Rather than writing some lengthy dissertation on the 2012 election, I think I’ll opt for a series of short thoughts that, like non-partisan polling analysis, allows people to consider everything and then form their own conclusions.
After listening to most of what Rush Limbaugh has had to say since November 7th (I opted to listen to his show for myself), it occurred to me this afternoon that the new conservative meme of couched racism as a kind of caulk to repair breaches in their information filters and ecosphere created by the poll denial disaster has a fatal flaw: Jews and women.
Before I get to that, let me explain how I’ve arrived at the racism angle.
I strongly urge people only to dismiss information if they have a good justification for believing that it’s wrong, or not relevant. Disliking or disagreeing with it isn’t enough. So I will from time-to-time listen to conservative talk radio.
You have to hand it to these guys, Limbaugh and Beck. They are smooth talkers. It’s like they are talking to you, not a radio microphone. It’s almost smoothing and it’s very disarming. It’s why they are as popular and successful as they are.
I credit Limbaugh today with being intelligent enough to know that polls don’t make sense to him, but he doesn’t understand why. Here’s why.
I was directed to this story by Jim Hoft (aka Gatewaypundit) by a reader and was instantly overwhelmed with curiosity. Anyone that follows me on Twitter has already seen the result, but for those who haven’t, the big question in my mind after reading that story is whether Hoft was simply playing to his built-in audience, trying to pump up the base in the hope of giving Mitt Romney the extra turnout he needs to not lose the race he’s going to lose, or if he’s genuinely stupid.
My first thought is that nobody can be that stupid.
There are 38 hours and 29 minutes until the election, as I write this.
It’s a bit early in the day to do detailed polling, with more polls due to drop before the evening. But here’s what today looks like as of right now:
(Updated below with a new version of this graphic with North Carolina spelled correctly, and more recent polling data.)
Something to note is that these numbers are going to start moving more than they have been until now, because Ipsos is polling almost all of these states daily. Every day I will remove one Ipsos poll from the average just to add another. I looked at the poll data and these are dedicated state polls, not breakouts of national polls, so I’m leaving them in. But consider things to be just a bit more noisy now because of that.
There are 57 hours and 17 minutes until the 2012 election, as I write these words at 6:42p EST.
The most important data I’m working with is a daily average of the last five polls taken in eight swing states. Today I’m introducing another dimension: margin of error. But first, here’s how things have changed in the last 24 hours.
Barack Obama increased his lead in Colorado from 1 point yesterday to 2.2 points today, in Ohio from 2.4 points to 3, and Nevada from 3.6 points to 4. His lead slipped in Iowa from 3.2 points to 2.4, New Hampshire from 3.6 to 3.2, and Virginia from 2 points to 1.6. Mitt Romney took back the lead in Florida to 0.6 points, from a 0.2 point deficit, largely on the back of an outlier poll from Mason Dixon showing Romney up by 6 points.
There are 3 full days until the election, or 3 days, 11 hours, 18 minutes, and about 10 seconds as I type this sentence around 4:41pm EST.
And Mitt Romney is in deep shit.
It’s come to that. That is, believe it or not, still non-partisan analysis. Something people tend not to take into account is that an average lead of X points in a given state two weeks out is probably twice as robust when it’s only 3-4 days out from the election. I don’t know exactly how to calculate this, but Nate Silver has said that a lead of 2.6 points with about six days left “should convert to a victory about 80 percent of the time”. With a little over half that time left, that 80% figure surely has increased. By how much, I’m not sure. But Silver’s model puts Obama at 80.5% to win Ohio this afternoon, and his average lead is around 2.4 points. The loss of 0.2 points probably kept his chances of winning the state from moving much higher.
But the time factor can’t be expressed in strong enough terms. It takes time to moves polls and there’s precious little time left for Mitt Romney to make up ground in Virginia, Colorado, Nevada, Iowa, Ohio, New Hampshire, and protect his crumbling lead in Florida.
Michael Graham is making an argument in the Boston Herald that not only will Mitt Romney win the election, he’ll win it easily. “Maybe by a mile”, even. And he does it by citing polls and says the objective evidence points to a solid Romney victory that we should see “well before bedtime”.
His evidence, I’m sorry to say for Mitt Romney supporters, is not entirely persuasive. Graham cites the two most Romney friendly pollsters out there with big name recognition, Gallup and Rasmussen, to support his argument. But both pollsters have significant baggage that saps their credibility. Rasmussen did reasonably well in 2008 but took a horrible turn in 2010 when they missed the final margin in all the races they polled by an average of 5.8 points. 13 polls missed the final margin by at least 10 points, and they blew a Senate contest in Hawaii by 40 points.
There’s some evidence that Rasmussen’s bias and inaccuracy has continued again this year. From August 22nd through October 5th, Rasmussen was the only pollster in the nation to show Mitt Romney with a lead. Three polls showed a tied race and 33 showed Barack Obama with the lead, at times by as many as nine points.
Mitt Romney probably wishes the election were being held today, and Barack Obama that it be held closer to the 15th than next week. My DSL being out for a few days allowed for some breathing room in my battleground average poll tracker which shows demonstrable movement towards Obama between October 27th and 1st of November. If held today, Mitt Romney would lose narrowly. If held on the 15th, Obama might end up winning quite soundly.
I track all polls that I find for eight important states: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, Ohio, Virginia, New Hampshire, and North Carolina. I take that data and average the most recent five polls from each state and track that by day. With a four day gap in results (but not data, I have all the data), you can clearly see that Obama has increased his lead in Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire. Obama has increased a razor thin and previously meaningless 0.2 point average lead in Virginia to a very meaningful (this close to election day) 1.4 points. Obama has also gained on Mitt Romney in North Carolina (0.4 points closer and trailing by 2.4) and Florida (0.8 points closer and trailing by 0.4 points.) Obama has held steady at +2.6 points in Ohio since the 26th.
My mostly robust 3mbit DSL line from CenturyLink went dark around 10am yesterday (the 29th). It’s lucky that I had written yesterday’s story over the weekend and even more so that I had decided to publish it in the morning instead of late afternoon. That line has been dark since, and CTL is talking about a 24-48 window for a fix, for a problem they don’t understand. I understand it, oddly enough. Something is wrong with the IP equipment either at the remote terminal that houses my DSLAM, or at the central office that RT is connected to, such that my DSL model’s attempt to get an IP address via DHCP is failing.
I can’t fix that and neither can they by coming to my house, so all I can do is wait and hope the fix is in before the god damned election. I’ve heard horror stories that haven’t ended even half a year later. I think we all have. But this seems rather benign, as opposed to something like, say, rain damaging the coax strewn all throughout an apartment building.