Morning Briefing: October 9th, 2012
By Steve Deace
28 Days To Go
In our last update on the metrics of the 2012 campaign when Election Day was 50 days away, we said the next potential momentum swing would come in the days following the crucial first presidential debate.
We turned out to be prescient, because that is exactly what has happened in the wake of Mitt Romney’s nationally-televised woodshed beating of President Obama in Denver last Wednesday. For the first time in this campaign Democrats are demoralized. For the first time since the first news cycles following Congressman Paul Ryan’s placement on Romney’s ticket, Republicans are energized.
A Pew Research Poll on Monday provided further reinforcement of that anecdotal sentiment, with Pew putting Romney up by four points in a plus-3 Republican polling sample. Why was Pew’s polling sample weighted towards Republicans? For the same reason previous mainstream media polls were weighted towards Democrats. Pollsters can only poll who responds to their inquiries, and the side that is more energized responds more often. Right now, that side is the Republicans.
How much has the race swung since our last update?
With 50 days to go, Obama was up by 3 points over Romney in the Real Clear Politics polling average, and actually doing worse than John McCain was doing at that point in the race four years ago. However, the RCP polling average now has the race a virtual tie, and now Obama is almost five points behind where he stood at this point in the 2008 campaign.
I have been forecasting since January that a Romney-Obama general election campaign sets up as a virtual replay of the 2004 Bush-Kerry contest, because Romney’s candidate profile is virtually the same as Kerry’s was then and Bush’s numbers were similarly iffy for re-election as are Obama’s this year. Granted, the Obama economy in 2012 is worse than the Bush economy in 2004, but the unpopularity of the Iraq War in 2004 makes up the difference.
Again, so far we’ve turned out to be prescient. If you look at the trend line to this race up until this point, it turns out it’s almost an exact replica of 2004. Just as Bush did in 2004, Obama got a stronger post-convention bounce than his challenger. Just as Bush in 2004, Obama was clearly the frontrunner in the RCP polling average heading into the first debate. Just as Bush in 2004, Obama was clearly bested in the first debate and that caused a tremor in the polls. In 2004 that led to a race that was razor thin until the very end. If that comparative trend holds in 2012, then it will be up to Romney to win the key battleground state that Kerry could not win to defeat an incumbent president—Ohio. Just like 2004, that is the benchmark state of this election, too. No Republican has ever won the White House without winning Ohio, and neither will Romney.
Without Ohio, Romney would need to win Colorado, Iowa, Florida, Nevada, Virginia, and Wisconsin (or lose Virginia or Wisconsin and replace it with New Hampshire) to get the necessary 270 votes in the Electoral College it takes to win the presidency. No Republican has managed that feat since Ronald Reagan’s historic re-election landslide in 1984.
By now many of you know I like to follow the action at Intrade, which is the online capitol for the world’s best speculators wagering on the outcome of future events. On September 18th, Obama was at 68% to win the election on Intrade. The day before the debate in Denver, Obama’s odds on Intrade rose to 75%. This morning Obama is at about 63% on Intrade, and Obama is still a heavy favorite in all the crucial swing states according to Intrade. It appears the speculators market believes last week’s debate essentially put the race back where it was before Obama’s post-convention bounce. In other words close, but the Electoral College map still favors the president.
Meanwhile, the news on Intrade is worse for GOP hopes to capture the U.S. Senate. In August, Intrade gave the Republicans a 60% chance of capturing the U.S. Senate. In our last update, those odds dropped to about 38%. Now Intrade gives the Democrats a 60% chance retaining a majority in the U.S. Senate. Keep in mind a 50-50 tie in the Senate, which is quite possible, gives the vice president the chance to break the logjam. However, Intrade speculators do continue to heavily favor the Republicans’ retaining control of the House of Representatives, giving the GOP an 88% chance of returning as the majority after all the votes are counted November 6th.
We’ll do our final check on the metrics of Campaign 2012 on October 30th after all the debates are concluded. The next debate on the calendar is Thursday’s vice presidential tussle between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan. Despite the hype, it’s unlikely that event will have any impact on the outcome come November. The only memorable vice presidential debate was when Lloyd Bentsen lobotomized Dan Quayle in 1988, and George H.W. Bush still rolled on Election Day.
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