Sunday, October 28, 2012

The state of the presidential contest 10/28/12

The last time I posted a state of the presidential contest entry, it was 10/18/12, in which I updated what I had posted the previous Saturday night over at Daily Kos.
Where's what I wrote about the state of the race on Saturday night.
As of October 13th, the presidential swing states are Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin, while the states with competitive races for the U.S. Senate are Arizona, Connecticut, Indiana, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, and Virginia. Since last week's report, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Wisconsin have moved back into the competitive column with 60-80% likelihoods of Obama wins, while North Carolina has moved out with an 80+% chance of a Romney victory. Also, Virginia's senate contest has returned to the competitive column because Tim Kaine's likelihood of being elected dropped to just under 80%. That's the bad news. The good news is that Heidi Heitkamp now has more than a 20% probability of winning North Dakota and Nate Silver gives Tammy Baldwin more than an 80% chance of victory in Wisconsin.
Over at FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver estimates a 52.6% of Romney winning the presidential contest in Virginia, while Tim Kaine has a 79.5% likelihood of being elected as Senator.
It has been even longer since I gave an update on the Iowa Electronic Market.
The market is currently forecasting a 71% chance of an Obama victory with a 55% vote share. That's actually an improvement over yesterday, when Obama was trading in the mid 60s.
Follow over the jump for an update to both the competitive states based on the 20-80% inclusive chance of winning based on FiveThirtyEight and the state of the national contest based on both FiveThirtyEight and the IEM.

Here is the state of the contest that I posted last night in Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Frankenstorm edition) on Daily Kos.
As of October 27th, the presidential swing states are Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Virginia, while the states with competitive races for the U.S. Senate are Arizona, Indiana, Montana, Nevada, and Virginia. Since my previous report two weeks ago, Wisconsin has moved out with an 80+% chance of an Obama victory. Also, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Missouri, North Dakota, and Virginia have been removed from the competitive senate category because one of the candidates has more than an 80% chance of being elected. The bad news is that Heidi Heitkamp now has less than a 20% probability of winning North Dakota. The good news is that the Democratic candidates are leading in all the rest.
Just since last night, the states I consider to be competitive based on Nate Silver's analysis has changed. Nate's model now shows Obama's chance of winning Nevada at 80.1%. That falls just outside of the 80% inclusive endpoint, so I'm moving it out of the swing state group for now. Just as well, since I'm using the criterion to select science stories for Overnight News Digest; based on my experience, the two campuses of the University of Nevada do not produce much in the way of good research.

New Hampshire also provided good news for Obama. Last night, his chances of winning the state were 69.5%. Today, he has a 70.5% likelihood of victory there. If I recall correctly, Obama's probability of winning also increased slightly in Colorado (where Romney had an edge earlier last week, but Obama's chances are now 57.7%), Iowa (Obama was below 70% but is now 72.3%), and Virginia (a very similar story to Colorado, but Obama is on the verge of going over 60% with odds at 59.8%). Despite all these positive indications, Obama's chances of winning actually dropped slightly from last night to today, 74.4% to 73.6%. Why? Ohio. I'll let Nate explain.
The Ohio poll was a good one for Mr. Romney. The survey, conducted by the University of Cincinnati for a consortium of Ohio newspapers, showed the tied race, 49-49, with almost no undecided voters left. The same survey had given Mr. Obama a 5-point advantage before the Denver debate.

Some liberals have critiqued the Ohio poll for being out of date — it was in the field between Oct. 18 and Oct. 23, meaning that some of its interviews were conducted before the final presidential debate in Florida.

I think this criticism is probably overdone. There is little evidence that the race has changed all that much since the final debate; the FiveThirtyEight model finds that Mr. Obama has perhaps gained half a percentage point nationally since then, but probably not much more than that.

And apart from the timing, the poll has a lot going for it: it has a good track record and collected a reasonably large sample size, meaning that it gets a lot of weight in the FiveThirtyEight forecast.

But the poll should not be used to imply that the race is tightening further in Ohio. There have been 12 other polls of the state that also conducted at least some interviews after the Florida debate, and they showed Mr. Obama up by two points there on average, which is about where the FiveThirtyEight forecast now shows the state. If a candidate holds a two-point lead in a state, it is normal for some polls to show him tied or trailing by a point or so instead in contrast to others that might put him four or five points up.

That is pretty much what we see in Ohio right now, with the edge in the polling average remaining with Mr. Obama. The new poll reduced his chances of winning the state to 73 percent from 76 percent in the forecast.
Over all, the stronger poll in Ohio for Mr. Romney slightly outweighed the poorer one for him in Virginia. His chances of winning the Electoral College inched up to 26.4 percent from 25.6 percent in Friday’s forecast.
What did the IEM have to say about the election? Here's the latest press release, which came out ten days ago.

University of Iowa: Romney comes back, but Obama still favored by IEM
Obama still favored 2-to-1 by Iowa Electronic Markets traders
By: Tom Snee
2012.10.18 | 10:52 AM
Mitt Romney has been making a comeback on the Iowa Electronic Markets (IEM) in recent weeks, but Barack Obama is still a 2-to-1 favorite to win the popular vote in November.

A contract for Mitt Romney was selling for 34.5 cents on the IEM’s Winner Take All market Thursday morning, which means traders believe there is a 34.5 percent probability that he will win. That price is up substantially from the 18.6 cents he was trading at as recently as September 27, an 85 percent increase in price.

Obama, meanwhile, was selling for 66 cents Thursday, which means traders believe there is a 66 percent probability he will win the popular vote. As Romney’s price increased in recent weeks, Obama’s fell 19 percent from his high of 81.7 cents on Sept. 27.

Most of Romney’s recent gains came during a two-week period shortly before and after the first debate on Oct. 3. His price reached as high as 39.2 cents on Oct. 12 before settling back.
The situation hasn't changed much during the past ten days, as the current quotes show Obama's likelihood of winning at 62-64% and getting about 52% of the two-party vote share. This is a slight improvement over yesterday, when the prices on the winner-take-all market gave Obama a 61-63% chance of victory.

Time for one final aside. Sam Wang over at the Princeton Election Consortium has a much more optimistic view of the election for Democrats than Nate Silver. This includes the North Dakota Senate contest.
With nine days left to the national election, many races have fallen into place. Where should activists put their effort and money?
1. North Dakota (Heitkamp v. Berg). North Dakota is strongly Republican, but also has an individualist style of politics somewhat separate from the national scene. Its economy is booming, and there has been an influx of new residents. Heidi Heitkamp (D) and Rick Berg (R) have been neck and neck all season. Close observers think that Heitkamp has run a very strong campaign. October polls ( show a tie (median margin +0.0 +/- 3.0%, n=5).
I hope he's right. Even so, if I were donating to out-of-state U.S. Senate campaign, it would be Joe Donnelly's in Indiana. Nate thinks he has a better chance of winning and his opponent Mourdock has damaged himself with his 'a child of rape is a gift from G-d' rhetoric.

As for any advice I'd take from Sam, it's more local. In House: prediction update and GOTV advice, he lists MI-11 as being competitive. Since the boundary of the district comes within two miles of where I live and Taj being a much better candidate than Bentivolio, I both have a dog in this fight and can do something about it. Maybe I'll get out the vote for Taj.

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