Decision 2012 – JMCEL’s July 3 Presidential scorecard

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: 43-42% 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)


Part 2: 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 50-46 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: 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: 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 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)


Part 4: Presidential Scorecard (270 electoral votes required to win): Obama 227, Romney 191, Undecided 120 (prior scorecard: 241-191 Obama)

Presidential election as of July 3








Senate races as of July 3








Governors races as of July 3








Since our last “scorecard”, we have made two changes to our projections: (1) New Hampshire was “Lean Democratic” and is now “Tossup”, and (2) Wisconsin was “Lean Democratic” and is now “Tossup.”

With the 4th of July holiday looming, it’s been a relatively quiet week with regards to the state by state polling, although the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the core of Obamacare last Thursday will likely set the tone for the rest of the Presidential contest. Within the next week, we should see how this “game changer” plays itself out with voters.

Overall, this has been a dismal month for President Obama (at the end of May, the electoral vote count was 273-181 in his favor), although Romney has not yet seen a significant uptick in his numbers. Really, we are not expecting much movement in Romney’s direction until undecided voters can assess him when he gives his acceptance speech at the Republican convention in late August, although the way the Romney campaign handles its messaging in the wake of the the Supreme Court’s ruling on Obamacare will be the “wildcard” for the duration of the race.

As we head into the middle of summer, Obama has a weakened but formidable electoral base in the Northeast, New England, and the Pacific Rim. The Midwest is shaping up to be a battleground, with substantial Obama leads only in Minnesota and (we assume: there has not yet been any polling) Illinois.

If, however, you believe that the bulk of the undecided vote is really a “hidden” Romney vote, the detailed data is not as encouraging for the President. Polling data has shown a relatively consistent “Obama plunge” compared to his 2008 showing, which we will now examine.

In the “solid Obama” (dark blue) states that have conducted polling, Obama’s average share of the vote relative to 2008 has dropped from 60 to 54% – a 6% “plunge.” Furthermore, in three of the states in this category, President Obama is polling at or below 50%. Granted, the states in this category are likely to go nearly unanimously for President Obama (and give him 201 electoral votes in the aggregate), but a 6% plunge matters in more marginal states, as we will shortly discover.

This “Obama plunge” shows up again in the “lean Obama” (light blue) states that have conducted polling: in these states (worth 26 electoral votes), Obama’s share of the vote relative to 2008 has dropped from 55 to 47% – an 8% “plunge.” Unless President Obama can get his poll numbers up, he is in real trouble in these states: his “lead” obscures the fact that 10-16% of the voters are undecided.

Where the “Obama plunge” really should concern the President is in the “Tossup” states: his share of the vote relative to 2008 has dropped from 53 to 46%. Furthermore, Romney’s average in these states is 45%, which means that as undecideds (we assume) break for Romney, President Obama will be put in an unfavorable position in all of these states. This is where the election will be decided: there are nine states currently in this category (Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin) that collectively are worth 120 electoral votes.

Finally, in the states that are leaning or solidly Republican, the “Obama plunge” for states conducting polling is from 43 to 38%. Of course, these states are not likely to be contested anyway, and pollsters therefore are not likely to be doing much polling here.

Given our belief that those not explicitly for Obama are likely to 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 341 electoral votes (270 required to win).


Part 5: Primary Results/Upcoming Events

July will be the “calm before the storm”, so to speak: the only primary election will be on July 31, when Georgia holds its primary (Texas is conducting its runoff on the same day). After that, there will be a “sprint to the finish”, as 18 states 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.