This is going to be a very close election, but if the polls are right, President Obama is the narrow but clear favorite to win re-election on Tuesday. As the much-maligned but mathematically astute Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight has noted in recent days (see here, here, and here), Obama has shown leads in the vast majority of polls of key states in recent days.
Of 13 national polls released on Sunday, Obama had the lead in 9 of them while 4 were tied. A tie, in this case, is probably good news for Obama, because he does seem to have an edge in the Electoral College math. As Silver has noted, the polls would have to be systematically biased for some reason(s) for so many of them to be wrong.
In fact, I suspect that the likely voter models employed by certain polling firms — including major ones like Rasmussen, Pew, and Gallup — have been too rigorous in applying their likely voter models and have thus understated Obama’s support on election day. Lots of people on the left and right assumed that the Democratic vote would be dampened significantly, especially among minorities, and that the Republican vote would be elevated by anti-Obama fervor. But it looks to me like both of those possibilities have been exaggerated. Of those three polling firms, the slightly rightward leaning Rasmussen has the race as too close to call, Gallup suspended its tracking poll because of Hurricane Sandy (but had shown implausibly large leads for Romney after applying its likely voter model), and Pew has Obama with a 3 point lead among likely voters and a 7 point lead among all registered voters.
So there’s obviously room for Romney supporters to hope, especially if we cherrypick a couple of major national polls and ignore trends in specific states.
Here’s my guess: I think the turnout will be slightly better than the consensus predictions for Democrats generally and African Americans specifically. That will push Obama easily past 270, even though he’s likely to get only about 51 percent of the vote and to lose at least a couple of states that he took in 2008 — Indiana and North Carolina.
Here’s what I’m predicting: