Monday, July 9, 2012

17 Weeks To Go – “Tied” in Swing States

Six months ago, on the day of the New Hampshire primary and one week after the Iowa caucus, I predicted that the unknown Republican nominee would win in November by a 282-256 margin.

There are 12 swing states, all of which were won by Barack Obama in 2008, with a total of 151 electoral votes - Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

In the other 38 states and the District of Columbia, if we assume that Indiana's 11 electoral votes and Nebraska's 2nd congressional district flip from Obama to Mitt Romney, and if both parties win the same states that they won in 2008, then Obama would lead Romney by 196 to 191 before the votes are counted in the 12 swing states above.

I think that Romney will win 91 out of the 151 electoral votes in these 12 swing states, flipping 6 states (Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin). To win the election with 270 electoral votes, he would only need 79 out of 151.

After an early bombardment of negative television ads by both parties in the battleground states, Obama is leading Romney by just 2% (47% to 45%), which is within the 4% margin of error. For all intents and purposes, the race in the 12 swing states is "tied," according to USA Today/Gallup polling of 1,200 registered voters during the last week of June.

Besides the bottom-line takeaway from Susan Page's report in USA TODAY, there are a couple of other interesting results from the polling. Even though the number of voters who change their views based on television ads is very small, it's disappointing to see that Obama is "beating" Romney with advertising. The good news is that the voters in these 12 critical states are enthusiastic about voting, and Republican enthusiasm is increasing while Democratic enthusiasm is decreasing.

More than three of four voters in the battlegrounds say they've seen campaign ads on TV over the past month. They're more likely to recall the negative ones, which have included a barrage attacking the president's stewardship of the economy and depicting Romney as a heartless corporate executive.

Only 8% acknowledge the ads changed their minds about a candidate, for better or worse, though analysts say the actual number is probably higher because some voters don't want to admit or may not even realize their views were affected. Obama leads among those voters nearly 5-to-1.

Swing-state voters are a bit more enthusiastic about voting this year than those living elsewhere, perhaps reflecting the attention they're given in TV ads and candidate visits. Nearly half of those in battleground states are extremely or very enthusiastic about voting for president this year. Just under three in 10 aren't keen about it.

Among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, 30% say they are extremely enthusiastic about voting, up 5 points from the spring.

Among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, 23% are extremely enthusiastic, a 3-point dip from the last survey.

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