Posts Tagged ‘opinion polls’

crystal ballHere at the Wellthisiswhatithink crystal ball gazers society, we have something of a reputation for calling elections correctly. In fact, we have got every Parliamentary election (UK Westminster, Australia Victoria and Federal), and Presidential election (USA), correct since 1979, including the “hung Parliament” in the UK last time. And sometimes we’ve been spot on: we made quite a bit of dosh on the electoral college figures for Obama not once but twice.

It’s not really rocket science. It’s just about knowing what one is about. Check the polls, assiduously, all of them – not for the hard figures, but rather how they fluctuate over time. Or don’t.

Vitually all elections follow a trendline. The “Big Mo”, or momentum, the Americans call it. Viewed externally, that is to say not working for one of the major campaigns, it’s usually surprisingly simple to discern the mo. Just listen to people in the street, in your office, in cafes, watch the news, scan social media, sit in the pub with your ears open. Watch people’s faces. It’s normally unmistakeable who they intend voting for when push comes to shove.

Which is why we are absolutely certain that the Labor Party will win tomorrow’s election in Victoria.

Since the disastrous Federal Budget in April, the Liberal National Coalition have not headed the ALP. The poll then was 52-48. It has never been better for the Lib-Nats than that, although it has been worse.

And right up until today it was still 52-48, although the very latest poll for the Age (taken over the last three days) now has it as 50-50 on a “two party preferred basis” after a notional redistribution of preferences.

And 50-50, ladies and gentlemen, is mo. But it’s a switch: at the very last minute, it is momentum for the Liberals and Nationals, not the ALP. So whilst we are absolutely certain that the ALP will win, we actually aren’t, anymore. Certain,that is. Because if that momentum continues over into tomorrow, it could really be a real squeaky bum hole night for both major parties.

So after months of the contest being a “no contest”, what is happening?

The race is closing. It’s been obvious for a week or so. Whether it closes enough will decide the result.

Partly this is because people – ordinary folk, not political junkies – only really focus on who to vote for right at the last minute, and sometimes when they actually get into the polling booth. That effect is lessened when the election is interesting, or about great matters of moment. Neither applies here.

The other factor is there is a world of difference between answering an opinion poll question and actually voting for who you want to be your government.

Right up to the declaration of results for the last state election, for example, the incumbents – Labor – were considered a shoe in – steady, unspectacular Labor that was, with a respected if not loved leader in John Brumby, and no obvious slip ups in living memory.

Except there was a strong undercurrent running that the opinion polls failed to pick up because they couldn’t frame a question that could capture it: that the reason Labor never made a mistake was because they never actually did anything. And that was enough to deliver the narrowest of wins to the Coalition. We picked it – we hated Brumby’s smarmy, self-satisfied performance which was obviously mostly fluff, and we reckoned lots of other people did too – no media pundits did.

It was even acknowledged by the current leader of the Labor Party immediately after the election that this lack of achievement – talking a good story but doing little – was the single biggest reason for their defeat.

Is there such an undercurrent running now? Well, once again, we believe there is. And the undercurrent is made up of a number of factors.

The first is that the Australian electorate is incredibly and consistently “small c” conservative: it dislikes change. Less so nowadays, but still very discernibly.

There hasn’t been a one term Government in Victoria since 1955 – nearly 60 years ago. We have a visceral dislike for changing Governments at all levels, and only do so when we are convinced that the one in power currently is exceptionally incompetent or venal. Those criticisms cannot be levelled at Napthine’s government.

They have delivered a strong budget surplus, kept taxes down, are offering to spend a billion more on pork barrelling than Labor as a result – yes, the Libs are the big spenders in this election – and they have been effectively clear of sleaze or corruption with the exception of the hideous Geoff Shaw debacle in Frankston, which in our view the electorate has now pretty much forgotten.

It’s one thing to tell a pollster that you’re thinking of giving the Libs a kick in the tush because, well, just because it seems the appropriately iconoclastic thing to do – it’s quite another thing to consciously put geeky, gawky “Dan” Andrews into the big job when likeable old Napthine hasn’t really done anything wrong. We think that will give people pause for thought that hasn’t been picked up in the polls.

The second is that the Liberals and Nationals are infinitely more effective at encouraging and organising people to vote early by post or pre-poll, and there have already been 1 million such votes cast …

Earlier today we heard a radio commentator opine that the more that the gross number of pre/postal votes climbed, the more accurately they will mirror the overal vote pattern. That is to say, as they have been collected over the last three weeks in large numbers, they should be expected to break, say, 52-48 in favour of Labour.

But in our personal experience the effectiveness of the Liberal “ground game” significantly outweighs Labor’s, (the opposite is true in the USA), and therefore we suspect these already-cast ballots could break much closer to 51-49 to the Coalition. If that’s the case, and the vote in the booths tomorrow is roughly 50-50, then this could still be a very, very close election indeed.

Against that, and as a whole, Victoria tends to lean to the ALP at all elections.

It was the best state for Labor at the last Federal election, even with the relentless train wreck that was the Rudd-Gillard fiasco. And the feeling that the Federal budget was tailor-made to be nasty to the little people has been exacerbated by the very well understood piece of political calculation that Messrs Abbott and Hockey are both rich, both Sydneysiders, and both seem uncomfortable and sometimes contemptuous when speaking about the rest of Australia past the Blue Mountains.

Picking up on that angst, the TV know-it-alls reckon the seats down the Frankston line will be the deciders in the contest, chock full of annoyed battlers and retirees, and they might be right, at that – Frankston and Carrum look very wobbly at least – but we suspect that is so much received wisdom, especially as it ignores the contests in marginals in the countryside such as the regional cities of Ballaraat and Bendigo which might well be closer than predicted. There has been an assumption made that Labor will snap up some of the country marginals, too, but the very Melbourne-centric Labor Party doesn’t play well in regional Vic, whereas bumbly, horse-owning country vet Dennis Napthine plays unusually well.

In the country, Napthine is often touted as “one of us”, which could not with the best will in the world be said of long-term party apparatchick Daniel Andrews, despite him being brought up in Wangarratta in the State’s north. Not for nothing has he been spruiking that fact again and again in recent weeks: nevertheless, his urban veneer is perfectly obvious.

The last factor that is being largely ignored by the chattering chardonnay drinking classes in the inner city is that, far from being a vote loser, the very controversial East-West Link (road tunnel) which has led almost every news bulletin in what seems like a year has actually been becoming more and more popular with the voters as the Government has patiently explained its rationale, and voters in a string of semi-marginal Eastern and outer-Eastern seats have sweltered in traffic jams at the Hoddle St exits.

Certainly the project has been controversial, and one could argue the Government’s obdurate secrecy on much of the detail has been annoying for many. But ultimately, the question is, “Would I like to get to the Tullamarine Freeway from the end of the Eastern Freeway 20 minutes faster than I can now?”

There are tends of thousands of frustrated commuting motorists – not to mention commercial truck drivers – who will say “Yes”. Sure, they’re not the types that protest on street corners, but they do vote.

And the latest opinion poll on the topic, almost ignored by most of the media because it doesn’t suit the anti-tunnel hysteria they themselves have whipped up, has approval for the East-West Link sitting at a pretty emphatic 63%. That’s a big enough gap in favour to be significant. Not for nothing have the Liberals been bleating that only they will build the East-West Link. If they can get 50.5% of that 63% to vote for them, they’ve held onto power.

So there we have it. The Liberals and Nationals will retain power and Napthine will continue as Premier, at least for now. We know this to be true.

Except, we don’t. Our gut instinct still tells us that a small Labor win – perhaps a majority of as little as two or three seats – is the most likely result. A very good Labor win would look like a majority of maybe 8: anything above that would be a landslide and that is very unlikely. So if we had to part with our wrinkled ten shilling note at the bookies, we’d stick with Labor to win – just – if for no other reason than enough people might want to send a nasty message to the detested Tony Abbott and will sweep poor old well-meaning Napthine aside in the process.

And we’ve been confidently predicting Labor to win for a year. So: Labor to win. Just.

Unless, of course, they don’t. In which case, you – er – heard it here first.

PS Real political junkie stuff. Will the Greens win any lower house seats? We’re guessing no. Who would replace Napthine as party leader if he loses? Matthew Guy. Who incidentally, would have won this election hands down, if the Baillieu camp had not headed him off at the pass by handing the leadership to Napthine in the first place. Or to put it another way, be careful what you wish for.

scotlandGiven the tightening in the opinion polls in recent days, including two with the Yes vote ahead, (although one was a very small sample), there has been a sudden rash of fevered speculation about what would happen if Scotland votes “Yes” to independence on Thursday, UK time.

All the way along we have been predicting a narrow win – perhaps a very narrow win – for the No vote, even when polls were showing a huge lead for the Noes.

But we confess the current volatility in the Scots electorate is giving us some pause for thought.

It’s clear from looking around the edges of the debate that there is considerable momentum for the Yes side as people get nearer and nearer to the day. Their rallies have been rowdy, good natured and well attended. In contrast, “No” activities have seemed mean and mealy-mouthed. A strong air of hurt rejection characterises much of the No campaign, whether it be the ludicrous announcements of some retailers and banks that they will relocate to England if the Yes vote gets up (they won’t) to the ever more strident allegations from English politicians that an independent Scotland is heading for economic ruin and an uncertain currency future, and probably outside of the EC at that. So there, and yar boo sucks.

This angst is all playing right into the hands of the Yes campaigners, of course, who simply call this further evidence that the English think of the Scots as less intelligent, less capable and less important in the world scheme of things – which is exactly what the English do think, of course. Democracy is an interesting thing, sometimes. Sometimes the people can see quite clearly what politicians deep, core opinions are, and they use their vote accordingly.

Anyhow, this “making your mind up” thing just before the actual day is a growing feature of elections and votes of all kinds, evidenced worldwide, born of less ironed-on support for one party or another, or one position and another.

We’ve seen it a lot recently: the last minute swing to the Liberal-National Coalition that toppled the last Victorian state government in Australia, the small but significant decline in Lib Dem support prior to the last General Election in England, a swing to Obama in the last few days of the last presidential election, Kevin Rudd doing better than expected at the last Federal Election in Australia, especially in Queensland, the pushing of the FDP below 5% in the last German elections as their supporters fled to both right and left in the last 10 days … yes, the “last minute swing”, to someone or other, is now so common as to be almost predictable. Politicians know it – it’s why you rarely hear a pollie say nowadays “Yeah, I reckon we’re home and hosed, we’ve got this,” because they know that’s a sure-fire formula for last minute desertions or abstentions.

So, given the general ineptness of the No campaign, a Yes victory is possible. They have the all-important “Mo”. We also suspect that the polls are somewhat under-estimating the Yes vote, as it is the nature of people’s responses to pollsters that they tend to report supporting the status quo more enthusiastically than they report supporting radical change. Radical change nevertheless sometimes occurs – witness the recent rise in support for the National Front in France, for example, which well outstripped its opinion poll performance.

What no-one appears to have discussed, however, is what will happen next week if the Noes win, but by a wafer thin margin. 50.5% to 49.5% for example.

Scotland will be seen to be split down the middle – and we’re also betting that the split will reflect historical strains in Scottish society that have never quite been resolved. We expect the Yes vote to do better amongst the University-educated, (Scotland has a fine tradition of intellectualism), amongst the poor and disenfranchised (for whom it is a useful way to express a generalised disgust with those that govern them, and Westminster in particular), and the “old Scots” – those that self-identify as members of the great Highland nations, that were never entirely subdued by the English.

Roman Catholics will also, we predict, heavily favour “Yes” over Protestants, the young will be more enthusiastic than the old, and so on.

Does it matter? Yes, it does. A Scotland that is still part of the Union, but where that Union is patently obviously deeply unpopular with large swathes of the population, is a Scotland where government’s legitimacy will be essentially harmed. The No vote needed to win big to put this to bed, and they’re not going to.

A notable feature of the debate in the last couple of years has been the idea that “Westminster” is somehow inherently flawed – unwieldy, or corrupt, or unresponsive, or all three. To combat that malaise, which is very real, a substantial effort to create yet more effective devolution of power will become a core priority in the wake of a narrow No win, but it would delivered to a country that will be exhausted with concepts of constitutional change.

Whilst many believe that the British peoples would do well to become a federated nation with much greater powers devolved to the English regions, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, the general public’s appetite is likely to be a long way behind that idea and focused on other more pressing issues like jobs, and economic health generally. Not to mention the fact that another uncertain Middle Eastern war apparently looms.

So Scotland might well be left with just the slightest taste of “freedom” on its lips, but essentially nothing substantial changed at all. That’s not going to be good for the basic compact between Government and the governed that lies at the heart of good civic compliance.There is nothing inherently and enduringly stable about British society than any other – remember the poll tax riots?

And in simple terms, all that means is that all the talk of this being a “once and for all” decision – an oft-repeated construction which suits both sides right now – might be, and probably is, a little hasty. If the No vote only wins by a poofteenth and a bit, we don’t expect this issue to go away.

What would we do, if we were resident in Scotland today? (One of the peculiarities of this vote is that you get a vote if you live there, wherever you’re from, but not if you were born there and now live elsewhere. Who dreamed up that little nonsense?)

Well, we have always been deeply wary of the way the British civil service works to mangle and strangle necessary change.

 

"But I love you." "Look, it's not you, it's me."

“But I love you.” “Look, it’s not you, it’s me.”

 

Westminster often moves turgidly slowly to enhance public freedoms, and to emancipate those whose position is hemmed in by lack of opportunity or rights. Far from being a notable and consistent reforming body, steadily pursuing the path to enlightenment, Westminster actually behaves erratically, sometimes going through great bursts of action (say, the establishment of the National Health Service, the de-criminalisation of homosexuality, the freeing of the colonies, the abolition of the death penalty – or in purely economic terms, Margaret Thatcher’s rolling back of trade union power, and her selling council houses and public assets) interspersed with periods of rigidity and retreat (how ridiculously long it took to emancipate women, a century of mistakes in Ireland, the failure to reform British industry pre-Thatcher along European enterprise lines being the most obvious recent example, the fact that the landscape is still blighted by urban decay in so many old Victorian cities, and perhaps lagging so far behind Europe in creating new “Green” industries to replace old ones).

At the Wellthisiswhatithink desk, we believe, as an article of political faith, that Government that is nearer the people it governs is usually better Government. Faster, more quick to make necessary change, better informed to resist foolish change.

That’s why we are, on balance, convinced of the Yes camp’s arguments. We don’t think an independent Scotland inside the EU would really be all that different to the Scotland that is inside Britain now, and we are reasonably certain the EU would (after some huffing and puffing) admit an independent Scotland, just as we believe they will admit an independent Catalonia eventually. Independence would be a boost to Scottish morale, and give the Scots the absolute right to chart an innovative and successful course, without constantly looking over the shoulder to see what someone in Birmingham, Kidwelly or Ballymena thinks. And if they don’t work it out, well, the residents of Lyme Regis, Pembrook or Derry won’t be paying for their errors, will they? That seems just fine to us.

Re-writing boundaries is a continual project: there’s no reason to believe that where we stand now is where we always will stand. We need to roll with the punches, and move on, as friends. What we need to be very aware of is that will be most urgently required not if Scotland votes for independence, but if it very narrowly doesn’t.

McConnell v Grimes: forgive our cynicism, but the look of both candidates isn't exactly going to hurt the Democrats either.

McConnell v Grimes: forgive our cynicism, but the look of both candidates isn’t exactly going to hurt the Democrats either. Hey, Kennedy beat Nixon because he was taller, right?

A round of new polls conducted by The New York Times and Kaiser Family Foundation have some good (and surprising, to some) news for a handful of Southern Senate Democrats in key seats. This news may hose down excitement in some GOP and fellow-traveller ranks that the Republicans could win control of the Senate: that now looks less likely, not that we ever thought it was.

The polls, released Wednesday, found Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) leading Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR) by a comfortable 46 percent to 36 percent.

In Kentucky, controversial Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) – long tipped as a very possible loser in the mid-terms by this blog – just barely leads Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) 44 percent to 43 percent, the poll found.

Meanwhile, in North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) is also neck-and-neck with House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-NC) in a hypothetical matchup with Hagan getting 42 percent while Tillis gets 40 percent.

Lastly, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) has a commanding lead over Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and the rest of the field in the Louisiana Senate race.

(That finding deserves a caveat: Louisiana’s primary system is something called a “jungle primary” where there is no Republican or Democratic primary. Instead all candidates run together and if no candidate gets 50 percent of the vote, the top two candidates face each other in a runoff election. The poll found Landrieu with 42 percent followed by Cassidy with 18 percent. No other candidate managed to get double digits.)

The polls were conducted April 8 to the 15. The margin of error for each poll was plus or minus 4 percentage points for registered voters. In other words, despite “weeks of attacks ads” quoted by one source, Mark Pryor in Arkansas has pulled out to a winning lead (his biggest lead since polling started) and looks comfortable in what should still be a relatively tight race. The other races are all within the margin of error.

We believe incumbency will be a negative for all candidates in November, and even more than usual. On that basis we think McConnell looks doubly vulnerable. We shall see.

LonelyElephant

For some weeks now, we have been predicting that the blame for the US Government shutdown – and any future debt default – will be laid squarely at the feet of the Republicans, and it is only because they are living in their own very badly advised bubble (just as they were at the last Presidential election) that they cannot see the approaching disaster that their behaviour is creating.

This article on recent poll results makes it very clear. Undeniable.

tea party childNo one in their right mind would want to see America become, in effect, a one party state. But that’s the way they’re headed, unless someone in the Republican leaderships starts to bang a few heads together and show some foresight – starting with isolating and ignoring the Tea Party representatives in their midst.

Will the GOP listen before it’s too late? I doubt it.

By Steve Benen at the Maddow Blog
Wed Oct 9, 2013 3:14 PM EDT

Have congressional Republicans been unpopular before? Yes. Have they been this unpopular? Not in recent memory.

 

This Gallup chart shows the parties’ favourability ratings over the last 21 years, and you’ll notice that sharp drop on the right side of the image. That shows GOP support falling off a cliff.

Republicans were deeply unpopular during the impeachment crisis in late 1998, but they’re in even worse shape now. Indeed, the angle that surprised me was comparing Republican favourability now to the party’s standing the last time GOP lawmakers shut down the government — they’re faring much worse in 2013.

 

 

And this is the image showing unfavourable ratings. Note, dislike for Republicans was also very strong at the end of the Bush/Cheney era, but once again, it’s worse now.

It’s obvious from the results that Democrats aren’t winning any popularity contests, but you don’t need to be a professional pollster to see which party is in better shape.

As for whether there are any practical consequences for poll results like these, I think there are.

The 2014 midterms are still a year away, and the prevailing political winds are bound to change direction – more than once – between now and then. What’s more, many Republican districts have been shielded from a voter backlash by gerrymandering.

But when one party’s public standing reaches a generational low – as opposed to, say, a minor downturn – it’s bound to have an effect. For one thing, it matters to the parties’ recruiting efforts, and there’s already some evidence to bolster this point. For another, it affects fundraising, and we’ve seen anecdotal evidence on this front, too.

What’s more, it starts to create a ceiling of sorts. As Republican popularity reaches new depths, it becomes that much more difficult to recover. If the GOP were to somehow add another 10 points to its favorability rating, it’d still be in horrible shape — and there’s nothing to suggest a 10-point boost is on the horizon.

It’s far too early for serious speculation about the midterms, but if Republicans are trying to position themselves for major setbacks in the next cycle, they’re off to an excellent start.

125 years strong

125 years strong

As anyone knows who has wandered by Wellthisiswhatithink in the last couple of years, I am a fanatical, tragic, totally addicted, beyond help supporter of Southampton Football Club.

That’s why occasionally a post has no relevance whatsoever for anyone except my fellow football sufferers. This is one of those.

Now, if you didn’t vote for Saints to fill one of the three relegation positions … 18th-20th … then care to say who will fill them?

 

You have three votes in the second poll.

You have one week to vote in both polls!

It seems voters are now very obviously tiring of Tony Abbott’s incessant negativity and macho attitudes. How long will the powers-that-be resist a move to the much more electorally acceptable Malcolm Turnbull? Our bet? As it always has been, before Xmas 2012 or soon after.

(Yahoo and others)

Labor’s attacks on Tony Abbott’s character – he’s been painted as a misogynist and a liar – appear to be taking its toll, with voter support for him at its lowest level since he became opposition leader three years ago.

The Australian’s latest Newspoll shows that less than one third of voters, 27 per cent, are satisfied with the way Mr Abbott is doing his job, and the highest number on record, 63 per cent, are dissatisfied with his performance.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard maintains her two-month lead over Mr Abbott as preferred prime minister, 46 per cent to 32 per cent.

Despite Mr Abbott’s troubles, the coalition continues to hold solid primary vote support, 43 per cent, up from 41 per cent two weeks ago, while Labor’s primary vote is unchanged on 36 per cent.

The Newspoll survey, taken over the weekend, shows the coalition holds a two-point lead over Labor – 51 per cent to 49 per cent – on a two-party-preferred basis using preference flows at the last election.

Ms Gillard and other female ministers have accused Mr Abbott of misogyny and sexist behaviour, while Climate Change Minister Greg Combet has accused him of lying.

Last Friday, while announcing that Australia was prepared to join a second Kyoto Protocol treaty to set new targets for cutting greenhouse gases, Mr Combet said everything that Mr Abbott had said about climate change was “complete bulls**t”.

Mr Abbott’s net satisfaction – the difference between satisfaction and dissatisfaction – is the worst it has ever been at minus 36.

Ms Gillard’s personal support was virtually unchanged, with satisfaction on 37 per cent, up two points, and dissatisfaction on 52 per cent, giving her a net satisfaction rating of minus 15.

UPDATED

In  a Fairfax Nielsen poll published today (19 Nov) Mr Abbott’s approval eased one point to 36 per cent. His disapproval is steady at 60 per cent, although the Coalition maintains a winning margin on a two-party preferred basis.

His net approval is down a point to minus 24, a new personal low.

Voter approval for Prime Minister Julia Gillard remains steady on 47 per cent and, with her disapproval steady on 48 per cent, she has an unchanged net approval of minus one, markedly better, note, than the Newspoll above.

Ms Gillard maintains a nine-point lead over Mr Abbott in the preferred Prime Minister stakes at 51 per cent (up a point) to Mr Abbott’s 42 per cent (up two points) in the national poll of 1,400 people taken from Thursday to Saturday, after the announcement of a Royal Commission into Child Abuse.

Barack Obama

Change that America still appearently believes in. Will you welcome, please, Ladies and Gentlemen, the next President of the United States, Barack Obama. (Wellthatswhatwethink, anyhow.)

So. Well. Here it is. This is where the rubber hits the road.

After months – nay years – of fulminating and opinionising (great word, huh?) on the likely result of the 2012 Presidential election, this is now our considered view of what will happen tomorrow, so we can be hung out to dry or lauded as geniuses, when the actual results are known.

It’s currently about 9.00 am on Monday on the east coast of America. It is reasonable to assume that the various party managers will not allow anything much to affect the overall outcome now.

What matters now is trends, and the trends are heading Obama’s way, strongly during the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, and gently now, the waters are pretty much stagant. The electorate has politics exhaustion.

We are gliding to a predictable result, unless everyone polled by everybody has been lying through their teeth – which is, it has to be said, entirely possible.

State by state, we tell you what will happen

We give the key battleground state of Ohio to Obama. Primary reason – the stimulus. Whether or not one agrees with it and its targeting, it shored up hundreds of thousands jobs in the state directly or indirectly. People simply won’t forget – well, enough people won’t forget. What’s more, recent growth in the energy sector (amongst others) in the state actually has its unemployment level comfortably below the national average. No Republican candidate has ever found a way to the White House without Ohio in the bag, and the latest RCP rolling average has it +2.9 for Obama.

More importantly, it has been for Obama to one degree or another in every poll since 23rd October. The ground campaign has also been very effective for the President in the seat. Obama only won it by 4.6% in 2008, and there is unquestionably less enthusiasm for him this time than last time, and – yes – the Republican ground campaign is better organised there than ever before. Nevertheless, it is the trend to Obama that interests us. So – Ohio goes for Obama.

Although it is tightening, we give the other huge and vital battleground state of Florida to Romney.

Both sides have poured work into there, but in my view the state is gradually becoming more conservative, not less, and the Obama campaign have failed to reassure the elderly on Obamacare, or frighten them enough on the vouchers for Medicare issue. Also, the strong Jewish vote may be less than enthusiastic about Obama’s obviously less aggressive attitude to Arab states in the Middle East, and less than cheerful embrace of Benjamin Netanyahu. On the other hand, the large Latino vote is breaking strongly for Obama.

In the end, barring seeing precinct by precinct pre-polling data, it’s a gut call. I have always thought in a tight race that Obama would lose Florida, and I see no reason, even though Romney is currently only 1.4% ahead, to change my mind, especially as he has been so consistently for a while now. What’s more, just watching Obama adviser David Axelrod on TV, (and I consider myself a good judge of body language and facial expression) he looked utterly convincing when he called Ohio for his team, and a lot less so when he spoke of “good reports” from the southern state. So – Florida for Romney.

(What will also be interesting in Florida is when it “declares”. If it is early, and it is for Romney, it will be treated as bigger news than frankly one thinks it should be. For that reason, I expect multiple challenges and recounts all over the state from the Democrats, some of them frivolous, to delay the result here being published or assumed with any certainty, until Ohio, where a very high percentage of ballots have already been cast, declares for the President.)

The next key state to consider is Virginia. I have long been of the view that Virginia will go for Romney, largely because of the military influence, and also because it is essentially a safe “red” state, giving Bush the Younger wins by plus 8% twice in a row before the Obama bandwagon rolled through in 2008.

Yet it is now possibly the most fascinating contest of the lot, as it stays stubbornly in the “too close to call” camp, with Obama leading by just 0.2% in the rolling average of the polls.

The interesting thing here is that the trend is now firmly towards Obama, and the growth of younger, affluent voters now living in the state and commuting elsewhere is supposed to aid him. What’s more, Axelrod (whose face is usually very revealing, so I really don’t know why the Obama camp puts him up on TV, personally) almost jumped out of his chair with obvious delight when he claimed that he was thinking Obama would win there, and I thought he looked completely sincere.

Another interesting factor is that except for two tiny blips (around the first disastrous debate for Obama) Romney has trailed by a substantial factor in the state since February. Then again, that could be said of many places around the nation. But after agonised consideration I am going to go against the current opinion trends and say that I think Romney will win Virginia – just. So that’s another 13 votes for the Republicans in the electoral college, and although its near neighbour North Carolina has often been considered to be in play I think that’s solidified for the Governor too; he’s up round about 3-4%, here so make that another 15 votes for Romney.

But there I really believe the good news for Romney ends. Of the other toss up states I honestly only think he has a chance in Colorado, where Obama is leading by about half a percentage point, having won it by 9% last time. Here again, though, the trend has recently been away from Romney and towards Obama. Obama is starting to look like a winner, and that all-important oh-so-elusive “Big Mo” or momentum becomes vitally important in very tight races. Also, for a state to go plus 9% to negative is a hell of a leap, even with an unpopular Presidential incumbent. I would say Obama’s loss over his 2008 performance will – overall – be in the region of 6-8%, although in a couple of states it may go as high as 10%.

On that basis Colorado is line ball, (9 electoral college votes) and so, looking westward, is Nevada (six votes).

But, and perhaps crucially, it’s worth noting that Colorado is two hours behind the Eastern seaboard, and Nevada three hours. Exit polls will slam onto the airwaves giving Florida to Romney and Ohio to Obama within seconds of the eastern polls closing.

This will have two effects in the swing states of Colorado and Nevada. Firstly, it will call the race as close and encourage late voters and those intending to vote on the way home to actually do so. And the higher the turnout, the more the Obama camp will like it. Second, it will demoralise some Republicans and boost Democrats, because the prevailing commentators mantra (except on Fox News) will be “Romney can’t win without Ohio, it’s all over bar the shouting”.

And if that sounds as if it is contradictory (on the one hand calling the race as close, and on the other calling it as a likely Obama victory) the two effects do not actually cancel each other out.

Why? Well, people like being on the winning side: so a small but significant number of possible Obama voters will be persuaded to jump on the winning ship.

People also like being in a close race and thinking their vote matters – but the effect is stronger with unenthusiastic voters who might otherwise stay home. So that factor – a close race – will, I believe, be marginally more effective for the Democrats than the GOP.

So: I give both these states, with some degree of nervousness, to Obama. But I freely admit I might be wrong. The effort going into local Senate and other races will matter, and certainly in Colorado I think those are leaning to the GOP. Who’d be a poll predictor, eh?

But after that small caveat, I frankly consider Romney is toast.

I remain to be convinced otherwise, but I simply do not see any of New Hampshire, Michigan – for heaven’s sake, the state only still exists as a going concern thanks to Obama’s largesse – Wisconsin or Pennsylvania (despite much huff and puff about the latter by the right, desperately trying to offset a loss in Ohio) being in play any more.

NH voters are notoriously independent. They will have been impressed by Obama’s efforts over the “superstorm”, and warmed to him very late. (This state always decides late, anyhow.) Four more votes for Obama.

Wisconsin is more problematical but the figures look like it is following its neighbours in reluctantly holding its nose and giving the President from the big smoke over their border another chance. Ten in Obama’s column.

Pennsylvania is a biggie – 20 electoral college votes – but in my view it is simply too urbanised, overall, to fall to the Republicans. With the exception of one poll (a tie) it has been in plus territory for Obama since the 21st October, and currently by nearly 4%, and if, for example, I give Florida to Romney on the basis that the trend has comfortably been his way for a while (which is one of the other reasons I like him there) then it seems logical to give Pennsylvania, despite a new TV buy by the GOP, to Obama.

And any talk, in my opinion, that Iowa (6 votes), Minnesota (10 votes) or Oregon (7 votes) are in play for Romney is purely fanciful. And beyond that, the latest margins reported by polls in other states are all so large as to make any late changes in their likely result impossible.

The what if game

But let’s play a game. Let’s pretend I am allowing my pro-Democrat rose-tinted glasses to cloud my independent commentator judgement, and let’s give everything that’s called a toss up to Romney except, say, Ohio and Pennsylvania, which I really do think are so solid for the President now that it would be pointless messing around with them.

I call this the “Crazy Game Scenario”

Let’s give Romney all of Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Colorado, Nevada, Iowa, Minnesota, and Oregon. It’s highly unlikely, of course, that every single swing state listed would flop into the Romney column, but not literally impossible. On that basis, Romney/Ryan actually win by 280-258.

But remember, as at today the polls have Obama leading in Virginia, New Hampshire, Colorado, Nevada, Minnesota and Oregon. It would be an earthquake for the Republicans to win this way.

The “Best Revenge Is Voting Scenario”

Let’s give Florida, Virginia – yes, still – and North Carolina to Romney, and Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado, New Hampshire, Nevada, Iowa, Minnesota and Oregon to Obama. Under this scenario (which on current polling is at the very least “likely”) then this gives the race to Obama by 290 to 248, a Democrat majority in the electoral college of 42.

If by some remarkable result Axelrod’s confidence is well founded and Obama takes Virginia as well, then the math becomes Obama 303 Romney 235, or a majority of 68. This is also conceivable. And there’s a lot of people around who think it’s becoming likely as we are about to see.

If I was a betting man – which I am – I’d therefore be having a close look at an Obama victory in the region of 20-42 electoral college votes, and probably nearer the upper end of that spread.

If you feel like having apunt, then these two options are currently offered at 7-2 (270-289 electoral college votes) and 5-2 (290-309 electoral college votes) respectively on Ladbrokes (UK), for example, so one could take both bets and still end up ahead. But you can do better with tighter spreads – for example, you can get 6-1 around the traps for 281-290 electoral college votes if you hunt. Oddschecker.com might be helpful.

As these figures reflect actual money being invested by people who are studying the runes and placing often substantial sums on as a result of their research, they are historically often better indicators of likely outcomes than anything else.

Interestingly there has obviously been substantial money on a big Obama win – garnering as many 330-349 electoral college votes – as the odds I have spotted are miserly, just 3-1.

You can also get a little worse than even money, 5/6, on Obama getting under 304 electoral college votes. That might be a smart bet if you can afford to put enough on it to make an even money bet worthwhile.

I can tell you that looking around the betting websites, I see the bookies have the Democrats favourites in Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Wisconsin, and even Virginia. They are such strong favourites in New Hampshire, Ohio, Wisconsin, Nevada and Iowa that they aren’t worth a bet. The smart money currently has Romney winning Florida – just.

Some serious money has gone down on some sites for a Democrat win in Virginia. Ditto, they are almost unbackable in Pennsylvania, which is supposed to be the state that is rescuing Romney’s ass. Er, not.

Overall, the Democrats are almost an un-backable favourite, both to win the Presidency and the popular vote.

OK, so that’s about it.

As I have said consistently for six months, Obama will win, probably about 40 electoral votes ahead, maybe as little as 20 (unlikely) maybe as high as 60-70 ahead (unlikely, but possible).

Oh, and as I have said elsewhere, I haven’t got an election result in the USA, UK, or Australia wrong in over 35 years. (This of course means it is certain I have got this one way wrong, I guess!) But I take no responsibility whatsoever for you losing your shirt on the result, whatever it is.

In short: all care, no responsibility, people.

Enjoy watching the results flow in. Come Wednesday, we can all get back to talking about the football.

Katy Perry performs at a campaign rally for US President Barack Obama in a rubber dress …. phew. Then again, Romney has, er, Meat Loaf on his team.

From AFP and others

President Barack Obama and rival Mitt Romney darted across the United States Saturday in an 11th-hour blitz, with the close White House battle heading to an ill-tempered climax.

Sharp political arrows flew much as they have throughout the bitter, months-long battle between the two parties’ flag-bearers, but the rivals also turned to soaring rhetoric as they made their closing arguments.

Three days before voters choose between giving Obama a second term or sending him back to Chicago, the rivals chased one another through a handful of states that will decide Tuesday’s too-close-to-call election.

The president dashed from small rural towns in Ohio to the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for a larger rally with a big, rowdy crowd in a conference center.

He also heads to Iowa and then Virginia, two of the eight or so battlegrounds that the campaigns are obsessing over in the final 72 hours of the race. Romney spent the day in New Hampshire, Iowa and Colorado.

Gratuitous extra photo of Katy Perry. Um, well, look. She just makes Obama look better than ever, OK?

Obama’s applause lines were greeted with lusty cheers, and chants of “four more years” from a crowd, put at 20,000 by Milwaukee event officials, warmed up before Obama’s arrival by pop star Katy Perry.

“As long as there is a child in any place in Milwaukee, any place in Wisconsin, any place in this country, who is languishing in poverty and barred from opportunity, our fight goes on,” Obama said,.

“Our fight goes on because America has always done best when everybody has got a fair shot,” he added, pushing his populist economic message.

Obama also hit out at what he says is Romney’s effort to roll back the clock to the days when Wall Street had “free rein to do whatever” it liked, contributing to “an economic crisis that we’re still cleaning our way out of.”

“And governor Romney now is a very talented salesman,” Obama added. “So in this campaign, he is trying as hard as he can to repackage the same old ideas that didn’t work and offer them up as change.”

Wisconsin had been considered safe Democratic territory, but a combination of a resurgent Republican Party, waning enthusiasm for Obama and home state hero Paul Ryan as Romney’s running mate has tightened the race.

The latest RealClearPolitics average of state polls has Obama leading in Wisconsin by 5.4 percent.

Romney began his day in New Hampshire, which has only four of the 270 electoral votes needed to claim the White House but could punch above its weight in a tight finish, and accused Obama of “demonizing” political foes.

“I won’t represent just one party, I’ll represent one nation,” Romney told a crowd at an airport rally outside Portsmouth, and warned Obama would find it impossible to work with congressional Republicans if he wins re-election.

Romney also debuted a new political ad Saturday, seizing on Obama’s comment in Ohio a day earlier when he told supporters angry at the Republicans not to boo but to vote, saying “voting’s the best revenge.”

The ad featured Romney telling his biggest crowd of the campaign in Ohio Friday that Obama “asked his supporters to vote for revenge – for revenge.”

“Instead, I ask the American people to vote for love of country,” he said.

(Implying Obama doesn’t love his country? Disgraceful. I think Obama was simply stating the obvious. The best way to fight back against the continual lies and obfuscations of the Romney camp is to get out and vote.)

Romney repeated the message in New Hampshire and then at a rally in Dubuque, Iowa, where in close combat on the last weekend of the campaign, Obama was set to touchdown for his own event at the same airport hours later.

He also blasted the president for four years of failed economic policy that has left the nation mired in debt, with high unemployment and soaring gas prices.

“He wants to settle. Look, Americans don’t settle. We aspire, we reach, we dream, we achieve,” Romney said.

Later in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Romney said he saw Tuesday as “a moment to look into the future, and imagine what we can do to put the past four years behind us.”

“We’re that close right now,” he said. “The door to a brighter future is there.”

The president earlier visited the Washington headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency as New York and New Jersey struggle to deal with the aftermath of murderous superstorm Sandy.

“We still have a long way to go,” said Obama, stressing he had no time for government “red tape” which could hold up the relief effort, after discussing the crisis with the governors of New Jersey, Connecticut and New York.

The Obama campaign enjoys the comparison between Obama doing his job managing the government while Romney campaigns as polls show a majority of Americans approve of the president’s handling of Sandy.

Latest polls show Obama and Romney tied nationally, but Obama appears to be solidifying his position in enough of the eight or so swing states that will decide the election to support his hopes of a second term.

New surveys by the Wall Street Journal and NBC News Saturday showed the president up by 49 to 47 percent in Florida and leading Romney 51 to 45 percent in Ohio, double the margin in the current RealClearPolitics average.

A Mason Dixon poll for the Miami Herald, however, had Romney up by six points in Florida, which the Republican, who also needs Ohio, cannot afford to lose if he is to be elected America’s 45th president.

Obama and Romney

“I really don’t like you.” “I really don’t like you more.”  “Keep smiling though, eh?”  “OK”

This is a much better and more balanced article on the likely US election outcome than most. (Thank you to Richard Ember for forwarding it to me.)

And not just because it bears out what I have been saying, which is there has been a modest return to Obama, and also that Obama will indeed win Ohio (thus denying Romney the White House, because there is nowhere Romney can pick up the votes he won’t get in Ohio, even allowing that Romney will probably – not certainly – win Va and Fla.)

It also confirms my previous assertion that the national lead he currently enjoys is because Romney has been piling up votes where he doesn’t need them, in solid “red” states, as conservative voters (including Evangelical Christians, emboldened by Billy Graham’s flip-flop over whether Mormonism is a cult) decide they can, after all, hold their nose and vote for him.

http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/29/oct-28-in-swing-states-a-predictable-election/?smid=tw-share

Anyhow, in related polling, RCP’s rolling average today pulls Romney’s lead back from 0.9% to 0.8%, not enough to win the electoral college vote. Is there wild enthusiasm for Obama? No, there is not. Will he win, if the Democrats get their ground game right? Yes.

I am definitely going to write about something other than American politics soon, I promise. Promise, honest injun, I pinky swear.

Opinion polls

Down the end of this docco – well, a bit more than halfway thru –  are the actual current USA polls, without anyone cherry picking them, and the dates on which they were taken.

It should be noted that the second Presidential debate was on the 16th. The clear controversy is the difference between the Rasmussen and Gallup Polls, (the latter which has been criticised because of its sampling type and as a result of having a track record of being incorrectly inflative to the GOP) and the IBD and HC/UConn and ABC polls. The last four, being entirely pre-second debate can probably be discounted.

If we discount the Gallup poll change by 50% down to +3 (which of course is arguable, but also less of a discount than indicated by its previous performance – it over-estimated McCain by +9% at one point last time) and make it Romney +3, and then average the results for the top four polls, then the result is Romney +2 and Obama +3.

And I am GUESSING this is about right. I predicted about a 1% increase for Obama over his low point int he aftermath of the Debate #1 debacle. I expect to see the trend continue after a win for Obama on Monday night, but that is pure star-gazing.

But in my opinion, something else is happening too. As always happens in tight races, both sides are shoring up support in their stronger areas. Thus a state like NC for example, where Bush won very easily, and in which Obama squeaked home last time, is, in my opinion, not really “leaning” Romney but should be thoroughly placed in his camp. However, that doesn’t really help him win, because he’s piling up votes in a state which he really should win easily anyway. Similarly, Obama is comfortably ahead in Michigan, but so he damn well should be, since he bought into the car industry and also won it by 16% last time.

The fact that a state like Virginia is a dead heat at the moment should be very concerning for the GOP. I think it will go to Romney, but given it’s importance, and given Bush won it by 8.1 and 8.2%, and Obama by 6.3% (which is around his current fall in the polls) it should surely be comfortably trending towards Romney now. But it isn’t.

The fight in the battleground states is much tighter than it is in the homebase states. One word of wisdom – back in the Democratic primaries before 2008, Obama beat Clinton by concentrating his support in the key battleground states, and conceding states that didn’t matter. Democrat investment in Ohio – which should, by national polling, be long gone from the Obama camp – shows they are doing it again.

Rasmussen Tracking         10/17 – 10/19                  Romney +1
Gallup Tracking                 10/13 – 10/19                  Romney +6
IBD/TIPP Tracking         10/14 – 10/19                   Obama  +3
Hartford Courant/UConn   10/11 – 10/16             Obama  +3

ABC News/Wash Post 1    0/10 – 10/13                    Obama +3
Politico/GWU/Battleground    10/7 – 10/11         Obama +1
Monmouth/SurveyUSA/Braun 10/8 – 10/10      Romney +1
FOX News    10/7 – 10/9                                                Romney +1

In short, I believe Obama is just one good debate away from being home again. Whereas I believe Romney is one GREAT debate – plus some problems for Obama plus a better organisation on the ground (which he doesn’t have) plus getting lucky in every battleground state in the country … from being home.

The odds, whatever GOP operatives and supporters would have us believe, are still very pro-Obama. Tonight. Tomorrow? Who knows.

I’ll say this too. I think the GOP will be delighted to have hurt Obama, to have defended many seats around the country, to be “back in the game”, and in the process to have got rid of the uncomfortable and disliked Romney. A few more years to knock the edges of Ryan (or someone similar) and they think they’ll be back in for a generation. And they well may be right.

Poll: Obama widens lead over Romney despite weaker jobs data – see the end of this article for 17 Sept update confirming trend is in Obama’s favour.

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan in Ashland today

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan in Ashland today. I think Ryan looks too young to run. Oh, sorry, my bad. (Photo credit: tvnewsbadge)

As predicted in the pages of Wellthisiswhatithink a few days ago, Obama has done better out of the conference season than Romney. The scheduling of the Democrat convention immediately after the Republican one may come to be seen as a strategic masterstroke when the experts parse the result of a Democrat win in November.

The President widened his narrow lead over Republican U.S. presidential challenger Mitt Romney in a new Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Saturday.

The latest daily tracking poll showed Obama with a lead of 4 percentage points over Romney. Forty-seven percent of 1,457 likely voters surveyed online over the previous four days said they would vote for Obama if the November 6 elections were held today, compared with 43 percent for Romney.

“The bump is actually happening. I know there was some debate whether it would happen, but it’s here,” said Ipsos pollster Julia Clark, referring to the “bounce” in support that many presidential candidates enjoy after nominating conventions.

Obama had leapfrogged Romney in the daily tracking poll on Friday with a lead of 46 percent to 44 percent.

The president’s lead comes despite a somewhat mixed reaction to his convention speech on Thursday night in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Friday’s government data showing that jobs growth slowed sharply last month.

Obama’s lead over Romney is comparable to Romney’s former lead over the president after the Republican National Convention finished last week, Clark said.

“We don’t have another convention now to turn our attention to, so (Obama’s bounce) may maintain,” Clark said. “How big it’ll be and how long it will last remains to be seen.”

I am frankly surprised that the candidates aren’t closer this week, and in my opinion, as I explained the other day, the bounce will become slightly more pronounced next week, as this week’s averaged polls drop off polls from when Obama was in a comfortable lead.

From that point on, it is Obama’s election to lose. The difficulty for the Republicans is that the next major opportunity for them to draw blood is the debates, and these will almost certainly favour Obama, as, regardless of one’s political bias, he is clearly a stronger candidate than Romney – more charismatic, more likeable, and despite the mixed scorecard for the first term of his Presidency, appearing more capable. This is born out when one analyses the poll’s investigation of specific qualities of the two candidates.

Obama increased his lead over Romney in certain favorable characteristics. Asked who was more “eloquent,” 50 percent of the 1,720 registered voters questioned in the poll favored Obama, compared to 25 percent for Romney. Asked about being “smart enough for the job,” 46 percent sided with Obama compared to 37 percent for Romney.

In fact, Obama led Romney in a dozen such favorable characteristics, such as “represents America” or “has the right values.”

The only such category in which Romney had an advantage was being “a man of faith,” as 44 percent picked Romney, who is Mormon, compared to 31 percent for Obama, who is Christian, but who is dogged by rumours spread by his opponents, completely unfounded, that he secretly a Muslim.

The Democratic National Convention itself received a rather muted response in the poll. Of those registered voters who had heard, seen or read at least something about it, 41 percent rated it as “average” and 29 percent as “good.”

The Republican National Convention that wrapped up August 30 in Tampa, Florida similarly was rated slightly worse: “average” by 38 percent and “good” by 27 percent in Saturday’s polling results. Although these two results seem “nip and tuck”, this is actually further evidence of a setback for the republicans, who needed to attract a couple of percentage points from the very small group of “undecideds” in order to be competitive.

This election is close, but barring a disaster, should be won by Obama with a reasonable margin. As Harold Wilson said, however, “a week is a long time in politics”. That makes nearly two months a veritable aeon, in a world where the effect of banana skins are amplified tenfold by the voracity of the media.

In any two horse race, either can win, because one can falter or fall. But as we speak, Obama looks like he is a few furlongs from home with a handy lead.

Material sourced from Reuters. The precision of the Reuters/Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.

UPDATE 17 SEPTEMBER 2012 10.50PM AEST

As predicted – almost to the day – by this column, Obama’s bounce has solidified in key battleground states this week. Here is the data:

As the Monitor’s Liz Marlantes reported last Friday, Obama’s post-convention bounce apparently endures, most significantly in key battleground states.

According to a new set of NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist polls, Obama is now leading Romney by 7 points in Ohio and 5 points in Florida and Virginia, and the RealClearPolitics polling average right now has Obama up by 4.2 percentage points in Ohio, 1.3 points in Florida, and 0.4 points in Virginia.

(Note, if Romney does not win Florida then he needs a clean sweep of all the other battleground states to beat Obama – highly unlikely.)

A Philadelphia Inquirer poll released Saturday has Obama leading Romney in Pennsylvania, 50 percent to 39 percent, reports Politico.

“Pennsylvania Democrats are more consolidated behind Obama, with 77 percent in favor of Obama and 13 percent in favor of Romney, while Republicans are 18 percent in favor of Obama and 71 percent in favor of Romney,” according to the poll press release.

“Following the conventions, Obama’s favorability rating has increased by 3 points, while his unfavorable rating has decreased by 6 points. Opinions of Romney have improved slightly following the conventions, but he still has a net negative personal popularity rating among voters in state, with 46 percent favorable/48 percent unfavorable rating.”

Politico also reports on an internal Republican poll that has Romney behind by 4 points in Ohio, not as bad as his 7-point deficit in the NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist polls but behind in the key battleground state nonetheless.

“The numbers underline Romney’s longstanding problems in Ohio, where he’s taken a beating from Obama’s campaign and liberal groups,” writes Politico’s Jonathan Martin.

“But it’s actually a sign of the depth of Romney’s hole in the state that the results were greeted favorably by Republicans. Polling in Ohio before the conventions last month showed Romney with an even larger deficit, closer to double-digits.”

The latest Reuters/Ipsos poll of likely voters has Obama widening his advantage to 7 points, a gap that’s been increasing since the Democratic convention. “What that really means is that Obama is in good shape,” said Ipsos pollster Julia Clark.

“Thursday’s online poll also found far more registered voters preferred the incumbent’s policies and approach on taxes (41 percent picked Obama, 30 percent Romney), healthcare (44 percent Obama, 28 percent Romney) and Social Security (39 percent Obama, 27 percent Romney),” Reuters reported.

Obama appears to be winning in foreign affairs, too. “Asked which of the candidates had a better plan, policy or approach to the war on terrorism, more registered voters again favored Obama: 39 percent to Romney’s 25 percent.” (Note that the poll was taken two days after the attack on the US consulate in Libya.)

One sleeper poll that may have particular importance given the tension between the US and Israel over drawing a “red line” regarding Iran’s nuclear facilities: Obama has extended his lead among registered Jewish voters to 70-25 percent, according to unreleased Gallup daily tracking poll data reported by BuzzFeed.

“The data, obtained through a Democratic source, shows Obama up from leading 64-29 in polling this spring – and on par with his 2008 performance at this point when he led 69-25 over John McCain in Gallup polling,” reports BuzzFeed.

Official photographic portrait of US President...

President Barack Obama (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts,...

Mitt Romney (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the really interesting things about this US election is that the Democrat convention follows directly on the back of the Republican one, which is unusual in modern times.

That’s because the standing bounce – or increase – expected in a party’s support after a party convention is about 5%.

And in order to be competitive in November, Romney really needs that bounce. Whilst there has been some small movement towards the GOP in recent weeks (which frankly is more reflective of a generalised disinterest in either candidate or party), he is a man badly in need of the “Big Mo”.

To win, he has to look like a winner, or at very least, a real contender.

Why? Simply because it’s a well known fact that, in America as elsewhere, people like to vote on the winning side. Enough people want to be part of the winning tribe that they can tip a close election decisively one way or the other.

That’s why pro-GOP outlets like Fox News constantly talk up Romney’s chances. They need to convince people he has them. Sadly for them and the GOP, they are largely singing to their own choir.

Shoring up votes you already have may feel good, but ultimately it’s largely pointless. What matters is what the relatively few (certainly less than 10%, nearer 4-6%) of uncommitted or undecided voters think.

That’s why the convention bounce is important, especially as the GOP are already predicting that Obama will wipe the floor with Romney in the debates – so that when he does, as is likely, the negative impact of their candidate looking wooden and uninformed is lessened.

Republican convention audience

Not exactly a critical audience, really. White, middle class, committed. Talking to the whole country is more tricky.

A convention gives a candidate a chance to present his case unchallenged by any embarrassing contradiction. So if you can’t get a bounce from the TV viewing audience when everyone in the hall is supposed to love you to bits before you even say “Hello”, you’re in real trouble.

The proximity of the Democrat convention in the key swing state of North Carolina, coming right on the heels of the Republican gabfest, and wielding their biggest vote catcher – which is Obama’s ability as a public orator, and his essential likeability – may well blunt Romney’s much-needed boost in support. The water-cooler attention will swing more rapidly than usually to the Presidential incumbent, reducing the required froth and bubble chatter about the GOP. And in modern politics, invisibility is death.

It also doesn’t help that the most talked about event at the Republican convention became a tired old actor chatting to an empty chair.

It’s not that Romney is unpopular with his own Republican supporters – which he he is – they think he’s not conservative enough, not radical right enough, not Christian enough, not middle class enough, not exciting enough – but that doesn’t really matter because Republicans have reluctantly decided to back him as their best and only hope after an execrable, dragged out selection process. They will hold their nose and vote for him because they detest Obama.

What matters is that without a swing to him of about 5% coming essentially from the political centre then Romney will never get to where he needs to be in key swing states like Ohio, NC, and elsewhere.

It has become popular amongst the chattering commentariat to average opinion polls over a period of time to arrive at a rolling view of where the electorate is at.

This can be helpful in portraying trends, but is less useful as a snapshot, as voter opinion can change rapidly.

Wellthisiswhatithink has been noticing a small move towards the Republicans as Romney’s name recognition and prime time coverage has grown, and as people focus a little more on the imminence of the poll. And as rolling “averaging” polls drop off individual polls taken approximately a month ago (when Obama had just enjoyed a small bump upwards) – and as there must be some sort of bounce during the Republican convention itself last week – then I expect to see a small increase in the GOP’s position in rolling polls released over the next few days.

Two rolling polls released today show the candidates essentially neck and neck, certainly within the margin of error, one going for Romney by three points, one for Obama by a point. I expect to see more of those coming out towards the end of this week and showing Romney with a small lead, and the GOP will frantically do all they can to solidify that impression as a counter to the coverage of the DNC.

However, bounces can be illusory.

There’s a special sort of bounce. It’s usually applied to expectations of economic recovery that look overly optimistic. It’s also applied to political hopefuls.

Falling cat

“I don’t have a good feeling about this. How many lives was that again?”

It’s called a “dead cat bounce”. That’s the extent to which a cat, thrown off a roof, will bounce on hitting the ground head first.

The answer is, of course, even under the most propitious circumstances, not much.

That’s what I expect for Mitt Romney from the GOP convention. A dead cat bounce. The polls we should really keep our eyes on are the polls, especially the rolling polls, released about 7-14 days from today, say anytime from around 14th September onwards. In a world where the electorate has the attention span of a gnat, these will then factor in not only Obama’s expected professional performance in Charlotte – and, critically, Bill Clinton’s performance, still by some distance the most popular politician in America – but also the general froth and bubble that will swell up and about the DNC, which, unlike the RNC, will probably have little hard political news distracting from it.

I expect Obama to move into the lead – consistently – by mid-September, and I expect him to stay there. I expect him to win the election, more narrowly than he did against McCain, but win it nevertheless.

You heard it here first.

(Incidentally, Dear Reader, in researching this article, your humble scribe spent three hours watching Fox News Channel to be sure he had a suitable amount of GOP content in his head so that the article would be balanced and fair. Greater love hath no man.)

Those lovely people over at at Fox News just don’t get it.

They smear Obama for three years … secretly a Muslim, giving in to the Ay-rabs, wrecking the economy, not born in America, actually a Kenyan, a secret socialist (lol) … and all the rest of the crap that they actually make up, or blithely re-report, with innocent gleaming denti-white smiles.

Then suddenly, the American people pretty clearly seem to think that Obama is going to get re-elected in the 2012 election. Something to do with the fact that the Republicans are busy chasing around promoting a bunch of complete turkeys, you reckon?

Watch their suprise – nay, disgust. It’s hilarious.

I think they started to believe their own publicity, poor saps.

Fox News – Rich people paying rich people to tell middle class people to blame poor people. Only they forgot the poor people get a vote, too.

Gotta love democracy, sometimes.