Presidential polls coming out with less than one week remaining until Election Day are heartening to President Obama. After Mitt Romney stole the race’s momentum earlier in the month with a strong performance in the first presidential debate, it appeared as if he would surpass Obama nationwide, but it never came to be.
Romney’s momentum was never enough to push him into a clear nationwide lead, and, meanwhile, presidential polls showed Obama holding onto a lead in the swing states necessary to win 270 electoral votes and re-election.
The latest presidential polls show the same story. Obama continues to lead most presidential polls in Ohio, a crucial swing state needed by both candidates to win election. An Analytics/Newsmax poll released this week shows Obama up 50 percent to 44 percent in the Buckeye State, and the election blog FiveThirtyEight now gives the president a better than 80 percent chance of winning there.
Even without Ohio, Obama would still have other paths to victory on the electoral map. Romney, however, would need to win nearly every competitive state to win without Ohio.
Some political pundits and election blogs, including the decidedly right-leaning and often logic-defying UnSkewed Polls, have argued that because Obama has failed to reach 50 percent in most nationwide presidential polls, he will lose when undecided voters break to Mitt Romney. Known as the “incumbent rule,” this states that voters undecided on who to vote for are more likely to pick the challenger.
HuffPost Pollster writer Mark Blumenthal notes that the same argument was used in 2004 when George W. Bush failed to poll above 47 percent nationwide.
“But it didn’t happen. Even though Rove cited 2004 as a proof point, Kerry got little or no net boost from his standings in the late polls. Bush led Kerry by 2.4 percentage points (48.4 percent to 46.1 percent) on the Real Clear Politics average eight years ago, on the Thursday before the election, the same margin by which he defeated Kerry on election day (50.7 percent to 48.3 percent).“
Again, Blumenthal turns to the electoral map to show how presidential polls there point to a clear Obama win:
“Ultimately, the strongest reality check to the incumbent rule argument comes from Obama’s standing in the battleground states. The current HuffPost Pollster estimates, based on all available public polls, give Obama 50 percent of the vote in Nevada and Wisconsin and 49 percent in Iowa and Ohio. If an incumbent will do “a percentage point or so” better on Election Day than in his final poll averages, as Karl Rove argued, Obama is on the verge of locking up electoral votes he needs to win.”
While there are still a few days to see if predictions hold up on Election Day, Obama’s chances certainly appear strong based on presidential polls. He now has a greater than 80 percent chance of winning the election in FiveThirtyEight‘s model, and HuffPost Pollster shows him winning or leading enough states to put him past 270 electoral votes.