With one week until election day, I think it is time that I post my projection of how the election will turn out (with the exception to one variable which I will discuss later). Using the current Real Clear Politics (RCP) Electoral map projection tool, I come up with the following projection:
RCP currently has the following states listed as toss-ups: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin. The methodology I used to to assign the toss-up states to either President Barack Obama or Governor Mitt Romney was to take their current polling average and add 1.5% to Romney. I chose this number for a few reasons. For starters, each polling average for the states listed above had at least 2.5% (one as great as 6.4%) unallocated to either candidate (this includes non-answers, undecided, support for third-party candidates, etc). Secondly, the margin of error (MoE) for these polls are approximately 4%. Lastly, the conventional wisdom is that the undecided vote usually favors the challenger.
Taking those points into consideration (and the fact that Mitt Romney currently has a 3.2 point favorability advantage over Barack Obama) I moved Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, and Virginia to Romney. This brings his Electoral Vote total (EVs) up by 72 from 191 to 263. By giving Obama Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, his EVs increase by 74 from 201 to 275. Since 270 EVs are needed to win, President Obama wins reelection by 5 EVs by my projection.
Recent events places this model into question, however. As we witnessed last night (or as in my case “this morning” due to the loss of power), Super Storm Sandy has created a lot of chaos along the East Coast and has impacted over half the country this week. With power outages, flooding, loss of property and unfortunately the loss of life, there is doubt that some precincts (and maybe even states) will be able to hold a full election next week. Reports are that some transportation services will be down for over a week, and power may be down for even longer. How will that impact the projection?
Pennsylvania: For many recent election cycles, the Republicans have tried but failed to flip Pennsylvania to their side. The last President to do so was George H.W. Bush in 1988. Currently (according to RCP), there is a 4.7% advantage for Obama in the state – a lead that has shrunk by 4% over the last few weeks by a surge of support for Romney. Sandy can push the state in the direction of Romney because of the storms impact on the region around Philadelphia. For those not familair with the state, the Democrats major vote stronghold is the City of Philadelphia and the surrounding counties, with Allegheny County to the West being a close second. If voter suppression in the Philadelphia area occurs due to continued lack of power, poor transportation, and inadequate voting facilities, it’s possible that Romney could take the state.
Virginia: While Northern Virginia did take a strong hit by then-Hurricane Sandy, the biggest impact of the storm occurs in the Appalachian region due to snow. As Super Storm Sandy made landfall and overcame the cold front that was pushing to the East, she created blizzard conditions to the the Appalachian region – an area that favors Romney. In a state that is currently tied according to RCP, the few votes lost could be all that it takes to tip Virginia back into the hands of Obama.
New York: If you want to see the extreme impact of the storm, New York could also be close come election day. In a state that Obama won by 25% over McCain, in 2012 it could come down to the single digits. That is because over 4.5 Million of the voters (60%) of 2008 live in the NYC/Long Island region of the State. With the subways flooded, bridges closed, power out, and so on, it could be quite possible that the whole region sees and extensive drop in voter participation. And since the majority of the voters in this area favor the Democrats, the margin of victory for Obama could easily drop from the 62% he enjoyed in 2008 down to the low 50%’s.
My hope is that the States are ready enough to meet the needs of the voters on Election Day. It would be sad to see people being disenfranchised due to the acts of Sandy. While Mother Nature tends to depress voter participation around the nation every year, it is usually localized and doesn’t have a major impact that might swing an election. This year, however, the potential is there. If that were to happen, I wonder what type of changes will be made before the 2016 election. I can already assume that “early” voting drives will expand in these areas, just in case of the next “Sandy”.
One more week to go!