Why Romney’s Pollster Did Him a Disservice

by admingene on November 16, 2012

Mitt Romney’s pollster did him a terrible disservice.  Or perhaps it was the campaign manager whose decision served the candidate so poorly.

Reports have come out that Romney was “shellshocked” that he had lost.  This should never have happened.  Every election poll is based on certain turnout assumptions.  These assumptions create what is usually known as “likely voters.”  However, there are numerous ways to define who a likely voter is.  Polling for the Romney campaign was based on assumptions that the percentages of the electorate, when compared to 2008, would have more white men and fewer African-American, Latino, Asian and young voters.  It was the pollster’s responsibility to tell his client that he wins if these assumptions prove correct.  Romney should have also been made aware that he could very well lose if these assumptions were wrong.  The candidate then goes into the election well-armed emotionally and intellectually if he (or she, as the case may be) knows what the assumptions are and what happens under various turnout scenarios.  This was especially true this year, when the vast majority of the reliable public polls all had Obama winning most of the battleground states and therefore, the election.  There was an unfounded smugness to Republican operatives and the Romney campaign because of their incorrect assumptions.  In addition, no one knows how many incorrect decisions were made by the campaign because of these assumptions.

I do not know Mitt Romney’s campaign manager or any of the other people around Governor Romney.  However, I do know that there are campaign managers who believe that they can not only manipulate the voters, but they can also manipulate their clients, the candidates, for “their own good.”  Perhaps that is what happened here.  Perhaps the campaign manager decided that Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan would be better campaigners if they had total confidence that they would win.  Hence, the decision not to give the candidates all the information that was available, including how they might lose.  Or perhaps the campaign manager was just so convinced of his own brilliance that he did not even entertain the possibility that he might be wrong.  Either way, as I said before, someone did Mitt Romney a terrible disservice.

U.S. SENATE CAMPAIGNS: Fearless Forecasts

by admingene on November 4, 2012

This year, there are 33 seats up for election.
21 are currently held by Democrats
10 are currently held by Republicans
2 are held by independents who caucus with the Democrats: Bernie Sanders in Vermont and Joe Lieberman in Connecticut (Lieberman is retiring).

The remaining seats divide as follows:  30 Democrats and 37 Republicans.

Democrats need to win 21 seats to have a majority.  Republicans need to win 14 seats to have a majority (one less in each case if they have the Vice Presidency).

Here is how the 33 seats shape up:

Safe/Very Likely Democratic (16)               Safe/Very Likely Republican (5)

California (Dianne Feinstein)                     Mississippi (Roger Wicker)

Delaware (Tom Carper)                            Tennessee (Bob Corker)

Florida (Bill Nelson)                                  Texas (Ted Cruz)

Hawaii (Mazie Hirono)                              Utah (Orrin Hatch)

Maine (Angus King)*                                Wyoming (John Barrasso)

Maryland (Ben Cardin)

Michigan (Debbie Stabenow)

Minnesota (Amy Klobuchar)

New Jersey (Robert Menendez)

New Mexico (Martin Heinrich)

New York (Kirsten Gillibrand)

Pennsylvania (Bob Casey)

Rhode Island (Sheldon Whitehouse)

Vermont (Bernie Sanders)*

Washington (Maria Cantwell)

West Virginia (Joe Manchin)

*Independents caucus with Democrats


12  Contested Seats

Arizona – Open Seat, currently held by Republican John Kyl

Earlier in the fall, this looked like a sure win for Republican Jeff Flake, but the changing demographics of Arizona has helped make this a contest that Democrat Richard Carmona might just win; but Flake seems to be surging at the end and it is hard to bet against Republicans in Arizona. So, with less trepidation than I would have had a few days ago:



Connecticut – Open Seat, currently held by Joe Lieberman

For a long time, it looked like Republican Linda McMahon had a real shot at this seat.  However, in recent weeks, Democrat Chris Murphy has opened up a lead.



Indiana – Open Seat, currently held by Republican Richard Lugar

Tea Partier Richard Mourdock defeated long-time Senator Richard Lugar in the primary.  As you may know, in a recent debate, Mourdock said that a pregnancy resulting from rape was “God’s will.”  Democrats and Joe Donnelly were very glad he said this.



Massachusetts – Scott Brown, Republican incumbent

This had been a very close election, and in some ways still is.  However, most reliable (and some not so reliable) polls in the past few weeks have given Democrat Elizabeth Warren a slight lead.



Missouri –Claire McCaskill, Democrat incumbent

Todd Akin was the Republican who Claire McCaskill wanted to run against.  At first, this still looked like a good bet for a Republican pick up.  However, after Akin talked about “legitimate rape” and how a woman can magically will her body to not get pregnant when raped, McCaskill looked very smart.



Montana – Jon Tester, Democrat Incumbent

This is probably the most difficult Senate seat to predict.  However, even a usually Republican-leaning pollster recently had Tester ahead by 1% over Republican Denny Rehberg.  I am tossing a coin.



Nebraska – Open Seat, currently held by Democrat Ben Nelson

For the longest time, this looked like the surest thing for a Republican pick-up.  Recently, however, there seems to be rumblings that former Democratic Senator Bob Kerrey has made this into a race.  But even if true, it seems to be too little, too late.



Nevada – Dean Heller, Republican incumbent

Early on, this looked like a good chance for a Democratic pick-up.  However, a House ethics investigation of Democrat Shelley Berkley has turned this into a pretty easy win for Heller.



North Dakota – Open seat, currently held by Democrat Kent Conrad

Democrat Heidi Heitkamp has turned this into a potentially tight contest, but it seems doubtful she can overcome Rick Berg’s lead, but she could surprise us.



Ohio – Sherrod Brown, Democratic incumbent

Republicans had targeted this seat, but Brown has held a steady lead for some time.



Virginia – Open seat; currently held by Democrat Jim Webb

This is another extremely close and definite toss-up election between Republican, former Senator George Allen and Democrat, former Governor Tim Kaine.  Polls have had this very close since the beginning, although most reliable ones in recent days give Kaine a slight edge.



Wisconsin – Open seat, currently held by Democrat Herb Kohl

This is the race between former Governor Tommy Thompson and Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin.  If elected, Baldwin would be the first openly Lesbian member of the U.S. Senate.  As you would expect in today’s Wisconsin, this has been another very close race.  It appears that Baldwin may have a slight edge, but it is hard to assess how much support she may lose because of homophobia.  Nonetheless…




Democrats win 22 seats
Republicans win 9 seats
Independents win 2 seats (and caucus with Democrats)

Senate will have:
52 Democrats
46 Republicans
2 Independents (who caucus with Democrats)

This gives Democrats an effective 54-46 majority.  Even in the unlikely event that Republicans win Indiana, Montana, Virginia and Wisconsin, Democrats will still hold a majority because of the Vice-President’s tie-breaking vote.


by admingene on November 4, 2012

For this last election projection, I will look at each state individually.  Someone recently asked for my track record predicting the presidential races.  They are pretty good, although I find this year much more difficult to predict.  Here are my past results for the 50 states and the District of Columbia:

2008: Missed 1 state (Indiana – predicted for McCain, went to Obama)

2004: Missed 1 state (Ohio – predicted for Kerry, went to Bush)

2000: Missed 1 or 2 states: (New Hampshire – predicted for Gore, went to Bush;
Florida predicted for Gore…)

Bottom Line this year:  Obama will be re-elected.

Romney seems pretty well assured of receiving 191 electoral votes from these states:  Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Obama seems pretty well assured of receiving 237 electoral votes from California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.  (In spite of the Romney campaign making noises about and throwing late money into Michigan, Minnesota and Pennsylvania, he has little chance to win those states.  Obama’s top advisor, David Axelrod, said he would shave off his 40-year-old mustache on national television if Romney wins any 1 of those 3 states.)

Battleground States

Colorado – 9 Electoral votes

This has been extremely close since the beginning, with some
polls having Obama ahead, some having Romney ahead, some
having them tied, but the lead rarely more than a point or two.
This is still a true toss-up, but I will go with: OBAMA

Florida – 29 Electoral votes

Most polls in the past couple of weeks either have Romney with
a slight lead, the race being tied, or Obama with a point or
two lead.  However, voter suppression efforts will have done
enough to clinch a race that might anyway have been won by: ROMNEY

Iowa – 6 electoral Votes

There has not been a reputable poll that has not shown an
Obama lead in weeks. Although the race will not be a landslide,
it should be a win for: OBAMA

Nevada – 6 Electoral votes

Like Iowa, there has been no real evidence of Romney
overtaking the President. This should be a win for: OBAMA

New Hampshire – 4 Electoral Votes

Another very close race, with no clear leader.  I got this one
wrong in 2000, and may get it wrong again, but I am going with: OBAMA

North Carolina – 15 electoral votes

Romney pulled ahead here after the first debate and has held
that lead in most polls.  This should be fairly easy for: ROMNEY

Ohio – 18 Electoral votes

As everyone probably knows, this is the state that is the one
most people think Romney must win if he is to win the election.
No Republican has won the White House without winning
Ohio.  But the strength of the auto industry and legal efforts
to blunt Republicans’ voter suppression tactics, have kept
Obama ahead in virtually every reliable poll here for weeks.
Although the leads are not great, it seems likely that Ohio will go to:  OBAMA

Virginia – 13 Electoral votes

Like Colorado and New Hampshire, Virginia is too close to call.
But that won’t stop me.  Northern Virginia is Democratic,
Southern Virginia is Republican.  Polls have been very close,
but I think this will be a repeat of 2008, and won by: OBAMA

Wisconsin – 10 Electoral Votes

Like Iowa and Nevada, polls in Wisconsin have been close, but
Obama has been ahead here for weeks.  There is no real reason
to think this won’t be won by: OBAMA



With the projections in the 9 Battleground States, the final totals may look like:

Romney Safe States                      191 Electoral Votes
Romney Battleground States           44 Electoral Votes

Romney Total                      235 Electoral Votes

Obama Safe States                       237 Electoral Votes
Obama Battleground States             66 electoral Votes

Obama Total                        303 Electoral Votes

Obama’s base of support has held reasonably well.  He will lose some states he won four years ago, like Florida, Indiana, and North Carolina.  The election could be closer, or Obama could win bigger.  If Romney manages to win Colorado, Virginia and New Hampshire, he would still have to win either Wisconsin or Ohio, or a combination of Iowa and Nevada to win the election.  I think it is more likely that Obama wins Colorado, Virginia and/or New Hampshire.  I think the scenarios favoring Romney are unlikely, but watch results from the battleground states and you will know who will win the election.  I believe it will be President Obama.