Yes, NC is still in play

Nate Cohn keeps re-tweeting a link to this every day, so I really ought to post it here:

How could Obama lose 7 points nationally, yet remain close in a state that he won by just 14,000 votes in a historic election? The answer lies in the resilience of Obama’s diverse coalition and the changing composition of North Carolina’s electorate.

For the most part, Obama’s biggest losses have come from predominantly white states where Obama won plenty of moderate, former Bush voters—like Wisconsin, Montana, and Indiana. North Carolina is relatively insulated from Obama’s losses, since most of Obama’s gains came from young voters, college educated whites, and African Americans, three groups where Obama’s support has remained relatively resilient. Indeed, nearly half of Obama’s ’08 voters in North Carolina were non-white—more than any other battleground state. From this perspective, North Carolina has not moved toward the Democrats, but the rest of the country, where white working class voters play a more central role in the Democratic coalition, has just moved away from Obama at a faster pace…

However, the changing composition of North Carolina’s electorate allows Obama to compensate for at least some of Obama’s losses since 2008, even if it only leaves the president with a narrow path to victory. According to the most recent voter registration data from the North Carolina State Board of Elections, the white share of registered voters has declined to 71.5 percent, from 73.4 percent on Election Day 2008 and 74.2 percent at this time four years ago.

NC has not been well-polled this month.  The latest from PPP shows a tie (and a recent analysis of all the pollsters shows that PPP is pretty close to right down the middle– only a very slight D lean).  Right now, it’s pretty clear you’ve got to give Romney a small advantage in this state, but that advantage is likely no bigger than the advantage the Obama has in Ohio, and Romney’s certainly not giving up there.

Photo of the day

From National Geographic Photoof the day, Khazakstan after dark (who knew?):

Picture of the skyline of Astana, Kazakhstan’s capital city

Astana, Kazakhstan

Photograph by Gerd Ludwig, National Geographic

This Month in Photo of the Day: National Geographic Magazine Features

Kazakhstan‘s new capital is the opposite of understated. After dark, government buildings change hues as the night progresses, creating a theme park atmosphere.

Blue states

Really enjoyed this piece in Salon offering a different take on why Obama is tied at best in national polls.  There’s a good argument to be made that Obama’s winning margins in safely blue states will be well off 2008:

Patrick Murray, who runs the Monmouth University poll, suggests that a more helpful way of understanding why Obama’s national support is lagging is to divide the country into three types of states – red, blue, and competitive – and to compare Obama’s showing in these states to how he’s doing now. Using the ’08 results andMonmouth’s latest numbers, here’s what Murray came up with:

Competitive states

Obama ’08: +7

Obama ’12: -5

Red States

Obama ’08:  -15

Obama ’12: -15

Blue states

Obama ’08: + 24

Obama ’12: +11

It’s not surprising that Obama’s standing has declined in competitive states, but what jumps out is that he’s not doing any worse in red states now than he was in ’08 – but that he has suffered a huge drop in blue state America…

I asked Murray why Obama would be falling off so much in blue states, and why the damage isn’t worse in battleground areas. His theory is that it’s an enthusiasm issue, and he offers some more data from his poll to support this – the percentage of voters from each party who make it through his likely voter screen:

Competitive states

Republicans: 92%

Democrats: 88%

Red states

Republicans: 86%

Democrats: 87%

Blue states

Republicans: 90%

Democrats: 81%

As you can see, enthusiasm is highest for both parties in the battleground states – not surprising, given how much attention they receive – and lowest in their respective safe zones. But the drop-off is more severe for Democrats in blue states, where they’re almost ten points behind Republicans on turnout likelihood. Here’s what Murray told me:

I really think it’s an enthusiasm gap.  It’s offset in competitive states by the fact that there is an active campaign.  My theory is that Blue state Dems are a bit disappointed over how the first term has turned out.  They don’t want Romney to win but feel that Obama can win their state’s EVs without their support.

This certainly seems plausible.

And to me as well.  I’d strongly prefer Obama win both the electoral college and the popular vote. But maybe with a perverse result affecting each party within a span of four elections, we could finally do away with the absurdity that is the electoral college.

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