Just in case you missed anything, media organizations, forecasters, journalists, and prediction markets continue to report an extremely competitive race for the presidency, but also that Obama has a slight edge when it comes to the electoral math. While a statistical tie in national polls is exciting, we don’t elect the president based on a national popular vote. Thus, state polls in key “swing” or “battleground” states are crucial for predicting the winner come November 6 (or whenever the ballots are finally counted).
1.) President Obama will be reelected with less than 300 electoral votes
2.) President Obama will win the popular vote with approximately 51.0 percent
3.) President Obama will lose at least two (and possibly five) states he won in 2008 (most likely NC and IN, and potentially CO, FL, and VA)
For undecided voters, very little seems to be left in the way of notable or unscripted campaign events. The final jobs report is due out Friday, but the irony of course is that for an election focused on jobs, the impact of the final jobs report will be diminished significantly due to an increased number of early voters in key states. As I commented in the “Room for Debate” forum, for undecided voters in Iowa the only suspense surrounds where Obama and Romney will make the next “unscheduled” stop as they traverse the Iowa landscape this week.
It is a bit surprising that the Obama campaign continues to be caught off guard by the jobs argument. Governor Romney has been running for president for at least six years and his main strength has always been his “business acumen.” No one doubted the 2012 campaign would be centered on jobs and the economy, yet the Obama Administration has struggled with its message.
On other matters, college students can have a potentially outsized impact on the presidential race here in Iowa. If 50 percent of undergraduates at the three public universities vote (according to the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office, turnout among registered 18-24 year olds was 57.5 percent in 2008), and if we assume that just over 60 percent of those voting will be registered Democratic and voting as such (college students tend to be more liberal than the rest of the population), that approximates a split of 18,000 and 12,000 votes for the Democratic and Republican parties, respectively.
Consider that in 2000 Gore defeated Bush in Iowa by just over 4,000 votes, while in 2004 Bush defeated Kerry by 10,059 votes. Obama’s 9 percentage point victory in Iowa in 2008 was more of an anomaly than the norm. Recent polls overwhelming show 2012 to be more like 2000 or 2004, rather than 2008.
UNI, Iowa, and Iowa State are also located in three different congressional districts, two of which favor Democratic incumbents (Bruce Braley in the 1st and Dave Loebsack in the 2nd), but a large student turnout could potentially swing the 3rd district to challenger Christie Vilsack. At this point, based on party identification and a presumed incumbency advantage, the race leans toward Republican Representative Steve King.
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This post was written by Chris Larimer on October 29, 2012