Presidential Polls 2012: Real Clear Politics Says Obama Can Win Despite Economy


On November 6, President Obama will seek to do something that no Democratic candidate has done since Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1936; sweep the southern battleground states of Florida, Virginia and North Carolina twice. 

FDR swept the three states in 1932, 36, 40, and 44. Truman won the three states in 1948, as did LBJ in 1964, but no Democrat since FDR has won the states in consecutive elections. In fact, the Democratic Party has not won the three states in back to back elections since FDR and Truman won the trifecta in 1948. In 2008, Obama became the first Democrat to win all three states since LBJ in 1964. Obama is in good position to repeat this accomplishment this year.

If Obama wins these three states plus Colorado, as he did in 2008, not only will he win the election he will have seriously damaged the Republican Party presidential election strategy in those states.

Virginia was reliably Republican from 1952 through 2004. Lyndon Johnson’s landslide victory in 1964 was the only time that a Democrat won the state during that period. Not even southern favorite sons Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton could win the state known as “The Mother of Presidents.” Virginia was the only southern state that Jimmy Carter did not win in 1976. However, in 2008 Obama won Virginia by 7 points.  Real Clear Politics has Obama up by 3.7 points in Virginia.

North Carolina has voted for the Republican candidate every year from 1980 to 2004. Jimmy Carter won the state in 1976, but Bill Clinton lost the state in both of his races. Obama broke the Republican streak in 2008. Obama won the state with 49.7% of the votes while McCain received 49.3% of the vote. The margin of victory was the 2nd closest of the 2008 race (Missouri was the closest race). The RCP polls have Obama tied with Romney in North Carolina.

Florida is the ultimate battleground state. Obama won the state in 2008 by 3 points. Carter won the state in 1976 but lost in his re-election bid to Reagan in 1980. Clinton lost the state in his inaugural election in 1992, but rebounded to win the state in 1996. Obama is up by 3 points in Florida.

Before 2008, Colorado had voted for the Republican candidate in all but three elections since WWII. The state voted for Clinton in 1992, but rejected him in his re-election bid of 1996. Obama won the state by 9 points in 2008. Carter lost the state in 1976.  If Obama wins the state this year, it will be the first time the Democratic Party has won the state in back-to-back elections since FDR did it in 1932 and 36. Obama leads Romney by 3 points in Colorado.

The polls show Obama tied in North Carolina and leading in Colorado, Florida, and Virginia. If Obama sweeps these states, as he did in 2008, it will be the first time the Democratic Party has swept the four states in back to back elections since FDR did it in 1932 and 1936. In fact the Democratic Party has only won these four states five times in the same election since 1932. FDR won all four in 1932 and 1936, Truman in 1948, LBJ in 1964 and Obama in 2008. Interestingly, Colorado did not vote for FDR in his re-election years of 1940 and 1944 but returned to the fold for Truman in 1948.

Last week, Real Clear Politics was projecting that Obama would win nine of ten battleground states. They projected that Ohio was no longer a toss-up and was calling the state for Obama. This week the RCP polls show that Obama continues to gain momentum in the battleground states. RCP polls show that the number of battleground states has dropped from ten to seven and that Obama wins in five of the seven. For the first time in several weeks RCP projects that Romney’s electoral vote count has fell below 191. RCP projects that Obama has 269 electoral votes to 181 for Romney, with 88 electoral votes allocated to battleground states. RCP lists the current battleground states as Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, and Virginia. Recent polls show that Wisconsin and New Hampshire are leaning towards Obama and RCP has for the moment labeled Missouri a battleground state.  

Republicans had felt secure that Missouri was a safe state for Romney. However, it may be possible that the fallout from Todd Akin’s candidacy is hurting the Republican ticket in the state. Clare McCaskill currently leads the controversial Akin by 9 points. Missouri is a state with some Democratic roots. The state is led by Democrat Governor Jay Nixon. The state voted for Carter in 1976, and Clinton won the state in 1992 and 96, so there is a strong Democratic presence in the state. Missouri was the only battleground state won by McCain in 2008. McCain barely won the state with 49.4% of the vote compared to 49.3% for Obama. It is likely that Missouri will lean Romney come election night. The state has voted for the Republican candidate every year since 2000 and Republicans hold a majority in the House and Senate state legislature. Missouri has voted for the eventual winner in every presidential election since 1972 except in 2008 when the state voted against Obama.

Indiana briefly flirted with the Democrats in 2008. The state has voted for the Republican candidate every year since 1940.The Democratic candidate has only won five times in the last 100 years. Obama won the state with a narrow margin of 50% to McCain’s 49%. The margin of victory was the third smallest in the 2008 race. The Indiana polls have Romney solidly ahead by 12 points, so the state is likely to revert to its Republican roots along with its 15 electoral votes. If Obama were to win Indiana again, although highly unlikely based on the polls, he would be the first Democrat since FDR to win the state in back-to-back elections.

Obama should not look for any miracles here, in the last hundred years Indiana and Missouri have voted for a Democratic candidate in the same year only 3 times, the last time was in 1936.