Say, has anyone mentioned this race looks pretty close lately? Oh, that's right -- everyone has. CNN's last national poll before Judgment Day shows the race tied at 49, with a D+11 partisan sample. This assumes Democrats will improve upon their extraordinary 2008 turnout by four percentage points. There's a word for this. It's "ludicrous." CNN's previous national poll gave Obama a three-point lead, so it suggests the GOP nominee is gaining steam. In light of the mind-blowing sample, how is the race even close, let alone tied?
(1) Independent voters are siding with Romney by 22 points, 59/37.
(2) Romney leads by nine on the economy -- which is the top issue for voters, followed closely by the deficit, another Romney strong suit.
(3) Romney matches Obama on favorability and leadership qualities.
So there's that. In case you're curious, the poll was conducted Friday through Sunday, so any potential Sandy "bump" for Obama should be reflected in the numbers. Perhaps even more astonishing is the GOP's one-point lead on the poll's generic Congressional ballot (which may help explain stories like this). Have I mentioned this survey has a D+11 sample? Meanwhile, USA Today joins the too-close-to-call chorus in its final pre-election poll of swing states. 48, all:
Voters in the nation's key battlegrounds have become as enthusiastic and engaged in the 2012 presidential election as they were in the historic contest four years ago, and they finally have made up their minds about President Obama and Mitt Romney. It's a tie: 48%-48% ... The poll was taken in the dozen battlegrounds most likely to determine the outcome in the Electoral College: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. In a sign of their importance, one or both of the presidential candidates held events during the campaign's final days in nine of those 12 states — and neither stumped anywhere else ... Overall, Republicans continue to have an enthusiasm advantage, though it has narrowed in the past year. In October 2011, a third of Republican voters were extremely enthusiastic about the presidential election, more than double the number of Democrats who felt that way. Now, 51% of Republicans and 44% of Democrats say they're excited about it.
According to the poll, Romney leads on the economy by three and deficits by ten; Obama's advantages are myriad and lie elsewhere. And since we're already aboard the "tell me something I didn't already know" express, who's up for another piece stressing how much of a determinative factor turnout will be tomorrow? Here's one that focuses on Pennsylvania:
To reverse a 24-year trend of presidential Democrats winning Pennsylvania, Romney needs to match or outperform Bush in the four Philadelphia suburban counties, all of which Bush lost except for Chester County in 2004. Romney also needs high turnout on the western side of the state, where conservative, blue-collar, white voters make up much of the voting demographic. That was largely how Republican Pat Toomey narrowly beat Democrat Joe Sestak for the U.S. Senate seat in 2010. Perhaps to Romney’s benefit, one of the few hot races in Pennsylvania has been out west. The state’s only real competitive U.S. House race is the 12th District outside Pittsburgh. Western Pennsylvania also gets some bleed-over from the overwhelming attention both the Romney and Obama campaigns have paid Ohio. Lara Brown, a political science professor at Villanova University, said there is a chance Romney squeaks out a 1- or 2-point win in Pennsylvania, provided certain geographic scenarios go his way.
This analysis tracks with Jay Cost's Romney roadmap to victory in the Keystone State, which would all but guarantee victory if Romney manages to pull the upset:
And then it just comes down to how well Team Obama has Philadelphia County organized. If he can drive turnout there as he did in 2008, netting 470,000 votes, the state will go his way, albeit narrowly. If his turnout machine is lacking a little bit – due to diminished grassroots enthusiasm, lack of preparation by Team Obama, or just the inevitable drift of marginal Republican voters in the county to the GOP banner – Obama will be in trouble. After all, John Kerry broke all the records in Philadelphia County in 2004 by netting about 410,000 votes, then Obama smashed them to reach 480,000 even as the county’s population was stagnant. If Obama “only” has the county as well organized as Kerry did, then in this scenario Romney would win the Keystone State, albeit it narrowly.
The Republican campaigned in Bucks County last night, drawing a whopping 30,000 supporters to a farm outside Philadelphia:
If Romney wins tomorrow night, these mammoth crowds will be looked back upon as harbingers of the wave of support that overwhelmed Democrats' carefully-laid plans. If he doesn't, they'll demonstrate that even enormous GOP enthusiasm wasn't sufficient to defeat an incumbent with a legendary turnout machine. Tick, tock.
UPDATE - I stumbled across this clip of Romney's entrance in Pennsylvania yesterday evening. These are some excited people: