ignore the media, obama is ahead and has been for the entire race

One of the central findings on presidential elections is that incumbent parties do well when the economy is good and when there few casualties in foreign wars. Such models tend to predict a slim Obama win. 8% unemployment isn’t great, but it isn’t bad enough to sink the incumbent, especially when most folks seem to have a positive impression of the president.

So how is the model doing so far? Well, we still have about four months left, but we have a lot of polling data. The Huffington Post has a chart of rolling averages for polls. Real Clear Politics, which includes GOP leaning pollsters like Rasmussen, reports similar results. With the exception of a brief stint in Fall 2011, Obama has held a modest lead in the rolling average vs. Romney. So ignore the media. The race is stable with a small Obama lead. So unless the economy tanks in the next few months, expect an Obama win.

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Written by fabiorojas

July 19, 2012 at 12:13 am

10 Responses

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  1. Unfortunately, republicans vote at a higher rate than democrats in most elections, and Obama’s small but consistent lead relies on the polls of registered voters, not likely voters. Deciding who’s likely to vote is its own can of worms, of course, and the crucial question is whether the higher than typical turnout last election in democrat demographics like young people and non Anglos will be repeated. If you think not, then we should probably consider Romney to be very slightly in the lead. The media do try to twist everything into a horse race, but it I think it is very unclear who would win if the election were held today.


    Sociologists Anonymous

    July 19, 2012 at 1:05 am

  2. You raise a good point. Obtaining likely voter samples is hard, very hard. But I still feel confident in my original post. the rolling averages include polling firms, like Rasmussen, that consistently over estimate GOP turnout. Even tossing in these GOP leaning firms, you still get an Obama lead of 1-2%, which isn’t as bad as you might think.



    July 19, 2012 at 3:40 am

  3. so …. he’s not toast?

    (fwiw, Intrade agrees with you, giving 57% chance of reelection)



    July 19, 2012 at 3:43 am

  4. Aren’t most poll results weighted so as to be representative of likely voters? This should take into account various sources of known bias including differences in Republican and Democratic voting rates.



    July 19, 2012 at 4:46 am

  5. Darn, Gabriel beat me to it.



    July 19, 2012 at 6:48 am

  6. Normally I think JD would be right, but looking through the polls that make up the RealClear and Huffington averages, it looks like they’re mostly just samples of Registered Voters, without any Likely Voter weighting. Perhaps the pollsters are particularly unsure of the turnout this election? The Rassmussen polls are indeed suspicious (and I think they rely on an Internet sample to cover cell phone users), and those pull the average to the right, but there’s a real danger that the overabundance of RV polls are overstating Obama’s position. Particularly if the youth vote plummets (like it did in 96 after a historic 92 high).


    Sociologists Anonymous

    July 19, 2012 at 7:13 am

  7. Obama is trading at odds 1.63 on Betfair. Anyone who thinks this is an even race, can make a great financial bet – better than anything you can find on the stock market right now.



    July 19, 2012 at 11:16 am

  8. The only poll that matters is the one taken the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. With the continuation of the Bush Bailouts and the Iraq-Afghan-Gitmo War, President Obama may have alienated his party’s left wing. Thus, our honeymoon with Hope may have run its course. It may be that like stagflation for the Keynesians, the next election will change the paradigm of electoral math. We have to wait and see.


    Michael Marotta

    July 20, 2012 at 3:38 am

  9. The number of registered Republicans and Democrats may be less critical to the President’s re-election than (a) the number of voters registered as independent that vote, (b) the percentage of Dems and GOP registered voters who act as if they are independent voters, and (c) for whom they vote. Obama got the lion’s share four years ago, but he has disappointed more of these voters than he has within the Democrat party. Romney may be more appealing to the independents in November than the incumbent. Time will tell.



    July 20, 2012 at 3:37 pm

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