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Tuesday: The big races look close

This could be a year when we don't have a real idea of the results in advance.
Jay Inslee, left, and Rob McKenna at a debate.

Jay Inslee, left, and Rob McKenna at a debate. State of Reform

As Election Day approached in 2006, 2008 and 2010, I was reasonably confident about the kind of an election we would have, even if I wasn’t sure about the exact outcome. Four years ago at this time, for example, we all had a pretty good idea who the next president would be. But this cycle, I am less confident about everything, including who will win.”

— Stuart Rothenberg, Roll Call Magazine.

Stu Rothenberg is one of the most respected political analysts in Washington D.C., and, as usual, he is right on target.  This election is completely unpredictable, both at the national level, and here at home.

Let’s start with the governor’s race. Since July there has only been one public poll showing Republican Rob McKenna ahead. The last two polls, done by SurveyUSA and the University of Washington give Democrat Jay Inslee a slight lead.

And yet, as of Friday, tracking polls done by the McKenna campaign, one of the initiative campaigns, and a national GOP group all show McKenna slightly ahead.

The same dichotomy exists in the presidential race. One side sees President Obama safe behind an electoral college firewall based on state level polling. The other argues that most of the state level media polls are wrong and sees national trends leading to a comfortable Romney victory.

The intriguing thing is the fact that most of the data fueling the pro-Romney hypothesis is being generated by Gallup, the granddaddy of American polling. Gallup’s tracking poll has consistently shown Romney ahead, and their data indicates that turnout will not be as high as it was in 2008, that Romney is actually ahead in early voting, and, most importantly, that the electorate will be significantly more Republican in 2012 than it was in 2008.

Other pollsters, and the Obama campaign, dispute all of this. Adding to the uncertainty, Gallup suspended their polling last Monday due to Hurricane Sandy. Gallup is likely to release new numbers sometime before Tuesday. Political junkies are waiting with bated breath.

The elections for president and governor will be close. Both Rob McKenna in Washington state, and Mitt Romney, nationally and in battleground states, lead among independents. (In the Washington Poll, McKenna led by 21 percent among independents. In the most recent SurveyUSA poll for which we have crosstabs, he led by 7 percent among independents). For Obama and Inslee to win, therefore, they need a partisan split that resembles 2008 when Democrats had a 10 percent advantage in Washington state.  Democrats say that will happen, Republicans say it won’t.

Maybe Gallup will give us a clue. Or maybe we will just have to wait until Tuesday. For now, flip a coin.

Chris Vance is a public affairs consultant who lives in Auburn, Wash. He was chair of the Republican Party in Washington from 2001-06, a King County Council member from 1994-2001, and a state representative from 1991-93. He also blogs for Rob McKenna's Smarter Government Washington. He can be reached at cvapv@comcast.net.


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Comments:

Posted Sun, Nov 4, 4:25 p.m. Inappropriate

The most interesting thing I have seen today - Sunday - besides the Seahawk win, is the last Battleground Poll. The Battleground Poll is conducted by a Republican pollster, Ed Goeas, and a Democratic pollster, Celinda Lake. Both are excellent pollsters. The topline of the poll shows the presidential race tied. But read the memos from Goeas and Lake. Looking at identical data, they come to completely different conclusions regarding what will happen. Goeas essentially sees the same scenario Gallup has been forecasting. Judge for yourself: http://www.politico.com/polls/politico-george-washington-university-battleground-poll.html

Posted Mon, Nov 5, 5:30 a.m. Inappropriate

Yes, the national polls do look close. Republicans and worried Democrats seem to like to focus on them.

There does not appear to be any credible analysis this morning that does not project an electoral college victory for Barack Obama. It appears to be a blowout.

Yes, there appears to be a close race for Governor in Washington state. Hard to call that one. But Inslee would appear to have a slight advantage in the data.

Jan

Posted Mon, Nov 5, 7:25 a.m. Inappropriate

Jan,

The argument Republican/conservatives are making is many of the polls are wrong, so when you aggregate them you get a false impression of what is going to happen. It all depends on the assumptions you make about the makeup of the electorate. One side or the other is going to be proven wrong. That is going to be one of many fascinating things to be decided tomorrow.

This quote from an interview with a Romney campaign advisor sums up the argument: "This year, apart from Gallup and Rasmussen, pollsters have consistently over-sampled Democrats compared to Republicans. The Romney adviser said: 'The samples that they're using are geared towards 2008 results. So you get Democrats plus four on Pew, you've got Democrats plus eight on PPP."

http://harndenblog.dailymail.co.uk/2012/11/how-mitt-romney-can-win-the-white-house-on-tuesday.html

Posted Mon, Nov 5, 10:23 a.m. Inappropriate

Chris, God Bless you for being a die hard Republican. Most of my friends have switched.

Nate Silver and the 538 suggest a different outcome. As does the Washington Poll. Obama is going to win big in WA, Cantwell the same.
With a small lead, though within the margin of error, coat tails may be long enough to drag Inslee across the finish line in decent shape.

You (R's) can win legislative races, but for most Washingtonians, the Republican national brand is way toxic.

In any case, as a political junkie, I know you'll enjoy watching the next 48 hours. Take care.

Ross Kane
Warm Beach

Ross

Posted Mon, Nov 5, 12:08 p.m. Inappropriate

"...tracking polls done by the McKenna campaign, one of the initiative campaigns, and a national GOP group all show McKenna slightly ahead."

Seriously? Republican polls show the Republican candidate slightly ahead?

Interesting that Chris is willing to provide links to almost every other poll he references - except those three.

Odds are those three were push polls done by Moore Research to give their clients something to brag about instead of providing an unbiased estimate of reality.

Posted Mon, Nov 5, 12:34 p.m. Inappropriate

The widespread level of disillusionment suggests an opportunity for a write-in campaign. I'm sensing a last-minute surge for Donald Trump. Ooops! Wait! I guess that was just a wave from Sandy ripping up the Atlantic City boardwalk and relocating it a few blocks inland.

woofer

Posted Mon, Nov 5, 1:43 p.m. Inappropriate

Gallup's final poll and analysis is in. Bottom line: a tie. Too close to call. Romney 49% Obama 48%. Romney's earlier lead among independents is gone. It appears Obama's handling of Hurricane Sandy helped him close the gap.

Here is the Gallup poll: http://www.gallup.com/poll/158519/romney-obama-gallup-final-election-survey.aspx

State polls today show Ohio, Iowa, Virginia, NH, all dead even. If the polls are accurate we may not have a winner tomorrow night.

Posted Mon, Nov 5, 3:38 p.m. Inappropriate

obama has been gaining in momentum since the second and third debates, the economic news is slightly better, his response to the hurricane helped in my opinion, even Chris Crisco the gov of New Jersey had encomiums of praise for him to the chagrin of many republicans. The electoral college has for the last few months and especially now shown it easier for an Obama win over Romney. Soul searching time is nie for the republican party, how long can they let the tea party nazis and religious crazies control a party that could have alot to offer this country if they found a moderate candidate ( as Romney WAS in Mass)

katzjamr

Posted Mon, Nov 5, 7:28 p.m. Inappropriate

Chris Vance should certainly know that National polls are completely worthless in predicting a Presidential win. Worthless. The only polls that matter are state by state since that's how our Electoral system works... state by state.

The Republican brand is so damaged and toxic and crazy at this point in history, they are left with voter disenfranchisement via Voter ID laws. In Ohio the anti-American Republican Secretary of State is attempting to change voting rules by the minute in a desperate attempt to steal a victory out of Ohio. The same is happening in Florida where the crazy Republicans are trying to eliminate early voting.

This is much like having a bunch of short weaklings try to compete on the basketball court by sneaking in the night before and lowering the hoop or hiring tainted refs.

The Republican party is SOOOO crazed and extreme, the only thing they can do is cheat, lie and steal their way to 'victory'. They can't compete with their ideas because the American public hates their ideas.

Posted Mon, Nov 5, 7:45 p.m. Inappropriate

The big problem for the GOP in the West could well be that voters will give up on Romney around 5 p.m. Pacific time.

That could spell doom for Republicans like McKenna in tight races out here and place like Montana.

The networks won't call it, but there's a large body of evidence that the drift will become obvious and cyber truth in an instant.

Chris's analysis is a lot like Karl Rove's. Fun to read but seems motivated mostly by partisan loyalty instead of an objective look at data.

Jan

Posted Mon, Nov 5, 8:12 p.m. Inappropriate

Jan -

You're right. It's just more evidence of the Republican party as a cult. They distance themselves from gay people, women, immigrants, blacks, hispanics, poor people, etc, etc. Yet they still expect to be elected.

The problem with being the party of the 5% is that 95% is greater than 5%. Sounds like simple math, but apparently this is math the Republican party can no longer do.

Many voters want a 'pure' candidate with no trangressions or inconsistencies. This occurs on both sides but it's gone off the charts on the Republican side. And people like Chris Vance are forced to cheer on the party and ignore the radical leanings of the party, further crippling the party.

Unfortunately, the Christian right is in charge of the purity screening on the GOP side. And that purity filter includes the notion that human cells are somehow fetuses even before they are fertilized. It also includes the notion that we could eliminate gay people if all families had a mother and father and the father played more baseball with their sons.

Posted Mon, Nov 5, 9:12 p.m. Inappropriate

Chris, you would do well to inform the readership of the summary of Gallup's polling results for the last two months. I believe they have been an outlier. You might want to discuss the issues surrounding outliers.

Lastly, as a caution to anyone (regardless of affiliation) studying or reading polling data: Cherry-picking polling results to serve a narrative is always problematic and most often results in the wrong assumption.

I do have one prediction fo0r tomorrow, and you read it here:

Liquor sales should be up tomorrow.

Bella

Posted Mon, Nov 5, 9:30 p.m. Inappropriate

Gallup, Monmouth, Rasmussen, CNN, and Battleground all have the national race within one point.

Univ. of Cinncinati, Rasmussen, Gravis, the Columbus Dispatch all have Ohio within a point or two.

The polls have converged at the end. I am not predicting Romney wins. I am saying it is now literally too close to call.

Posted Wed, Nov 7, 11:35 a.m. Inappropriate

"The elections for president and governor will be close."

Will Crosscut now, please, look for someone more credible than Chris Vance to provide from-the-right analysis? Preferably someone who can contribute more than boiler-plate Republican talking points?

Posted Thu, Nov 8, 4:21 p.m. Inappropriate

Actually, if you look at the aggregate of polls, Romney was NEVER winning, and, surprise, he didnt.
The outlying polls that Chris Vance refers to, it turns out, were all wrong. Rasmussen, for example, got most results exactly the opposite of what happened.

And the majority of polls were right. And predicted exactly what happened.

Ries

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