The conventional wisdom before Hurricane Sandy suggested a split between the popular vote and the Electoral College, where President Obama would ultimately triumph due to his narrow — but consistent — lead in the majority of the crucial swing states. Judging by the latest polls released Wednesday, that dynamic has not changed.
Mitt Romney continues to hold an narrow lead in the popular vote, according to the latest Rasmussen poll that shows him up by two points. This suggests no changes took place between Rasmussen’s prior October 6 poll and now, when Romney also led by a two-point margin. Gallup has not yet resumed polling after the storm, and as such it remains to be seen whether Romney’s significant five-point lead among likely voters has been affected as a result of President Obama’s lauded response to Sandy.
Meanwhile, Obama was ahead in nearly every swing state poll released yesterday. In Ohio, Obama leads by five points in both the Quinnipiac and Public Policy Polling polls, 50 to 45 percent. A Reuters/Ipsos poll showed him up by three points, and a University of Cincinnati poll up by two points. In other words, barring a radical shift towards Romney in the next five days, Obama will win the Buckeye State. Keep in mind that no Republican president has gained access to the White House without Ohio’s electoral votes.
In Florida the picture is more muddled, though slightly leaning towards Romney. A Reuters/Ipsos poll shows them tied at 47 percent, while Gravis and We Ask America show Romney on top by three points and one point, respectively. Obama has a narrow one-point lead in a Quinnipiac poll.
In Iowa, another state heavily targeted by both candidates, polls mostly favor the Democratic candidate. PPP shows Obama leading 50 to 45 percent, and 49 to 47 percent in a We Ask America poll. A University of Iowa poll, meanwhile, had Romney up by a single point.
The latest polls from Virginia revealed conflicting information. A Reuters/Ipsos poll had a 48 to 46 lead for Obama, while a Roanoke poll showed Romney leading 49 to 44 percent—a significant discrepancy. Another Quinnipiac poll showed a two point lead for Obama, indicating a tight and unpredictable race. Real Clear Politics’ average currently shows a .5 point lead for Romney. Nate Silver of the New York Times, however, forecasts a 60.1 percent chance of Obama winning in Virginia.
In North Carolina, the latest PPP poll showed Obama and Romney tied at 49 percent. However, both Real Clear Politics‘ average (+3.8 points for Romney) and Nate Silver’s forecast (81.4 percent chance of Romney win) indicate a clear advantage towards the Republican candidate.
For those interested in how the betting world views the election, look no further than InTrade, a stock market of gambling in virtually any subject. According to Wednesday’s round of polls, the closest races will be fought in Colorado, Virginia, and Florida. In Colorado, the gambling odds of an Obama win are 60 percent, versus 48.8 percent for Romney. In Virginia, the odds are 49.8 percent for Obama, and 50 percent for Romney—a close reflection of the tight race in that state. A big majority believe Romney will win Florida—69 percent against 33 percent for Obama, according to the bets placed.
Given the current makeup of the electoral map, and the marked advantage of Obama in most battleground states, it appears increasingly unlikely that Romney will cobble together enough votes to win the Electoral College on November 6.