If there is one thing we’ve learned from this year’s political satire funny The Campaign, it’s that polls are unpredictable. Punch a baby in the face? Probably will lead to a dip in the polls. Other than that though, it’s hard to tell how the public will react. The New York Times' Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight Blog said early in the week that the race had, “broken out of stasis to become wildly unpredictable.” With six short days until the presidential election, let’s take a look at how the candidates are faring in the rapidly shifting court of public opinion.
In terms of swing states, Talking Points Memo reported on Wednesday morning that, “President Obama’s leads in Florida and Virginia have evaporated, but he remains on solid footing in the all-important bellwether of Ohio, according to the latest round of polls from Quinnipiac University, CBS News and the New York Times released early Wednesday morning.”
Nationally, another important litmus test, the Rasmussen Reports, which have surpassed even Gallup in popularity, posted Tuesday that Mitt Romney had 49% of the vote and President Obama, 47%. Only 1% were in favor of a third party candidate, while 2% identified as undecided. Polls were suspended during Hurricane Sandy, so data may not bee fully updated since Sunday.
Whether these last 2% are genuinely undecided, or simply uniformed has been a hot topic in punditry and pop culture. I’m more inclined to think the latter and so is SNL.
Which is why it’s more important than ever in these last few days to phone bank and knock on doors for your candidate; with such razor thin margins between the two, educating low information voters and pushing voter participation will be a major deciding factor.
When it comes to the economy Rasmussen discovered that, “voters trust Romney more than Obama” by a 51% to 45% margin, which is unsurprising given that Wall Street has been shut down for the past few days and economic instability looks bad for whoever’s in charge.
Enthusiasm for the election is high however, with 67% of voters saying that they are excited about the choice between two candidates. Excitement was split fairly evenly among party lines; 77% of Republicans and 75% of Democrats are enthusiastic about their options. Twenty-nine percent identify the race as “a choice between the lesser of two evils.” Given that this was the general sentiment of the massively popular Occupy Wall Street movement of last fall, I’m actually surprised it’s not higher. Possibly the candidates’ recent passion displayed in the last debate has convinced cynics that each man is genuinely invested in his vision, and cares in their own way for our country.
For the first time all year however, the president has fallen below 50% in voter confidence. As of yesterday’s polls only 48% of voters believe that Obama will have a second term. My confidence is also shaken because of the possible effect of Hurricane Sandy on voter turnout. Republicans have traditionally always had stronger voter turnout, up until 2008’s historic turnout of young and minority voters. Youth and people of color are strongly correlated with urban residents, and the public transit systems of many eastern cities are currently immobilized. Let’s hope come next Tuesday all citizens have a way to get to the polls.