The Political Forecast & Review
October 19, 2012
By Jim Ellis
The second presidential debate brought better reviews for President Obama, but it is already apparent that the event won’t figure too prominently in determining the parent campaign’s final swing. Remembering that national polling doesn’t fully measure trends until five to six days after the event occurs, we are just now seeing if either candidate received a discernible bounce relating to their Long Island debate performance. The best polls are conducted over a two to three day period. So, even with pollsters going into the field right after the debate last Wednesday, the numbers detecting a meaningful progression weren’t publicized until this past weekend. And, with the third debate scheduled for Monday night, October 22nd, it appears that little coming from the second forum will have a consequential effect upon either candidate.
The third debate, coming from Boca Raton, FL, will concentrate on foreign policy. Therefore, we can expect further questions about the Benghazi situation and certainly more on the entire Mideast powder keg and the War in Afghanistan.
In terms of national polling, challenger Mitt Romney continues to be trending upward. Today, all surveys project the two candidates be within one to three points except for Gallup, which posts Mr. Romney to a 51-45% lead in its latest track. But, it’s the state counts that are the determinative factor in the American presidential election.
Looking at the four core states, Romney appears to be significantly ahead in all-important Florida and North Carolina. There is no realistic electoral map that projects a Romney victory without the inclusion of Florida. Of the remaining core states, North Carolina, Virginia, and Ohio, Romney must take two. He is consistently now ahead in the Tar Heel State, and Virginia is virtually tied. The President still maintains a small lead in Ohio. Should Romney fail to capture all four core states, he must then look at combinations involving Wisconsin, Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, and New Hampshire. Without Ohio, the challenger must take both Wisconsin and Colorado and any one of the others; or either Wisconsin or Colorado, and all three remaining swing states: Iowa, Nevada, and New Hampshire.
One of the President’s key advisors outlined their “firewall” strategy, if all of the core and larger secondary states break for Romney. They believe their final buffers are in Colorado, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Iowa.
With two weeks remaining, the presidential contest is still very much undecided.
Despite Republican gains in the presidential contest, Democrats continue to be on a slight upswing in the Senate races. With Republican seats in Maine and Massachusetts now looking more like GOP losses and Arizona, Indiana, and Nevada remaining in the competitive category, the chances of the majority Democrats retaining control are stronger than at any time in the present election cycle.
Of the key toss-up states, Democrats may be getting a bump in Virginia, where former Gov. Tim Kaine is now polling a bit stronger than ex-Sen. George Allen. The Wisconsin race continues to teeter back and forth, but a Republican victory there is far from clinched. The same is true for the Democratic open seat in North Dakota. On the other hand, Republicans may have the slightest of edges in Montana.
As many as thirteen seats are either considered too close to call or headed to the toss-up category, so the Senate majority, too, is undecided with just two weeks remaining before Election Day.
The Republican advantage rests with their defending only ten seats as compared to the Democrats’ twenty-three. The Democratic edge portends that their candidates seem to be on the upswing in more states. Our previous prediction of both parties falling within a 51-49 seat margin appears to be holding. The final two weeks will be highly determinative.
The House will remain in Republican hands, and probably close to the current level of 240 GOP seats. A total of 218 seats are needed for majority control. Movement toward the Republicans in two Arizona House seats is apparent. The Illinois Democratic map may not be performing as intended. It does not appear likely that they will convert the four to five seats as the Democratic legislative leaders had intended. Republicans do appear poised to convert the three or four North Carolina seats that they had forecast. California, New York, and Florida remain House race wild cards.
It is probable that the two parties will trade seats in the Sunshine and Bay States. Democrats seemed poised to defeat Rep. David Rivera in south Florida, and Republicans are on a clear path to unseat veteran Rep. John Tierney in northeast Massachusetts.
The closing days promise to be exciting.
Jim Ellis is a professional election analyst who has worked in national campaign politics and grassroots issue advocacy since 1978. He currently writes and speaks as a member of the PRIsm Information Network.