Politics and Public Opinion, Elections

July electoral map update: Obama maintains lead, Romney edges closer

2008 Electoral College Results

2008 Results

As the 2012 election season continues plodding along, it’s time for another look at some electoral map predictions. Included below are maps from some of the best analysts in the business: Cook Political Report, RealClearPolitics, and Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post (aka The Fix). The 2008 map is included above for comparison.

Let’s start with RealClearPolitics:

RealClearPolitics Electoral Map July 2012

Compared to its map in May, RCP gives Romney 11 more EVs and Obama 22 fewer. Arizona moved from being a tossup to leaning Romney while Nevada and Michigan went from leaning Obama to tossups.

RCP still lists North Carolina as a tossup, but both Cook and Cillizza rate it as leaning Romney. Likewise, RCP has Missouri as a tossup while the others put it in the Republican column.

RCP lists more states as tossups because it relies primarily on current polling data. Cook and Cillizza, on the other hand, rely on polls and independent analysis (particularly a state’s partisan voting index in the case of Cook Political), so they feel freer to make a prediction as to how a state will ultimately vote rather than how it is currently feeling.

Here’s how Cook Political sees it:

Cook Political Electoral Map July 2012

Cook Political doesn’t make its own map, but it does rate the states using the same method as RealClearPolitics, so I just used RCP’s handy create your own map feature.

Compared to Cook’s May 10th scorecard, Obama has gained 20 EVs and Romney has lost four. New Hampshire moved from leaning Romney to tossup while Pennsylvania moved from tossup to leaning Obama.

Cook has fewer tossup states than RCP, putting Wisconsin and Michigan into the lean Obama column. He also gives North Carolina and Missouri to Romney.

Cook rates Wisconsin as leaning Obama, but RCP and The Fix say it’s a tossup.

Speaking of The Fix, here’s their map:

The Fix blog Electoral Map July 2012

The Fix has only made one change to its map since May: Moving North Carolina from tossup to leaning Romney.

Except for Wisconsin, The Fix has the same tossup states as Cook Political. They also give exactly the same number of EVs to Romney (from the same states) and a difference of only 10 between Obama’s number.

To summarize some key states:

•    All 3 maps agree on Arizona leaning Republican. Not that long ago, some Democrats were claiming that Obama could make a push here due to a Hispanic backlash against the state’s immigration law. That doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.

•    2 out of 3 say Wisconsin is a tossup. This provides support to those who think Scott Walker’s recall win signals a significant shift in Badger State politics.

•    2 out of 3 say North Carolina leans Republican. Obama won that state by only 14,000 votes in the perfect Democratic year of 2008. It’s hard to see how he keeps it without a massive surge in minority and youth enthusiasm.

•    2 out of 3 say Michigan leans Democratic. During the primary, some were suggesting that Romney might be able to make a play for Michigan. Right now, it looks like he still has an uphill battle if he wants to make that happen.

•    2 out of 3 say Missouri leans Republican. Missouri has long been a national bellwether state, but lately it’s been trending more Republican, going red in 2008. Cook and Cillizza both agree that it’s leaning red this year. Nate Silver of the New York Times’ FiveThirtyEight blog gives Romney a 79% chance to win there.

•    All 3 agree that New Hampshire is a tossup. In one of the few Northeastern states that isn’t guaranteed to vote for Obama, all of the maps think it’s too close to call. If the election stays close, tiny New Hampshire could be the deciding factor.

We’ll bring you more maps as they get updated. Which prediction do you think comes closest to hitting the mark?

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