Check out these numbers:
We've been hearing for months how it's all going to come down to Ohio, and guess what? It's all going to come down to Ohio.Obama won Ohio by 5% in 2008, or by a margin of about 262,000 votes. (Keep that number in mind.) Exit polls show that there was a D+8 advantage in turnout four years ago, and Independents (about 30% of the electorate) went for Obama by eight points.
In 2004, as you probably recall, Bush narrowly defeated Kerry in Ohio by two percent, or a margin of about 119,000 votes. Exit polls showed Republicans had a five point turnout advantage, which was important because Independent voters (25% of the electorate in 2004) went for Kerry by almost 20 points. Republican turnout was almost certainly boosted by Ohio State Issue 1, a ballot measure to make it unconstitutional to perform or recognize same sex marriages in the state.
So it's fair to say that there will be no R+5 turnout this election. But then, there very likely won't be a D+8 turnout, either.
On to the polls. Romney has had the lead in exactly one poll (Rasmussen Reports, by two points) since early October. He has been tied in five others (two of which were also by Rasmussen Reports). In the polls in which he is trailing (which is most of them), the margin has been anywhere from one point to six points.
Let's take a look at the most recent poll from Marist. It has Obama leading Romney 51-45. The sample is D+9. Ridiculous.
The Columbus Dispatch has a poll showing Obama up 50-48. It has a D+3 sample size (possible). Independents favor Obama by 10 percent. That seems unlikely. Are Independent voters really more supportive of Obama now than they were in 2008?
The University of Cincinnati poll shows Obama leading 48-46. It has a D+1 sample (possible). Obama has a whopping (and difficult to believe) 14% lead among Independents.
Gravis Marketing shows Obama leading 50-49. It has a D+8 skew (not at all likely). In this poll, Independents support Romney by 12 points. Hmmm.
Quinnipiac's most recent poll in Ohio has Obama up 50-45. It has a D+9 skew (nope). Independents favor Romney by six points.
So as you can see, the polls are all over the place. They either have unrealistic skews that favor Democrats, or they have an unrealistic percentage of Independent voters supporting Obama.But we do have some actual hard data from Ohio, besides polls. Remember the number I wrote above, Obama's margin of victory in Ohio in 2008? That number is roughly 262,000 votes. Well, about 180,000 fewer Democrats have voted early in Ohio than voted early in 2008. And about 75,000 more Republicans have voted early than did in 2008. Add those numbers together, and you get a net gain of 255,000 votes for the GOP. Which pretty much wipes out Obama's margin of victory from four years ago.
If Team Romney has a strong enough Election Day ground game in Ohio, he will win. And I think he does. (Romney by less than 1%)
Total Electoral College Votes:
Romney/Ryan - 285 (30 states)
Obama/Biden - 253 (20 states plus DC)
Popular Vote: Romney/Ryan 51%, Obama/Biden 48%
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