As the election race closes to less than forty hours before Election Day, all kinds of stories have come out. ‘Inside’ stories about Romney preparing for a loss, Obama planning to move to Hawaii next year because he knows he’s done, so-called experts and gurus who promise perfect knowledge of what will happen … there’s no shortage of noise and media flatulence. While I have my own ideas about what will happen, I don’t pretend to know it for a fact, and frankly I don’t respect anyone who pretend that they have such knowledge. However the voters think, however early voting went, the race itself will be decided Tuesday by the actual votes. That’s because opinion polls are not actual votes, and however important early voting is, no one has ever had so commanding a lead in early voting that the Election Day was not necessary. Nate Silver is lying to you, and so is Karl Rove. It’s what they are paid to do, actually, but you should keep in mind that spin is pervasive in the media, including a lot of people pretending they are objective reporters. The race could be razor-close, it could be decisive, and it’s even possible that President Obama could win the Popular Vote but lose the Electoral Vote, as Gore did in 2000. But I have not been able to work out a way for Mitt Romney to win the Popular Vote without also winning the Electoral Vote.
Here’s how that works out:
Obama has a commanding lead by all accounts in polls in five states (54%+ in New York, Illinois, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Washington). Obama also won handily in D.C., Hawaii, Vermont, Rhode Island, Maryland, Delaware, and Maine, but there are no polls in the last two weeks for those states. If you take the poll support where known (use those RCP average that get such press), and apply 2008 numbers for states without polls, when you plug it all in, Barack Obama ends up leading Romney 48.9% to 46.6%.
First, notice that no national poll, well no serious poll by professionals, give Romney support numbers that low nationally. And Obama is below those numbers in serious national polls. I don’t think those state polls are kosher, but for here they create a problem for anyone saying Romney would win the PV but lose the EV, because the only way to create that condition would be to add votes for Romney in battleground states … or create ridiculous scenarios, like saying he takes 90% in Texas and 48% in California.
When you add in the necessary votes to give Romney the PV lead, it always creates a condition where he wins the EV as well. The closest scenario I could find, allowed the 3rd party percentages for each state to be copied from 2008, Obama was allowed the poll support and Romney the rest, and I end up with Romney 49.5%, Obama 49.0%, and Romney wins the EV 318-220. I’m not saying that’s how it ends up, but if Romney wins the Popular Vote this year, he wins the Electoral College as well.