's the latest from 538.com, which now has Obama 98.1% likely to win (highest ever):

Today's Polls, 11/3 (PM Edition)

With fewer than six hours until voting begins in Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, the national polling picture has cleared up considerably. Barack Obama is on the verge of a victory, perhaps a decisive victory, in the race for the White House.

The national polls have all consolidated into a range of roughly Obama +7. That is right about where our model sees the race as well, giving Obama a 6.8 point advantage in its composite of state and national polling. Our model notes, however, that candidates with large leads in the polls have had some tendency to underperform marginally on election day, and so projects an Obama win of 6.0 points tomorrow.

Far more important, of course, is the race for 270 electors. It appears almost certain that Obama will capture all of the states won by John Kerry in 2008. Pennsylvania, while certainly having tightened somewhat over the course of the past two weeks, appears to be holding at a margin of about +8 for Obama, with very few remaining undecideds. Obama also appears almost certain to capture Iowa and New Mexico, which were won by Al Gore in 2000. Collectively, these states total 264 electoral votes, leaving Obama just 5 votes shy of a tie and 6 of a win.

Obama has any number of states to collect those 5 or 6 votes. In inverse order of difficulty, these include Colorado, Virginia, Nevada, Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Missouri and Indiana. Obama is the signficant favorite in several of these states; winning any one of them may be fairly difficult for John McCain, but winning all of them at once, as John McCain probably must do, is nearly impossible.

McCain's chances, in essence, boil down to the polling being significantly wrong, for such reasons as a Bradley Effect or
"Shy Tory" Effect, or extreme complacency among Democratic voters. Our model recognizes that the actual margins of error in polling are much larger than the purported ones, and that when polls are wrong, they are often wrong in the same direction.

However, even if these phenomenon are manifest to some extent, it is unlikely that they are worth a full 6-7 points for McCain. Moreover, there are at least as many reasons to think that the polls are understating Obama's support, because of such factors as the
cellphone problem, his superior groundgame operation, and the substantial lead that he has built up among early voters.

McCain's chances of victory are estimated at 1.9 percent, their lowest total of the year.

Even Karl Rove calls a landslide for Obama:

Rove Forecasts Obama Victory

Laura Meckler reports from Washington on the presidential race:

He was “the architect” of the last presidential victory. Will he be the prognosticator of the next?

On his Web site, Karl Rove has been tracking polling in all 50 states, classifying each one as red for John McCain, blue for Barack Obama or yellow for toss-up. But as of today, there are no more toss-ups: every state is assigned to either Obama or McCain, based on polling.

The result: a huge Obama win.

If his forecast were to come true, the Democrat would take 338 electoral votes — 68 more than needed to win. McCain would win 200.

His projections are hardly wild. Of the six Republican-leaning states that have been more fiercely contested in recent days, he gives Ohio, Florida and Virginia to Obama, but Missouri, Indiana and North Carolina to McCain. He allocates Pennsylvania, which McCain has been trying for, to Obama, as do most if not all other independent guessers working off public polls.

In a note accompanying the map, he explains that the candidates are in a dead heat in Missouri and North Carolina, but that he tipped both McCain’s way because the most recent polls over the weekend show him narrowly ahead. He may also be gaining in Florida, Rove notes, though that state is currently colored blue.

Other states projected to flip from President Bush’s column in 2004 to Obama include New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado and Iowa.


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