Obama likely to win, but will he get popular vote?

While polls suggest the president will secure the needed 270 electoral votes, it's conceivable that Romney will win the popular vote.

By The Fiscal Times Nov 6, 2012 8:54AM

The Fiscal Times logoBy Eric Pianin and Josh Boak

If the presidential election were any closer, the country might have to consider shared custody.  Even though the polls suggest President Obama will secure the all-important 270 electoral votes needed for victory, it's conceivable that Romney could win the popular vote while Obama wins the presidency.

Only four times in U.S. history has a candidate won the presidency without prevailing in the popularity contest -- most recently  President George W. Bush's highly controversial victory over Democrat Al Gore in a 2000 election that eventually was determined by a ruling of the Supreme Court. Perhaps more than any other event in recent memory, that election carved the electorate into two intractable camps that seek to undermine the opposition rather than find common ground.

"It's going to be a close race," David Plouffe, a senior White House adviser, told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday. But if you look at states like Nevada, Iowa, Ohio, Florida, Virginia, New Hampshire, Colorado, all these states right now we think the president is in a good position to win. And we think Gov. Romney's playing defense. He's spending his last day in Florida and Virginia Monday, states they were telling you in the media a few weeks ago they thought were done deals. They're far from done deals."

Ed Gillespie, a senior campaign adviser for Romney, noted on ABC's "This Week" that Republicans would benefit from a more pumped-up electorate on Tuesday. "When you're the incumbent president of the United States and you are at 47 percent or 48 percent on your ballot two days before the election, you are in deep trouble," Gillespie said Sunday. "I believe that Governor Romney will not only win on Tuesday, I believe he could win decisively."

POLLS DANCING
The polling forecasts all depend on what pollsters call the "margin of error," the two or four-percentage point swing by which an election survey can be wrong. The Columbus Dispatch poll released Sunday gives Obama a 50 percent to 48 percent edge among Ohioans, but the margin of error is 2.2 percent—the difference between a Democratic win and a Republican squeaker. Obama leads Romney nationally 48 percent to 47 percent in the latest NBC News-Wall Street Journal survey of likely voters, with the margin of error being 2.6 percent.

"These polls are like nailing Jell-O to a tree," Rich Beeson, the Romney campaign political director, told Fox News Sunday.

Margin of error is why Republicans can safely claim through the fog of statistics that voters are with them. It's also why the Obama team argues they have momentum in places where some polling favors the former Massachusetts governor.

Knowing the math of the Electoral College, Romney is making a last minute push to try to pull out victories in the electoral rich states of Pennsylvania and Michigan. Although there may be other paths to victory, it is generally thought that he must triumph in Ohio if he hopes to be the next president.
 
Romney enjoyed a surge in the polls after he beat Obama in the first of three presidential debates Oct. 3, but Obama gradually brought the race back to where it stood late this summer. In the swing states, Obama's polls now look very close to where they were before the two national conventions and the debates, according to a recent New York Times analysis.

The latest Washington Post analysis shows that Obama needs to secure only 27 of 89 electoral votes still considered up for grabs to win, compared to 64 that Romney needs. If Obama can capture Virginia and hang on to his slender lead in Ohio--two states he carried in 2008 -- he would lock up a second term, even without carrying Florida or other key battleground states. Obama's edge has narrowed in Virginia to 49 percent to 47 percent, a lead within the margin of error, according to a Quinnipiac University survey for The New York Times and CBS News.
 
During the past week, the president was helped by the public perception that he did a first rate job responding to the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. His response won the effusive praise of Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie who had been the keynote speaker at the Republican National Convention.

Almost half of all Americans said Obama's hurricane response would be a factor in their vote, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News tracking poll. An earlier poll found that 79 percent rated his handling of the situation as excellent—a result that could be put to the test in the days ahead as voters hear about the gasoline shortage on the eastern seaboard.

DIVIDED WE REMAIN
The bitter, hard fought and costly general election campaign has left the electorate sorely divided, along political, ideological, racial and gender lines.  White voters favor Romney over Obama, 58 percent to 38 percent, while 70 percent of Hispanics and 94 percent of blacks support Obama, the first African-American president in history.
 
Moreover, single women voters prefer Obama to Romney, although the former governor has made some progress in closing that gap with his vows to improve the economy and reduce the federal debt burden for future generations. Obama leads among women 51 to 43 percent, while Romney leads with men 51 to 44, according to the NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll.
 
Romney, the founder of Bain Capital, is generally viewed as better equipped to deal with the economy than Obama, according to polling. However, the president is perceived as better understanding the economic plight of the average American. And his job approval rating stands at roughly 50 percent.
 
And for the first time in the Post-ABC poll, independent voters are evenly split between the two candidates, at 46 percent each. Until now, Romney has held an advantage ranging from three to 20 points.
 
No matter who wins on Tuesday, he will be faced with enormous challenges in governing -- especially with the perpetuation of a divided Congress that is likely to thwart many of his future initiatives. If Obama wins, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky who have worked to block many of Obama's economic initiatives will likely hold their current positions.  If Romney wins, he'll have Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, who accused Romney of not paying taxes for 10 years, to contend with, and payback from Democrats in both the House and Senate.

Polls and political analyses point to the likelihood that the Democrats will retain control of the Senate while the House of Representatives will stay firmly in Republican hands. The president-elect and Congress must deal immediately with the threat of a year-end fiscal cliff that could send the economy back into a recession, as well as find ways to address a $6 trillion national debt, continued problems in the housing industry, and persistently high unemployment.
 
The Democrats currently hold a 53 to 47-seat majority in the Senate, with two independents voting with them. The Republicans need to pick up only four seats to take back control of the Senate.  But a series of political missteps by Republicans in Indiana and Missouri plus the surprise retirement of veteran Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe in Maine appear to have thwarted a GOP comeback and will leave the Democrats in power for at least another two years. The Democrats would need to pick up 25 seats to reclaim control of the House, but redistricting and aggressive campaigning and fundraising by the Republicans locked in their advantage.
 
If these trends continue through tomorrow, we will see essentially a status quo election, with the Democrats retaining control of the White House and the Senate and the GOP still firmly in charge of the House of Representatives.

Eric Pianin is the Washington Editor at The Fiscal Times. Subscribe to The Fiscal Times' free newsletter.

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24Comments
Nov 6, 2012 12:04PM
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Well I voted today. And I'm just glad our long national nightmare will soon be over.

 

 

 

I don't mean Obama. I was referring to the non-stop campaign ads...

Nov 6, 2012 2:47PM
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As a life long Republican I hope that Obama wins. This will give us a chance to purge the extreme right wing-nuts in our party and go back to the sane and sensible positions our party was founded on. While religion should be undeniably protected it should not govern our party. The majority of Republicans really couldn't care less who marries who. We care about jobs, equal oppoortunity for all, less government interference, making our allies feel secure, and feeling safe and secure in our homes. We should be a party who endorses science and not just the science that supports our ideological beliefs. Ronald Reagan couldn't make it past the primaries in todays Republican party. I have heard it said time and time again that this is the most important election of all times; BS! I have heard that in every election I have voted in and I'm 64yo. No matter who wins America will still be here, as strong as ever, in 4 years with hopefully a rejuvenated less conservative Republican party!
Nov 6, 2012 5:09PM
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If this failure of a presodent gets one vote today, it will be an idiot that casts the ballot.
Nov 6, 2012 1:11PM
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Let's keep the campaign going for another year and follow that up with incessant litigation until the financial interests and lawyers are exhausted.

Then we shall be free.

Nov 6, 2012 10:37AM
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One candidate cares about 100% of Americans.
The other told us he doesn't care about 47% of Americans.
Nov 6, 2012 11:24AM
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Romney will win, he has a plan to get jobs and improve the economy.
Nov 6, 2012 6:39PM
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Well i voted for the winner a couple weeks ago and let me tell you it was't for Myth Robme.
Nov 6, 2012 2:52PM
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Who the hell would vote for a guy who doesn't care about 47 per cent of the people. Nobody in there right mind would vote for somebody like that.

 

Nov 6, 2012 1:06PM
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We have a clear choice:

OBAMA - Chicago corruption and incompetence to take us over the cliff now.

ROMNEY - Competence leading to postponement and much bigger and more devastating bubble.

Even though Democrats have delusion built into their DNA, Republicans are falling into the same hope and change fraud of four years ago.

Don't be delusional - OBAMA 2012 !!!
Nov 6, 2012 12:04PM
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Only the n i g  g er s could get away with what's going on in philly. The stupid thing is, Obo IS NOT BLACK.
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