Time for the morning flick through the polls in the build up to the election. I tend to use realclearpolitics.com for this. Not only do they report the major polling that’s done in one handy place, they also give an average score, which is incredibly useful when trying to make sense of the data. As of today, they have Obama on 48.6, and Romney on 44.6, which is a clear four percent. Given that most polling has a margin of error of around that’s clear daylight for Obama. This being American politics, however, it’s not quite as straightforward as it seems.
The numbers here are for the whole nation. While most candidates who win the popular vote do go on to win the election overall, thanks to the electoral college system it is entirely possible to win the popular vote and still lose overall in a tight election. That’s largely why campaigning is so tactical in the US. In a lot of the battleground states, polling has the candidates much closer. The bad news for Romney is that he’s still looking like losing Florida and Ohio, which he absolutely has to win.
Obama’s relative success in Ohio is largely down to the auto bailout, which was opposed by many Republicans. It’s seen a great success in the state, which is largely comprised of blue-collar workers. Couple that with Romney’s apparent inability to shed the ‘vulture-capital’/big business image, and it’s easy to see why Ohio is leaning towards Obama. Florida is a slightly odder proposition. Although it went for Obama in 2008, it was Republican in 2000 and 2004, both tight races. With a large amount of seniors, who naturally lean to the right, it should be ideal territory for Romney. That it’s not heading that way at the moment suggests something has gone wrong somewhere.
I suspect that the big issue in the selection of Paul Ryan as Romney’s running mate. The one thing everyone knows about him is his controversial budget plan, which featured tax cuts and welfare cuts, with a large focus on medicare. Seniors that may be socially conservative tend to still be big fans of medicare. Ryan’s selection suggests to many people that Romney is on board with his budget plans, which terrifies seniors. It may have shored up his vote amongst conservative voters, but in Florida it may well cost him the state.