State Of The Race: It Is Tightening Up

Ken AshfordElection 2012, PollsLeave a Comment

Obama's sub-par performance is taking its toll in the polls.  Most national polls still show Obama still ahead, but the margin is much smaller now.
But as we all know, national polls mean nothing.  It's the state polls.  Especially those of the swing states.  And there, it is tightening as well.  Over at HuffPo, their model still estimates Obama's lead at 2.5 percentage points or better (the threshold used to distinguish "tossup" states from the others on the Election Dashboard map) in Wisconsin, Iowa, Nevada and another 20 states accounting for 263 electoral votes, just seven shy of the 270 needed to win. The model now shows Romney leading by 2.5 points or better in North Carolina and 23 other states accounting for 206 electoral votes.
Of the four states that hang in the balance, Obama's 2.4 percentage point lead remains more statistically meaningful than the other three states currently classified as "tossups." The model rates the probability that Obama still leads in Ohio, if all votes were cast today, at 91 percent.

This statistical confidence on Obama's lead — essentially another way of describing the "margin of error" for the model's estimates — is smaller for Colorado, just 71 percent. But the model's best guess is that both states would tip to Obama if all votes were cast today, giving him a total of 290 electoral votes. The two remaining tossup states, Virginia and Florida, would tip to Romney, for a total of 248 electoral votes.

Nate Silver, best predictor of the 2008 outcome, is finding the same general trends, although his Nov 8 forecast has Obama winning 307.6 electoral votes to Romney's 230.4.  Put another way, he says Obama has a 78.4% change of winning.  Yes, that's down 6.7% from the end of last month, but it's still "ahead" no matter how you look at it.
UPDATE:  Then again…

In the first national poll to be conducted entirely after the opening presidential debate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney now leads President Barack Obama by 4 points.

The poll, conducted by Pew Research Center from Thursday through Sunday and released on Monday, shows Romney leading Obama among likely voters nationwide, 49 percent to 45 percent. That’s a stark contrast from Pew’s mid-September poll after both parties’ conventions, which showed Obama up 8 points among likely voters.