President Obama is leading Mitt Romney in every poll listed at Real Clear Politics. Even Rasmussen puts Obama two points ahead. If those polls are accurate, there won't be much point in coloring in an Electoral College map. An Obama win by four or five points nationally (his current RCP average) means that he is going to sweep most of the battleground states.
The only bad news for Obama in those polls is that his numbers remain stubbornly at or below 50% in all of them. Republicans can take a quantum of solace in that, but to think that this looks like anything but losing is wishful thinking.
I don't mind thinking wishfully, as long as I know that that is what I am doing. In that spirit, I will point out something that a lot of Republicans are pinning their hopes for change on right now. Poll after poll (including the Fox News polls) is showing samples of Democrats that match or exceed that party's turnout advantage in 2008. That was an unusually large advantage, historically. It seems unrealistic to assume that it will be repeated this year and nutty to think that it will be exceeded.
Consider the polls in battlegroundzero Ohio. An Ohio Newspaper poll gave Obama a five point lead over Romney. That was based on a sampling that was 48% Democrat, 42% Republican, and 10% Independent. Those are whacky numbers. Independents will make up a much larger share of the vote. What is the significance of that? As the Columbus dispatch puts it:
The poll indicates that Democrats are slightly more likely to vote than Republicans are this year, and Obama supporters are more enthusiastic about the election than Romney backers are. However, Romney is winning independents by a large margin.
If Ohio Democrats really are only "slightly more likely to vote than Republicans" and independents really are breaking for Romney two to one (which is apparently what the poll showed), then Romney is going to win Ohio.
Nothing in any poll is as solid as actual votes cast. We can't count the votes yet, but early voting in Ohio and elsewhere does provide some information. In Ohio we can count absentee ballots cast in 2008 with ballot requests in 2012. Here is Third Base Politics, an Ohio blog:
In 2008, total early votes cast in Ohio totaled 1,023,330. 34% of those were Democrats, 20% were Republicans, and the rest were independents or other parties. Democrats had a 14-point advantage.
So far this year, there have been 528,197 applications sent in for absentee ballots. The party breakdown at this point is 29% Democrats and 23% Repulicans. The difference is down to 6 points. For the Ohio Democratic Party who was counting on matching their early voting performance from 4 years ago, that's very bad news.
Let's look at the three largest counties.
In Cuyahoga, the dropoff isn't so bad for them. Their 2008 advantage of 37 points is down to 30. But the news is really bad in Franklin County. Their 5-point advantage from 2008 has actually reversed. So far, Republicans ballot apps outnumber Dems by 5. And in Hamilton County, the Republican advantage of 7 points from 2008 has increased to 14 points.
If those numbers are an accurate indication of how Ohio is going, the state looks to be a much bigger challenge for Obama than the polls indicate.
Another indicator that is more solid than opinion polls is voter registration. Here again the evidence seems at odds with the assumptions of pollsters. From Fox News:
Voter registration in the Buckeye State is down by 490,000 people from four years ago. Of that reduction, 44 percent is in Cleveland and surrounding Cuyahoga County, where Democrats outnumber Republicans more than two to one.
This just doesn't look like the surging Democratic electorate that the national polls are counting on. Is Ohio unique? Not so much.
Ohio is not alone. An August study by the left-leaning think tank Third Way showed that the Democratic voter registration decline in eight key swing states outnumbered the Republican decline by a 10-to-one ratio. In Florida, Democratic registration is down 4.9 percent, in Iowa down 9.5 percent. And in New Hampshire, it's down 19.7 percent…
The Third Way study, which was conducted in August, indicates the Democrats' drop in registered voters coincides with a gain in independent voters.
Both parties have seen a decline in voter registration in favor of independents. We have seen it in South Dakota, where the decline in Democratic registration has been much worse than that of Republicans. Apparently this is a trend. And if independents are really breaking Republican…
The candidate who is ahead in the polls usually wins. It is wishful thinking for a Republican to assume that the opposite will happen. It is responsible for a political scientist to point out that previously reliable indicators are pointing in opposite directions. At this point I am sure of only one thing. If Romney wins, Democrats will say that he stole the election.