Thursday, December 6, 2012

Nine to Twelve Battleground States – Election Day Projections: Obama 303 Electoral Votes

The map of Election Day displays the final state-level polls on Election Day in twelve toss-up states – nine original and three additions (Pennsylvania, Michigan and Minnesota) selected by Romney as he realized his long odds in Ohio and other states essential to get to 270 electoral votes.

1.  The final Election Day projection was for an Obama victory, with 303 electoral votes.  He won 332.
  • The final polls showed Obama winning 10 of the 12 toss-up states.  He won 11.
  • North Carolina went for Romney by 3 points and the final polling average gave him a 3-point lead.  Florida’s polls, which had Romney mistakenly up by 2 points, went to Obama in a long count by 1 point.
  • Colorado’s final polls had Obama up 2 points and he won by 5 points.
2.  Romney’s campaign polling operation and a few Republican and Republican-leaning pundits insisted that the state-level polls were wrong.  Their in-house polls allegedly showed Romney leading in sufficient states to win the Electoral College, including Virginia, Ohio, Iowa and Colorado.
  • The Republican argument was that the public polls were using a 2008 turnout model, which reflect the “hope and change” sweep of Obama, but that this turnout would be more like 2004 when G.W. Bush retained office.  Namely, lower levels of Hispanic and youth vote showing up. They also argued they had final momentum and were winning the independent vote.
3.  Virginia was the first major battleground state to report results on Election Night, and it went for Obama by 3 points.  It has swung back and forth in the polls the last few weeks, but had Obama up 1 point on Election Day.
  • At that point, the long Election Night assumption was over because without Virginia, a state Romney’s people said he would win, he had no path to 270 electoral votes.
  • With the fall of Virginia, Romney’s in-house pollsters and pundit advocates were shown to be wrong.  The Obama core turnout was showing up, and there was no secret Romney surge.
  • Ohio was the final battleground between the public pollsters and the Republican pundits.  Karl Rove was so committed to the alternative view, he disrupted the Fox election night newscast arguing that the Ohio projection awarding the state to Obama was premature and likely wrong.  Obama won it by 3 points.
4.  Obama’s campaign developed its battleground strategy in 2011 and the 9 states he selected, plus Pennsylvania, were indeed the ten closest states.
  • The bulk of the President’s visits and advertising were aimed at the 9 targeted states.  The approach worked.  Even as Romney gained a lead in national polls, Obama never lost his lead in state-level polls and acquired a super majority of electoral votes.
5.  Democrats, since President Clinton’s 1992 and 1996 victories, have built a base of reliable Democratic voting states with a combined electoral vote of about 220, whereas the Republican base has contracted to about 190.  Hence, G.W. Bush’s electoral vote victory was a very modest 271 in 2000 and 286 in 2004.  Obama won 365 in 2008 and 336 this year.

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