Decision 2012 – JMCEL’s June 27 Presidential scorecard

Summary Statistics

  • President Obama job approval – last 30 days: 47-49% approve/disapprove (was 48-49% approve/disapprove)
  • Generic Congressional Vote – last 30 days: 44-42% Republican (was 44-42% 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)

Projections (based on average of last 30 days of polling where states have held their primaries)

US Senate: 50 Democrats, 46 Republicans, 1 Independent, 3 Tossups (was 51-45 Democrat in last scorecard)

  • Projected Republican gains in Nebraska and Virginia
  • Republican held seats in Indiana and Nevada are too close to call
  • Democratic held seat in Montana too close to call
  • Republican held seat in Maine has an Independent in the race who is polling over 50%
  • (Note: it’s relatively early in the primary season – 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, 19 Democrats, 1 Independent (was 30-19 Republican in last scorecard)

  • Projected Republican gain in North Carolina
  • (Note: it’s relatively early in the primary season – 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).


How we call a state – President, Governor, Senate

We believe that what matters most in the 2012 Presidential race (more than the margin by which President Obama leads (or trails) Mitt Romney in any poll) is the actual voter percentage President Obama is receiving, for the simple reason that 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. For each state, we have then taken the average of that state’s poll results. In the process of doing so, we have used 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)


Presidential Scorecard (270 electoral votes required to win): Obama 241, Romney 191, Undecided 90 (prior scorecard: 257-191 Obama)

Presidential election as of June 27








Senate Races as of June 27








Governors Races as of June 27








Since our last “scorecard”, we have made three changes to our projections: (1) New Hampshire was “Solid Democratic” and is now “Lean Democratic”, (2) Oregon was “Lean Democratic” but is now “Solid Democratic”, and (3) Michigan was “Lean Democratic” but is now “Tossup”.

Technically, Obama has a 48-44% lead in Michigan based on the last 30 days of polling (which would make Michigan a “leans Democratic” state) until you realize that a single PPP poll taken in late May (and within the 30 day window) showed Obama with a 53-39% lead. No other poll since then shows a similar result, and if you remove this one poll (which would have fallen off a week from now, anyway), Obama’s average lead becomes 46-45%.

While on the surface, it looks like President Obama has an “electoral fortress” of states in the Pacific Rim, the Midwest, and the Northeast, the detailed data is not very encouraging for him if you believe that the vast majority of those who are “undecided” will vote for Romney in the end. In fact, if you look at the poll numbers for those explicitly supporting the President, there has been a fairly consistent “Obama plunge” relative to his 2008 showing.

More specifically, the “solid Obama” (dark blue) states that have conducted polling show that Obama’s average share of the vote relative to 2008 has dropped from 60 to 53% – a 7% “plunge.” Furthermore, in three of the states in this category, President Obama is polling at or below 50%. While he is likely to carry nearly every one of these states (which in the aggregate are worth 201 electoral votes), an Obama plunge of 7% in his strongholds is likely to be replicated in other states, and in more marginal states where he got less than 57% of the vote, a 7 point plunge will cost him that state’s electoral votes.

In fact, this is the dynamic in the “lean Obama” (light blue) states that have conducted polling. In these states, Obama’s share of the vote relative to 2008 has dropped from 55 to 48% – a 7% “plunge.” Furthermore, President Obama’s showing in these states (Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin) is in the 46-48% range. Given this showing, Obama can’t be confident of getting all of the 40 electoral votes from these states.

Amazingly, this 7 point “Obama plunge” shows up again in the “Tossup” states: his share of the vote relative to 2008 drops from 53 to 46%, and it is in these states (Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia) that the President can ill afford to lose, as they collectively cast 106 electoral votes. It is in these states where the Presidential election will be decided. Unfortunately for President Obama, his numbers are in the 45-48% range, and unlike the “lean Obama” states, Mitt Romney is running closely behind – before voters have really begun to tune in to the race.

In the states that are leaning or solidly Republican, the “Obama plunge” for states conducting polling is from 44 to 39%. Of course, these states are not likely to be contested anyway, and pollsters are not likely to be doing much polling here.

Given our belief that those not explicitly for Obama are likely to break towards the Republicans in the end, if we were to look at the states where Obama is not polling at 50% (or above) as Romney states, he (Romney) could receive up to 341 electoral votes (270 required to win).


Primary Results/Upcoming Events

Four states held primaries last night, which brings the total to 30 primaries. The results were mixed: Utah Republican Orrin Hatch (unlike fellow 1977 freshman Republican Richard Lugar) recognized early on that he would receive a stiff primary challenge, and he fought back aggressively to win his primary with 2/3 of the vote. Over in New York, 42 year Democratic incumbent Charles Rangel survived his primary 44-41%.

However, Republican primary voters continue to make its incumbents sweat, as another incumbent (11 year incumbent John Sullivan from Oklahoma) was defeated last night – Sullivan himself confessed that he hadn’t paid enough attention to his district. There were certainly be more casualties from the 20 states which have not held their primaries, as reapportionment threw 10 Congressmen into the same district. This alone guarantees five more incumbent defeats in primaries. Even if no more incumbents lose, the casualty from this election season will be at least 14 incumbents, which is nearly as high as it was in the anti-incumbent year of 1992, when 15 incumbents were defeated in their primaries.

At the state level, the 2012 election will go into autopilot mode this month: the next primaries are on July 31, when Georgia holds its primary, and Texas holds its runoff. After that, 18 more states will hold their primaries in rapid fire succession between August and early September. The last state to hold its primaries (Louisiana) will do so on the same day that voters in all 50 states will be choosing their President.