Sunday, November 6, 2011

November 6, 2012

Yes, there is exactly one year to go before election day. How time will fly. To that end, I will be providing monthly updates on polling and the political intrigue that becomes every presidential election cycle.

At this point it is difficult to assess the race with all but a small degree of certainty until the Republicans choose a nominee. Also, more Democrats will unite behind Obama as the reality of a Republican-controlled government sinks in. I do believe that there will be a third party candidate, but am not sure where on the spectrum they will come from. I could see a far-right candidate if Mitt Romney is the GOP leader, but I could also see a viable moderate who splits the difference between the major parties, and a progressive candidate stepping in because of left-wing unhappiness with the president. That's what makes this so much fun. But for now, let's get to what we actually know.

Nate Silver weighs in with an article in the Sunday New York Times magazine entitled, Is Obama Toast? Handicapping the 2012 Election. His basic conclusion is that Obama's chances depend on who the Republican nominee is and how well the economy is doing by the summer of 2012. My summary sounds simplistic: the article is a must-read.

Dr. David Hill, on the other hand, says that Obama fails all viability tests and will not be reelected, mainly because he has few actual accomplishments that the public can associate with his administration. Yes, there is health care and financial reform, but what else can he run on? Hill uses three data sets to support his points and right now they all point towards a Republican victory next year.

As for the latest polls, here's what we have from
Obama's Job Approval
The Electoral College Map, based on the most recent polls
Head-to-head results for President

The latest Reuters/Ipsos poll is here.

Obama generally runs ahead of the Republican field, but clearly Mitt Romney has to be seen as his main competitor and is even leading the president in some surveys.

Not all is good news for the Republicans, though. Democrats hold an aggregate 2.4% lead in the Generic Congressional Vote, suggesting that they could take back the House of Representatives next year.

In the end, though, this election will come down to a handful of battleground states that include Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia and others. The latest numbers from those states can be found in this article.

There are some wildcards in the election, the most notable being Obama's foreign policy successes and any uptick in economic activity coupled with a steady decline in the unemployment rate. If Obama is successful at painting the Republican nominee, and the GOP in general, as obstructionist and on the wrong side of the issues, that will help him. Many recent polls suggest that the public supports higher taxes on the wealthy and fewer cuts to social programs.

All of these variables await us.

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