Swing State Pres

Monday, June 11, 2012

Watch the Dashboard (June 11, 2012)

I alert you to the unveiling of "The Dashboard" just to the right, a set of indicators on my four key elections measures: the Latest Polling, the Charisma Factor, the Swing States, and, of course, the Obameter!   Basically, as you can see at a glance, the race continues to be very even, with Obama still ahead in charisma and swing states, though Romney has inched ahead on the Obameter and in the latest polling. 

Major Election News

The big election news of the last week was the Wisconsin gubernatorial recall election, in which Republican Scott Walker became the first governor to ever survive a recall.  Already a Tea Party darling, by winning Governor Walker doubtless ensured a future of either presidential aspirations or a starring role on Fox News, or even both.  Based on Mike Huckabee's and Sarah Palin's trajectories, the latter may be preferred.  (It is certainly more lucrative in the short-term.)

The post-election chatter is that this makes Wisconsin very vulnerable for Obama. Wisconsin already was a swing state, one that has gone Democrat the last three elections, and by +14 for Obama in 2008.  I see no evidence that the Walker outcome will push Wisconsin into the red in November.  First, Walker outspent his opponent by roughly 10:1 ($40 million to $4 million) and most of that money came from out of state.  There is no way Romney will outspend Obama by that amount, if at all.  Second, Walker won 53/46, but exit polling indicated that 17% of his supporters believe they will vote for Obama in November.  If you flipped those 9 points (17% of 53%), that turns the November into 55/44 for Obama.  Finally, polling done the day after the recall vote showed Obama still up +5, which is the identical margin to pre-election polling for the month of May.

The two camps each tried to spin minor gaffes into major stories and, in my view, neither gaffe will have a long life.  Obama's claim that "the private sector is doing fine" was silly and essentially retracted by Axelrod and seems to be over.  Romney's claim that Obama is not getting "the message of Wisconsin" because "he {Obama} wants to hire more firefighters, police and teachers," was certainly an unfortunate way to make his central pitch (that the government spends too much).  But it does not really reinforce an essential truth about Romney (like his various elitist gaffes) and therefore will not last long either.

The Dashboard

Here's the summary:  The Dashboard confirms the closeness of the race.  The Obameter indicates the race's momentum has moved slightly toward Romney but with no shake-up 'Events" as yet to propel it one way or the other.  The Latest Polling is a dead heat also slightly favoring Romney, following the Obameter.  But Obama still has a narrow "Charisma" lead, important historically in close races.  And the swing state picture – remember, electoral votes win elections, not national popular votes – continues to favor Obama.

The Obameter:

An up tick in the stock market, lower gas prices and a slight drop in Romney's favorability rating all more than offset the slight up tick in the unemployment rate, thus pushing the Obameter back to the middle, from -7 last week to -2 as of today. 

OBAMETER








Baseline







Dec
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
5-Jun
10-Jun
Unemployment Rate (beginning)
8.7
8.3
8.3
8.2
8.1
8.2
8.2
Consumer Confidence (end)
65.0
70.8
69.5
68.7
64.9
64.9
64.9
Price of Gas (average for month)
3.32
3.64
3.91
3.96
3.79
3.79
3.67
Dow-Jones (average for month)
    12,076
    12,889
    13,084
    13,031
    12,722
    12,119
      12,296
Romney Favorability (average)
38.0
35.8
36.8
36.6
45.2
45.2
44.0
"Events"
0
0
0
0
0
0
0








Unemployment Rate (beginning)
8.7
4
4
5
6
5
5
Consumer Confidence (end)
65
6
5
4
0
0
0
Price of Gas (average for month)
3.32
-3
-6
-6
-5
-5
-4
Dow-Jones (average for month)
    12,076
8
10
10
6
0
2
Romney Favorability (average)
38
2
1
1
-7
-7
-6
"Events"
0
0
0
0
0
0
0








OBAMETER
0
17
14
13
0
-7
-2


Latest Polling:

The average of polls in the past week show a virtual dead heat slightly in favor of Romney, a narrowing versus last week's -2 to a -0.3 margin.  The national polling, somewhat to my surprise, continues to track nicely with the Obameter:


Dec
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
5-Jun
10-Jun
OBAMETER
0
17
14
13
0
-7
-2
Obama versus Romney
1.1
4.6
4.8
3.5
1.5
-2.0
-1.0

The Charisma Factor:

Obama "Charisma Factor" lead over Romney dipped from +6 to +3, reflecting a dip in Obama's rating. 

Swing State Polling:

I've decided to track this measure based on the 12 states that are either "toss ups" or leaning one way or the other, for a total of 12 states comprising 163 delegates.  Based on the "solid" states, Obama has 205 delegates to Romney's 170.  Thus Obama needs only 65 delegates from these dozen, whereas Romney needs an even 100.

Polling since mid-May continues to favor Obama in these states; he has a weighted average lead of 2.4 points….not huge, for sure.  He is up by 5+ points in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, which comprise 46 delegates…getting him up to 251, 19 shy.  Romney is only up by 5+ in Arizona, and is only ahead in one other state, North Carolina.  If you wonder what we'll be watching at 2 AM on Election Night, it's looking like Florida (as in 2000) and Ohio (as in 2004) could be the decisive states once again.  But for them to matter, Romney has to come back and win Nevada, Iowa, Colorado, Virginia and Missouri as well as holding NC and Arizona. 


Electoral
         Polling Since May 15



Votes
Obama
Romney
Obama +/-
Pennsylvania
20
48
40
9
Nevada
6
48
46
2
Iowa
6
44
44
0
Michigan
16
49
43
7
Wisconsin
10
49
43
6
Ohio
18
46
45
0
Florida
29
47
46
1
Colorado
9
47
45
2
Virginia
13
48
45
3
Missouri
10
47
44
3
North Carolina
15
45
46
-2
Arizona
11
43
50
-7

163


2.4

TODAY'S TOPIC:  ELECTION DEMOGRAPHICS
I've had several requests to take a look at the demographics of the 2012 race.  There are indeed compelling trends at play that could very well determine the election outcome.  The two that have received the most attention are, in my view, Hispanics (or the "non-white" vote in general) and women.

Let's go back to 2008.  The bottom line is that that election was largely shaped by the non-white vote.  Turnout was huge in 2008:  there were 131 million votes cast, a full 9 million more than in 2004.  Of those 9 million, 6 million were non-white, and Obama captured a stunning 82% of the non-white vote.  Obama received 10 million votes more than Kerry did in 2008, and 7 million of them were non-white.  So instead of Kerry losing by 3 million, Obama won by 10 million.  That margin was mostly due to the incremental non-white voters.

Look at this chart.  It's stunning….Obama lost to McCain among whites handily, 55/43.  But he won 82% of the "non-white" vote.  He received about 28 million non-white votes; McCain received  just 6 million!!!


2008
2008
2008
2008
2008
2008

%
Turnout
Obama
McCain
Obama
McCain


(MM)
(MM)
(MM)
%
%
Total
100%
      131.5
      69.5
      60.0
    53%
    46%
White
74%
        97.3
      41.8
      53.5
43%
55%
Non-white
26%
        34.2
      27.7
        6.4
81%
19%

And the non-white share of voters is climbing sharply each election, up from 13% in 1992 to 26% in 2008.  It will likely be 29% in 2012.  If Obama simply held his 80+% of the non-white vote he achieved in 2008, that demographic shift alone would add 2 more points to his margin.  This is a gigantic advantage in this tight race.  He won 2008 by 7 points, so in essence he has to lose 10 points to lose in 2012.

Think about this….in this election Obama will get 35-40 million votes from whites, and 30 million or so from non-whites.  Romney's likely numbers?  About 55-60 million from whites to about 7 million from non-whites.  No wonder the GOP is terrified about the future implications of the growing Hispanic vote.

Obama did well among women in 2008, gaining 5 million votes versus Kerry.  But he also gained 5 million from men, so his incremental appeal (versus Kerry) was across gender lines.  He won women 56/43 versus Kerry's win of 51/48.  He won men 49/48 versus Kerry losing 44/55….so Obama gained 5 points among both groups.

Women were 53% of the vote in 2008 and that is a relatively stable figure.  But with the Tea Party influence on the Republican Party, the Susan B. Komen flap, the Sandra Fluke flap and  contraceptive-related issues, hot-button women's rights issues have become a significant part of the 2012 campaign (despite Romney's efforts to avoid them).  One might think that could translate into larger gains for the Democrats in 2012 among women.

But actually that is not true…at this point, he is only ahead of Romney among women, according to Gallup, by 49% to 43%, a 6-point lead that is roughly half of the 2008 gender gap (56/43).

The math for Obama is very straightforward…he has to win women by the same margin (or better) than he loses the men.  Right now, according to Gallup, he is winning women 49% to 43%, and losing men by the exact same numbers, 49% to 43%.  That's good for Obama, barely, because of the 53% majority that women comprise.  The laws of weighted averages kicking in.

SONG

The economy is of course the key issue, as of now, in this election, so I thought I'd do a song about Obama's plight….this one, to the tune of "I'm a Believer" by The Monkees, is called "Need to De-Lever" (and for all you non-business types, "de-lever" is a fancy term meaning to reduce your debt).

I thought I had plans for our recovery
Spend a bunch at first, then grow, then cut
It seemed to be working (da da da da, da da)
Slow but steady gains (da da da da, da da)
But then Greece was a problem
Now it's Spain

'Cause Europe is a mess
They need to de-lever!
Too much debt
And not enough spend

I am stuck
Oh-oh…my re-election
Europe's direction
They're entwined


Summers told me just what levers I should pull
Pass the stimulus, and wait for gains
Right out of the playbook (da da da da, da da)
Straight from my man Keynes (da da da da, da da)
But then Greece was a problem
Now it's Spain

'Cause Europe is a mess
They need to de-lever!
Too much debt
And not enough spend

I am stuck
Oh-oh…my re-election
Europe's direction
They're entwined


Now Mitt Romney's calling me a socialist
And every time I punch him, it sounds true
Need to raise those taxes (da da da da, da da)
But the House's a pain (da da da da, da da)
And then Greece was a problem
Now it's Spain

'Cause Europe is a mess
They need to de-lever!
Too much debt
And not enough spend

I am stuck
Oh-oh…my re-election
Europe's direction
They're entwined

Cause Europe is a mess
They need to de-lever!
Too much deeeeeebt
Not enough spend…

They need to de-lever yeah yeah yeah yeah!
(Or I'm gonna lose here)
They need to de-lever!
(I'm gonna lose here)

3 comments:

  1. Regarding the Wisconsin recall: I know that Walker outspent his opponent by a huge margin, but spending can't be the entire story, can it? Don't you think that the somewhat schizoid result of Walker being handed a victory by voters who intend to support Obama reflects deep-seated frustration with outsized benefits for government employees and that this is a problem that will need to be addressed by Democrats before there's some kind of huge domino effect across other states?

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  2. Wow, this is very comprehensive! I like the Dashboard and of course the new song! Also how you fit the electoral map in on the side. :-)

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  3. Great analysis, but hey, when will you make a prediction?

    AND Wisconsin wasn't about money - it was about Americans dissatisfaction with State Unions. The reality: Citizens United helped BARRETT spend millions ... the voters just weren't buying. Great article on this point - http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303901504577458814216176248.html?KEYWORDS=wisconsin

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