The final national polls released before election day point to a squeaker of an election. Here’s a rundown of 4 big pollsters and some of their key findings:
After allocating the 3% of undecided voters proportionally to both candidates, they are predicting a Romney 50%, Obama 49% result.
Romney has a +2 gender gap (he leads men by 10 and loses women by 8).
Romney wins non-Hispanic white voters 57%-39% while Obama takes nonwhites 78%-19%.
Romney and Obama are essentially tied among Independents, 45%-46%.
Romney leads on the economy 56%-42%.
Washington Post/ABC News National Tracking
They note that neither candidate ever received more than 50% — and neither ever fell below 46% — in their tracking poll since July. This has been a very stable race.
This is the first time Obama has hit 50% since early July, and Sunday’s interviews were Obama’s single best day in the poll.
The gender gap is tied, with Romney leading by 10 among men and Obama leading by 10 among women (both 53%-44%).
Obama takes 41% of whites in this poll. Forty percent is generally regarded as the target he needs to hit. Obama leads among nonwhites 76%-20%.
Romney’s lead among Independent voters is gone, standing now at 48% Romney, 46% Obama. Ten days ago Romney had a 20-point advantage, 58%-38%.
Politico Battleground Tracking
Romney takes Independents by 15 points, 47%-32%.
Obama leads by 6 points, 49%-43%, among the ten “competitive” states.
One third of voters have already voted. Surprisingly, 36% of Romney supporters have already voted while 33% of Obama’s have.
Romney leads by 3 among those who are “extremely likely” to vote.
Romney has a 6-point advantage on who is better for the economy and creating jobs, 51%-45%. A majority of 53% disapprove of Obama’s handling of the economy.
Politico finds a small gender gap of +1 for Romney (he leads men by 16 and loses women by 15).
Obama only takes 38% of whites while Romney takes 56%.
Romney leads by 9 in the suburbs, 52%-43%.
Monmouth University National:
Romney leads the gender gap by 2 points, taking men by 7 and losing women by 5.
Romney leads among Independents by 16, 54%-37%.
Romney takes the white vote by 20 points, 59%-39%.
Obama leads among Hispanics 61%-32%.
Romney leads on the economy/jobs by 4, 50%-46%. That’s a decline from 50%-44% two weeks ago.
The gender gap is a nonissue, or barely favors Romney. The president captures women by a good margin, but Romney’s lead among men is just as large or even larger.
Whither Independents? Two of the polls show Independents statistically tied, and the other two show a massive 15- or 16-point lead for Romney. Which is correct? If Romney leads by 15, it would take a massive Democratic turnout advantage for Obama to win.
UPDATE: Take a look at this chart from Talking Points Memo’s Poll Tracker. It shows Romney ahead of Obama among Independents by an average of about 10 points. As a point of comparison, Obama took Independents by about 8 in 2008.
Romney is on the cusp of the white vote margin that he needs. As a rule of thumb, Romney needs to get 60% of the white vote to make up for his losses among nonwhite voters. Most of these polls show Romney getting very close to that number. They also show Obama very close to achieving the 40% level that most analysts say he needs to secure reelection.
Romney has a small but consistent lead on the economy, which is the election’s most important issue by far.
Obama’s base supports him–but will they turn out? The president maintains leads in all the polls among his key constituencies: Young voters, nonwhite voters, and singles (particularly women). But many of these constituencies are (historically speaking) less likely to turn out to vote than key Romney constituencies. Team Obama has been talking up its ground game and its ability to get these folks to the polls. Today we find out whether their machine is as effective as they claim.
All in all, the numbers point to what most observers have already known this election to be: Very, very close, with a highly divided nation. Let’s hope that no matter who wins, the country can pull together after the divisions of the past months.