The web site Real Clear Politics lists a bunch of state poll results, mostly for 23 battleground states. If you don’t weight by population, the average swing toward Romney (compared to 2008) was 6.8%, not enough to overcome the fact that McCain lost by 7.3%. But here’s what really struck me:
1. The Electoral College had a strong Democratic tilt in 2008, as best we can tell (it’s harder to estimate in lop-sided elections.) If you adjust each state evenly, the popular vote would have had to move 9.6% in McCain’s direction for him to eek out a EC victory. That would have given him a 2.4% popular vote margin, which is quite unusual. So that explains most of the mystery in the previous post.
There were 4 states with unusually large Romney swings from the McCain election to the current RCP state poll consensus:
Missouri (+11.1%), Wisconsin (+11.6%), Michigan (+12.5%), and Indiana (+13.5%). That makes sense, as the Midwest is less polarized then other parts of the US, with more open-minded voters, or more voters who are open-minded, or both. I’d guess that in Mississippi you could guess how 90% of people will vote by just looking at them. So this should be great news for Romney—he’s picking up most strongly in the parts of the country where he most needs to do better than McCain, the Midwest. Except for one state. If you had to name one state that was most similar in terms of industrial mix to the 4 states mentioned above, it would be Ohio. And in Ohio Obama only won by 4.6% in 2008. Easy pickings for Romney. But for some strange reason Romney is only doing 2.3% better than in the McCain election. Given me any explanation you want, and I can blow it out of the water by pointing to Romney’s huge gains Indiana and Michigan.
The election really does come down to one state. And because of Ohio the Democratic EC tilt this year may actually be larger than the already huge 2.3% of 2008. Romney should consider running commercials saying he’ll move the national capitol to Dayton, or Toledo, so it’ll be more centrally located.
Oh wait, he still doesn’t have Virginia wrapped up . . .
PS. I still don’t think the South can explain the big EC imbalance. Consider the 12 Midwestern states. As things stand now Romney will win 6 and Obama will win 6. But all of Romney’s wins will be double-digit, and only one of Obama’s wins will be double digits. It’s bad luck for Romney that in the Midwest all 5 of the single-digit states seem likely to break for Obama. It’s odd to win 6 of 12 states in a region, and not win a single one by a margin of less than 10%. Even in the South Romney’s likely to win lots of vote-rich states by narrow margins (Florida, Virginia, North Carolina.)