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Exactly three weeks to go and Romney has a national lead of just one tenth of one percent

October 16th, 2012

There’s a must-read article by Nate Silver

We are now just 21 days away from the November 6th elections for the next President of the United States and as the Real Clear Politics chart above shows the battle is extraordinarily tight.

Nationally the lead that Romney built up following the first debate on October 3rd has started to whittle away – though he’s still ahead by a whisker.

But as has been said so often during this campaign it’s not the national popular vote that matters but the outcome in each state where in almost all cases the electoral college votes are allocated on a first past the post basis.

So my main focus and betting has been based on what is happening in the two key battle-grounds of Ohio and Virginia. These are closely followed by Florida, Nevada, Wisconsin and Iowa.

There’s such a deluge of polling coming out at the moment that it’s very easy to find the polling data that supports what you want to happen. The New York Times polling analyst, Nate Silver, has a must read article about this today. He notes:-

    “… even a fairly calm day in the polling can give people opportunities to see what they want to see in the data.

    The most egregious form of this is if you cherry-pick the three or four polling results that you like best for your candidate. Every now and then, a candidate’s polls are so abysmal that even this exercise will fail to yield satisfying results (Friday was such a day for Mr. Obama, for example). But the vast majority of the time, you can find a couple of results that you like.

    If you looked at only the three best national polls for Mr. Obama on Monday, you would conclude that he was three points ahead in the national race. If you looked at only Mr. Romney’s three best polls, you would say that he was ahead by two points instead...”

You’ve also got to look closely at fieldwork dates and be particularly wary of aggregate battle-ground state surveys.

Nate’s current projection is that Obama has a 64% chance with Romney at 36% one. This is almost identical to the current Betfair prices.

Mike Smithson

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