Decision 2012 – JMCEL’s October 25 Presidential scorecard

Part 1: Summary Statistics (last 7 days)

Obama vs Romney: 48-47% Romney (was 48-47% Romney)

President Obama job approval: 49-48% approve/disapprove (was 49-48% approve/disapprove)

Generic Congressional Vote: 45-44% Republican (was 45-44% Democratic)

US Senate Projections: 48 Democrats, 47 Republicans, 1 Independent, 4 Tossups (was 48-47-1 Democrat)

Governor’s Race Projections: 30 Republicans, 16 Democrats, 1 Independent, 3 Tossups (was 30-16-1 Republican)


Part 2: Presidential Scorecard (270 electoral votes required to win): Obama 237, Romney 206, Undecided 95 (prior scorecard: 237-206 Obama)

(Note: blue = safe Democratic, light blue = leans Democratic, yellow = tossup, light red = leans Republicans, red =solid Republican)

Presidential Election as of October 25








Senate Election as of October 25








Gubernatorial Election as of October 25








At this point, the election has reached a sort of equilibrium – for the first time, we are not making any changes to our scorecard. However, the lack of (significant) movement should not be mistaken for voter disinterest. All 50 states are accepting absentee ballots, and early voting is underway in 27 out of 30 states offering it (Louisiana started early voting two days ago). Thus far, the official number of votes that have been cast is officially (as this article is being written) 7.7 million – a whopping increase of 3 million in just two days. And given the time delay for statistics to be reported, it’s not a stretch to assume that over 9 million have voted so far.


Part 3: What does it take for Romney to win?

We would like to independently analyze the Presidential election by using actual polling data from 2008 to provide the proper context for what we are seeing now. In other words, the last 7 days of polling at the statewide level don’t mean much in isolation unless you compare it against polling from the last week of the 2008 campaign. When that analysis is performed, here’s what we see:

Romney analysis








If we take the polls in 2008 and 2012 at face value, it is apparent that President Obama has a 237-206 electoral vote lead. However, inclusion of 2008 polling data shows that he is running behind his 2008 poll showings by enough of a margin that we do not believe that this point that he could/would ultimately carry Florida. In Electoral College terms, that means a 237-206 lead for Obama becomes a 237-235 Obama electoral vote plurality.

To get to 270 electoral votes, there are 5 states too close to call where Romney needs 163K more votes (or 82K Obama votes need to be converted). To illustrate how tight the race is right now, the total vote cast in 2008 in those 5 states (Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Virginia) was 14 million. The election still, however, is all about Romney’s carrying Ohio, where he is (like last week) 71K votes away from victory, and the polls remain at 48-46% Obama. Depending on what you believe with regards to Democratic intensity (more on that later) and/or how the undecideds will break, we’re either talking about a 52% Romney victory or a 51% Obama victory.

Part 4: Early Voting Updates (as of October 25)

As this article is being written, early voting totals are rapidly changing, and only Florida, Maryland, and Oklahoma have not started their early voting. So what are we seeing so far?

North Carolina: Since early voting started a week ago, the voter counts have been rapidly changing. As this article is being written, 991K have early voted (to put this number in perspective, that is 23% of those who voted in 2008). While Democrats have gotten off to a huge head start (37% of those early voting on the first day were black in a state where 22% of the registered voters are black), Republicans have begun to play catch up, however, as yesterday’s in person voters were 28% black. Overall, the racial breakdown of early/voters is 65/30% white/black and 51/31% Democrat/Republican (the 2008 early/absentee voters were 67-29% white/black and 54/28% Democrat/Republican).

Does this mean Obama might carry North Carolina again? Not necessarily: the average of recent polling still shows a 51-47% Romney lead, and even in 2008, McCain carried the Election Day vote 57-41% (the early vote went for Obama 56-44%). But the Democrats’ initial success means that they’re likely to keep the state close enough to cause the Romney camp some discomfort.

Iowa: Iowa has traditionally had a strong Democratic early vote. In fact, McCain carried the state 50-48% if you were to look only at Election Day voters; early voters supported Obama 60-38%. This time, Democrats got off to a strong start (nearly 70% of the first day’s voters were Democrats). This advantage has continually eroded over time, and a 48-31% Democratic lead from a week ago is now 46-32% Democratic, and 400K early votes have been cast so far. In other words, the partisan breakdown is now 2% more Republican than the 2008 early voters (who were 46-29% Democratic). Furthermore, Republicans (like with North Carolina) tend to vote more on Election Day. The big question for the Republicans is if they can keep diluting the initial advantage Democrats had among early voters.

Ohio: While meaningful results remain tough to come by (absentee/early voting data is compiled at the county level, and Ohio has 88 counties), we do know that 907K early votes have been cast. In counties that voted Democratic in 2008 and 2010, 18% of the 2008 vote has already been cast. That figure is 15% in Republican counties and 14% in “swing” counties. It’s also worth noting, however, that data in predominately Democratic Cleveland and Columbus is updated on a daily basis, while in many Republican counties, we are lucky to get weekly updates. Therefore, we think it’s more accurate to say that Democrats have been aggressive getting their vote out, but their advantage is not an overwhelming one and it has somewhat narrowed since last week.

Florida: Currently, only absentee ballots are being accepted (in person early voting starts Saturday). We know so far that 1.1 million absentee voters (the first state to reach 1 million, incidentally) have been cast, and that vote is 45-39% Republican by voter registration (statewide voter registration is 41-37% Democratic). This figure is nearly identical to the Republican voter registration edge from last week’s absentees. While the media has made much of the fact that Republicans had a larger voter registration edge with absentee voters in 2008, it’s also true that the Obama campaign is encouraging more of its supporters to vote by mail this time, instead of voting “in person.” We’ll have a better assessment once in person early voting starts.

Nevada: While Democrats jumped into an initial lead with early voting (which started last Saturday), what was a 48-36% Democratic advantage has whittled down to 46-37% Democratic, and 265K early votes have been cast.

Colorado: In person early voting started three days ago, and Republicans have an early 39-37% lead (current voter registration is 32-32% Republican), with 326K early votes cast..

Looking ahead, the only state remaining with regards to early voting after Saturday is Oklahoma, which commences the Friday before the election. The election is being decided right now.