No promises, but this may well be my last post devoted to polling before the ultimate poll is taken and tabulated tomorrow. These surveys are the crack cocaine of politics, and we're all going to need to detox on Wednesday. And with that, voila: Gallup's final pre-election poll has fallen in line with virtually every other national poll, showing Romney ahead by a mere point, 49/48. The bad news for Republicans is that this lead is diminished from the GOP ticket's five point edge prior to Gallup suspending its polling due to the storm. The good news is that it's still a lead, and that it tracks precisely with Rasmussen's election eve prediction:
The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Monday shows Mitt Romney attracting support from 49% of voters nationwide, while President Obama earns the vote from 48%. Two percent (2%) prefer some other candidate, and one percent (1%) remains undecided.
Contra my headline, Rasmussen will apparently publish one final national survey tomorrow morning. His final numbers in Ohio show a 49/49 tie (with good and bad news for both candidates), and a two point Romney lead in Virginia. A Cincinnati Enquirer poll in Buckeyeland aligns closely with the Dispatch poll from yesterday: Obama's up fractionally, within the margin of error, and -- surprise! -- turnout could flip it. ARG gives the challenger a 49/48 lead in Iowa, while pegging the final national race at 49/49. (Anyone else detecting a pattern here?) Here's the latest from Florida:
Mitt Romney’s lead with independent voters has propelled him to a 5-point lead in Florida two days before Election Day, according to a Times-Union/InsiderAdvantage poll released Sunday night. Likely/registered voters favored Romney 52 percent to 47 percent for Barack Obama, but Romney holds a 25-point lead with independent voters.
This mirrors Mason-Dixon's last Sunshine State poll (Romney up six). Note that number regarding independents. How will they break tomorrow? As we've discussed ad nauseam, tomorrow's outcome hinges on turnout and indies. On the latter element, Josh Jordan notices that after indies suddenly settling into a virtual tie immediately post-Sandy, Romney's again comfortably outpacing the president among this group:
Over the last few days the independents have been returning back to Romney, however, indicating that the final vote Tuesday might revert back to polling from the days just before Sandy made landfall. Rasmussen has seen Romney’s lead with independents jump from three points to fifteen. The Washington Post tracking poll moved from a tie with independents on Saturday to a three-point lead for Romney on Sunday. In the national non-tracking polls, Romney has continued to enjoy leads with independents as well. The Pew poll taken in the days after Sandy has Romney up three among independents while the NBC/WSJ poll released yesterday that showed Obama up one point overall has Romney up seven with independents. A CNN national poll released last night has a tied race, but Romney is up 22 points with independents.
Here's the trendline on indies (via John Podhoretz):
Indys swinging back to Romney: Rasmussen (+17), CNN (+22), Monmouth (+16), ARG (+12).— jasondpeery (@jasondpeery) November 5, 2012
I'll leave you with some early voting tea leaves, which Mary Katharine Ham uses to brew up a pot of piping hot (potential) good news for Republicans. Jim Geraghty's insider, "Middle Cheese," is also feeling pretty sanguine about things, based on his discussion with Romney campaign higher-ups:
Here’s where Team Romney’s take on the state of the race with 48 hours to go:
FL — Obama has a 60 percent drop off in early/absentee voting from 2008.
VA — Obama has a 20 percent drop off early/absentee votes in counties they won in 2008.
OH — Obama under-performing in coal counties of OH. Romney leading by double-digits over Obama in 21 of the last 24 polls among independents.
IA — Obama needed a 130k early/absentee vote lead; he has 90k right now.
CO — Romney has 50k early/absentee vote lead; Obama needed to have a lead in early/absentee voting.
NV — Obama needed 80k early/absentee vote lead coming out of Clark County; he has 71k. Romney needs strong turnout in rest of state.
PA — 96 percent of vote is on Election Day. Polls show rapidly tightening race. 30k showed up for Romney rally in Bucks County last night.
WI — early/absentee vote is very encouraging (sorry, no numbers).
NH — 90 percent of vote on Election Day. WMUR poll shows 47-47 tied–9 point swing from last poll.
Overall, Team Romney is extremely confident for several reasons: 1) a 5-7 point advantage on voter intensity, 2) a double digit lead among independents, 3) in D+9 polls, Obama can’t break 50 percent, 4) GOP matching or exceeding Obama in voter contacts (440,000 made in OH over the weekend).
That's the sunny view of the state of things, which is now shared by the Weekly Standard's Fred Barnes, who predicts a Romney victory due to five factors he sees breaking the GOP's way. Here's one bullet point:
Indicators. Many point to a Romney win. He does well among “high-propensity-voting” blocs such as, in the Battleground Poll, seniors (54 percent), married voters (56 percent), weekly church attendees (59 percent), white evangelicals (79 percent), and gun owner householders (60 percent). He also leads among key demographic groups such as suburban voters (54 percent), Catholics (53 percent), and middle class voters (52 percent). Obama has large leads among groups such as Hispanics with a lower propensity to vote. “If the president’s campaign is not able to replicate his 2008 electorate (which is looking increasingly unlikely), the president loses,” Goeas says.
Barnes notes that the bipartisan Battleground poll's final comprehensive election model puts Romney at 51 percent. Liberals, many pollsters, and most journalists remained convinced that Obama is in fine shape and will win tomorrow. Paul Krugman even believes that anyone who doesn't anticipate an Obama win is delusional or stupid. This much is certain: One side or the other has been engaging in some intense pre-election epistemic closure. Tomorrow's results will reveal who's been way off. I'll be fascinated to see the verdict because I've been thoroughly flummoxed by the cross-currents in the data.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography