Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Exit Polls 2012, Ohio Exit Polling should give clues to the Romney v Obama 2012 Race

The US Presidential Election is here (as well as the US Senate, House, and thousands of local races) and we all would like to know the outcomes ... before the final tally.    Based on the best statistical analysis of polling through last week, Obama is the very likely winner of the presidential race.   Why?    Partly because Obama is winning in virtually all of the 'toss up" states where in some cases a small lead will translate into a very disproportionate number of votes.   Ohio, the key battleground, is leaning Obama and would give him 18 electoral votes. For Romney to pull off a victory he'll really need to "beat the odds" and win almost all the toss up states.    Obama, on the other hand, could lose more of the toss ups and still win the election.  

Based on Nate Silver's excellent statistical analysis from the New York Times, where he gives Obama a 91% chance of victory based on poll information, President Picker is predicting an Obama win today even before we see any exit poll information.    

What would have to happen for Romney to win?    Romney's hope is that the polls in battleground states have been biased in favor of Obama.   This seems unlikely but it is possible.   Conservatives may have been less likely to participate in the polls, methods may have included those who don't wind up voting, etc, etc.   However, contrary to many claims US polls, exit and otherwise, tend to be very accurate and a good predictor of election outcomes.   In 2000 for example, the exit polls stated that Gore won florida because ... he *would have won* Florida if the ballots in Palm Beach County had reflected voter intention.  These "butterfly ballots" led to confusion and many lost votes for Gore  (due to "overvoting" where people voted for both Gore and Buchanon for President and therefore the vote was NOT counted).    Exit polling was blamed in Florida when the real defect was the butterfly ballot of Palm Beach County   (designed and reviewed by Democrats, so unlikely to have been a conspiracy play to undercount Gore votes).

Today we'll be watching the toss up states - RealClearPolitics will have good coverage linked below.    Ohio is the key.   If Obama takes Ohio it's pretty much over.   However, if Romney takes Ohio it is likely to be a very long night, withe the prospect of another 2000 style election recount fiasco.

Toss Up (146)
CO (9)FL (29)
IA (6)MI (16)
NV (6)NH (4)
NC (15)OH (18)
PA (20)VA (13)
WI (10)

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