If the Election Were Held Yesterday, 10-23-12

The latest polling data this week shows us something of the impact of the second presidential debate.  It is too early to gauge the impact of the final presidential debate yet, though we should be able to see some of the impact of that next week.  We are in the home stretch now, only two weeks left until the election!

Here is the map as it stands now (with toss-ups):

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”

This map shows a very tight race with the potential for serious change in the next two weeks.  Taking into consideration longer trends, we can fill in most of this map.  If the election had been held yesterday, there are three states that are close enough to potentially fall in either column, New Hampshire, Colorado, and Virginia.  Here is what the map looks like assuming all three go Obama’s way:

Here is the map assuming they all go Romney’s way:

As these maps show, the most likely outcome if the election were held yesterday is an Obama victory.  The second of these scenarios is identical to the scenario we gave last week, but there is now a significant likelihood of a stronger victory for the President.  To what extent that is a result of his performance in the second debate is unclear, but my sense is that in this sort of thing negative is often stronger than positive: a second week performance by the President may have had a much more noticeable impact on the electoral map than did his stronger showing.  The changes we are seeing now could just as likely be the result of a wearing off of Romney’s momentum coming out of the first debate and a reversion to more “normal” trends.  Certainly there has not been as much of a swing in the math as a result of the second debate.

There are, of course, other states that are very close and need to be watched in the next couple of weeks.  In particular, Ohio has been showing narrower and narrower margins for President Obama, though as of yet a Romney win in Ohio does not seem likely.  One other thing worth mentioning is that national polls are still showing a slight edge for Romney, so there is still the possibility (if the election had been held yesterday) of an Obama win in the electoral college and a Romney win in the popular vote.

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