I’m back

November 6, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Posted in 2012 Campaign, Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Election Day, Mitt Romney, Republican Party | 10 Comments

So I’ve been locked away in a library for 2 1/2 years finishing a premedical program at Columbia. I haven’t followed politics as closely as I used to and felt that I would be doing a disservice to readers by blogging if I wasn’t consuming news the way I had as a news producer, which was a la Garfield downing a plate of lasagna. But I have been nibbling away at some of the election news lately. And as much as the national polls show a dead heat between the Republican version of Al Gore and Barack Obama, my money is on Obama to pull this one out. Here are the two scenarios I predict Obama will get to 270 electoral votes — with and without Ohio, assuming Romney takes Florida:

Path to the White House if Obama Takes Ohio

Path to the White House if Romney takes Ohio

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  1. It’s possible to win without Ohio, but unlikely. Iowa is demographically similar to Ohio so if he loses OH, he’s likely to lose IA as well. NV and NH both have similar polling margins to OH, so if Romney’s OH win is a result of overperforming polls across the board, he’ll lose those two states as well. Colorado is almost a toss-up at this point, so if he loses Ohio it would also not bode well for him there.

    Point being – it’s technically possible to win without Ohio, but whatever factors led to him underperforming the polls there would have to be SPECIFIC to Ohio, which seems pretty unlikely. More likely is that his loss in Ohio would be the result of a more universal polling issue and he would lose most/all of those states he would need to pull out 270.

    Also apparently you posted this at 4:25 p.m. which is about 90 minutes in the future, so maybe you know something I don’t.

    • I don’t agree that Obama is likely to lose Iowa if he loses Ohio. Iowa may be demographically similar, which I take you mean to be just as “white” as Ohio, but politics and voting in Iowa is part of the culture, part of the state pride. Iowans don’t necessarily vote according to national trends or what they absorb from cable news and political ads. They are accustomed to seeing these candidates up close, shaking their hands, inviting these candidates into their homes. Plus Iowa is where Obama won the 2008 Democratic caucus which catapulted him into the national spotlight as a real contender for the presidency. I think his story there translates into a loyalty among the democratic voter base which cannot be underestimated and why he chose Iowa as the final state to campaign in, ending his last day of presidential campaigning where it all began.

      Also this blog must still be on London time. I am not blogging from the future.

      • Demographically I was more referring to the fact that it’s a midwestern state that is mostly rural with a few urban pockets. The fact that it’s overwhelmingly white probably doesn’t independently bode well for Obama, but it may well be offset by the connection to Obama that you mentioned.

        My main point is that Iowa is more similar to Ohio than other swing states like Colorado or Nevada would be, so I would expect a certain synergy between voter turnout (i.e. if Obama underperforms the polls in Ohio, he probably will do similarly in Iowa and the reasons for underperforming will be the same). Obama is actually polling about half a point better in Ohio than in Iowa – if Obama loses his entire advantage in Ohio it likely points to larger and systematic polling issue that would submarine his advantage in Iowa as well.

    • I don’t think it seems unlikely that an underperformance in Ohio is specific to Ohio just because it is a midwestern state. You must be a coastie. The urban pockets of Iowa and especially Wisconsin can be very liberal compared to the urban areas of Ohio. Back in the 40s and 50s Madison Wisconsin was crazy liberal and definitely holds onto its roots as the birthplace of modern progressivism.

      • I don’t deny that Iowa’s urban areas are liberal, but surely Cuyahoga and Franklin counties in Ohio (Cleveland and Colubms, respectively) must be comparably liberal. I’m not arguing that Iowa and Ohio are identical by any means, just that if polls are overestimating turnout in Ohio to the tune of +3% (which is the margin they collectively will have erred if Obama loses), then a similar overestimation probably exists in Iowa. Ohio also has something of an interesting distinction of being one of the few places where Obama’s 2008 advantage has barely eroded – in ’08 he won the state by 4.6% and right now his poll average is at +2.9%. On the other hand Obama won Iowa by 9.5% in ’08 and is only up by about 2.4%. Clearly the 2008 connection he had there with voters has mostly faded, and whatever goodwill has allowed him to maintain a lead is probably VERY similar to the goodwill in Ohio that has allowed him to hold on to his tenuous lead.

      • I just don’t think you can look at voter turnout this way. I disagree with the premise. Yes the urban pockets of Ohio counties are liberal but are they AS liberal as urban areas of Iowa and Wisconsin ? No. And this is where the questions about voter enthusiasm in polls are so important. In 2008 an alarming number of republicans said their vote was less a vote FOR mccain than it was a vote AGAINST obama. and republican turnout for mccain was abysmal and obama won by a landslide even though polls leading up to election day had mccain within margin of error of winning. i expect voter enthusiasm to be higher in Iowa and Wisconsin than in Ohio which is probably why the voter turnout effort is so aggressive for the obama campaign in Ohio right now. I do think your point about Iowa’s diminished support for Obama is a good one. Don’t have a retort for that one yet.

  2. I’m from Ohio and it’s not similar to Iowa. It’s not nearly as overwhelmingly rural as Iowa. It has 5 of the 50 largest metro areas in the country. It has almost three times the population of Iowa in a land area that is about 20% smaller than Iowa. They definitely both have swing state characteristics but for very different reasons. They don’t necessarily follow each other. Either way, this election was never so close as it was made out to be. This will be a big win for the President.

  3. Hey welcome back. You’ve been sorely missed this election season. What a night last night. Anyway, great to read your insight. Any chance this is a trend, or do we have to wait another 4 years?

  4. Just to wrap this up, your path without Ohio essentially came to pass. The polls were in incorrect in their sampling, where Iowa was O+2.4 vs Ohio at O+2.9 — Obama ended up winning Ohio by only 1.9% but destroyed Iowa at +5.7%. It was much closer to his 2008 margin than I think anyone anticipated. Even if the votes across the board had been reduced by 2% for Obama, the situation you mapped out would have resulted – OH and FL would have gone to Romney, but CO, NH, NV and IA would still have gone to Obama, giving him 282 electoral votes. Good call.

    • And by 282 I meant 272. #math


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