I don’t know who will win the presidency come Nov. 6. I do know, however, that at this point, based on polling, Barack Obama remains the clear favorite to win an electoral-college majority.
I understand that’s a controversial statement among some. Sites such as Nate Silver’s fivethirtyeight.com have become targets of sustained attacks and critiques by supporters of Mitt Romney for making similar statements. But it’s nonetheless true.
To document that claim, let’s take a look at the race using a data source that ought to sidestep all conservative claims of “skewed polling” and “media bias,” etc. Let’s examine it using numbers generated solely by Rasmussen, using definitions of “leaning” and “tossup” states as applied by Rasmussen. And before we do, let’s take a moment to establish just how Republican-leaning the Rasmussen numbers really are by looking at state polling data.
Colorado: Rasmussen has Romney up by four points, which is a fairly large margin. Yet of the 10 polls released in that state in the last two weeks, eight have Obama up. The only only other poll showing a Romney lead in Colorado — an American Research Group poll released Oct. 28 — has Romney up by just one.
Ohio: Of the 21 polls released in the past two weeks, only one — Rasmussen — has Romney in the lead, in Rasmussen’s case a lead of two points. Most other polls give Obama a two-to-five-point lead.
Wisconsin: Rasmussen’s latest poll, released Oct. 25, puts Paul Ryan’s home state in a tie. Every other poll conducted in the state since Aug. 21 — more than two dozen in all — has put Obama ahead, the most recent ones by a margin of two to six points.
Now, it may turn out that Rasmussen is right and almost everyone else is wrong. That can’t be discounted. But for our purposes, there’s no doubt that by using Rasmussen in our analysis, we are using numbers most favorable to the Republican cause.
And what does Rasmussen tell us?
Well, if you look at its electoral college map, using Rasmussen-generated polling data, we find the following breakdown:
Obama and Obama-leaning states: 237 electoral votes
Romney and Romney-leaning states: 206 electoral votes
Tossups: 95 electoral votes
In other words, to get to the magical 270 electoral votes, Romney needs to win 64 of the 95 tossup votes available. That’s 67.4 percent, or two out of three available votes.
To get to the magical 270 votes, Obama needs to win just 33 of the 95 tossup votes, basically a little more than one out of every three tossup votes.
That’s why Obama is the favorite. Having to win one out of three is a lot easier than having to win two out of three.
It is true, of course, that favorites don’t always win. The Florida Gators were favored over the Georgia Bulldogs last week in Jacksonville, but the Gators got beat. Six turnovers will do that to you almost every time, and that’s a turn of events that the oddsmakers didn’t anticipate. Likewise, it is entirely feasible that come Tuesday — especially given a somewhat wacky polling environment — Obama will join the Gators on the long list of favorites who went down in defeat.
But using the data source most favorable to the Republican cause, that’s not the way to bet.
– Jay Bookman