Part 1: Summary Statistics
- President Obama job approval – last 30 days: 47-49% approve/disapprove (was 47-49% approve/disapprove)
- Generic Congressional Vote – last 30 days: 43-41% Republican (was 43-42% Republican)
- Congressional retirements (including defeats): 62 (51 in the House and 11 in the Senate)
- Congressional Primary defeats: 9 (8 in the House and 1 in the Senate)
Part 2: Projections (based on average of last 30 days of polling where states have held their primaries)
US Senate: 49 Democrats, 47 Republicans, 1 Independent, 3 Tossups (was 49-47-1 Democrat in last scorecard)
- Projected Republican gains in Nebraska and North Dakota
- Republican held seat in Indiana too close to call
- Democratic held seats in Montana and Virginia too close to call
- Republican held seat in Maine has an Independent in the race who is staying above 55% in polling
- (Note: 15 out of 33 Senate contests have not yet had their party primaries, so we are not in a position to call those races).
Governor: 30 Republicans, 10 Democrats, 1 Independent (was 30-19 Republican in last scorecard)
- Projected Republican gain in North Carolina
- (Note: 5 out of 11 Governor’s races do not have the party nominees selected yet, so we are not in a position to call those races).
Part 3: How we call a state – President, Governor, Senate
We believe that the best way to make our state by state calls in the Presidential race is to look at the actual percentage President Obama is receiving in the polls (and NOT the margin by which President Obama leads (or trails) Mitt Romney in any poll). There is a simple reason for this: when you’re talking about a controversial incumbent, those who are not explicitly supporting him in the polls will almost certainly end up voting for Romney on Election Day. Therefore, we have been compiling poll results by state and taking the average of that state’s poll results for the last 30 days. In the process of doing so, we have also considered Obama’s 2008 showing as a yardstick. Here are our criteria (which will be similar for statewide races for Governor or Senator):
(1) Safe Democratic/Obama or safe Republican/Romney (dark blue/red) – if no polls have been conducted within the last 30 days for that state, a 2008 Obama (or McCain) percentage of 60% or above gets this rating. If polls have been conducted, an Obama (or Romney) average of 50% or more gets this classification;
(2) Lean Democratic/Obama or lean Republican/Romney (light blue/red) – if no polls have been conducted within the last 30 days for that state, a 2008 Obama (or McCain) percentage between 53-59% gets this rating. If polls have been conducted, an Obama (or Romney) average percentage of 49% or less with a lead of 3 or more points will get this classification;
(3) Tossup (yellow) – if there was polling done, a candidate leads by less than 3 points or the 2008 election results had the winning candidate (Obama or McCain) receiving 52% or less;
(4) Senate/gubernatorial primary has not been held yet (or, no polls have been publicly released) (gray)
(5) No Senate/gubernatorial race in 2012 for this state (black)
Part 4: Presidential Scorecard (270 electoral votes required to win): Obama 271, Romney 191, Undecided 76 (prior scorecard: 264-191 Obama)
Last week was a relatively light week as far as statewide polls go; those that were released showed seven states’ needing to be reclassified, with the net result slightly in President Obama’s favor. We wish to emphasize “slightly” because Obama’s approval rating (where he remains “underwater” at 47-49%) remains unchanged, and the generic Congressional vote moved slightly more towards the Republicans.
What happened ? Several polls in Michigan consistently showed Obama with more than a 3 point lead, which is why we reclassified this state from “tossup” to “leans Democratic.” Overall, his average lead there is 48-42%. Take out a PPP poll (PPP polls typically tilt towards the Democrats), and Obama’s lead is 46-43%. While Colorado partially offset this by moving from “leans Democratic” to “tossup”, Michigan has nearly twice the electoral votes that Colorado does.
Other than that, polling showed Obama converting Wisconsin and Nevada from “leans Democratic” to “solid Democratic”, as his average poll lead in those states is exactly at 50%. At the same time, recently released polling in Washington and Minnesota shows Obama weakening there; these states have been moved from “solid Democratic” to “leans Democratic.” This polling was released by the same firm who last polled these states in May. At that point in time, President Obama led with over 50% in both states; therefore, we are comfortable making these two calls on the basis of a single poll.
Finally, polling in Missouri shows him in a strong enough position for us to move this state from “leans Republican” to “solid Republican.”
We believe that not much is likely to change with the Presidential contest in the short term. The Summer Olympics will consume much of the public’s attention for the next few weeks. After that, Romney has two chances to make an impression: (1) with his VP pick, likely to be right after the conclusion of the Olympics, and (2) when he makes his acceptance speech on August 30 (the Democrats hold their convention September 3-6).
There is another factor, too, which we believe will change the state by state polling: as Labor Day nears, pollsters typically change their polling model from “registered voters” to “likely voters” – a change typically providing a marginal benefit to Republicans, since those least enthusiastic/likely to vote this year are more likely to be Democrats. (7/27 AM UPDATE: Public Policy Polling (PPP) has announced that they will make the change this upcoming week.
In the meantime, we do believe that detailed polling data on a state by state basis shows weak spots for the Obama campaign, as he has lost a consistent amount of support relative to his 2008 showing.
In the “solid Obama” (dark blue) states that have conducted polling, Obama’s average share of the vote relative to 2008 has dropped from 59 to 52% – a 7% “plunge.” This dilution of support won’t affect Obama’s chances in these states (which collectively cast 195 electoral votes), but if this amount of “plunge” were to happen in more marginal states, the President would be in trouble. It’s also worth noting that in 7 of the 17 states in this category, Obama’s average poll number is at 50% – dangerously close to the “re-elect” line.
Curiously, this “Obama plunge” is about the same in the “lean Obama” (light blue) states – in this category (worth 76 electoral votes), President Obama’s showing in the polls relative to 2008 has plunged from 55 to 47%. When you consider that Mitt Romney has taken an initial heavy pounding on the airwaves in these states, yet he is only 6 points behind an incumbent President, you can see that Obama has troubles on his hands, because Republicans have the resources to respond to the initial attacks from the Obama campaign.
The situation is similarly dire for President Obama in the “tossup states”: his “plunge” in these states is from 53 to 47%, and Romney is averaging 45%. Obviously, some of these states (worth 76 electoral votes) will move into the “leans Republican” category at some point.
Finally, in the states that are leaning or solidly Republican, the “Obama plunge” for states conducting polling is from 43 to 37%. Of course, these states are not likely to be contested anyway, and pollsters therefore are not likely to be doing much polling here.
Since we believe that most of those not explicitly for Obama will likely break towards Mitt Romney in the end, if we were to assume that the states where Obama is not polling at least 50% are Romney states, he (Romney) could receive up to 347 electoral votes (270 required to win). This number actually up from last week’s 321 electoral vote projection. Does this contradict our scorecard showing Obama with more than the 270 electoral votes necessary to win? Actually, no. The scorecard looks at the lead Obama (a very known quantity) has over Mitt Romney (who is not a defined quantity in voters’ minds), and using that yardstick, Obama is (barely) across the finish line. But if you look at where Obama himself stands in the polls, his poll standing in 12 states (totaling 129 electoral votes) is between 46-50%. Once voters start tuning in and/or pollsters change the way they survey voters, 46-50% is not a position where an incumbent President wants to be. Especially since we are seeing (from this analysis we did ) that Democratic enthusiasm is considerably less than it was in 2008. And it was that “one time” enthusiasm that enabled President Obama to carry states like Florida, Colorado, Iowa, and North Carolina.
Part 5: Primary Results/Upcoming Events
Primary season resumes with a fury: next Tuesday, Texas is holding its runoff on the same night Georgia is having its primary. And next Thursday, Tennessee is holding its primary. After that, 17 states will hold primaries before September 11, with Louisiana “bringing up the rear” with its primary on the same day in November as the Presidential election.