President Barack Obama is a heavy favorite to win on Tuesday against Republican Mitt Romney according to an analysis of state-by-state polling data. It appeared after the first debate that Romney might make a race of it with polls showing a surge in his direction, but within two weeks of the first debate the polling averages settled towards a statistical tie. The majority of national polls now either show a literal tie or a slight Obama advantage nationally.
The president will have plenty of reason to smile if the polls hold up.
Even more important than the national popular vote, though, is of course state-by-state results. If current polling is accurate, Obama will win in the range of 281-347 electoral votes. Obama importantly holds consistent polling leads in Ohio where eight of the most recent polls have Obama ahead, one shows a tie and only one has Romney ahead (and it is sponsored by a Republican affiliated pollster). Likewise, Florida has moved in recent weeks from leaning toward Romney to becoming a true toss-up. Obama leads in four of the ten most recent polls out of the Sunshine State, Romney leads in four and they are tied in two. It is literally a toss-up, although momentum favors Obama. Even more bleak for Romney: the twenty-two swing state polls released on Friday showed Obama leading in nineteen, Romney in one and two ties.
Ultimately, Obama has a much stronger base of Democratic-leaning states than Romney has GOP-leaning states. If you give Obama all of the states that have went to the Democrat in the past five straight elections, Obama has 242 Electoral Votes (EVs) of the 270 that are required to win the White House. Add in Iowa, Ohio, Nevada, New Hampshire and New Mexico (where he has polled consistently ahead in each state by respected non-partisan pollsters) then you would reach 281 EVs, which I consider the low end of Obama’s likely results on Tuesday night. Throw in Colorado, which is close but has leaned more Obama than Romney most of the cycle, and you reach 290. He would reach 332 by adding Florida and Virginia to Obama’s column, both possibilities but still less likely than the other states as they are near literal toss-ups. Finally, he could reach 347 by winning North Carolina, but he has polled worse in NC than any of the other states. Frankly, North Carolina is the only “swing state” that Romney can more or less count on. For Romney to win he would need to sweep the table of all of these states, plus pick off
Of course this analysis is based on polling data that could be influenced by the recent hurricane. It’s not clear how the hurricane and its aftermath will change the state of the race. It’s distinctly possible that the hurricane can hurt Obama’s popular vote total in places like Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania where power has not been fully restored and people are more worried about rebuilding their lives. Clearly you can’t blame them if the election becomes a secondary thought. Nonetheless, Obama should win those states without much problem. It would just affect the national popular vote total.
I will have a full state-by-state prediction on Tuesday for both the presidential election and Senate races. Stay tuned!