On PolicyMic and across the media scene in America, political pundits are focusing on conspiracy theories surrounding poll results and overall poll numbers. What many are ignoring, however, are the facts surrounding the swing states and whether or not challenger Mitt Romney can overtake incumbent President Obama in enough swing states to steal the election. Some will point to Rasmussen polls as evidence that Romney is winning, while disregarding the same site's polls that show Obama is winning.
So what really matters to you the voter?
In my opinion, the most comprehensive view of swing state indicators can be found at Nate Silver's New York Times blog. I normally avoid everything Times related, but even the most partisan news sources will have someone that is trying to be as neautral as possible, and for my money, no one does it better than Nate Silver. Before we dive into Nate's numbers, let's lay some guidelines.
There are 41 states plus Washington, D.C. that everyone agrees will most likely (85% chance or better) fall in favor of one candidate or the other. These are extremely unlikely to change and they result in President Obama having an Electoral College lead of 231-191. So before we ever get to the swing states, everyone agrees that the president has a 40 vote lead in the electoral college, the only vote that matters. You can see these states here using the NYT scenario generator. I love this tool because it allows the user to move the swing states to whomever they want and see how the electoral votes will tally. So what states remain? Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Colorada, North Carolina, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and Virginia are the swing states of 2012.
Two weeks ago, the folks at ISideWith were showing results heavily in favor of the president in the swing states. That data has largely been supported by the poll results across America over the past two weeks. In fact, in a recent CNN poll where likely GOP voters slightly outnumbered likely Dem voters, Obama still had a 3-point lead overall. CNN also shows Obama with double digit leads in several swing states, and smaller leads in other swing states.
So what does Nate Silver tell us is likely to happen in our 9 swing states, with Obama holding a 40-vote lead at the starting line? He says an incumbent has an 84.7% chance of winning. Broken down by swing states, the probabilities of an Obama win looks like this:
- Florida - 68%
- Ohio - 85%
- Wisconsin - 89%
- Colorado - 74%
- Nevada - 86%
- Virginia - 78%
- Iowa - 75%
- New Hampshire - 88%
- North Carolina - 37%
Looking at those numbers, it isn't very hard to see why Obama's campaign is already looking ahead to January and planning the inauguration party. But let's say Obama only wins those states where he has at least an 85% chance of winning - Nevada, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, and Ohio. If Obama takes only those states, he wins 275-263.
So, what do you need to know? Romney needs to win Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, Virginia, and Colorado, only one of which sees him with more than a 26% chance of winning, and he needs to win one of Ohio, Wisconsin, or Nevada. Romney needs to win 6 of the 9 swing states in order to capture the election. Is it possible? Well, yes. Is it even remotely plausible? Not really. The numbers say that Obama will likely win all three of those states, and at least a couple of the other six.
So with that, why waste your vote on Mitt Romney? Obama has an 85% chance to win. Take your Romney vote and make a real statement this election. Cast your vote for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein. Show the world that Americans are ready and willing to make a change.
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