America’s voters chose Obama and the future

And so, America did the right the ting and chose the future.

The historic election of 2008, when the American voters made Barack Obama the nation’s first African-American president and bade farewell to the old America, was re-enforced yesterday when Barack Obama got enough support for another four years in the White House.

His victory was not quite as overwhelming as four years ago, when Obama beat John McCain by ten million votes and won 365 electoral votes to McCain’s 173, but it was a solid, even sweeping, victory. The coalition that Obama built up with the young, women, African-Americans, Hispanics and white union members in the Rust Belt, lost only two states, Indiana, traditionally Republican, and North Carolina, both of which Obama surprisingly had won in 2008. Yesterday, he won the rest of the battleground states: Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, New Hampshire, Virginia and Florida, although his victory in Florida is not yet official. If his lead there is confirmed he will win 332 electoral votes against Romney’s 206.

When Obama gave his victory speech in Chicago, the joy and jubilation from the Obama coalition of whites, African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, young, old, knew no bounds. They belonged to the new and once again victorious America, and they represented the country’s new politics. Over 90 percent of the country’s black voters chose Obama; over 70 percent of the Hispanics and the Asians voted for the president; over half of the women gave him their support; and the trade unions members in the Rust Belt also voted for the man who had saved the auto industry early in his first four years in the White House.

They did not want to retreat and turn back to a time that had led to two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and to the deepest U.S. economic crisis since the ’30s depression, to return to the old America, dominated a white electorates, like that overwhelmingly white crowd in Boston who had voted for Mitt Romney but who now somberly, almost in shock, listened to their candidate’s concession speech.

That old America was not enough yesterday, as it had not been in 2008, to win a presidential election. The conclusion must be that it is no longer possible for the Republicans to win a U.S. presidential election only with the support of the country’s white voters. There are simply no longer enough white voters – 72 percent of all voters yesterday were white – to win. That trend will continue and even strengthen in the coming years because of the continued demographic changes in America’s population. America will be less and less white. Republicans need to think about and change, but if they are able to do so is an entirely different matter.

Much of the campaign focused on polls and forecasts and many questioned if they were right in their predictions. They were. Forecasters such as Nate Silver on his New York Times blog FiveThirtyEight had predicted 307 electoral votes for Obama, and Simon Jackman, the Stanford professor, who in his Huffington Post blog also had predicted over 300 electoral votes for Obama

More later today. Meanwhile, here’s President Obama’s rousing victory speech last night in Chicago.

Victory for Obama…if all the polls are not wrong

As Barack Obama and Mitt Romney continue to stump frenetically to utilize every last hour of the remaining presidential election campaign, their most important message is about the importance of voting. And tomorrow, we will see how good the two campaign organizations really are in getting people to actually go to vote.

There is optimism in both camps, especially from the Obama campaign while the Romney’s campaign is “cautiously hopeful,” as Carl Cannon writes in RealClearPolitics today.

From the media, apart from Fox News, there is a steady message that Obama will win. Larry Sabato, the highly respected professor at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, joined this chorus today on his Crystal Ball blog. He predicted 290 electoral votes for Obama against 248 for Romney in that Obama would win in six of the nine swing states: Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio and Wisconsin. So even if Romney would win in the other three, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida, it will not enough to capture the necessary 270 electoral votes and win the election. Sabato also predicted continued Democratic majority in the Senate and continued Republican rule in the House of Representatives.

So if you believe all the polls and most of the pundits, president Obama will be reelected — if they are not all wrong, which is unlikely, but, perhaps, still possible.

Howard Kurtz, media critic at the Daily Beast:

“If Obama somehow manages to lose, it will be a stunning defeat for the nation’s first African-American president. But it will be overpriced a crushing blow for the punditocracy that headed into Election Day filled with confidence that Obama had it in the bag. And Fox News will not let the mainstream media hear the end of it.”

And Mike Allen at Politico in his daily email:

“And yet, enough is uncertain about the samples and the mood of the nation, that lots of people we respectfully would not be SHOCKED if Mitt Romney pulled it out. They’re not expecting it, or betting their own money on it – but it’s not impossible. Put another way: Most Democrats will be surprised if they lose; many top Republicans will be surprised if they win. And that’s what makes this such a delicious 36 hours for political junkies: The great political minds THINK they know where things are headed. But most of them realize they could be wrong.”

But let me remind you that not only the polls are on Obama’s side. History is also on his side, for it has proven extremely difficult to defeat a sitting president. That has only happened four times since 1912, when Woodrow Wilson defeated William Howard Taft, 1932 when Franklin Roosevelt beat Herbert Hoover, 1980, when Ronald Reagan won over Jimmy Carter and 1992 when Bill Clinton defeated George HW Bush. Should Romney win tomorrow it will be something of a historical sensation.

The last week of campaigning has gone well for Barack Obama. He was strengthened politically in the wake of the tragedy of Hurricane Sandy, not least because Romney was forced to the sidelines, with no role, unable to conduct his election campaign. But Obama was also strengthened by the words of praise from Republicans like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former Secretary of State Colin Powell, as well as from the country perhaps leading independent voice, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The campaign somehow took a new direction and Obama got new wind in his sails. It may prove to be decisive tomorrow.

Obama and Romney’s “Romnesia”

Obama launched a new word in the election campaign today during a campaign stop in Fairfax, Virginia. The word is “Romnesia” and it’s pretty funny, as you can see from the audience.

Talking about polls…what has happened to Gallup?

Talking about polling…what has happened to Gallup?

The question is put by Nate Silver on his blog FiveThirtyEight after Gallup’s tracking poll is showing very different numbers than all other polls with Mitt Romney leading big.

While all the other tracking polls show a very even race, today’s Gallup figures show that Romney has increased his lead over Obama from 6 to 7 percentage points.

Under the headline “Gallup vs. the World,” Silver argues that this is not the first time that Gallup differs considerably from the others.

“Its results are deeply inconsistent with the results that other polling firms are showing in the presidential race, and the Gallup poll has a history of performing very poorly when that is the case.”

But that does not mean that Gallup should be ignored:

“You should consider it (Gallup) — but consider it in context. The context is that its most recent results differ substantially from the dozens of other state and national polls about the campaign. It’s much more likely that Gallup is wrong and everyone else is right than the other way around.”

Gallup’s numbers are included in Silver’s forecast which estimates Obama’s chances to win next month at 65.7 percent.

Making sense of the flood of campaign polls…

All of us following the U.S. presidential election campaign have the feeling, I’m sure, to be drowning in opinion polls. Every day, there are new polls, both nationally and state by state, and especially in the ten or so “battle ground states,” where the election will be decided.

And if you have followed my blog about America, you’ve probably also noticed that I keep close tabs on what Nate Silver writes on his political statistics blog in the New York Times called FiveThirtyEight — an excellent source of information during an election campaign where so much is about the polls and dthe importance of how these new, daily measurements are interpreted.

Last night, I went to listen to Professor Simon Jackman, political scientist and political statistician at Stanford University, who was in town to give a lecture.

“Obama wins in a squeaker,” predicted Jackman, but the situation is extremely even — “a game of inches:” 47 percent for Obama, 47 percent for Romney. According to Jackman’s model, Obama leads today with 267 electoral votes to 206 for Romney (270 needed to win). Five states with a total of 65 electoral votes are “toss ups”: Colorado, Florida, New Hampshire, Virginia and Wisconsin, while Iowa, Nevada, Ohio, and Pennsylvania lean to Obama, and North Carolina to Romney.

This is not a forecast but a compilation of the 517 polls —  “poll averaging” — which Jackman describes in this interesting article in the Huffington Post. This method is necessary to really explore the political situation, and he warned of polls with only 800 or 1000 or 2000 respondents. They don’t tell the correct story.

Jackman also described in his lecture how it is becoming increasingly difficult to produce good and reliable polls. People don’t want participate. They don’t have time. Why should hey spend 15 to 30 minutes on the phone with someone they don’t know, and without getting paid? And he described the problem of reaching young voters, if the survey does not use cell phones and how the Internet is becoming increasingly important to the polls.

Jackman also spoke about political bias in the polling firms. None of them stand out as extra special, but they have their sympathies. Of the major polling firms, Pew is pro-Obama and Rasmussen pro-Romney. Gallup leans towards the Republicans, while the polls from Fox News, surprisingly to me at least, are close to the ideal political neutrality.

Still, Jackman writes, “it would be unreasonable to conclude that the polls are giving us a qualitatively incorrect impression of how the election is shaping up.”

Here is his article on the subject in the Huffington Post.

Good post-debate numbers for Obama but will it last?

The first quick polls after the debate last night pointed to a victory for of Barack Obama against Mitt Romney, 46 per cent to 39 in the CNN survey, 37 per cent to 30 of CBS’s survey and 48 per cent to 31 in the Google Consumer Surveys among registered voters.

It was a new Obama that showed up last night, compared to the Denver debate two weeks ago: tough, aggressive, committed, concentrated, eloquent. Unlike in Denver, Obama did not give way on a single point, constantly counterattacking and repeatedly stating that what Romney said was not true.

You could almost hear the sigh of relief among Democrats. It was a new ball game. The strangely absent president in Denver was a distant memory — “Obama was back!”

Romney was also clearly not as strong as in the first debate, forced on the defensive by Obama’s unwillingness to budge an inch. Several of his answers, on tax policy and women’s issues, but especially on Libya, were weak. On Libya, Romney had to stand corrected by the moderator as to what the president said after the deadly attack on the American consulate.

In addition to these first positive poll numbers for Obama, the fact that the media almost unanimously pointed to Obama’s strong debate will greatly influence public opinion in the next days.

Conclusion: Obama seems to have regained the initiative in the election campaign after the Denver debacle. The question is how much will the debate move the head-to-head polls between Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama?

Nate Silver has a warning on his FiveThirtyEight blog:

“Actually, the instant reaction polls may not be very much help in answering that question. The relationship between the quick-reaction polls and their contingent effect on the horse-race polls has historically been very modest, and has sometimes even run in the opposite direction of what the initial polls suggested. Debates sometimes look different in the rear-view mirror, depending on news media coverage, YouTube and cable news highlights, word of mouth, and subsequent developments on the campaign trail. “

He continues:

“But if you want my best guess: Throughout this election cycle, you would have done very well by predicting that the polls would eventually settle in at an overall lead for Mr. Obama of about two percentage points.”

Silver now puts Obama’s chances to win the election at 64.8 per cent, while the betting site Intrade sets the number at 64.9 per cent, up from 61.7 before last night’s debate.

The third and final debate will take place next Monday. It will be on foreign policy — Obama’s strength and Romney’s weakness — both of which were underlined again in the Libya debate last night.  That speaks to Obama’s advantage, but much can still happen as the campaign moves to a final decision on Election Day.

Obama’s second debate with Romney could decide the race

In view of the many ups and downs in the U.S. presidential election campaign lately — a disastrous performance by president Obama in his first debate with Mitt Romney followed by an offensive rescue mission by vice president Biden in his debate with Paul Ryan — Tuesday evening’s second debate between Obama and Romney could be decisive.

Helped by Biden, who said everything to Ryan that Obama did not say but should have said to Romney, and who instilled new hope among despondent Democrats, Obama needs to step up and do well and, thereby, re-take the initiative and the lead in the polls that he lost after his debacle.

All indications are that the race has tightened and that Obama’s poor performance let Romney back in the race. But the polls also show that although the race is even nationally, it has not changed that much in the battleground states, particularly the key state of Ohio, where Obama still leads, although less so, by 2,2 percentage points according to RealClearPolitics. No Republican presidential candidate has ever won without winning in Ohio, so much depends on the Buckeye State and its 18 electoral votes.

The winner on November 6 needs a minimum of 270 electoral votes. In 36 of the 50 States, the outcome is already decided – Romney will win in 22 and Obama in 14. But since Obama’s victories will come in more populous state, he is ahead in the battle for electoral votes.

The outcome of the election will be decided primarily in nine states with a total of 110 electoral votes.FiveThirtyEight, the New York Times blog, recently described the situation in these nine states as following: Colorado (9) even; Florida (29) even; Iowa (6) leaning toward Obama; Nevada (6) leaning toward Obama; New Hampshire (4) probably Obama; North Carolina (15) probably Romney; Ohio (18) leaning toward Obama, Virginia (13) even; and Wisconsin (10) probably Obama.

On the betting site Intrade, 62.8 percent predict an Obama victory. Let’s see what they say after Tuesday’s debate!