John Podhoretz mentions something we’ve been talking about for a while:
If Mitt Romney wins tonight, it’ll likely be because of something revealed by a little-noticed statistic released yesterday by the polling firm Rasmussen — following a similar statistic last week from Gallup.
Rasmussen revealed that for the month of October, its data showed that among likely voters, the electorate is 39 percent Republican and 33 percent Democratic.
This comes from a survey of 15,000 people taken over the course of a month. Yes, 15,000 people —15 times the number in a statistically significant poll.
This number might be discounted, since Rasmussen has a reputation as leaning Republican. Except that last week, Gallup — the oldest and most reputable national pollster — released its party ID survey of 9,424 likely voters. And it came out 36 percent Republican, 35 percent Democrat.
I’m not at all comfy with R+6 from Rasmussen. But what should be taken away from this is the fact that two major polling firms have surveyed likely voters extensively and come up with similar results about the mix of self-identified Republicans and Democrats. And what they’ve found is a profound shift from 2008.
Why does this matter? Check history:
Because never in the history of polling, dating back to 1936, have self-identified Republicans outnumbered Democrats on Election Day. Never. Ever.
Hmmm. So indies are breaking for Romney by 7 points, 13% of those who voted for Obama last time say they’re not going to vote for him this time and for the first time since 1936 we’re pretty sure that it is R+something, but Obama is going to win?
Excuse us for being skeptical again, but sometimes the “numbers” just don’t add up. And, then, as we’ve mentioned, there are the atmospherics, something polling companies really don’t plug into at all. Sometimes, as in 2010, the gut comes through because the brain has assimilated a lot more than the numbers provided and ends up with a conclusion that is contrary to the conventional wisdom.
I still believe this is one of those times.
If you haven’t read Karl Rove’s analysis of the election, you ought too. Yeah, I know, Rove is partisan and all of that, but, like Michael Barone (who, by the way, has predicted a Romney win), he knows election demographics.
Rove makes a point that seems to be missed by a lot of people or, perhaps, ignored instead:
He maintains a small but persistent polling edge. As of yesterday afternoon, there had been 31 national surveys in the previous seven days. Mr. Romney led in 19, President Obama in seven, and five were tied. Mr. Romney averaged 48.4%; Mr. Obama, 47.2%. The GOP challenger was at or above 50% in 10 polls, Mr. Obama in none.
The number that may matter the most is Mr. Obama’s 47.2% share. As the incumbent, he’s likely to find that number going into Election Day is a percentage point or so below what he gets.
Why is that significant?
For example, in 2004 President George W. Bush had 49% in the final Gallup likely-voter track; he received 50.7% on Election Day. In 1996, President Clinton was at 48% in the last Gallup; he got 49.2% at the polls. And in 1992, President George H.W. Bush was at 37% in the closing Gallup; he collected 37.5% in the balloting.
If you can’t get above 47%, and your challenger is running above that number, chances are you aren’t going to win.
Then there are the polling demographics. Remember when I said that if a poll has D+ anything, it is likely wrong? I stand by that:
One potentially dispositive question is what mix of Republicans and Democrats will show up this election. On Friday last week, Gallup hinted at the partisan makeup of the 2012 electorate with a small chart buried at the end of its daily tracking report. Based on all its October polling, Gallup suggested that this year’s turnout might be 36% Republican to 35% Democratic, compared with 39% Democratic and 29% Republican in 2008, and 39% Republican and 37% Democratic in 2004. If accurate, this would be real trouble for Mr. Obama, since Mr. Romney has consistently led among independents in most October surveys.
So, assuming Gallup is right, and it is R+1 as we’ve been saying is likely here, what does that mean for the polling that’s going on?
Take a look at this handy little chart from RCP:
The chart makes the point about how important it is for the polling company to get the mix correct and the probability that many of them haven’t. If they’re not properly skewed, you aren’t going to get valid results. We know there are still polls being run out there with D+5 and up to D+8. Those were legitimate in 2008.
This ain’t 2008 (and you have to ignore 2010 to believe it is) by a long shot.
Then there’s this:
Gallup delivered some additional bad news to Mr. Obama on early voting. Through Sunday, 15% of those surveyed said they had already cast a ballot either in person or absentee. They broke for Mr. Romney, 52% to 46%. The 63% who said they planned to vote on Election Day similarly supported Mr. Romney, 51% to 45%.
So, what is happening is the Democrats are getting their most motivated voters to the polls early and they’re still running behind the GOP. If, in fact, that’s the case, then who will the Dems be trying to turn out on Tuesday and how successful will they be? It all comes down to enthusiasm, doesn’t it? And as measured, that too resides on the side of the GOP (well, except for the NYT poll, unsurprisingly):
Finally, while looking that that chart, remember that independents have been breaking large toward Romney. More than for any GOP candidate in recent history. Add all the other demographics that have shifted significant support from Obama in the last election to Romney in this one, not to mention the atmospherics that simply aren’t there for the incumbent and it is difficult to believe that Obama will win.
So, all that said, I’ll predict a Romney win with slightly over 50% and around 279 electoral votes. I’ll also predict that Nate Silver will be donating $1,000 to charity and David Axlerod’s mustache will be absent Wednesday of next week.
UPDATE: A reminder for all the doubters out there who want to dismiss Rove – In 2008 Karl Rove predicted an Obama win with 338 EVs (actual: 365)
What is spin and what is fact out there right now? Well, if I had to guess, we’re in the 80 to 90% factor when talking about spin. Both campaigns are heavily engaged in trying to convince the public that the election is as they say it is.
One of the more persistent bits of spin has been “early voting has heavily favored Obama”.
I’m not sure how those who were tossing that little nugget out there were so sure, but that’s been the story. And obviously, it’s intent was to calm the waters, make it appear that Obama was in control and that his base was enthusiastic and out supporting him at the voting booth.
Except it seems it may have been just that – spin.
Hmmm. That doesn’t at all track with the Obama spin does it? In fact, it’s not even close. The report says 15% of registered voters have voted. And at this point, at least according to Gallup, Romney leads 52 to 46. If true, that points to two problems for the Obama campaign (beside the fact that their claim seems to be hogwash) – 1) enthusiasm and 2) GOTV effort. Not so hot in either category, huh?
Yes, I know, there are all kinds of things that can be said about this, with “whys” and “wherefores”, caveats and whatever.
However, given this, one thing should be clear – when the Obama campaign again claims they’re leading in early voting, they’ll have to come up with something to counter this, won’t they?
And, speaking of spin, one could argue that perhaps … perhaps … the early voting indicates the possible outcome and it’s percentage.
It’s rather simple really. And the Washington Post provides the answer today:
In the last three releases of the tracking poll conducted by The Washington Post and ABC News, Obama has trailed former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney among independent voters by between 16 and 20 percentage points.
That’s a striking reversal from 2008, when Obama won independent voters, who made up 29 percent of the electorate, by eight points over Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
And if Romney’s large margin among independents holds, it will be a break not just from 2008 but also from 2000 and 2004. In 2000, Texas Gov. George W. Bush won independents by 47 percent to 45 percent over Vice President Al Gore. Four years later, Bush and Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts essentially split unaffiliated voters, according to exit polls — 48 percent for Bush to 49 percent for Kerry. (Independents made up 27 percent of the vote in 2000 and 26 percent in 2004.)
It is more than a “striking reversal”, it is an indicator of what other major demographics are demonstrating as well. A big shift away from Obama. So one of two things has to be true – the polls showing these big demographic shifts away from Obama are wrong, or the polls showing this to be a tight race with Obama slightly ahead or behind have to be wrong. They can’t both be right.
When you add in the “atmospherics”, it is hard to believe this is a tight race. The enthusiasm for Obama isn’t there (and certainly not at all like it was in 2008), apparently the major demographics aren’t there and finally, even in the polls that do show a close race, the trend continues to be up for Romney.
It still isn’t clear what demographic model the polls are using, but as I said in the podcast last night, if it is skewed with D+ anything, it is likely wrong. If I had to guess I’d say a poll that isn’t skewing at least R+1 isn’t even in the same galaxy as this election. The atmospherics, demographics and momentum, whether the left or MSM wants to admit it or not, are on the side of the GOP. My guess is this doesn’t end up being a close election and that Democrats are not going to be happy with the outcome.
Michael Barone is one of the few poll watchers I respect. I’ve watched him in any number of elections and he’s objectively called it the way he saw it, usually spot on, for whomever the facts indicated was in the lead. No spin, just good analysis.
Well, in this season of polling chaos, Barone is out with his look at some of the key indicators that help him analyze election trends and he seems to think we are seeing a preference cascade begin ala 1980 … just slower:
My other alternative scenario was based on the 1980 election, when vast numbers of voters switched from Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan after their single debate one week before the election. In that debate, the challenger showed he had presidential stature and the incumbent president seemed petulant and small-minded.
We saw an even more vivid contrast between challenger and incumbent in the Oct. 3 debate. In the next two debates, Obama was definitely more focused and aggressive. But Romney held his own, and post-Oct. 16 polling showed him improving his standing even though many debate watchers thought Obama won on points.
What we may be seeing, as we drink from the firehose of multiple poll results pouring in, is a slow-motion 1980.
That reinforces my point about the first debate and something we’ve been saying since Oct. 3. That is the debate that mattered. And note also that in debates 2 and 3, Obama pulled a Carter. His stature was diminished by his actions. He, as Barone and many others have observed, came across as “petulant and small-minded”. Add arrogant and condescending, and you’ve captured it. Oh, and by the way, his record, like Carter’s, is dismal.
Romney, on the other hand, came across exactly as he had to come across – competent, presidential, confident and, believe it or not, likable. He did what Ronald Reagan did – unfiltered by the media, he was able to convince Americans who tuned in that he was Presidential material. That he was a more than acceptable alternative to Obama.
All of that said, Barone isn’t claiming that this is a done deal by any stretch (“don’t get cocky kid”):
The usual caveats are in order. Exogenous events could affect opinion (Libya seems to have hurt Obama). The Obama ground game is formidable. Voters who switched to Romney could switch back again.
And if there is a larger reservoir of potentially changeable voters than in 2004, there was an even larger reservoir back in 1980, when Carter attracted white Southerners who now are firmly in Romney’s column.
Mechanical analogies can be misleading. Just because Romney has gained ground since Oct. 3 does not guarantee that he will gain more.
But also keep in mind that Romney gained not just from style but from fundamentals. Most voters dislike Obama’s domestic policies and are dissatisfied with the sluggish economy. And now they seem to believe have an alternative with presidential stature.
So, while we apparently have a preference cascade beginning, is it enough? And will it peak at the right time. Will it be a slow steady climb to election day? Will it plateau? Will it stop short of the majority Romney needs? Obviously we won’t know that until election night (or, perhaps, the next day). But suffice it to say, the upward trend is obvious.
How it will play out, however, remains to be seen.
As we quickly approach our own election here in the US, a first of sorts will occur this weekend in Ukraine. Shaking off the soviet chains has proved difficult, but through fits and starts a truly representative democracy is developing in Eurasia. The next big step will be the parliamentary elections (to the Verkhovna Rada) held this weekend. Ukraine has held free elections before, but this time they will occur under the watch of thousands of international and domestic election observers:
On October 22nd the Central Election Committee of Ukraine registered the final batch of 666 international observers for the parliamentary elections in Ukraine, which will take place on October 28th. The total number of foreign monitors reached 3,797 persons – they represent 28 countries and 35 international non-governmental organizations. Moreover, more than 130,000 domestic observers will also work at the elections.
A major impetus for the observers being present is that Ukraine is seeking to possibly join the European Union, a prerequisite for which is to improve the election process.
… the current government has expressed great interest in being integrated into the European Union, going so far as to ink an Association Agreement in March:
The Association Agreement creates a framework for cooperation and stipulates establishing closer economic, cultural, and social ties between the signees. Moreover, Brussels officials expect the document to promote the rule of law, democracy, and human rights in Ukraine.
This first step to entering the EU (which still needs to be ratified) requires a concrete demonstration from Ukraine that it is moving towards “an independent judicial system, free and fair elections and constitutional reform.”
The other potential option is for Ukraine to strengthen its traditional alliance with Moscow by entering Russia’s Customs Union:
… for the past several years, both the EU and Russia have courted Ukraine to form long-lasting trade partnerships. The EU wants to include Ukraine in its Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) while Russia is pushing to join its Customs Union. Because of the way these agreements are set up, Ukraine has to choose one or the other, placing the country in a pitched economic battle between East and West.
The Party of Regions, which is the current party in power, is led by President Viktor Yanukovych and Prime Minister Mykola Azarov. Originally, the party was supported Russian President Vladimir Putin but, to his disappointment, the Party of Regions has turned out to be more pro-Ukraine than pro-Russia. As previously noted, Yanukovych and Azarov have been working hard to achieve energy independence that is more beneficial to the people of Ukraine.
The United Opposition party is led by former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko (who is currently in jail for the gas deal she brokered with Russia) and Arseniy Yatsenyuk from the Front for Change party. Despite the fact that the party can be seen as being largely pro-Russian, they recently joined forces with the more pro-Western Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform (UDAR) in the hopes of increasing their chances of winning against the popular Party of Regions. UDAR is the newest political party in Ukraine and is led by heavyweight boxing champion Vitaly Klitschko.
As it turns out, these three parties (Party of Regions, United Opposition and the UDAR) are leading in the polls (which haven’t changed dramatically over the past month) as we head into this weekend’s vote:
The latest opinion polls now show Yanukovych’s Regions Party finishing first with between 23% and 33% of the ballot, which would require the formation of a new coalition to lead parliament. That could make a kingmaker out of Udar (Punch), a brand-new party started by political novice and heavyweight boxing superstar Vitali Klitschko as an agent for change that has no obvious links to past incidents of corruption. Udar appears to have caught on with the more opposition-minded voters and has edged ahead of Tymoshenko’s block in some polls with 16%-17% of the vote. “My methods in politics are the same as in sport: teamwork and confidence in yourself. And they work,” the 41-year-old Klitschko told AFP in an interview. The election rating for Tymoshenko’s coalition varies from 15% up to 24% — still ahead of the fourth-placed Communist Party (9% to 13%) and the nationalist Svoboda (Freedom) group (3% to 6%).
Although we don’t really know what the resulting administration will look like, or what concessions will have to be made in order to form a governing coalition, it at least appears that, whatever the result, a more pro-EU Ukraine will emerge. And that would be a very good thing:
So why care about the Ukraine?
The simple answer is because Ukrainians have had a taste of freedom, and liked it, and we should encourage that journey towards liberalization to continue. We have an interest in such development – via free and fair elections, open markets and greater legal protections in its reformed court system – because this is how individuals become personally invested in the growth of the nation, and thus how liberty spreads. As President Reagan emphasized in 1981, “only when individuals are given a personal stake in deciding economic policies and benefiting from their success — only then can societies remain economically alive, dynamic, progressive, and free.” The more societies like that in the world, and especially in the Eurasian region, the better. And this is exactly where Ukraine is poised to go.
Hopefully, that journey will continue this Sunday.
I wanted to make a quick point here. First this:
Mitt Romney has taken a narrow national lead, tightened the gender gap and expanded his edge over President Barack Obama on who would best grow the economy.
A new POLITICO/George Washington University Battleground Tracking Poll of 1,000 likely voters — taken from Sunday through Thursday of last week — shows Romney ahead of Obama by 2 percentage points, 49 percentage to 47 percent. That represents a 3-point swing in the GOP nominee’s direction from a week ago but is still within the margin of error. Obama led 49 percent to 48 percent the week before.
A lot of discussion on polls this time around. We talked about them extensively in the podcast. The thing to realize is regardless of how the polling concerns have set up their split among self-identified Republicans and Democrats, the one thing that has been fairly consistent in each of them is Romney trending up. So while they may all show different percentages and even an Obama lead, the fact remains that the challenger has continued to gain even while the incumbent was declared the winner of the last debate.
That, my friends, signifies, at least as far as I can tell, a preference cascade beginning to swell.
As we’ve pointed out repeatedly, the most important debate this year was the first debate. In that debate, the challenger had to appear to be an acceptable alternative/replacement for the incumbent. Romney was able to exceed expectations in that department. That’s when the tide began to turn. The second debate, while somewhat important, but only if the challenger really goofed it up, just didn’t carry the weight of the first. And as hard as the left has tried to make the debates about Big Bird, binders of women and an alleged “Libya gaffe” (as I see it, there was no gaffe at all, we saw an incumbent President pretend/allege he said something he didn’t say). They’re not selling except among the partisan base.
We’ll see if this debate this evening adds momentum to the challengers upward trend or whether the incumbent is somehow able to slow or stop it. I’m not sure what the President could say or do that would accomplish that given his dismal foreign policy record (and his previous declaration that his lack of foreign policy experience just wasn’t a show stopper).
Like Dale says, I think, as far as Romney is concerned, we’re in “dead girl or live boy” territory.
As I’ve been saying for months, the “atmospherics” which surrounded the Obama win in 2008 just don’t exist in 2012. They’re just not there. The excitement has vanished, the “hope” has been dashed and the “change” – well, it’s not at all what those who hung their own meaning on the word thought they’d see.
In other words, the President is and has been in deep electoral trouble for some time. The only thing that has really helped him and propped him up is the media. Many in the media have spent an inordinate time trying to explain away or cover up very serious failings on the part of his administration. The media has also constructed a strawman Mitt Romney which they used to “help’ Obama as well.
Two events have sort of tipped the scales against the incumbent, however. The first debate (Romney unfiltered, Obama unenthused) and Benghazi. It is those two events which have, in my opinion (note the word), started the preference cascade toward a Romney win.
Indicators? Well there are quite a few.
One, for instance, is a newspaper endorsement from a very liberal paper. That would be The Tennessean. Why is that significant? Well, as Glenn Reynolds points out, it provides “social permission” to deviate from the Democratic norm. And that sort of permission is necessary to begin a preference cascade. Today the Orlando Sentinal also endorsed Romney. Expect to see more of these sorts of endorsements in the coming days.
Another is found in polls showing the unexpected. For instance, Romney with a chance in PA? Really? Well apparently, if this poll is to be believed, it’s more than a chance. And that may have downstream effects if true. Meanwhile, in MO, the odious Todd Aiken has gone ahead of equally odious Democrat Claire McCaskill (great choice you have there, MO). That’s important for a very good reason – it has do with enthusiasm and which side appears to have it.
Additionally, both the Romney and Obama campaigns are pulling out of NC. Why? Because it appears the state’s results are no longer in doubt. It will not go to Obama this time and, apparently, that’s not even iffy. Florida seems to be going that way as well and my guess is VA too.
In OH, coal miners are mad as hell. While that may not put OH in total jeopardy, it doesn’t make a state that was comfortably Obama’s in 2008 the same in 2012.
Other indicators? How about the defection of this one-time solidly Democratic demographic?
Romney’s surging poll numbers in the crucial state of Florida reflect his growing success with Bubbie Molly and her unemployed grandson Adam, who both thought their right hand would wither if it ever pulled the lever for a Republican.
The signs and portents are everywhere, beginning with the special election of a Republican in Anthony Weiner’s heavily Jewish, New York congressional district one year ago. Now a startling new poll even has Romney performing the ultimate miracle: the parting of the blue states, winning the Jewish vote by a healthy 44% to 40%!
Florida activist Alan Bergstein described his recent experience advocating for Romney in the Jewish stronghold of Delray Beach. “Of about 100 entering and leaving the Bagel Tree eatery in that plaza, we ran into only two Democrats and loads and loads of Romney supporters. They stopped to talk to us, to congratulate us and to support us with their views of the Ryan/Biden debate. They were militant and fearless.”
Why? Well, for every effect there is a cause. In this case, it’s pretty clear:
The Democratic Party booing God and Jerusalem: At their national convention, Democratic leaders attempted to do undo the political damage of stripping all mention of God and Jerusalem as Israel’s capital from their party platform. But when they asked for a floor vote to add God and Jerusalem to the platform, the delegates loudly booed – three times. As the cameras revealed the hate-filled faces of the jeering delegates, some Jews felt frightened by the ugly scene.
Obama’s open contempt for Prime Minister Netanyahu: From the beginning of his presidency, Obama has seemed to enjoy humiliating Israel’s elected leader. He walked out on Netanyahu in the White House, claiming he had to eat dinner, and refused to pose for an official photograph with him. Now, as Iran races to complete a nuclear weapon, Obama rejected Netanyahu’s request for a meeting in New York, choosing to appear on The View instead. And when Netanyahu spoke at the United Nations, Obama instructed both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and UN Ambassador Susan Rice not to attend.
Fawning over the Jewish people’s enemies: Obama bowed to the Saudi king, gave a high-profile speech in Cairo, apologizing to the Muslim world, and ordered NASA to make “Muslim outreach” its foremost priority. Over the objections of Congress, he gave at least $1.5 billion to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which advocates for “holy jihad” against Israel. And when Muslim terrorists murdered our Libyan ambassador, Obama responded with a speech at the UN, in which he stated, “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.”
Appointment of anti-Semites to high government positions: Obama just appointed a Muslim leader who blames Israel for the 9/11 attacks to serve as US delegate to a Warsaw human rights conference. Salam al-Marayati, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), openly supports Hizbollah and Hamas. Al-Marayati is only the latest of Obama officials hostile to Israel, including foreign policy advisor Samantha Power and UN Ambassador Susan Rice.
Obama’s long association with anti-Semites: Obama spent 20 years in the Chicago church of Reverend Jeremiah Wright, who maintains, “The state of Israel is an illegal, genocidal…place.” Obama’s biggest contributor is George Soros, who is a prime funder of anti-Israel NGOs. And Obama’s close association with Palestinian activist Rashid Khalidi is still being kept under wraps by the Los Angeles Times, which refuses to release a video of a reportedly inflammatory toast to Khalidi by Obama at a 2003 dinner. Breitbart News is offering a $100,000 reward to anyone with a copy of the tape.
Iran’s Growing Nuclear Capabilities: Obama has seemed more interested in deterring Israel from defending itself than in stopping Iran. His Chairman of the Joints Chief of Staff explicitly stated he doesn’t want to be “complicit” in an Israeli attack on Iran, implying such an attack would be criminal. Now counter-terrorism expert Reza Kahlili is reporting that Obama’s emissaries have struck a secret “October surprise” deal with Iran, in which Iran will announce a halt to their uranium enrichment, in order to enhance Obama’s presidential prospects. The deal reportedly was negotiated in Qatar with former Iranian foreign minister Ali Akbar Velyati, who’s wanted by Argentina for the Jewish community center bombing in Buenos Aires in 1994 that killed 85 people. If Obama has lost the trust of Jewish voters, they may not dismiss these reports as completely impossible.
That’s a very long and compelling list. Long and compelling enough to see a usually reliable demographic begin to seriously question their support for the incumbent.
Indeed, what Obama is facing for the first time in his life is having to live up to his real performance. No excuses. No BS hype and pretending. No Nobel prize his first day in office. He is being judged on performance, merit and judgement. He’s apparently being found less that adequate in all three by a huge part of America.
Add to that the fact that he seems to have no discernable plan to alter or correct his deficiencies or those of his administration and policies. That’s probably because he doesn’t think he has any (remember, he thought he won the first debate). How does one “change” if there’s nothing that needs changing?
So, all that being said, it is my opinion (again note the word) while reviewing the evidence at hand that the preference cascade we’ve talked about for months is beginning if not well underway. Look for a lot of “whistling past the graveyard” as the Obama campaign and their surrogates downplay and ignore the gathering bad news.
But in the meantime, watch the indicators. At the least, they promise an excruciatingly tight vote. And, if they say what I think they’re saying, Obama will be back in Chicago on January 21, 2013.
And what a mess the new president will inherit from him.
Why? Because it sets up a question to be answered which will give proof to the nonsense of both Obama and Crowley’s claim about Obama’s supposed Rose Garden acknowlegement that the Benghazi attack was an act of terrorism:
If Obama knew it was terrorism on Day Two, then why did his administration continue to blame the video for days afterward?”