Save Jersey Electoral College Projection Map (11/2/12): ROMNEY 285, OBAMA 197

Only 4 full days left to go before Election Day 2012 is decided, Save Jerseyans.

Where does the White House race stand?

Seven (7) states changed position since our last projection on October 24th, and all of them moved in Governor Romney’s direction. Overall, Mitt Romney gained a net of eighteen (18) electoral votes over the past week and Barack Obama lost forty-six (46). Fifty-six (56) are still complete toss-ups, but the winds down the stretch clearly favor Governor Romney.

You’ll also notice a common thread this week: early voting analysis. Why? Larger numbers of Americans are doing it every year. I’m still operating under the educated assumption that many national and state polls are skewed (badly) by using 2008 turnout models. Even in those polls, however, Obama is locked in a close, margin-of-error race despite projected favorable Democrat turnout conditions… not good for him!

THEREFORE, my Save Jersey map assumes Obama is in knee-deep electoral doo-doo anywhere (1) early voting is way down, particularly in his key counties, and (2) the President continues to poll well below the 50% mark (since undecideds this late in the game typically don’t vote at all or break in high percentages to the challenger). Mitt’s ground game is as good or better this time according to most reliable sources. Obama needs at least an Election 2008-ish turnout to stay competitive considering how poorly his early vote operations is performing… 

I’ll explain these latest developments below the fold….

ROMNEY 285, OBAMA 197 **

Likely Romney: 66 EV

  • Missouri (10)
  • North Carolina (15) –> from “Likely Romney” to “Safe Romney”
President Obama and Governor Romney both have plenty of $$$ for the next few days, so neither feels the need to abandon any territory by pulling ads. But with the incumbent barely hitting 46% in NC public polling and Mitt pushing 50%, it’s all but over for O in his most surprising pick up of Election 2008.
  • Arizona (11)
  • Montana (3)
  • Florida (29) –> from “Lean Romney” to “Likely Romney”
Likely is a literal designation… the odds are heavily in favor of “x” happening. In this case, “x” is a Romney win. One of the reasons Barack Obama is going to lose this race generally is his poor early voting performance late in the cycle, Save Jerseyans. Florida’s a prime example, where Democrat early voting is down a whopping 70% over 2008. Taken together with consistent Romney polling leads, the state’s strong Republican organization, traditional voting patterns, Romney power in the I-4 corridor and Obama’s inability to escape the 47% range, it’s safe to say that the Sunshine State is a likely Romney win.
  • Virginia (13) –> from “Lean Romney” to “Likely Romney”
My Old Dominion analysis is virtually identical to my FL analysis. Early voting in Obama ’08 strongholds is off by double digits while early voting in Romney counties is way up. He’s not getting what he needs out of government worker paradises in Northern VA. In close traditional “red” states like VA and FL that Obama carried relatively narrowly last time, the President’s campaign needed much larger pre-Election Day margins to prevail in the final tallies. They’re just not getting them, so VA is another likely loss.
O insulting the U.S. Navy in the final debate didn’t help his case with coastal Virginians in key GOP turnout areas like Norfolk, Virginia Beach and Hampton Roads.

Lean Romney: 19 EV

  • Colorado  (9)
  • Iowa (6)
  • New Hampshire (4)
  • Ohio (18) –> from “Toss Up” to “Lean Romney
I campaigned in Cuyahoga County in 2004, folks. I know it well, and it’s important for any national campaign. Extremely so. As the state’s largest Democrat County (containing Cleveland), Democrats need a super majority to overcome GOP majorities in the suburbs and SE Ohio (coal country). This time around… you guessed it… early turnout for Obama is down 15% versus 2008. Early voting is how Obama got 250k votes out of Cuyahoga last cycle (roughly his statewide margin of victory).
When we kept Kerry’s Cuyahoga victory margin to 227k in ’04, that was enough for Bush to carry the state by about 118k votes with gains elsewhere. That mean Obama needs to do MUCH BETTER in the burbs than ’08 on Election Day to make up for his Cuyahoga shortfall in a very close race (all in the face of a much improved, better funded GOP GOTV over last time around). Can Obama do it? Sure, but I’m not betting on it.
Advantage? Romney…

Toss Up: 56 EV

  • Wisconsin (10)
  • Pennsylvania (20) –> from “Lean Obama” to “Toss Up
I’ve said all along that PA could be a toss up if Mitt played for it. He is, so now it is. Both members of the GOP ticket will be there over the weekend.
Unlike most of the other prominent 2012 battlegrounds, Save Jerseyans, roughly 90% of PA votes on Election Day. This means Romney’s major Sunday rally in Philly’s swing-suburbs — coupled with millions of dollars in last-minute ads from Romney and pro-GOP groups, resulting many more ads than the President’s team can muster — could just be enough to produce an epic upset in a state where voters are less desensitized to political advertising and generally favor energy independence.
  • Minnesota (10) –> from “Lean Obama” to “Toss Up
See my Pennsylvania analysis; also consider the under-reported fact that MN is voting on a marriage amendment likely to bring large numbers of religious conservatives to the polls. Similar social ballot questions pushed battlegrounds into Bush’s column in ’04…
  • Michigan (16) –> from “Lean Obama” to “Toss Up
See my Pennsylvania analysis; also consider how Michigan, birthplace of the “Reagan Democrat,” is also home to one of the nation’s largest Catholic populations. They’re not happy with the HHS contraception mandate and will no doubt hear about it from their pastors this weekend. I’m thinking a religious conservative backlash next week can cancel out any lingering misconceptions regarding Mitt’s auto industry bailout position.

Lean Obama: 13 EV

  • Nevada  (6)
  • Oregon (7)

Likely Obama: 42 EV

  • Maine (4*)
  • Washington (12)
  • New Mexico (5)
  • New Jersey (14)
  • Connecticut (7)
* An interesting wrinkle in Maine:
One (1) competitive congressional district (ME-2) might go for Mitt Romney, and because of unique state rules, that elector would go to Romney. The GOP “Restore Our Future” PAC recently made a $300k ad buy up there…
** Methodology:
Mixed. Obviously public polling is my #1 resource (with some private polling info sprinkled in as I come across it from sources). I am not relying on the RCP average, however, because I refuse to consider biased mainstream polls with huge, better-than-2008 Democrat turnout models. +2 Dem in Ohio? Okay +11? Nope! They’re stripped out. I’m also relying on (1) general national/regional trends for 2012, (2) recent historical data/trends, and (3) non-polling info that I’ve either (A) read online just like you, or (B) obtained from a reliable first or second person source. This is half-science, half-art. But what isn’t?