Sometimes polls are predictors of an election. And sometimes they just give candidates something to spin. So what do the polls say on this Sunday just nine days from the election, and what does it mean?
The polls in this presidential race are conflicting. On a given day, one poll will show Romney ahead, and another poll will show Obama. The latest national polls reported on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are all over the map. The Investors Business Daily on Friday showed Obama with a 2% lead. Gallup gave Romney a 5% lead. ABC gave Romney a one point advantage, and Rasmussen showed Romney up by three.
Sunday, a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showed the race tied at 47% each. For the first time, the NBC/WSJ poll gave Romney a slight lead in battleground states, although most of that lead was in the southern battleground states of Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia.
Electoral College elects the President not popular vote
National polls are important, but they do not reflect who will win the election. In 2000, Gore won the national popular vote, but the Supreme Court anointed Bush president. Unless the Supreme Courts gets involved, in which case Romney wins, the Electoral College will elect the President. That is unless there is a tie whereby the House elects the president, and the Senate elects the vice-president.
So far, almost all credible polls show Obama with a lead in electoral votes not counting swing states. As of Saturday, before the latest NBC poll, an average of all the polls by Real Clear Politics gave Obama 201 electoral votes to Romney’s 191 with 146 electoral votes still a toss up. However, if the toss-up electoral votes are allocated according to Saturday’s polls, Obama would win with 290 votes to Romney’s 248.
This count gives Colorado to Obama, but the polls are tied, so turn out could be the decider.
Also, Ohio is awarded to Obama. He has an average 2% lead in the polls in Ohio and Romney has never led. But the margin is shrinking. Already 20% of Ohioans have already voted and Obama has a big lead in that group. So Ohio, like Colorado, could come down to turnout. No Republican has ever been elected without winning Ohio.
Swing-states are key
Every recent poll shows that Romney has overtaken President Obama in Florida up by 1.8%. Most likely Romney wins North Carolina where he leads by 4%. Virginia, where Obama has led most of the race, is now a toss up. The Washington Post Poll Thursday gave Obama a 4% lead, other polls give the Commonwealth to Romney. The average is a tie.
In New Hampshire, one of Romney’s several home-states, polls still give Obama the edge by less than 2 points on average. New Hampshire has the fewest votes of all the swing states.
The mid-west is a real battleground. The big state in that region is Ohio, where Obama leads, but Romney is spending most of his time in now. Romney is absolutely confident he will win Ohio.
Another big toss up state is Wisconsin. This state has not voted for a Republican president since Reagan. Obama still maintains an average lead of 2.3%. Romney’s seldom-seen running mate Paul Ryan comes from Wisconsin. Will he pull it out for Romney?
Another key is Iowa. Obama still maintains a 2.4% lead in the Hawkeye State. Romney is spending time there as well. Whoever loses Ohio must have Wisconsin and Iowa to have a shot of winning. Thus far, Obama is up in all 3 mid-western battlegrounds.
This leaves the West—Colorado and Nevada. The president still leads in Nevada, and all indications are he will win. Colorado is a toss up and will the winner will not likely be known until early Wednesday morning. In Colorado, the keys are where women will come down and how many Hispanics show up.
If Obama loses Ohio he needs to carry at least one of these states; Romney must carry both. The Hispanic vote favors Obama, not Romney.
There are nine days left. Anything can happen. However the expert on presidential polling, Nate Silver of the NY Times 538 Blog, still gives the edge to Obama. That was Friday before the NBC poll. So stay tuned.
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