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Polls Tightening: Dems Rooting For Xeno

[iframe src=””]As regular readers know, we have tried to stay away from the all consuming horse race journalism over the US presidential race while taking a look from time to time at where the two horses actually are. Our method belongs to the quick and dirty school of political analysis rather than the painstaking model crafting that others prefer. This reflects our own belief that political science is extremely useful as a generator of insights, but that when pushed too far it generally disappoints and deceives. The more complex and multifaceted a model is, the more likely it is to be wrong in ways that the model crafter doesn’t understand.

So our quick and dirty system is to look at the national polls as reflected by the RCP polling average, divide the undecideds proportionately between the candidates, and assess the national “swing” from President Obama’s 2008 results. We then assume — blatantly and without any supporting evidence — that the national swing is the same in all fifty states and the District of Columbia, and on that assumption we can generate state by state predictions which allow us to total up an electoral college reading.

This is, as we’ve said before, not a prediction. The one thing we know is that polls are going to change between now and November. It’s a quick and dirty read of the state of the race today, not a look into a crystal ball about November.

From what we can see, there is good news and bad news for both camps. Clearly, the presidential race is tight. For the Romney campaign, the good news is that this is about as tight as we’ve seen it, and President Obama’s electoral college edge is about as small as it can get. Let any state no matter how small flip to Romney at this point, and the electoral college vote would either be tied (meaning that the race would go to the House of Representatives where the GOP is likely to win under the constitutionally mandated one state one vote system) or Governor Romney would have a majority.

On the other hand, Democrats can respond that polls taken right now are weighted in favor of Governor Romney. The GOP convention has already happened, and the challenger is benefiting from a slight but measurable bounce in the polls. If Governor Romney is behind by even a little at this very favorable moment for him, that suggests that President Obama still holds an edge in the race.

We’ll take another look at our ‘swingometer’ to see where things stand after the Democratic convention. The long term trend seems to be that Romney keeps nibbling at Obama’s lead, but like Achilles in Xeno’s paradox he doesn’t quite reach the goal.

Lead: Obama, just. Momentum: Romney, but questionable. The winner: unknown, at least here at VM.

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