Presidential Polls 2012: New Numbers Show Romney Losing Momentum, Obama Gaining


The post-debate national polls are coming in and they reveal that Obama has received virtually no bump in the rankings.  

The race still remains close with Romney leading in an array of national polls, while the battleground state-by-state polls still project a victory in the Electoral College for Obama. Despite winning three of the four debates, Obama has to feel some disappointment that his lackluster performance in the first debate has had more impact on the polls than the cumulative effect of the last three. But as the New York Times' Nate Silver wrote Romney’s momentum appears to have stopped. 

Silver said, “Mr. Romney clearly gained ground in the polls in the week or two after the Denver debate, putting himself in a much stronger overall position in the race. However, it seems that he is no longer doing so.”

Obama did receive some good news as his approval rating continues to trend upwards, the odds makers have him listed as the favorite to win, the latest Gallup poll shows more Americans feel they are better off than worse off a year ago, and on Thursday Obama received the endorsement of Colin Powell, the  former secretary of State, National Security adviser and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Powell made his announcement on CBS’ This Morning. He said “You know, I voted for him in 2008 and I plan to stick with him in 2012, and I'll be voting for he and Vice President Joe Biden next month. I think we ought to keep on the track we are on.” 

Powell called Romney’s foreign policy a "moving target." Powell in his comments echoed the belief that Romney has flip flopped on his foreign policy positions during the debate on Monday. Powell said, “One day he has a certain strong view about staying in Afghanistan, but then on Monday night he agrees with the withdrawal. Same thing in Iraq. On every issue that was discussed on Monday night, Gov. Romney agreed with the president with some nuances. But this is quite a different set of foreign policy views than he had earlier in the campaign.”

Romney leads in the Real Clear Politics Aggregate Poll by a slim 0.6 points. The Rasmussen Daily Tracking Poll has Romney leading 50% to Obama’s 47%. Gallup’s Daily Tracking Poll of likely voters has Romney ahead, 50% to Obama’s 47%, while their poll of registered voters has Obama leading 48% to Romney’s 47%. Nate Silver’s 538 Blog said, “Of the 11 national polls published on Tuesday, five showed President Obama ahead, four gave a lead to Mitt Romney and two had a tied race. On average among the polls, Romney led by 0.3 percentage points, the same as his average margin in the previous edition of the same polls.”


In the race to 270 electoral votes, Obama still leads in Pennsylvania (20 Electoral votes), Michigan (16 EV), Ohio (18 EV), WI (10 EV) and IA (6 EV). Most polling sites have Obama securing 201 electoral votes, winning  these five battleground states, totaling 70 electoral votes, would give Obama the necessary electoral votes to win re-election. The Obama campaign is aggressively trying to get out the vote in the urban centers in these five states. The campaign is convinced that there are more Democrats who may be sitting on the sidelines than there are Independents and undecided voters that might choose Romney. Additionally, some feel that Gary Johnson will have a Ross Perot/Ralph Nader impact on Romney in states like Iowa, New Hampshire, Colorado, Florida and Nevada. If Obama can get voter turnout to approach 2008 levels in cities like Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Lansing, Milwaukee, Madison, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Des Moines then he has a better than average chance of winning these states.


Obama has good reason to believe he can increase voter turnout in these states. In Ohio and Pennsylvania, Democrats are hammering home the message of Republican-led voter suppression to encourage voter turnout. In Wisconsin there is the battle over collective bargaining rights and the desire to send a second message to Governor Scott Walker and the Republican Party that although they may have won the recall election, sentiment against the party’s attempts to reduce the collective bargaining rights of the unions has not been forgotten. In Michigan, the Obama campaign is reminding people that it was Obama’s efforts that saved the auto industry and millions of jobs. And in Iowa, Obama is expected to receive the endorsement of the Des Moines Register this weekend.

The New Republic said, “With just 12 days to go, every day without signs of Romney making gains in Ohio, Wisconsin, or Nevada counts as a win for the president. Obama has held a persistent lead in all three states and could combine to provide the president with 271 electoral votes, enough to win reelection. While all three states are close, Obama's advantage in all three states is unusually consistent and quite clear.”


Real Clear Politics has Obama leading in all five states. Obama leads in Pennsylvania  is 4.8, in Michigan it is 4 points, in Ohio the lead is 2.1, in Iowa it is 2, and in Wisconsin Obama leads by 2.7.

Professional gamblers are laying odds on Obama winning the election and odds makers are right more often than the polls. 

Huffington Posts’ Keith Thomson says “gamblers are veritable election oracles.” Thomson said “In 2004, Gallup failed to forecast the winner of the popular vote for president for the second straight election.  Halfway through Election Day 2004, various exit polls showed Kerry with the lead. Meanwhile 91 percent of bettors on had their money on Bush. The betting markets also were correct on the winner in each of the 50 states. Thomson spoke to Koleman Strumpf, a University of Kansas economics professor who tracks betting trends. "Relative to the polls, the betting markets have to think hard about what they're saying since they are putting their money at stake.  Also polls tend to reflect what people are thinking at a given moment, versus a forecast of what will happen on Election Day, post-convention bounces, for instance.”  Thomson wrote “in 2008, 90 percent of gamblers correctly forecast an Obama victory. They were also on the money with 48 of 50 states.”  Prior to 1936, when Gallup started doing polls, odds makers presidential betting lines were published in the newspapers.  “Between 1884 and 1940, the bettors erred on just one of sixteen elections, Wilson's 1916 upset of Hughes.”

The odds makers’ success in predicting presidential elections is based on factors that are not reflected in polls. Intrade's exchange operations manager Carl Wolfenden told Thomson, “The polls ask who you're going to vote for, a question that requires an emotional response. Intrade asks who you think will win, a rational question that requires someone to look at the facts and real world events, such as polls, debates, speeches, gaffes, scandals and crises. One of these facts is the Electoral College, which isn't accounted for in polls.”  

Paulick Report Editor Ray Paulick, one of America's top horseracing handicappers and a political prediction markets aficionado told Thomson, "Gamblers have more experience with cheaters. They take voter fraud into their metrics. Polls don't. Nor do polls take into account intangibles like how each state's secretary of state factors in or systems within a state designed to eliminate voters."

Thomson says “betting at the three biggest prediction markets is as follows: Betfair has Obama with a 64% chance to win to Romney's 36%; Intrade has the president at 58%; and the Iowa Electronic Markets have the president at 59%. Oddschecker shows bookmakers to be even more bullish on Obama.”

Gallup also reported two favorable polls for Obama. The president’s approval rating is at 53% and for the first time in more than five years, slightly more Americans say they are financially better off, rather than worse off, compared with a year ago. Obama’s approval rating has been trending above 50% in the daily tracking poll for the entire month. No president has ever been re-elected with an approval rating below 50%. The Washington Post said “there doesn’t appear to have been any significant drop in Obama’s approval (in either Gallup or the polling averages) associated with his early October post-debate slump in the head-to-head polls. For today at least, Obama is just about back to his post-convention high.”

Gallup said “slightly more Americans are feeling financially better off, rather than worse off, compared with a year ago, by 38% to 34%. This represents a significant improvement since May of   Obama's first year as president, when the majority, 54%, said they were worse off. The 38% of Americans feeling better off today is on par with what Gallup found before the 2004 and 1984 elections, when Presidents George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan won their re-election bids. Those figures were 41% in November 2003 and 39% in September 1984, respectively.”