Fresh Polls!

New NBC/Marist/WSJ polls show the President up by 8 in Ohio, 51 to 43%.  His lead among women is 56 to 39%.

Florida and Virginia are much closer.

In Florida, Obama is up by only one, 47 to 46%.

In Virginia, Obama is up by only two, 48 to 46%.

Remember that Mitt really has to win Florida, while Obama has other paths to 270.

Mitt Saves Obama Cost of Copywriters

The Obama campaign released an ad today in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Virginia whose script is just Mitt from his “47% speech,” with no editorializing or additional comments or counter arguments.  Because, really, what more do you have to say or try to spin?

You know you’re screwing yourself when your opponents’ ads are just lifted verbatim from your speeches.

Mitt Flunking Out of Electoral College

From “Mitt Romney needs poll vault to win,” Alexander Burns and Emily Schultheis, Politico:

Even if Romney were to win Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Iowa, Colorado and New Hampshire — all states Obama won in 2008 — the Republican would still be three electoral votes short of victory.

And right now, Romney is not leading in many of those states, leaving him well short of the threshold he needs to clear and under urgent pressure to reshuffle the race’s dynamics.

“The bottom line is, you’d rather be in Obama’s shoes than Romney’s. He has a lead in the battleground states and he probably has to carry fewer of them,” said Marist College pollster Lee Miringoff, who conducts swing-state polls for NBC and the Wall Street Journal.

The problem for Romney, Miringoff said, is that Romney has to be “drawing an inside straight” in the state-by-state numbers in order to cross the 270-vote threshold.

Nate Silver Explains It All

From “How to Solve the Swing-State Puzzle,” Nate Silver, NYT:

Using my FiveThirtyEight model, I’ve determined — through about 25,000 simulations that I run each day — which states could put either candidate over the top. Crucially, the model takes into account not only how states poll relative to national trends but also to one another. Demographically similar states can rise and fall together. If Romney makes gains in Wisconsin, for example, he will probably also do so in neighboring Minnesota.

Perhaps more important, the program evaluates the order in which the states might line up. Obama could win North Carolina, where the polls show a competitive race, but he’s unlikely to do so without already having won Ohio, Florida and Virginia, where the demographics are slightly more favorable to him. Some combination of those states would probably get him to 270 electoral votes anyway. By that point, North Carolina would be redundant.

Which states, then, are the most strategically important? The answer exists along a spectrum rather than in absolutes. Ten states could play an important role in the electoral calculus. I have listed them below, in four groups, along with the chance that each state will be the one that determines the next president.

The Big Two: Ohio (32 percent chance of determining the Electoral College winner) and Florida (20 percent).

The auto industry’s recovery has helped drop Ohio’s unemployment rate from 8.6 percent when he took office to 7.2 percent now, making it one state where voters really are better off than they were four years ago.

Florida’s economic recovery has not been as robust, but Obama may be buoyed by long-term demographic factors there. The G.O.P. has long been buffered by Cuban-Americans, a historically right-leaning group, who made up a majority of the state’s Hispanic electorate. Now not only are non-Cuban Hispanics growing in the electorate, but the Cuban population is increasingly divided along generational lines, with younger voters leaning heavily left.

The New Breed: Virginia (9 percent), Colorado (9 percent) and Nevada (5 percent).

In these states, which Obama carried in 2008 but Kerry and Gore lost, swift demographic changes have become manifest. Obama won Nevada — which now resembles a West Coast state to some degree — by an unexpectedly large margin, 12 percentage points, in 2008. And despite a wretched economy there, he has led in every state poll conducted this year.

The polling has been more inconsistent in Colorado and Virginia.

In the end, Obama might simply conclude that Florida or Ohio — and not Colorado and Virginia — represents his path of least resistance. If the president can win either Florida’s 29 electoral votes, or Ohio’s 18 plus Nevada’s 6, then Romney’s shot at 270 will become vanishingly thin, and it won’t matter how Virginia and Colorado turn out.

Primary Purple: Iowa (6 percent) and New Hampshire (3 percent).

The voters in Iowa and New Hampshire are almost entirely white and mostly rural — factors that ordinarily favor Republicans. But they are also highly educated, which gives Democrats a chance. … [I]t’s worth remembering that if Al Gore had won New Hampshire in 2000, he wouldn’t have even needed Florida.

The Blue Wall: Wisconsin (9 percent), Pennsylvania (5 percent), and Michigan (1 percent).

In Michigan, Romney’s opposition to the auto bailout may be too much of an albatross. In Pennsylvania, though, the issue may be that while the polls are close, they are also hard to move; each party has its respective constituencies, and there may be few true undecided voters left.

My calculations suggest that, despite Romney’s deficit, the upside of his winning Pennsylvania is so great that he might want to take a chance. It’s Obama’s closest equivalent to a must-win state, and the combination of losing Pennsylvania and Ohio would essentially ensure his defeat. Unfortunately for Romney, it may be too late to adopt that strategy, as Obama has come close to clinching a majority of the state’s electorate in recent surveys.

Wisconsin, however, is the state that Romney must contest. If Romney can’t overtake him in Wisconsin, considering his problems in Ohio and Florida, he’ll leave Obama with too many paths to 270, and himself with too few.

The most plausible range of outcomes runs from Obama losing the election by about two percentage points, slightly better than John Kerry did, to his winning it by perhaps six or seven, slightly worse than his margin from four years ago. Given where the election is being contested, however, the most likely outcome is that Obama wins enough tipping-point states to eke out a victory.

Heading emphasis in original; text emphasis added.

Suburban Women Will Save Us

From “Romney RIP — not so fast,” Glenn Thrush and Byron Tau, Politico:

Mitt Romney’s campaign seems to be collapsing like a cheap card table, but one top Democrat close to President Barack Obama had a curt warning for allies who were declaring the election all but over on Tuesday.

It ain’t over, he said, until Karl Rove sings.

“I’ll relax when Karl Rove wakes up one morning and realizes that Mitt Romney can’t win the White House, and he needs to throw all his money at other races,” the adviser told POLITICO….

“Until Rove does that, we are going to get outpaced by two to one, at least, by these super PACs. Add a couple of good debates for Romney, and the fact that he’s doing well in North Carolina, and [Paul] Ryan’s put Wisconsin in play — there’s your tight race.”

“Everybody always wonders what famous people are like behind closed doors. They wonder about Mitt Romney more than most,” said Democratic strategist Paul Begala, who said the Romney campaign has worked hard to “humanize” the candidate.

“This destroys all that,” Begala said.  “he comes across as what he is: an arrogant elitist.”

Focus groups conducted by the Obama campaign and allied groups are showing a growing movement away from Romney among suburban women, the key swing demographic in battleground states, such as Ohio, Florida and Virginia.  The words that keep cropping up…are “not sympathetic” and “doesn’t care” — a damaging tend for a Republican who needs to win over economically strapped independents.

Emphasis added.

O Up in New Swing State Polls

New NBC/WSJ/Marist polls among likely voters show the President leading Mitt in Ohio by 7 points (50 to 43) and in Florida and Virginia by 5 points (49-44).

That presumes, of course, that people qualified to vote are allowed to do so.  You have to figure that voter suppression is Plan B for the GOP.  They’ve been working hard on this since 2010.

Welcome Wisconsin!

I posted last week that only eight states were having a presidential election — New Hampshire, North Carolina, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Ohio, Virginia, and Nevada.

Well, Wisconsin, come on down!

If Mitt’s now buying ads there, I’ll add all you Badgers to the party.

That said, I’m personally not sure how competitive Wisconsin is.

It hasn’t gone GOP in a presidential election since 1984, when everybody but Minnesota (Mondale’s home state) voted for Reagan.

As for Scott Walker’s surviving the recall, exit polls showed that many voters weren’t voting for Walker as much as they were voting against the recall itself, not thinking it fair to Walker, however they felt about him and his performance.  They felt he’d been elected to a term, and short of committing a felony or some major scandal, he was entitled to complete that term.  I don’t think you can draw a straight line between Walker’s victory and Romney/Ryan carrying the state.

As for Paul Ryan’s pushing his home state into the Mitt column, I’m not buying that either.  Much is made of the fact that Ryan’s congressional district isn’t all that conservative, yet it’s voted for him.  But it’s one thing for locals who know him and his family (he’s fifth generation in the community) and like them to make him one of 435 representatives and a Congress of 535.  They may believe that even if he’s to their right on some issues, he won’t have that much power.  And he was very effective at bringing stimulus money home to his district, even though he opposed the stimulus!  It’s another thing for the whole state to put him and Romney in the White House.  Then you vote overall policy direction more than whether you think Ryan’s a nice guy.

Quote of the Day

“No question. The Romney campaign has doubled down. All in on the race/lazy/dependency groove from here on out. No going back.

“In private they’re all but bragging about it — specifically their run of welfare-centric commercials which they’re running at a red hot clip in swing states all across the country. It’s working, they say. The fact-checkers can go screw themselves.”

Josh Marshall, “Doubling Down,” Talking Points Memo

Shameful?  Yes.  Surprising?  Pas de tout, as Mitt would have said during his missionary days.