I was curious what actually looking at recent polls in the battleground states would show. I spend a fair amount of time reading Nate Silver’s 548 site, as I did four years ago. He’s built a model that incorporates polling data and some economic data, and attempts to project from present conditions to electoral college and popular vote results. Silver explains the components of his model, and that he’s developed it using Bayesian statistics, but you can’t really tell what is going on under the hood. He’s consistently shown Obama ahead, and recently has shown that Romney’s brief surge (or the polls’ reversion to the mean, you pick) has ceased and things have reached some sort of plateau: A very close race with Obama slightly ahead.
So I looked at some of the state polls. 41 states and the District of Columbia seem to me to be locked down: They’re pretty certain to go to either Romney or Obama unless something (completely unpredictable) happens in the next week or so and makes this a landslide.
Of the states that seem in play, in Florida, Romney has lead in three (Rassmusen, Susquehana, Angus Reid) and Obama in two (Grove, Gravis Marketing) and there’s one tie (Mellman). That is pretty close to toss up level, but I’ll give that to Romney.
In Wisconsin Obama has lead in every poll in Wisconsin since mid-August except one poll yesterday, where Rasmussen (which leans Republican) shows a tie. That suggests an Obama win there.
Give Romney North Carolina, although in the last week there’s been a tied poll and the other three are split 2 to Romney and 1 to Obama.
At that point, the electoral college vote is Obama 247 and Romney 235, with 56 votes in play. Obama needs 23 of them and Romney needs 35 of them.
That leaves Colorado (9 votes) , Iowa (6 votes), Nevada (6 votes) , New Hampshire (4 votes), Ohio (18 votes), and Virginia (13 votes).
It seems clear from the polls that Obama has the advantage in Colorado, Ohio, and Nevada, which would give him 33 votes and a clear electoral win. If Obama gets Ohio, Romney has to take away both Colorado and Nevada, plus both Virginia and Iowa, to win. If Romney takes Ohio, Obama is still short 8 votes with Colorado and Nevada.
Here’s why it seems Obama has the advantage in Colorado, Ohio, and Nevada.