Presidential Polls 2012: Obama Set For Slim Win in Ohio As Romney Struggles on the Ground


After President Barack Obama imploded during the first presidential debate and rebounded after the last two, the presidential race is as close as it ever has been, with Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney within two or three points of each other in national polls. However, with the election less than 10 days away, how do the candidates look in the swing states, since it is their electoral votes that will determine the winner? If the candidates are close, which one will likely pull ahead come November 6? As it currently stands, Obama is ahead in a large number of swing states and will likely keep that lead thanks to Romney’s inferior ground game, the result, ironically enough, of outsourcing the effort to the Republican National Committee.

Here are the latest polls, as found on RealClearPolitics, ranked by electoral vote and with polling firms marked (D) or (R) if they have a history of leaning towards one party or another:

Florida (29 EVs)

10/28 PPP (D)                                                             Obama 49, Romney 48

10/26 Sunshine State News/VSS                                Obama 46, Romney 51

10/26 Rasmussen Reports (R)                                     Obama 48, Romney 50

10/25 Gravis Marketing                                              Obama 49, Romney 50

10/21 PPP (D)                                                             Obama 47, Romney 48


Pennsylvania (20 EVs)

10/27 Philadelphia Inquirer                                        Obama 49, Romney 43

10/25 Rasmussen Reports (R)                                    Obama 51, Romney 46

10/22 Morning Call                                                     Obama 50, Romney 45

10/22 Gravis Marketing                                              Obama 48, Romney 45


Ohio (18 EVs)

10/28 Cincinnati Enquirer/Ohio News                        Obama 49, Romney 49

10/28 Gravis Marketing                                               Obama 50, Romney 49

10/28 PPP (D)                                                             Obama 51, Romney 47

10/26 CNN/Opinion Research                                    Obama 50, Romney 46

10/26 ARG                                                                  Obama 49, Romney 47

10/26 Purple Strategies                                               Obama 46, Romney 44

10/24 Time                                                                  Obama 49, Romney 44

10/24 Rasmussen Reports (R)                                    Obama 48, Romney 48

10/24 SurveyUSA                                                      Obama 47, Romney 44

10/22 Suffolk                                                             Obama 47, Romney 47

10/22 CBS News/Quinnipiac                                    Obama 50, Romney 45


North Carolina (15 EVs)

10/27 Rasmussen Reports (R)                                   Obama 46, Romney 52

10/26 Civitas (R)                                                       Obama 47, Romney 48

10/26 Gravis Marketing                                            Obama 45, Romney 53

10/25 PPP (D)                                                           Obama 48, Romney 48


Virginia (13 EVs)

10/27 Washington Post                                              Obama 51, Romney 47

10/27 Gravis Marketing                                             Obama 48, Romney 48

10/26 Purple Strategies                                              Obama 47, Romney 47

10/25 FOX News (R)                                                 Obama 45, Romney 47

10/25 Rasmussen Reports (R)                                    Obama 48, Romney 50


Wisconsin (10 EVs)

10/26 Rasmussen Reports (R)                                   Obama 49, Romney 49

10/21 Mason-Dixon                                                   Obama 48, Romney 46


Colorado (9 EVs)

10/26 Purple Strategies                                             Obama 47, Romney 46

10/25 NBC/WSJ/Marist                                            Obama 48, Romney 48

10/25 PPP (D)                                                          Obama 51, Romney 47

10/22 Rasmussen Reports (R)                                 Obama 46, Romney 50


Nevada (6 EVs)

10/26 Gravis Marketing                                          Obama 50, Romney 49

10/25 NBC/WSJ/Marist                                          Obama 50, Romney 47

10/24 Rasmussen Reports (R)                                Obama 50, Romney 48

10/24 PPP (D)                                                         Obama 51, Romney 47

10/23 ARG                                                              Obama 49, Romney 47


Iowa (6 EVs)

10/26 Gravis Marketing                                           Obama 50, Romney 46

10/22 Rasmussen Reports (R)                                 Obama 48, Romney 48


New Hampshire (4 EVs)

10/28 PPP (D)                                                          Obama 49, Romney 47

10/26 New England College                                      Obama 49, Romney 46

10/24 Rasmussen Reports (R)                                    Obama 48, Romney 50

10/23 ARG                                                                Obama 47, Romney 49

10/22 UNH                                                                Obama 51, Romney 42


Looking at the numbers, Romney seems to have finally secured Florida thanks to the debates, and Virginia and Colorado remain toss-ups, but Obama still leads in Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nevada, and New Hampshire. Of course, “leads” doesn’t mean “won” until after election day, but thanks to the President’s ground game the odds of holding that lead are strong.

It has been bouncing around the media lately that the president has far more offices on the ground to mobilize voters than Romney does – 131 vs 40 in Ohio, 106 vs 47 in Florida, and 61 vs 30 in Virginia – figures that Romney’s campaign has been discounting by arguing that those numbers don’t equal effectiveness. They also argue that in certain areas like Wisconsin their ground operation is actually very strong, thanks to the recall election of Gov. Scott Walker.

Unfortunately, first-person accounts – like Molly Ball of The Atlantic’s examination of Obama and Romney offices in Ohio, Colorado, and Virginia – prove the opposite. Obama not only has more offices, but has better organized ones to boot. As Ball notes, Obama’s offices are dedicated solely to the president’s campaign, are well-organized and buzzing with activity, and have literature and signs customized to each group the campaign is targeting. Conversely, Romney’s offices lack leadership, focus on the campaigns of local candidates, and are totally disconnected from Romney’s campaign headquarters.  

This is a shocking discrepancy until you realize that “Romney’s” offices are actually operated by the Republican National Committee, whose work at the state level is executed by local parties – many of which are in utter shambles. (I did a 3-part study on the condition of local parties that can be found here, here and here). This isn’t the first time that Romney’s campaign has been criticized for poor internal practices – its internal ad buying policy needlessly wastes money – but Romney’s decision to let others manage his Get Out the Vote operations will cost him support on election day he can’t recoup later.

Making matters worse, the Romney campaign’s efforts to run their own ground operations are not proving any more successful due to their poor placement, like in Nevada. The local GOP party in Nevada is in such terrible shape due to internal battles between establishment and Ron Paul factions, and ill-prepared for the national election that Romney was forced to create his own unique team to pull in and guide volunteers. Unfortunately, this impromptu group is competing against probably the strongest GOTV machine in the country built by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid over the last decade. This machine not only helped put Obama in the White House, but helped Reid win re-election in 2010 by a whisker after everyone else had written him off as dead. Romney simply isn’t getting any breaks.

Such minutia matters in a race as tight as this where, as a rule of thumb, solid ground operations can net an extra 2 point edge in the final outcome. At this moment, Obama has that edge and Romney does not and that will make all the difference ten days from now carrying Obama to reelection. Come November, the question people will be asking is not why Obama won, but why they thought that Romney would be a competent campaigner at all considering he only had one successful electoral race under his belt.

President Obama spelling Ohio with a local family - Wikimedia Commons