After months of debates, gaffes, punditry, ads, more debates, more ads – and a whole lot of grassroots planning and activism – only one 2012 election poll remains. We’re almost at the finish line. (More)
Endurance runners cross finish lines in many ways. Some sprint across with heads and arms held high in exultation. Others run with faces gritted in a stubborn refusal to quit. Some can only walk, leaning on a teammate, friend, or family member. Many such images have been memorialized on film or video, and each tells a story.
We grassroots activists have worked hard, and I know I’m not alone in my gratitude that our finish line is now in sight. I’m not sure if I’ll sprint or run or walk or crawl by the time the polls close tonight, but as I woke this morning I felt a fresh breath of energy. I’ll be staffing our campaign office today, coordinating poll drivers and other GOTV volunteers in our last push.
Some of that fresh breath of energy came from good news, as I woke to read that our county Supervisor of Elections issued the final numbers on our by-mail and early voting. As the polls opened on November 4th, 2008, Democrats in my county trailed Republicans by 7400 in voting-by-mail and by 4000 in early voting, for a net deficit of about 11,400 votes based on party identification. We closed some of that on election day, as Sen. McCain carried my county by only 7687 votes.
This morning Democrats in my county trail by less than 3000 in voting-by-mail and, as in 2008, by about 4000 in early voting. With very strong Democratic turnout today, we could – possibly – win the county for President Obama.
To put that in perspective, in 2010 Gov. Rick Scott won statewide by just over 1% and carried my county by 16,000 votes. In 2008, when the reports from my county showed that Sen. McCain won here by only 7687 votes, the media election consortium called the state for President Obama. Should President Obama win my county, and we’re much closer this morning than we were four years ago, he would almost certainly also win Florida again.
As of this morning, New York Times‘ poll maven Nate Silver has Florida a tossup, with President Obama a razor-thin favorite:
Florida remains too close to call. The FiveThirtyEight forecast has the race there within two-tenths of a percentage point, which would be close enough to trigger an automatic recount.
But unlike the nightmare of 2000, when the Electoral College outcome hung on a few hundred votes in Florida, the polling suggests my state would be gravy. With small but statistically significant leads in New Hampshire, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Colorado, and Nevada, based on the final public polls released yesterday, Silver’s forecast has President Obama a 91.6% favorite.
That remaining 8.4% is the small but still real possibility that almost all of the state polls, in almost every swing state, were biased in favor of President Obama. That does not necessarily mean an ideological bias, and indeed given the convergence of pollsters who usually show different “house effects,” the bias probably would not be ideological. If a bias exists, it would be in methodology … and it would also be very surprising given the accuracy of final week polling in recent election cycles.
So while Silver’s final forecast may be another breath of fresh energy, don’t let it be a reason to sit back and issue a sigh of relief. We can see the finish line, but we’re not there yet.
I’ll spend today making that last push, trying to win my county for President Obama, Senator Bill Nelson, and our other state and local candidates. I hope you’ll do the same in your county, or make GOTV calls through OFA for other states. Let’s make that last push together … and celebrate tonight in Evening Focus.