01 November 2012

538 Sees Obama Closing The Deal

Nate Silver's 538 blog, hosted by the New York Times, is my go to site for compilations of poll data together with statistically sound analysis of what it means in the 2012 election. Silver's summary of all of that information about the Presidential race in all fifty states and the district of Columbia, as of midnight last night, six days before the election is concluded, is shown above.

In that summary, based on six separate analysts who comprehensively analyze state polling, Colorado, Virginia and Florida stand out as the closest three races in the country. Colorado and Virigina both favor Obama by 1.0 percentage points and 0.9 percentage points respectively, while Florida favors Romney by 0.6 percentage points. The next two closest states also lean towars President Obama: Iowa by 1.7 percentage points and New Hampshire by 2.1 percentage points. In every other state, one candidate or the other has at least a 2.4 percentage point lead and all six analysts as well as Silver agree regarding who is favored to win in those states.

The only other state leaning toward Romney that is even remotely in play in North Carolina, where Romney has a 2.4 percentage point edge. Romney leads by 7.0 percentage points in the next closest state, Arizona.

These are not the marginal states that President Obama needs to win the election, however. As Silver explains:

You can see that the various projections strongly agree with another, for the most part, in making “calls” about individual states. The only state where different sites show different candidates ahead right now is Florida, where Talking Points Memo gives Mr. Obama a nominal 0.2-percentage point lead while the others (including FiveThirtyEight) have Mr. Romney slightly up instead. There are also four states — New Hampshire, Iowa, Colorado and Virginia — in which some methods show an exactly tied race while others give Mr. Obama the lead. . . .

Mr. Obama’s lead in the Electoral College is modest, but also quite consistent across the different methods. The states in which every site has Mr. Obama leading make up 271 electoral votes — one more than the president needs to clinch victory. The states in which everyone has Mr. Romney ahead represent 206 electoral votes. That leaves five states, and 61 electoral votes, unaccounted for — but Mr. Obama would not need them if he prevails in the states where he is leading in the polls.

The marginal state is actually Ohio, which the seven analysts, including Silver, see Obama leading in by a margin ranging from 2.0 to 3.0 percentage points.

After Ohio, the next closest states in which Obama leads are Nevada (3.2), Wisconsin (3.5), Pennsylvania (4.9) and Minnesota (6.0).

The most recent polls in a race less than a week from election day are a particularly accurate measure of what the voters will ultimately decide.

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