New Gallup Poll Should Have Chicago Sweating…Profusely

SPOILER ALERT: In this post I’ll tell you why polls are looking very good for Mitt, but will also conclude by saying it only matters if we all dig in, do our part to get out the vote. So click the “ComMITTed” link!

I’ve now seen three commentaries on the latest Gallup poll, and they’re telling a consistent story: Chigago is, or should be, sweating profusely about these latest polling numbers. And the evidence is they are.

The Eye Candy: National Polls.

National polls are great and continue to give encouraging news of a Mitt 2-4% lead. The RealClearPolitics average of polls gives Mitt a solid 1% edge. The latest poll in that group, a Rasmussen poll of 1,500 likely voters from October 25 to October 27 (yesterday), gives Mitt a 3% lead. The underlying data show Mitt is winning more Republicans (90%) than Obama is Democrats (85%), but the big news on the national front is that Mitt is leading among independents by 11%. But national polls are really the eye candy of the presidential politics. Fun to look at, but in the end, not what will make the difference.

Where the Rubber Meets the Road: State Polls

What’s really important, as we all know, is what happens in the electoral college. So what about those swing states? Well, there’s good news there, too, even if there’s lots of work to be done. Rasmussen’s electoral college map, based on Rasmussen’s own polling in each state, shows Mitt leading or tied in the critical swing states of Florida (50%/48%), Virginia (50%/47%), Colorado (50%/46%), Iowa (48%/48%), New Hampshire (50%/48%), Wisconsin (49%/49%) and, perhaps most importantly, Ohio (48%/48%). Given Mitt was behind in these states a couple weeks ago, and the press’ coronation of Obama as the narrow winner of the last two debates, the trends here are in the right direction: Mitt is gaining when it counts, and Mitt has an ability to improve, while Obama, who the voters have known for four years, is more likely to drop. Other states are also narrowing: Minnesota and Pennsylvania are closer than expected, if still leaning Obama. And no one thought Wisconsin would be tied a few weeks ago. If you don’t like Rasmussen’s numbers, you can turn to RealClearPolitics’ collection of polls and resulting electoral college map. RCP reports similar numbers for each of those states. It shows Virginia, Colorado and New Hampshire in a closer race, with Obama having a slight lead in Iowa, Wisconsin and Ohio, with Mitt continuing to make inroads.

So national and state polling shows it’s a very close race, Obama has a miniscule and shrinking lead in states he needs to win, and Mitt is either tied or within easy striking distance in all the same states. Very encouraging for a challenger.

But…there’s more.

The Zinger: the Latest Gallup Poll

The real story is that Gallup poll. Neil Stevens of Red State dissects Gallup’s numbers and says:

We always talk about the independent, swing vote in elections because those tend to be the persuadables. But party ID numbers matter as well, because those partisan voters tend to split better than 90/10 for their party.

It is for that reason that Gallup’s new partisan ID split, one that mimics what Rasmussen has been saying all along, predicts nothing less than doom for the Democrats, and a solid, national win for Mitt Romney this year.

…the numbers are brutal. In 2008, the Democrats had a 39-29 (D+10) advantage in hard party ID, and a 54-42 (D+12) advantage with leaners. In 2012 though, we’re in the post-TEA party era. Republicans now show a 36-35 (R+1) hard party ID advantage, and a 49-46 (R+3) lead with leaners. This gives us a range of party ID swings from 2008, from R+11 to R+15.

[Emphasis added.]

What does this mean? In a tight election with key swing states on the edge and voter turnout key, more of those voters self-identifying as Republicans than Democrats this year means things may be better than they look on the surface of the polls. Mr. Stevens then goes further and says what these numbers would mean if plugged into his own electoral college model. It generates an estimate of the electoral college results if more voters self-ID as Republican versus his baseline year. Here’s the picture:


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BRAINTEASER - How Likely is a Tie in November Between Romney and Obama? What Would Happen If There Was A Tie?

Believe it or not, a tie is not outside the realm of possibility. Here’s how that could happen, and what the wild result would be.

As we all know, Romney has to get 270 electoral votes to defeat Obama. And at this point, the national polls average shows only a 0.8% difference between Romney and Obama. In other words, it’s a very close race at the moment.

Christian Heinze over at “The Hill” discussed three routes Romney could take to win the election. “Route #3” of Heinze’ scenarios has Romney winning the election by capturing about half the swing states, and Obama capturing the other half. (Romney would win Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Florida, Ohio and Iowa. Under this scenario, Romney would lose the other swing states PA, CO, NV, VA, and MI.) It would make sense that roughly half the swing states would vote Romney and half would vote Obama.

“Route #3” would result in a total score of:

 Romney - 273
 Obama -  265

But what would happen if Romney lost New Hampshire, but won all the other states in this “route?” New Hampshire has 4 votes and would lead to a grand total of:

Romney - 269
Obama - 269

A Tie!

Believe it or not, this is not an entirely unlikely possibility. Right now Obama is ahead of Romney in New Hampshire by 6.4% according to the most recent polls from RCP. That is a lot of ground for Romney to make up before November. Certainly not impossible, but New Hampshire is strongly tilting toward Obama at the moment. Likewise, VA is tilting toward Obama partly due to it having the lowest unemployment rate in the country. 

So it seems to me that a tie is a pretty realistic possibility at the moment. I want to know what knucklehead decided to have an even number of total electoral votes for the U.S.? This is about as smart as having an even number of Supreme Court justices!

What would happen in the event of a tie?

This is where things get weird and start to sound more like a John Grisham novel than real life. In the event of a tie, it would only take one person out of the 538 “delegates” to switch their vote and thus decide who is president for the whole country. One person. Many states have laws that restrict delegates from switching their vote, but many states do not. 

But if we assume that no delegate switches their vote, and we still have a tie, then the House of Representatives picks the president, and the Senate picks the Vice President. Right now the House is controlled by the Republicans and the Senate is controlled by the Democrats. Can you imagine a Romney/Biden ticket? Or maybe a Romney/Obama Ticket? 

As one source says, if you thought Bush v. Gore was controversial, this would be even more so.