Daily Election Roundup
With less than a week to go before the election, the race is still far too close to call, both in the popular vote numbers and in the Electoral College. Moreover, if an ABC News poll is accurate, nine percent of the electorate has already cast its vote, which means that the campaign from here out can affect increasingly fewer people:
Poll: Nearly 1 in 10 Has Already Cast Vote
While the 2004 election is locked in a virtual dead heat, for nearly one in 10 likely voters it’s all over but the counting: They’ve already cast their ballots. Nine percent of “likely” voters in the ABC News tracking poll say they’ve voted for president, either by absentee ballot or early voting, a number that’s jumped in the last week. Fifty-one percent say they went for George W. Bush, 47 percent for John Kerry.
That doesn’t mean Bush is “winning” the absentee vote; the difference is within sampling tolerances. And among all likely voters, including those waiting for Election Day, the race is essentially tied: Forty-nine percent support Kerry and 48 percent Bush, with 1 percent for Ralph Nader in interviews Friday through Monday.
Movable voters, those who say their minds aren’t definitely made up, are another group to watch. This group is down to 9 percent of all likely voters, compared with 14 percent at the start of tracking, and movables divide by 42 percent to 41 percent between Bush and Kerry in this poll.
Bush did as well or better with movables last week; they move, and still can. And an open question is how many of them actually will vote: Movables are following the campaign much less closely than other likely voters (32 percent “very closely,” compared with 66 percent among those who’ve got a definite preference). That suggests less commitment to the process among movables.
This goes against the conventional wisdom that late deciders go heavily to the challenger. But this race confounds normal expectations in so many other ways that this really isn’t surprising.
Bush, Kerry Are Neck and Neck In Final Week Before Election (WSJ)
Only seven days before election day, President Bush and Sen. John Kerry are separated by a single percentage point, the latest Harris Poll shows. The poll echoes other surveys from across the nation showing the two candidates are in a dead heat. The latest Reuters/Zogby poll (taken Oct. 23-25) shows Mr. Bush ahead but within the margin of error, and the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll (taken Oct. 22-24) shows Mr. Kerry ahead by a point, well within that poll’s margin of error.
This survey also finds very little difference between the numbers for the popular vote as a whole and in seventeen swing states. In both cases the election is much too close to call.
They also provide an interesting interactive graphic tracking Bush and Kerry numbers over a variety of issues.
The WaPo tracking poll has Kerry up 50-48, the highest Kerry total and the first Kerry lead in weeks. Since the movement is within the margin of error, it’s conceivable that the shift is a mathematical anomaly. Given that it coincides with the media hyping of the apparent non-story on missing explosives, though, it’s reasonable to presume that it’s actual movement in Kerry’s direction. This is also reflected in the RealClear Politics averages at the state level:
10/26: MI – Toss Up >> Leaning Kerry (Bush 234 – Kerry 228)
10/23: HI – Solid Kerry >> Leaning Kerry (Bush 234 – Kerry 211)
10/22: PA – Toss Up >> Leaning Kerry (Bush 234 – Kerry 211)
10/22: ME/1 – Toss Up >> Leaning Kerry (Bush 234 – Kerry 190)
10/22: IA – Toss Up >> Leaning Bush (Bush 234 – Kerry 189)
The Electoral College projections atop my page and from other sources (see the Polls link on my top navbar) almost all show a slight Bush lead–but most have both candidates short of the 270 needed. The interesting outlier is Scott Elliot’s Election Projection, which has it as a 269-269 tie today after having Bush up 296-242 three days ago, with Kerry now leading Florida.
The Democrats have won another battle in their attempt to thwart dissedent liberals:
Court Won’t Put Nader on Ballot in Ohio (AP)
The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to put independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader on the ballot in the battleground state of Ohio. On Friday, Nader asked the high court to review Ohio’s decision to remove him, arguing that a state law that requires people who collect signatures on candidates’ petitions be registered voters violated free speech rights. Nader’s request for a review went to Justice John Paul Stevens, who referred the matter to the full court. The justices denied the request without comment Tuesday.
Democrats, fearful that Nader could cost them votes if his name is on the ballot, had presented evidence to Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell that petition collectors registered at fraudulent addresses or places they didn’t live. Blackwell ordered Nader’s name off the ballot after a hearing officer concluded there was evidence of fraud. Nader appealed that ruling to a federal judge, who earlier this month upheld Blackwell’s decision. Nader, running as a Green Party candidate in 2000, received about 2.5 percent of the vote in Ohio. President Bush won by 3.6 percent.
On Saturday, the Supreme Court denied a similar emergency request by Nader to be placed on the ballot in the battleground state of Pennsylvania.
With Nader off the ballot in two of the three key states (he is an option in Florida), polls that continue to offer Nader as an option are virtually worthless.
Update (1327): For what it’s worth, the gambling market has Bush winning comfortably, 296 Electoral Votes to 242. (via Stephen Green).
Daily Poll Roundup
With a week of campaigning to go before the election, neither candidate has taken a significant lead.
Slate’s Election Scorecard, updated yesterday, has it Bush 271, Kerry 267 (the exact same margin as 2000 if one adds in the faithless DC elector who stiffed Gore).
Analysis Oct. 24, 2:00 p.m. ET: This weekend’s polls bring good news for Kerry. Five confirm his leads in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Oregon. One has him close in Nevada. Another has him leading in Iowa. Two others have him tied or leading in Florida. Bush’s consolation is a poll showing him up by half a point in Hawaii, of all places. We’ll need a second survey before believing that. But without Florida, Bush would have to take Ohio and New Mexico just to tie and move the election to the House. And without Florida or Ohio, even a sweep of Minnesota, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Hawaii, and Maine’s second CD wouldn’t save the president.
Update 5:20 p.m. ET: Hold on to your hats. No sooner did we demand a second tight survey in Hawaii than we got one. Both polls show Bush barely ahead with plenty of undecideds. Meanwhile, in Arkansas, Kerry has closed from a 9-point deficit to a tie. The only other conventional poll in that state showed Bush up by 3 after his convention. If Bush loses Florida, Hawaii won’t matter. But if he keeps Florida and loses Wisconsin, New Mexico and Hawaii would give him the election.
That Bush is up in Hawaii, a state that’s almost always a gimme for the Democrats, in an incredibly close election is just another indication of how bizarre this race is.
Electoral-Vote.com has it Bush 285, Kerry 247 with Ohio as “weak Bush,” Florida “leaning Bush,” and Kerry “leaning Pennsylvania.”
Most of the other Electoral College tallies have enough toss-up states that neither Bush nor Kerry has the needed 270 votes.
RealClear Politics has it Bush 234, Kerry 211. Their battleground averages have Bush up by in 0.8% Florida, by in 0.6% Ohio, and Kerry by 2% in Pennsylvania. As of Sunday, Rasmussen has it at Bush 222, Kerry 207 with Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania all in the “toss-up” category. Dale’s has it Bush 249, Kerry 228 with Florida and Ohio as toss-ups and Pennsylvania in the “slight Kerry” category (47-45). Needless to say, all three of the key states are still up for grabs, although it’s unlikely Bush will take Pennsylvania absent some major event in the news.
Daily Poll Roundup: Bush 260, Kerry 238
The head-to-head polls out today diverge substantially, with WaPo showing Bush up 6 and AP showing Kerry up 3 (and, surprisingly, calling it a “tie”). The state polls and resultant Electoral College maps, however, are leaning back toward the president after a few days of trending Kerry.
RealClear Politics has it at Bush 227 – Kerry 189, with Michigan moving out of the Kerry column and into toss-up limbo. Indeed, RCP’s last five state updates have moved in the toss-up direction, with four Kerry states and one Bush state moving into contention:
10/21: MI – Leaning Kerry >> Toss Up (Bush 227 – Kerry 189)
10/20: NH – Leaning Kerry >> Toss Up (Bush 227 – Kerry 206)
10/19: MN – Leaning Kerry >> Toss Up (Bush 227 – Kerry 210)
10/18: FL – Leaning Bush >> Toss Up (Bush 227 – Kerry 220)
10/17: PA – Leaning Kerry >> Toss Up (Bush 254 – Kerry 220)
Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio still being toss-ups this late in the game is just stunning.
Slate’s Election Scorecard has it Bush 271, Kerry 267. And that’s giving Kerry Ohio and Pennsylvania and Bush Florida. So, Bush could win even losing 2/3 of the key states.
Big lift for Bush in this morning’s polls. He’s safer in West Virginia, he’s in better position to take Ohio, he’s in good position to take New Hampshire, and he has taken Wisconsin outright. He loses one electoral vote in Maine, but the 10 from Wisconsin bump him up from 261 to 271, giving him the election.
Wisconsin is, of course, home to the famous Lambert Field.
You want close? How about 267-267? So says Electoral-Vote.com, which gives Bush Florida and Wisconsin and Kerry Pennsylvania and Ohio. He issues a huge caveat, though:
The seesaw keeps going up and down. Yesterday, Bush was ahead in Ohio and behind in Florida. Today he is behind in Ohio and ahead in Florida. A new Quinnipiac Univ. poll in Florida puts Bush a whisker ahead there, 45% to 43% among registered voters and 48% to 47% among Quinnipiac’s idea of likely voters, both well within the margin of error. A new Gallup poll in Ohio puts Kerry ahead there, 50% to 44 among registered voters, but only ahead 48% to 47% among those people Gallup considers likely voters. Given that the presidency is likely to be determined by a few thousand Florida and Ohio voters, it is somehow hard to imagine that vast numbers of registered voters in those two states are going to sit this one out though. The electoral college is now tied at 264 votes each, with Minnesota being an exact tie. It is going to be a real squeaker. Every vote is going to count in a large number of states this time.
Dale’s Electoral College Update adds in new polls from Washington, New Mexico, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Michigan, Iowa, Colorado, North Dakota, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Montana. He puts it at Bush 227, Kerry 186 including only “safe” states and Bush 276, Kerry 228 when leaners are added.
OTB Average of Averages: Bush 260.25, Kerry 237.75 (or 260-238 if you prefer your Electors whole). Granted, the methodology is a bit dubious since it includes three projections that include leaners and one that doesn’t, but it does have the advantage of aggregating the outliers. (I include only those with updates in the last day, so the projections included in the average will not be constant.)
Two new head-to-head polls came in overnight as well. WaPo’s daily tracking poll has a Bush surge, to 51-45.
AP Poll: Bush, Kerry in Dead Heat (AP)
President Bush and Sen. John Kerry are locked in a tie for the popular vote, according to an Associated Press poll, while a chunk of voters vacillate between their desire for change and their doubts about the alternative. Bush’s strength continues to be a perception by many voters that he is better qualified to protect the country, though his advantage on that has dwindled in recent weeks. A majority consider Kerry indecisive, less solid on national security. Kerry’s strengths are Bush’s weaknesses Ã¢€” most voters believe the country is on the wrong track and disapprove of the incumbent’s handling of the economy, domestic affairs and Iraq. The result is deadlock. In the survey of 976 likely voters, Democrats Kerry and Sen. John Edwards had 49 percent, compared to 46 percent for Republicans Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. That’s within the margin of error for the poll conducted Oct. 18-20.
Very interesting: A 3 point Kerry advantage is reported as a tie. That’s a fair way to interpret the margin of error, although not the most accurate reading of the poll.
Daily Poll Roundup
RealClear Politics is among the more cautious of the prognisticators, averaging polls and therefore not giving states with a 1 or 2 point margin in the latest single poll to either candidate. They show it Bush 227 – Kerry 206, with both candidates therefore below the magic 270 threshhold.
This strikes me as the most reliable indicator of where we are now, as the trends seem to be toward tightening rather than one candidate taking off. Indeed, the last four moves in the RCP have been toward clouding the picture:
10/20: NH – Leaning Kerry >> Toss Up
10/19: MN – Leaning Kerry >> Toss Up
10/18: FL – Leaning Bush >> Toss Up
10/17: PA – Leaning Kerry >> Toss Up
Scott Rasmussen has it at Bush 240, Kerry 169, and Toss-up 129. Interestingly, while he shows Bush taking Florida, both Ohio and Pennsylvania are in the toss-up category. Indeed, RCP has Florida in the toss-up category, too, putting all three of the “Big 3” swing states up for grabs less than two weeks away.
I’m not sold on Pennsylvania as in play, having assumed for a while that Kerry had it sewn up, but both Rasmussen and the average of the recent polls show it otherwise. Interesting.
Slate’s Election Scorecard still shows a Kerry lead of 276-262 but foretells bad news for Bush:
No change in the electoral vote count yet, but underlying currents are moving to Kerry. Latest polls suggest that a Florida shift to Kerry is more plausible than an Ohio shift to Bush, and a Kerry upset in West Virginia is more plausible than a Bush upset in New Jersey. The quantitative basis for ceding West Virginia to Bush is thin, and online and Democratic polls are making it thinner. We await the first neutral phone poll of October.
Dale’s Electoral College Breakdown has it Bush 227, Kerry 203 counting only strong states and Bush 264, Kerry 243 when leaners are included.
Dave Leip has it Bush 222, Kerry 196, and Toss-up 120.
Update (0957): Michael Barone has some interesting analysis of the head-to-head poll numbers, going inside the RCP average. As I’ve noted before, though, I don’t understand what experts–and Barone certainly qualifies as one–continue to focus on the national numbers, let alone the three way race. While it’s quite likely that the winner of this election–as in all but four cases in our history–will have a plurality of the popular vote in addition to winning the Electoral College, it’s not a given. The polls in the swing states are therefore much more important than the overall numbers, which can be distorted by runaways in a handful of states. Nader is not an option in many states, so a three-way poll is meaningless in any case.
That said, Barone’s piece has some interesting insights. He produces this list of current numbers:
Fox News 49-42
Washington Post/ABC 51-46
CBS News 47-45
Note that George W. Bush’s percentages range from 45 to 52 percent while John Kerry’s percentages range from 42 to 47 percent. In only one poll does Bush fall below 47 percent, which is Kerry’s highest percentage.
It seems highly likely that Bush emerged from the debates a little bit ahead. Some Kerry backers argue that voters who are still undecided are likely to end up voting against the incumbent. But it’s also possible that many of these will just not vote. And in any case, Bush is bumping up against the magic number of 50 percent. The debates helped John Kerry but evidently not enough to put him ahead.
That’s clearly the case in the national numbers. Right now, though, it isn’t showing up in the Electoral College projections.
But there is something else that is curious about the numbers in the polls, when viewed over the whole course of the campaign since John Kerry clinched the Democratic nomination on March 2. Blogger Steven Den Beste has prepared an interesting chart. Den Beste charges that pollsters “deliberately gimmicked” the results, “in hopes of helping Kerry.” I don’t agree with that at all. But he has made another interesting observation. Eliminating some of the peaks and valleys of the Bush and Kerry percentages in realclearpolitics.com’s average of recent polls, Den Beste shows that Bush’s percentages have tended to rise over time while Kerry’s have risen much less if at all. He draws the Bush long-term trend line from a low point around 43 percent in May, when the media were full of stories about the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, to higher numbers around 45 percent in July and August, then up to the 49 percent level he has reached today. His long-term Kerry trend line runs through the 44 to 45 percent level in the spring to the 45 to 46 percent level in August, after the Democratic National Convention, to the same 45 to 46 percent level of today.
It seems curious that the percentages of the incumbent should rise while the percentages of the challenger have not risen much if at all. As a general proposition, you expect an incumbent’s standing to change less, because voters already know much more about him than about his opponent. But that hasn’t happened this time.
Barone’s explanation, rather lengthy, has to do with the nature of the press coverage. Patrick Frey has the latest example of pro-Kerry spin in the mainstream press.
Daily Poll Roundup
Polls are flooding in during the final days of the campaign. While most show the race to be tight, they are all over the map as to whether Bush or Kerry leads the national head-to-head race. More significantly, however, Kerry seems to be gaining ground in the all-important race to 270 electoral votes.
Votemaster updates his Electoral Vote Predictor to Kerry 291, Bush 247 with the addition of 41 new polls.
Zogby has released new polls conducted in the battleground states Oct. 13-18 and there is good news and bad news for each candidate. For Bush, the good news is that he is now leading in seven of the 16 battleground states (Arkansas, Florida, Nevada, Ohio, Tennessee, and West Virginia), his best showing ever in the Zogby poll. The bad news is that all of these leads are within the margin of error, so they are statistical ties. For Kerry, the good news is that his leads in Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington are all outside the margin of error, which ranges from 2% to 4%.
But there are other polls today as well. A new poll from the University of Cincinnati shows Kerry ahead in Ohio, 48% to 46%. Rasmussen’s tracking poll shows Bush and Kerry tied at 47% each in Ohio, the first time Bush has not led there for weeks. ABC News says its Kerry 50%, Bush 47%, but Fox News says it is the other way: Kerry 45% and Bush 47%. On the other hand, Survey USA has Kerry ahead 49% to 47%. All in all, Ohio is a complete tossup at the moment; it could go either way. My rule is still: most recent poll (based on the middle date) wins, with ties resolved in favor of the shortest poll. If two or more polls with the same dates are most recent, they are averaged. Currently, The Fox/Opinion Dynamics poll is the most recent by 0.5 day, so it is being used today. The complete list of polls is given at the Polling data link to the right of the map.
Some people have said I should average over some time interval, but when I did that in early October, there was massive objection to the idea, so I am going to stick with the most recent poll from here to election day. No more discussion. It is the most objective system. But it should be obvious that many states are locked in an exact tie. The get-out-the-vote efforts will be crucial. Rasmussen also shows Bush and Kerry tied in Florida at 47% apiece, again for the first time in weeks. Early voting has already started in Florida and other states. In fact, it is expected that up to a third of all votes may be cast before election day.
The methodology is suspect, of course, but there is no consensus on how best to do this. I’m more comfortable with the RCP average method–which currently shows the race at Bush 227 – Kerry 210–but it has the disadvantage of often including older polls that may not reflect current trends.
Slate’s Election Scorecard was tweaked last night but still shows a slight Kerry lead: 276-262.
We don’t trust today’s automated, Naderless poll showing Kerry ahead in Florida. The state stays with Bush. On the other hand, Kerry is regaining his lead in New Jersey. Toughest calls: Iowa for Bush, New Mexico and Wisconsin for Kerry. Kerry wins today even if he loses New Mexico. But without Wisconsin, he’s finished.
Votemaster also provides this:
A new Gallup poll taken in Colorado Oct. 15-17 on amendment #36 to split the electoral vote in proportion to the popular vote is now behind, with 53% against it and 39% for it.
That’s a good thing, not just because it likely means Bush will get all 9 of Colorado’s electoral votes rather than splitting them 5-4 with Kerry. It demonstrates that Colorado residents have grasped that the measure will effectively render their vote irrelevant. More importantly, it means that we won’t have to face lengthy court battles over whether changing the rules post hoc–and by other than direct action of the state legislature–is legal.
One bright spot for Bush is last night’s Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll.
Two weeks before Election Day, President George W. Bush leads Democratic challenger Sen. John Kerry in the race for the White House, according to a FOX News poll released Tuesday. In the days following the final presidential debate, Bush has not only continued to solidify his position with independent voters, but he is also holding his ground with women voters Ã¢€” a traditional Democratic voting group that Kerry needs in his column.
Today Bush has a five-point lead, receiving 48 percent to Kerry’s 43 percent among likely voters. When independent candidate Ralph Nader is included he receives 2 percent, Bush 49 percent and Kerry 42 percent. Two weeks ago Bush had a two-point lead over Kerry in the three-way race, and a three-point lead in the head-to-head matchup.
Men are more likely to support Bush over Kerry (51 percent to 41 percent), and women also give a slight edge to the president (47 percent to 45 percent). Married women, a voting group many are watching this year, give their support to Bush (49 percent to 43 percent), while single women support Kerry (49 percent to 41 percent).
By a margin of 52 percent to 34 percent, self-identified independent voters today are backing Bush. This is up from an 11-point advantage the president had among this group two weeks ago.
While I have no reason to doubt these findings, their bearing on the outcome of the race is limited. For one thing, Ralph Nader isn’t on the ballot in several states. Including a non-existent option skews the results (a flaw in most of the national polls). More importantly, of course, is that what matters is the outcome of the electoral count, not the national popular vote. While I don’t expect it to happen–I think Bush will carry a couple of the swing states currently leaning Kerry, including Ohio–it’s not inconceivable that Bush could win the popular vote and lose the election, reversing the 2000 result.
Update (0950): Stephen Green, presumably under the influence of potent potables, has come to a startling conclusion:
It’s all a bunch of crap.
The polls all suck, for reasons gone into by people way smarter than I am. The predictions all suck, because everybody is working from the same assumptions, based on voting patterns from the last election. In 2000, the world was as at peace as it ever is, the economy was still in the final giddy stages of a really good drunk (and I should know), and an untried George W. Bush was challenging a not-quite-human, not-quite-incumbent Al Gore for the White House.
He then posits two maps: One with Kerry winning 325-213, the other with Bush winning 310-228. I was hoping for a Bush landslide before the debates but, absent some huge development “on the ground,” I just don’t see how it happens. It would take a scandal of epic proportions for Kerry to win more than one or two states Bush carried in 2000. While the scenario for a Bush blowout is easier to concoct, it just doesn’t seem likely absent another terrorist attack or some other huge event.
Stephen is right about one thing for sure, though: We don’t have any idea how this is going to come out. The pros are all over the place on this one. Why? They have no clue how to screen for likely voters in such a hyper-charged race.
Daily Poll Roundup
Reuters Poll: Bush, Kerry Tied in White House Race (Reuters)
Democratic Sen. John Kerry pulled into a statistical dead heat with President Bush in a seesawing battle for the White House, according to a Reuters/Zogby poll released Monday. The latest three-day tracking poll showed Kerry and Bush deadlocked at 45 percent apiece barely two weeks before the Nov. 2 election. The president had a 46-44 percent lead over the Massachusetts senator the previous day, and a four-point lead the day before that. About 7 percent of likely voters say they are still undecided between the two White House rivals. “This is, as I have said before, the same kind of roller coaster ride we saw in 2000 with the lead changing back and forth and neither candidate able to open up any kind of lead,” pollster John Zogby said.
Kerry campaigned Sunday in Ohio and Florida while Bush took a day off in Washington. Ohio and Florida top a list of about 10 tightly fought swing states where the race for the 270 electoral votes needed to claim the White House will be decided.
With both candidates battling for every last vote, Bush holds a four-point edge in the suburbs and the two candidates are tied in small cities, the poll found. Kerry comfortably leads Bush among urban voters and Bush holds a strong lead among rural voters.
This is the only new poll released overnight and it moves the RCP average to Bush 48.8%, Kerry 45.2%, and Nader 1.7% — a Bush advantage of 3.6%.
The all-important Electoral College?
- Scott Elliot’s Election Projection now puts the electoral vote race at Bush 274, Kerry 264.
- Electoral Vote.com has it Kerry 253, Bush 247 — but that’s showing Florida as “exactly tied” and therefore not in anyone’s column.
- VodkaPundit Stephen Green has it at Bush 274, Kerry 264.
- Slate’s Election Scorecard, meanwhile, hasn’t updated in almost a week>. UPDATE: They posted later in the day: Bush 272-Kerry 266.
So, no one shows Kerry getting to the magic 270 elector threshhold but they all show him within striking distance.