If the Election Were Held Yesterday, 10-9-12

For all who have suggested that debates don’t matter in a presidential election, I invite you to examine our electoral maps this week.  First, for comparison purposes, here is last week’s electoral map (with close states listed as toss-ups):

Compare that with this week’s map:

As in weeks past, our criteria (based on the most recent state polls) is as follows:

  • Candidate has 20 pt or greater lead in a state:  ”Solid”
  • Candidate has between 10 and 20 pt lead in a state:  ”Likely”
  • Candidate has between a 5 and 10 pt lead in a state:  ”Leans”
  • Candidates are polling within 5 points of one another in a state:  ”toss up”

Based on this map, Obama still has the lead but the security of that lead is in jeopardy.  Many traditional battleground states which had been trending for Obama are either now securely in the toss-up column or right on the edge of being there.  Further, for the last three weeks Obama has had enough electoral votes to win outright even with the toss-up states remaining unassigned to either candidate.  That is no longer the case.  The flip side of this is that while Obama has suffered heavy set-backs in the fallout of last week’s debate, this has not immediately translated into major gains for Romney.  On the map above Romney has only added one more state, North Carolina, to his column.  However, if we eliminate toss-ups based on slight leads in recent polling, this changes drastically:

As you can see, Romney is now showing slight leads in several of the toss-up states (in particular, Virginia, Florida, and Colorado are moving into his column), though many of those leads are still within the margin of error for most polls.  Also note that on this map Romney still does not win the election, but the margin of victory for Obama is significantly narrower than it has been in weeks past (about a 50-vote drop from last week’s map).  There is, however, one other map that I want to show you.  This map takes into consideration the momentum of candidates after the debate last week and shows what might happen if the trends in momentum in close states continued to play out.  In particular, there are two states in which the current trends suggest a potential flip to the Romney column: Ohio and Nevada.  If those two states flipped, the electoral map looks like this:

This is the first time since I have been posting these maps that we have seen a possible scenario in which Romney wins the electoral college.  Its also worth noting that this scenario reflects a 70-vote swing in the electoral math in a single week.  Which just goes to say, the debate mattered, and it mattered a lot.

3 thoughts on “If the Election Were Held Yesterday, 10-9-12

  1. Great post! Your organization of the maps since the debate is stellar and it really demonstrates your point. My question is – how much of a difference will the VP debate make on Thursday? Would love to see a follow up after that debate!

    1. Thanks!! My sense is that in most situations the VP debate is not highly viewed and therefore relatively unimportant. However, after the first debate this campaign has become much more heated, so there may be a lot more people tuning in tomorrow night than would normally be expected. It’s also, given the personalities involved, likely to be a pretty lively debate. So it may actually have a fairly significant impact, though that is yet to be seen. I’ll put up another set of maps either next Tuesday or Wednesday, they should show at least a little bit of the impact of the VP Debate. Will definitely be interesting to see what happens!

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