Monday, November 05, 2012

Predictable History, Unpredictable Past

This Associated Press story suggests that the campaign is Too Close To Call
As the 2012 presidential campaign moves to a close, national polls say the race between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney is too close to call.
Romney's big lead over Obama from last summer is gone as the hard-fought battle has tightened over the past three months, following the pattern of presidential contests in years gone by.
As more and more Americans focus on the decision of which level ro pull tomorrow, the polls also say Obama's hopes may be damaged because many of those who support him may not vote.
The original watershed mark for the final round of polls was the nationally televised debate between Romney and Obama last month. But late-breaking developments regarding the Americans killed in Libya, or the Americans without power and heat due to Hurricane Sandy could make recent poll results quickly obsolete.
While the polls seem to have different results, in fact, the differences are all smaller than the error margins to which all polls are subject. This means that the polls cannot be said to put either man in the solid position as the frontrunner.
In addition, the close race spotlights the unique system of picking a president - the election is decided by who wins the most electoral votes, which are awarded sate-by-state. It is possible in a close race that a candidate could win the most populate votes nationwide and still lose the electoral vote to his or her opponent.
Of course, every election is decided by who actually goes to vote. But the polls this year demonstrate that the issue of turnout is ever more critical than ever. For example, among registered voters, the Pew Research poll put the race at Obama 49% and Romney 42%. But when the results were weighted to reflect possible turnout, their results were Romney 47% and Obama 50%.
Ok, that's not exactly what it said. To see exactly what it said, you need to replace 2012 with 1980, Obama with Carter, and Romney with Reagan. It wasn't published today - it was published on the day before the 1980 election. The day before Ronald Reagan won 50.7% of the vote vs. Jimmy Carter's 41% (John Anderson took 10%). The day before Reagan won 489 electoral votes.

Too close to call...

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