Gallup’s shocking poll numbers have the nation abuzz about 2012 presidential prospects. As TheBlaze reported on Thursday, the firm found that 52 percent of likely voters are currently supporting Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, with only 45 percent pledging allegiance to President Barack Obama.
While the results are captivating, there’s still surprising evidence that Obama has an upper-hand in the grander political schema. In four key areas, the president’s re-election campaign appears to be in a favorable position — one that Republicans should probably be nervous about: the current standing of the electoral map, early voting results in Ohio, Obama’s claim to be winning the ground game and overall campaign fundraising.
Of course, it’s still too early to judge whether these areas will determine a win or loss for either candidate and, with weeks remaining, anything is possible. But the aforestated indicators and claims coming from Obama’s team are worth paying attention to.
Here are the four developments that should give right-of-center Americans some anxiety:
The Electoral Map Is More Favorable to Obama (At the Moment)
According to Business Insider’s approach to assessing the 2012 campaign — national polls aren’t necessarily key to projecting a presidential winner. On Thursday, the outlet produced a video examination of electoral college votes and the states that each candidate needs to secure in order to be victorious on November 6.
Far from conceding that the battle for the White House is “over,” Business Insider made the point that the battle for 270 electoral college votes is tight — but that the current scenario still favors Obama. While the majority of states are already solidly locked down for each candidate, there are at least eight states that are up for grabs; in sum, they comprise 95 electoral college votes.
“The president has 237 electoral votes when battleground are taken out of play,” Business Insider notes. “Giving him several paths to electoral college victory. For Obama, the key state to swing is Ohio…if Obama can hold on to Ohio, he’ll need just 15 more votes to put him over the threshold.”
However, even without Ohio, there are options for the president to secure a victory. It seems, at least at the current juncture, there are more paths to re-election for Obama than there are for potential Romney’s victory. The Republican candidate, though, does have some potential avenues to victory.
“Romney’s map is dependent upon winning Florida,” the video proclaims. “Without the sunshine state Romney would have to sweep all of the other battlegrounds, including Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin – a long shot, despite the Republican’s recent gains.”
Watch Business Insider’s full video explanation, below, for more on these fascinating projections:
Oh, Ohio: Obama Campaign Reports Being Majorly Ahead Among Early Voters
Remember the aforementioned note about Ohio’s importance? Call it a misleading electoral strategic move or take it as gospel, but the Obama campaign circulated a memorandum this morning, claiming to be ahead in the state among early voters. The note reads:
“Today we are ahead of where we were at this time against John McCain – and ahead of Mitt Romney. Republicans are similarly talking up their ground game and early vote numbers, but their assertions rest on much shakier ground.”
Current Real Clear Politics (RCP) averages show Obama to be up by just over two percentage points in Ohio. While, according to The Hill, Republicans have claimed to be closing in on the president’s lead, this latest memo could cause anxiety among conservatives. The state race is paramount for Romney, seeing as no Republican presidential candidate in American history has lost Ohio and won the presidency. Here are the currently RCP averages:
While the Obama campaign remains enthusiastic about the purported lead among early voters, polls in the state have tightened of late, leading to the mere 2.4 point spread observed in the above chart. Early voting began October 2 and, so far, 1.4 million residents have either voted or requested a ballot.
The memo cites four separate polls that apparently show the president with leads ranging from 19 to 52 points among early voters. But Reuters, just two days ago, did issue a report that may temper the memo a bit:
According to a Reuters/Ipsos national survey, about 10 percent of likely voters have already cast ballots. And of those who have voted, Obama holds a sizable lead over Romney – 56 percent to 35 percent. The poll has a credibility interval, a measure of accuracy, of plus or minus about five percentage points.
That contrasts with a much closer race according to polls of likely voters. There, the president holds just a slight edge of 46 percent to 43 percent in Tuesday’s Reuters/Ipsos daily tracking poll.
We’ll have to wait and see how the state shapes up.
Obama Campaign Claims to Be Winning on the Ground
Polls illustrate only a portion of the story. What happens on the ground in politics is also telling. And with weeks remaining in the election cycle, every second counts. From registering voters to educating the electorate about what’s to come, both campaigns have both opportunities — and plenty of room for error — along the way.
While the race is far from over and groundwork is only a piece of the overall battle, in a POLITICO report last week, Obama campaign field director Jeremy Bird said that grassroots outreach is more-than-healthy. In fact, he claims that the numbers and the outreach are better than they were in 2008, a potentially-troubling sign, if true, for the Romney camp. POLITICO has more:
On a conference call Thursday just hours before the vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan, campaign manager Jim Messina and field director Jeremy Bird said that the campaign’s grassroots operation was unmatched — no matter what the polls are saying.
“We gauge our ground game on verifiable numbers that tell the real story: voter registration and early voting,” Messina told reporters. “In nearly every battleground state, margins on both counts are bigger than they were in 2008. We’ve registered more voters than ’08, we’ve knocked on more doors and we’ve talked to more people.”
Bird said that the Obama campaign had made huge strides in both registration and early voting in key states — and were way past the benchmarks they set in 2008.
Of course, one could dismiss these notions as mechanisms for compensating for poor polling (and debate) performance following the first presidential face-off (these comments were made before the second debate). Still, the level of confidence present within the POLITICO article is concerning, especially as these effort ramp up in the final days of a highly-contentious and tight race.
Plus, The Daily Beast notes the differences in the number of volunteer offices present in some battleground states — another potential indicator that Obama’s policies and message are being hammered home more diligently in more contentious localities:
In Ohio, 122 Obama local HQs compared to 40 for Romney.
In Florida, the Obama campaign has 102 local HQs versus 48 for Romney.
And in Virginia, a more even split—47 for Obama compared to 29 for Romney. [...]
Colorado has 61 Obama offices compared to 14 for Romney. And Paul Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin has 68 Obama HQs as opposed to 24 for the Romney-Ryan ticket.
According to this analysis, Obama’s team may be looking to work in areas that were previously lost in the 2008 race. With experience under the campaign’s belt, there may be a bit of an advantage to realizing the weak spots. And with more people working on the ground, patching some of the holes and closing in on areas that are naturally more favorably to Romney and Republicans could sway states and make key differences at the polls.
Romney Lost the Fundraising Battle With Obama in August and September
There’s a major debate over how much power and influence money has in campaigns (earlier today, we told you about Romney’s and Obama’s biggest donors). Of course, the level of impact is dependent upon how donations are spent. While ads are sometimes effective, so are investments in field offices and other campaign outreach mechanisms.
In August, for the first time in four months, Obama’s campaign brought in more money than Romney’s. While it was a narrow lead — $114 million versus $111.6 million — the change represents a movement away from financial victory for Romney (these numbers represent the money raised by the campaign and party committees combined).
In September, a similar phenomenon occurred, with Obama again beating Romney. All elements considered, Romney and the Republican National Committee brought in $170 million, with Obama and the Democratic National Committee edging him with a sum total of $181 million.
In both instances, the wins were only by slight margins, but they do seem to show, at least in terms of finances, a somewhat stronger thrust and effort on the part of the Obama camp. While this isn’t indicative of a definitive Obama win, it’s one of the many factors to consider.
Plus, earlier this month, the president’s re-election campaign announced that it now has more than four million donors — the largest number of any presidential campaign in American history. And, on Wednesday, the team also said (without giving its figure) that it had the biggest fundraising day in its history, beating any single day in the 2008 and 2012 cycles.
So, there you have it. The race is nowhere near over, but there are some areas of potential concern for conservatives. Despite these issues, on Thursday, Fox News’ Bob Beckel claimed that the election may be over. He said four times that, if the Gallup numbers are correct, Obama is poised to lose the election.
“It’s over. I don’t have anything else to say. It’s over…,” Beckel said. “If I was looking at those numbers and I was managing a presidential campaign I would be upset…But if those numbers are correct – It is over. It is over.”
Watch his comments, below:
But — again — polls don’t always paint the entire picture and they have the potential to rapidly change (as do the factors at play).