Polling Analysis and Election Forecasting

Early Returns

It’s still early, but a few patterns seem to stand out so far.

1. Obama should be in a comfortable position for re-election. The structural forecast I’m using indicates that he’s on track to win between 52% and 53% of the national vote. There’s nothing in the state polls that strongly contradicts this right now. When combined with the current polling and run through the state-level model, this translates to a 90% chance Obama will win between 281 and 367 electoral votes. He only needs 270.

2. There are a few states where the early polling suggests a larger than expected falloff for Obama. The biggest ones are Michigan, Oregon, Wisconsin, Arizona, and… Utah. He still has a strong chance to win Michigan, Oregon, and Wisconsin, but the vote shares could be down by 3-6% from 2008, instead of just the 1% (on average) predicted by the structural model. (On the other hand, Obama is doing much better than expected in Massachusetts.)

3. There’s a lot of stability in the state-level opinion trends. Since most states haven’t been polled much so far, this wouldn’t be as apparent if we were only looking one state at a time. But the model is designed to pick up common trends across states. It does appear that there’s been some slight movement in Romney’s direction since May; look at Virginia, for example. This pattern is also consistent with national trends. They were just talking about this on First Read this morning.


  1. John

    Great post. I’ll take Obama > 334.

  2. Sam Wang

    Lovely methods. Priors and polls put into proper context. My hat’s off.

    I think you mean 270 electoral votes, not 271. Unless there’s some logical issue I am not thinking of.

    Sam Wang
    Princeton Election Consortium

  3. Drew

    Sam – Ha, you’re right, of course. Typo corrected. I’m very glad you like the site.

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