Virginia Now Leans Obama

Democrats Barack Obama and Tim Kaine have gained momentum in Virginia in weekend polling.

The only substantial change in the RealClearPolitics state-by-state numbers since I posted my presidential predictions Saturday morning is that my home state of Virginia has moved from a 0.7 point Romney lead to a 0.3 point Obama lead. Of the four November polls in the sample, only Rasmussen goes for Romney.  Likewise, Democrat Tim Kaine is now up to a 1.8 point lead over Republican George Allen in the Senate race; he had a smaller lead Saturday.

Those were the two picks in which I had the least confidence—simply because the polling margin was so narrow—and my confidence in my original predictions is even less. Indeed, I’d likely predict the other way were I starting from scratch today.

Making it even harder is the fact that Virginia has an absurdly long early voting period. (Technically, we don’t have early voting at all. But virtually anyone qualifies for in-person absentee balloting. In my area, at least, it’s been open from noon to 8pm daily for weeks.) That means that the pendulum swing of momentum in the race is less crucial, since a lot of votes were already banked before the debates, job reports, Sandy, and whatever other news items that have impacted the polling.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. MBunge says:

    It’s interesting that the polls close early in the most crucial swing states. If 8 pm Eastern rolls around and Virginia and Ohio have already been called for Obama, we’ll have 2 to 3 hours to watch the conservative break down live on TV. And vice versa, or course.

    Mike

  2. Moosebreath says:

    @MBunge:

    The states won’t be called that early. Close states take hours for the votes to be counted sufficiently to make a call. I’d be surprised if either VA or OH were called much before 10 EST.

    That said, it would not surprise me one bit if the race is called at 11 PM, when California, Oregon and Washington close.

  3. James Joyner says:

    @MBunge: @Moosebreath: Unless something really wacky happens, Virginia won’t be called until very late–quite likely some time Wednesday. But it likely won’t matter except for the Senate contest, since Obama doesn’t need it–or even Colorado, another state likely to be too close to call early—to get to 270.

  4. Mikey says:

    Personally, I’ve no idea how Virginia will end up. Moving from +0.7 Romney to +0.3 Obama on RCP seems pretty meaningless, at least to me. Of the 10 polls that make up the most recent RCP average in Virginia, seven are within the margin of error, and two of those are tied. Nate Silver gives Obama a 72.6% chance to carry Virginia, but Larry Sabato at UVA admits straight out he has no idea who will take the Commonwealth.

    I’ll be flying coast-to-coast during prime time on Election Day–leaving the East Coast at 5:30 PM EST and landing on the West Coast around 8:00 PM PST (11:00 PM EST). It’ll be interesting to see what pops up when I turn on my smartphone.

  5. Geek, Esq. says:

    I think Larry Sabato had it right in arbitrarily splitting Virginia, Colorado and New Hampshire between Obama and Romney–these will be the closest races, and no one wins every close race in a Presidential election (Obama lost Missouri but won North Carolina, Bush won Ohio and Colorado but lost Wisconsin and New Hampshire) etc.

    One overlooked reason why Virginia is more competitive than a state like Ohio is that the Virginia GOP has always gotten the job done when it comes to voter turn out. It’s never been the hot mess that the Ohio or Nevada state parties are.

    Florida is another example of this.

    So, where Romney is able to lean heavily on state parties, he’s fairly competitive.

    Where OFA is decades ahead of the state party, Romney is drastically underperforming.

  6. MBunge says:

    @Moosebreath: “Close states take hours for the votes to be counted sufficiently to make a call.”

    What do you mean by close? Less than 1%? Sure. But I’ve seen states called where one candidate is actually ahead in the current vote count but the other guy is given the win. You’ll be able to look at the early vote margins and where they’re coming from to get a decent sense of what’s going on.

    Mike

  7. superdestroyer says:

    That Romney had to spend a dollar in Virginia should be clear evidence that Romney had zero chance of winning.

    Instead of writing about irrelevant polls, why not write about where a conservative party can exist in the U.S. or what is going to happen to politics and governance in a country with the demographic trends that the U.S. has.

  8. James Joyner says:

    @MBunge: Nah, they call those states based on a combination of the pre-election polls and exit polling. It really doesn’t matter what the ongoing ballot count shows in say, Oregon, since we know Obama’s going to win there. After the 2000 debacle, wherein networks incorrectly called Florida for Gore early in the night based on erroneous exit polling, that’s not going to happen again. So, no early calls in Virginia, Colorado, or New Hampshire at least. Probably not in Iowa or Ohio, either.

  9. Geek, Esq. says:

    @James Joyner:

    I do think if Florida looks razor thin, that’s a bad, bad sign for Romney. That’s a state that trends R+3-4 compared to the nation. The first real sign of trouble for Kerry in 2004 was that Florida was called early because Bush bulldozed him there.

  10. Fiona says:

    If 8 pm Eastern rolls around and Virginia and Ohio have already been called for Obama, we’ll have 2 to 3 hours to watch the conservative break down live on TV. And vice versa, or course.

    If that happens, I’m switching to Fox to watch their little pinheads explode. However, I’m expecting it will be a late night.

  11. MBunge says:

    @James Joyner: “:So, no early calls in Virginia, Colorado, or New Hampshire at least. Probably not in Iowa or Ohio, either.”

    Last time around, Pennsylvania was called at 7:48 pm Eastern, Michigan and Wisconsin at 9 and Ohio and 9:23. So, 8 pm was probably too early but the idea that we’re going to be up late into the night seems to reflect the idea that this is a 50-50 race and who knows? If Obama actually has a 5 point lead in Ohio, that’s going to be detected fairly quickly as the returns come in.

    Mike

  12. Geek, Esq. says:

    @MBunge:

    If Obama has a 5 point lead. If he has a 2.1 point lead, it’ll be a while.

    MI, PA, and WI were double-digit blowouts in 2008.

  13. wr says:

    @MBunge: Yes, election night is one of those times when I really enjoy living on the west coast!

  14. DC Loser says:

    I think if the returns from NoVA, Richmond and the Norfolk/VA Beach area are done relatively quick and have a large enough margin of victory for Obama, it could be an early night in the Old Dominion.

  15. wr says:

    @superdestroyer: “Instead of writing about irrelevant polls, why not write about where a conservative party can exist in the U.S. or what is going to happen to politics and governance in a country with the demographic trends that the U.S. has.”

    Maybe because James and Doug don’t share your terror of scary brown people.

  16. michael reynolds says:

    @wr:
    You and me both. I expect it’ll be over by my usual 11:30 bed time, which is a fairly desperate 2:30 eastern.

  17. superdestroyer says:

    @wr:

    So your position is that policy or governance will not be different as the U.S. becomes a one party state. That politics will not be different as the demographics change in the U.S. That the U.S. cane have open borders, the social welfare benefits of the Nordic states, and the private sector of South Korea or Singapore. That is an interesting argument but is not backed up by a single bit of data. Do you really think that immigration, taxes, or regulation have no effect on the private sector?

  18. David says:

    @superdestroyer: The one party state thing is getting old. Parties change over time and even if one party fades away, another one springs up. The citizens in this country are far to diverse to only have one party.

  19. KRM says:

    My wife and I are going to vote for one guy, and my next door neighbor and his wife are going to vote for the other guy. Net zero. BUT, I have two voting age daughters still at home, and his kids are too young to vote, which could mean that the entire outcome of the race could depend on whether my daughters vote for the same guy, or for different guys. Woe the Republic.

  20. superdestroyer says:

    @David:

    Chicago has been a been a one party state since the 1920’s. Baltimore has been a one party state since the 1940’s along with the District of Columiba. There is nothing inherent to the system that it means that two parties will exist. It is much simplier to believe that the one party will be dominate and everyone who is interested in politics and governance just goes along with the one, dominate party.

    The real legacy of GW Bush is that he will do down in history as the last Republican President and the politicians that destroyed conservative politics in the U.S.

  21. David says:

    @superdestroyer: Cities are not the same as countries. And on that note, I’ll stop feeding him.

  22. DRE says:

    That means that the pendulum swing of momentum in the race is less crucial, since a lot of votes were already banked before the debates, job reports, Sandy, and whatever other news items that have impacted the polling.

    You’d think so but, unless Virginia reports strangely, they only vote early at about half the rate of the US as a whole, and only about 10% of the 2008 vote total has been cast so far. (http://elections.gmu.edu/early_vote_2012.html)

  23. wr says:

    @superdestroyer: No, my position is that you’re not only a racist, you are quite possibly the most tedious racist in the history of racism, endlessly posting minute variations on the same post and demanding that the proprietors of this blog stop writing about the things that interest them and start writing what you want them to.

    If you think there’s so much to say on the subject, then go ahead and start your own blog. Hell, it’s not going to take up too much of your time, since every one of your posts will be identical. And then you can find out just how many people are interested in the constant repetition of your deep-seated racial fears.

  24. michael reynolds says:

    @wr:

    It had to be said.

  25. michael reynolds says:

    @superdestroyer:

    The real legacy of GW Bush is that he will do down in history as the last Republican President and the politicians that destroyed conservative politics in the U.S.

    On the contrary, racist idiots will have destroyed conservative politics.

    But hey, insofar as you bring the GOP down, thanks!

    Maybe once that stench is cleaned out we can have a real conservative party. One that lives in the real world and isn’t infested by brain-dead racist maggots.

  26. mantis says:

    @superdestroyer:

    Instead of writing about irrelevant polls, why not write about where a conservative party can exist in the U.S. or what is going to happen to politics and governance in a country with the demographic trends that the U.S. has.

    Why don’t you start a blog and write about it, instead of posting the same stupid message on every damned post here? Nobody wants to write the blog you want to read. Write it yourself.

  27. superdestroyer says:

    @michael reynolds:

    There is no way that a conservative party can exist in the U.S. without being called racist. How can a conservative party support quotas affirmative action, set asides, and separate and unequal standards. How can a conservative party support open borders and unlimited immigration. How can a conservative party support forced busing and race-based school discipline.

    Unless a political party support blatant discrimination, then people who call themselves progressives will scream racism. In the end, the U.S. will only have one political party and that party will probably go one a two-minute-hate about once a week to keep everyone in line.

  28. An Interested Party says:

    If you think there’s so much to say on the subject, then go ahead and start your own blog.

    I wonder if Stormfront would take him in…

  29. James in LA says:

    @superdestroyer: Start your own blog if you don’t like what is written here. How old are you? 12?