I haven’t written anything about the US elections yet this cycle. This is for two reasons, first because there are vast amounts of US polling to get on top of in order to say anything sensible, secondly because there are already some very good US polling sites that I couldn’t hope to better. If you want to read wise and sensible analysis of US polling don’t hang around here, go and read Mark Blumenthal and Simon Jackman.

However, since we are now within a week of the election I thought I may as well put some threads up if only for discussion.

First, all things I complain about in coverage of UK polling are the same in US polling. Most notably warnings about cherry picking, comparing like to like and being aware of methodological differences and house effects from different pollsters. For example, I keep seeing people cherry picking out Rasmussen polls and Gallup polls to claim that Romney is doing better. Rasmussen are one of the most prolific polling outfits in the US, but also tend to produce some of the most Republican results. Gallup use a very tight screen for likely voters that also tends to produce favourable figures for the republicans. Look at most other polls and Obama is doing better.

Secondly, remember that the person who gets the most votes doesn’t necessarily win, it is who wins states with enough electoral votes to win a majority (270) of the electoral college. The average picture across all the national polls in the US has Romney and Obama very much neck and neck. However, polls from the key swing states, which themselves have become very regular as the election approaches, have Obama clearly ahead in terms of electoral votes.

There are various US websites (I’ve already mentioned Pollster.com, though fivethirtyeight tends to be the best known these days) that make projections based on state polling, and these all show Barack Obama with large leads in terms of electoral votes.

This has, in turn, produced some (generally pretty poorly informed) criticism of the projection sites, normally based around what sort of weights they give to different polls, what polls they include and so on. I don’t think these criticisms carry any weight, however even if one is sceptical about the weightings, filters, trends, house effect adjustments or whatever that the various projection sites make, the bottom line is that even if one takes just a crude average of state polls, Obama is still ahead.

As I write, Obama is almost undoubtedly ahead in states worth 243 votes. He needs to pick up another 27 electoral votes to win – looking at the recent polling in states that are in play:

  • In Wisconsin (10 votes) Rasmussen has the candidates equal in their last poll, but all three polls done in the last week have Obama significantly ahead
  • There have been four Iowa (6 votes) polls in the last week, three have had Obama ahead, the other had Romney one point ahead (but had a very small sample size)
  • In Ohio (18 votes), which is very likely to be the deciding state, there have been 11 polls in the last week, ten showed Obama ahead, one had Romney ahead
  • In New Hampshire (4 votes) there have been three polls in the last week, all showing Obama ahead.
  • In Colorado (9 votes) the four polls in the last week have been evenly split, 2 showing Obama ahead, 2 Romney ahead (though the Obama polls had bigger leads)
  • In Virginia (13 votes) there have been 9 polls in the last week, 2 showed Romney ahead, 1 a tie, 6 Obama ahead.
  • Florida (28 votes) is really neck-and-neck, the last week had three Romney leads, four Obama leads, two ties

Whatever you think of complicated projections, just on the raw averaged polling numbers Obama would get in excess of 290 electoral votes and win the Presidency. If the polls are correct, then Obama is on the way to winning, with very little time indeed to turn it around.

282 Responses to “US Presidential election”

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  1. colin

    I think there is still a risk to Obama over the storm. Things won’t have been cleaned up before next week, and if the picture starts to look like Katrina, we could still see late movements away from him.

  2. George Eaton on the New Statesman says he’s been told that Newsnight is NOT going to name the person accused tonight (he speculates they may run the report without naming the person accused).

  3. I bet everybody at Westminster knows who it is. Bit like Savile and the BBC!

  4. I hope whoever this figure is the BBC don’t back down. Hopefully they have learnt from their Saville mistake and expose whoever this politician is and not buckle under the pressure again.

  5. @SoCal
    @ Tinged Fringe

    “Heart in the right place –
    Con – 20 (-3)
    Lab – 31 (nc)
    Lib – 16 (-1)

    Succeeded in moving on –
    Con – 16 (-1)
    Lab – 22 (-1)
    Lib – 7 (+1)”

    These numbers seem pretty low for each party. It suggests that none of them are viewed retty favorably.

    I think it’s more the case that opinions are remaining polarised.

    For example, for the “Old & Tired” question, 3% of Tory supporters think it applies to them and 55% think it applies to Labour. Among Labour supporters, 3% think it applies to them and 66% think it applies to the Tories.

    For the “heart in the right place” question, 58% of Tory supporters think it applies to them and 3% think it applies to Labour. Among Labour supporters, 72% think it applies to them and 2% think it applies to the Tories.

    Polarised and entrenched? Discuss.

  6. They have to be careful.

    There is a chance he or she might not be guilty, after all.

  7. PS:

    I forgot to add that the REALLY striking thing is that Labour supporters have extremely negative views about the Tories on every one of the questions, with relatively few even saying “Don’t know”.

    It does suggest that it will be quite a task for the Tories to pull the 7-8% of voters from Labour that they’d need to get an OM next time round.

  8. LeftyLampton

    I suspect the amount of negatives for the tories from Labour is to be expected, There is a huge tranche of them who think the Tories are simply evil and do everything they can to hurt as many people as they can.

    Slogans about “dancing on Thatchers grave” shows how full of hate (I’m sure many younger Labour supporters who never really experienced a Thatcher government still buy into the mantra of hatred) some labour supporters are, I suspect many Tories hate what Blair/Brown did to the country but don’t have similar levels of revulsion.

    Hating the tories is almost a requirement to be a labour supporter, I don’t think the converse applies and a typical view might be “misguided and incompetent” as opposed to “evil”.

    Lets face it there’s a solid core who support either party, who it’s a waste of time to court. How much of this actively hate the other party is irrelevant.

  9. Newsnight is not watched by disinterested floating voters, so without a name, it won’t change VI, IMO. Even with one, if the person was a ‘who’s that again?’ type, it would not last.

    McShane scandal is a shocker, but, again, who knows who he is, among the voters who matter?

    I still think the (now) three digits of millions the rail franchise fiasco is going to cost, when it all finally emerges, will do more long term damage to the Coalition and chiefly to Con, as their ministers were (and are) in charge of all that stuff.

    People will remember any figure that the press set against spending cuts figures, if the news media go to town on it.

    Party conferences, anyone remember them now? Hee hee.

  10. Alan.

    Thanks for that balanced view.

    Back to the polling issues. The point is that Labour’s worry is (or should be) that they will bleed supporters away in the run up to 15. But where are they going to bleed them away to? The voters who left Labour for the LDs because of Iraq and other things in the 2000s, but who came back after the Coalition formation are hardly likely to go back to the LDs. I suspect that many of these dabbled with the LDs because they thought that their hearts were in the right place. Now, 61% of current LDs think that the LDs’ heart is in the right place, but only 31% of those who voted LD in 2010 think the same. By my reckoning, on a very, very simple calculation[1], that suggests that <20% of the lost LDs even think the party's heart is in the right place now.

    And that same group has a view of the Tories which are almost as jaundiced as that of the longer-term Labour supporters.

    So, these crucial voters, at the moment, are showing no signs at all of even giving the LDs and the Tories any significant support at all, even moral support.

    [1] That calc is to work out the numbers of respondents answering each question in a particular way who are current LD supporters and the number who were 2010 LD supporters, find the difference and divide by the difference in the total number of current and 2010 LD supporters.
    (%LD2010*NumLD2010 – %LDNow*NumLDNow)/(NumLD2010-NumLDNow)*100

  11. Howard.

    It all depends how senior “very senior” is.

    If it is a well-known name, it will resonate far, far beyond Newsnight.

  12. The amount of coverage the American election is interesting from the stand point of the impartiality of the media and press in this country.
    The BBC and Sky News always seem to portray Obama in a positive light and Romney in a negative way, concentrating more on Romney’s gaffs or interruption’s to his speeches than his policy’s. I’m sure the same thing has happened to Obama but you never seem to hear it.
    Personally I don’t care out of the two who run’s America that’s a matter for the American’s, and to be honest there’s very little difference in there foreign policy, and both will have to do something about America’s spiralling debt and huge youth unemployment.
    However it would be nice to see a more balanced view from our media were the cult of Obama is king, when reporting the American election.

  13. alan:

    I doubt if many supporters of any party “hate” anyone. A few rather silly individuals may use such over-the-top language I suopose.

    I think the figures lefty highlights are of far more interest and relevance. The tories are increasingly seen as lacking in care for a large section of society – whether true aor fair or othherwise.

  14. If twitter is true then I am completely gobsmacked. And it will have ramifications.

  15. Good Evening All.



  16. Getting back to the subject of the thread, I can see the seeds of trouble for Obama in the next few days. Reports coming in from Statin Island (New York) show a scene of devastation, with residents feeling as though they’ve been let down by the federal government.

    Earlier Obama appeared very upbeat at a rally in Ohio. Is there a danger he might be looking too smug? Don’t get me wrong, I like the bloke – but he needs to get over to New York and start looking concerned or the whole thing could just unravel..

  17. P.S.:- I’m not suggesting he will lose New York, but any bad coverage in the big apple could have consequences in the swing states.

  18. NICKP

    I don’t care what it does for/to Obama -or Romney.

    I think the campaign looks & sounds very insensitive , given the continued suffering, and the mounting dead.

    All that “lets suspend politics & help” gesturing , which lasted all of a few hours looks cynical & meaningless.

  19. MiM

    @”Hopefully they have learnt from their Saville mistake and expose whoever this politician is and not buckle under the pressure again.”

    Erm-I know that an enquiry is going to find out why they didn’t run it-but perhaps it escaped your notice that the suggestion is , the “pressure” emanated from BBC’s own scheduling priorities last Christmas.

  20. colin

    that may be a suggestion, but if Savile was part of a larger ring there may be other suggestions.

  21. There does seem to be a suggestion that the supposed paedo was an open secret around Westminster, EXACTLY like the Savile BBC scandal.

    If so, we are talking can of worms indeed.

  22. @BBC
    Damned if you do,damned if you don`t

    Funnily enough no questions asked of private media outlets which appear to have decided not to run the same story.

  23. Nick

    I know you smell a high level ring of some sort.

    I hate this sort of witch hunt.

    The BBC had better be absolutely sure about any accusation they make . At present their credentials in this area of news reporting & management are somewhat tarnished.

    …and anyway if the alleged activity is/was illegal why aren’t they handing it to the Police. ?

  24. Senior conservative from Thatcher era(no name) suggested by Channel 4 news

  25. Construction PMI for october shows a slight increase – up to 50.9, so technically this is growth.

    However, new orders fell again and employment appears to have been cut at the fastest rate since summer 2011. Overall, these figures continue the poor run in construction and suggest the sector is likely to post another contraction in Q4, alongside manufacturing.

    It’s all going to come down to the service sector again.

  26. NICK

    Which BBC witch hunt?

    Did you not see the Culture Select Committee grilling of the DG?

    If you refer to Savile-perhaps it has escaped your notice that the Police, after interviewing a considerable number of complainants, have mounted a Criminal Investigation.

  27. I wonder if this is Operation Ore rearing it’s head again ?

  28. I think some people here missed my earlier request about no speculation.

    For the avoidance of doubt, no speculation.

  29. News Night should be good tonight and I have already ordered my Domino’s Pizza.

    Anyway back on topic.

    I think (unfairly) Obama is going to lose votes as each day goes past due to more and more discontent over hurricane damage and lack of assistance in some areas.

    Even the richest and most powerful nation on the planet couldnt sort everything out in a matter of days after having a super storm the size of Europe chucked at it.

    Anyway my money is still on Obama!!

    Sorry Ted Heath screamed across my mind there?? I he canvasing in the US?


    thanks for your comment – we will agree to differ on the meaning of majority parties in US electoral history.

    I’m greatly looking forward to being in CA on 7th November to pick over the debris of the election on my Web Page.

    If it is to be 1936 then the stampede must show up in the polls soon I guess….

  31. Allan it’s certain now that Obama will LOSE!

    Why you say? Because I put £60 on him to WIN at 1/3 and my luck is so, that he won’t win :P

    As for Newsnight, apparently they might pull the story, (we’re allowed to speculate on whether it will be pulled or not right? If not just snip this bit and leave the rest of my comment.

    I think they’re causing a stir to drum up viewers, but I think they might bottle it again, because as great as the BBC is, it doesn’t learn from mistakes, and will likely repeat them. Plus when it’s a slow news day in the future it will give them a story to run then.

    I will watch anyway in the hope that it is revealed, but I wouldn’t hold your breath.

  32. I don’t think Americans react the same as us. The US sees the clean up as more a responsibility of the Governors.

    The US news channels are not reporting negatively for Obama and if Fox News don’t see a way of making capital out of Obama’s response then there isn’t any to be made. And I have not read on any US site that Obama or Romney should stop campaigning.

    It just seems to be the BBC that are not happy.


    Have faith in your £60 punt :) and Americans are normally very good at giving their presidents a second chance/term.

    As for News Night, they better no cancel the program or my pizza bill is heading there way. Surely they have learned their mistakes? Hmm perhaps not!! ;)

  34. Can’t quite see the Katrina comparison holding up here. Sandy has obviously caused catastrophic damage along a large part of the US East Coast and the human suffering and torment for those directly effected cannot be alleviated overnight. There will be traumatic and harrowing images for some time to come but I think the settled view is that the US Federal Government has reacted quickly and, in most cases, humanely and effectively. There is a limit to how much can be done by mere mortals in the face of such a monumental natural disaster,

    The story of New Orleans after Katrina was completely and utterly different.. The the then US President, Bush, was generally regarded to be asleep and complacent on the job and the the abiding memory was of anarchy and lawlessness in hurricane shelters, and boat-borne police and private security guards going around the city shooting looters rather than rescuing people marooned by the flooding. It gave a clear impression of a clueless administration more concerned with conserving money and protecting property rather than human life. It did for Bush politically.

    A word on McShane. He’s quite clearly been extremely silly and foolish and his political career is now over. That said, I always rather liked him and found him a persuasive, if a little quirky at times, advocate for New Labour over many years. He was a regular contributor to the Guardian’s letter pages and I always enjoyed reading him. He championed some fine and noble causes and, it would appear, was quite widely liked on both sides of the House. His demise is to be regretted, albeit totally merited and self-inflicted. That said, I shall miss him.

  35. COUPER

    It was the Beeb which were showing some discontent from the public over the lack of assistance but of course they were probably very selective in their interviewees.

    A couple of high ranking (local level) Republicans have come on national tv and praised Obama for his handling of the crises (damn site better than Bush and Katrina) but I think peoples patience over the comming days will start to wobble!!

  36. @colin

    ‘and anyway if the alleged activity is/was illegal why aren’t they handing it to the Police. ?’

    If this is the person that tom Watson referred to then the police are investigating it.

  37. i think macshane was more than silly ,he acted corruptly. i always liked him . he wrote a great book in 1979 called “using the media” – how to deal with the press,television and radio.


    I think we can draw comparison with Katrina and Sandy. Obama was far more proactive and had put huge measures in place to ensure as many people as possible were moved to safety.

    Bush in comparison was like a stuffed manikin dredging for oil and never lifted a finger!!

  39. Just watched Fox-and I know they have an agenda.

    But Mayor Bloomberg , Obama, FEMA & the rest need a serious reality check.

    Staten Island is a disaster zone-and there appears to be no help there at all.

    They cannot seriously facilitate a Marathon in NY with that situation across the bay. They are still pulling bodies out ffs.

    The plight of people with no homes is dreadful-let alone the fuel supply situation.

    The lesson of Sandy looks like the lesson of Katrina-a load of backslapping politicians = thousands of suffering people.

    Pathetic for the “most powerful country on earth”.

  40. Re the rumoured Newsnight tonight , it’s sad if Newsnight is using tabloid bullying tactics to distract from their ‘s and the BBC’s negligence over Saville .

    It would however be consistent with Paxman and Warks’ constant smug interruptions and harrying of interviewees . I’ve stopped watching it when these two present .

  41. Regarding McShane,yes I know he did wrong,but I rather like that he let the
    Interns keep their laptops.There have to be some perks of the job. Surely.
    However EdM was Quite right to act swiftly here.This weird business tonight,
    Just do not know what to make of it.

  42. @Colin

    About that thing we’re not supposed to talk about, I agree with you 100%.

    Have people completely lost their marbels? Everyone is innocent until proven guilty.

  43. Infact if Romney does pull off the win and beats Obama. I will change my name from Maninthemiddle to

    It’sMyBetWotWonIt ;)

  44. RAF


    I’m not at all sure anyone is really in charge at the BBC.

    If you listened to the new DG before CM&S Select Committee, for him the most important thing is to observe the chain of command-the structure.-not to find the f**k out what is happening in the organisation of which he is Editor in Chief.

    This bloke & Fatty Pang!-what a great combination.

    Another superb appointment by Cameron.

  45. @Colin

    “Just watched Fox-and I know they have an agenda.”

    You get my UKPR “Beyond Irony” Award for now, and possibly forever! lol

  46. I’m moving to Switzerland, I’m already learning French, and they get a referendum on absolutely everything. 2 new referendums, one for immigration, one for the environment. Get me to Switzerland!!! Plus I like Lindt Lindors. (Not such a fan of toblerone)

  47. @Colin

    “They cannot seriously facilitate a Marathon in NY with that situation across the bay. They are still pulling bodies out ffs.”

    I’ve run the NY Marathon and it starts in Statten Island. Do you think they would even think of running it if the situation was as bad as Fox News is claiming. Maybe they’re building up to a bulletin showing Romney, dressed as Superman, descending from the sky to rescue everyone – timed for Monday night, of course!


    Give it to someone else. I don’t want it.

    My post was triggered by yhis :-

    “The US news channels are not reporting negatively for Obama and if Fox News don’t see a way of making capital out of Obama’s response then there isn’t any to be made. ” from COUPER 2802.

    Fox reported from Staten Island-as did the BBC today.

    I don’t give a stuff who reports about those people-or what you think about it.

    Just so long as someone tells the truth .

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