“We’re going to win,” said one of the former Massachusetts governor’s closest advisers. “Seriously, 305 electoral votes."The Romney camp bases their optimism on deadlocked national polling, and no doubt the Gallup outlier. Problem for them, of course, is that we don't have a national popular vote. We should. But we don't. And the Democrats continue to maintain real leads in states that matter—both in the polling and in the early vote.
But there's another factor—much of that deadlocked national polling is among likely voters. Among registered voters, most of those polls gives President Barack Obama decent advantages. Thus, the operating theory is that a significant portion of Democrats will sit out the race because of a lack of intensity.
So for example, the latest NBC/WSJ poll yesterday had the presidential race deadlocked 47-47 among likely voters, but gave Obama a comfortable 49-44 lead among registered voters.
Different pollsters have different ways to filter out those they deem unlikely to vote. But bottom line, the registered voter screens have historically been more accurate.
Of the 50 state presidential polls conducting during the final month of the 2004 and 2008 presidential campaigns, the RV result was closer to the final outcome than the LV result in fully half of them. In just 38 percent of them was the LV screen closer to the final outcome than the RV screen. In six of the polls, incidentally, there was no difference between the RV/LV results in a poll.Past performance isn't always an indicator of future results, of course. But the dogmatic assumption that a likely voter screen is more accurate is simply not borne out by history.
But we've got more than history to go on ...
Remember, the theory behind the RV/LV gap is that base Democrats—ethnic minorities, single women, and young voters—are less likely to vote than base Republicans. And yes, that is pretty much always the case. If those demographics voted at the same rates as older white Republicans, Texas would be Purple and Arizona Blue. But most of those non-voters aren't registered and are filtered out quickly by pollsters. The question here is whether a registered Latino or African American or millennial will show up at the polls. And to answer that question, we don't need to guess. We just need to look at places where people are voting already.
In North Carolina early voting, 18-29 turnout is up 39.7 percent compared to four years ago. At this point in 2008, 144,331 African Americans had voted early in the state, or 29.03 percent of all voters. This year, 200,766 African Americans have voted, or 30.99 percent of all voters (source). Finally, while 277,714 women had voted at this point in 2008, or 55.86 percent of the total, that number is now 359,576 or ... 55.5 percent of voters.
There simply isn't a dropoff in core Democratic support in North Carolina. It's the opposite, in fact. Same thing in Nevada, where Democrats are outperforming their voter registration numbers—46 percent of voters are Democratic, yet they account for 49 percent of the early vote (compared to 33 percent for Republicans). Again, where's the intensity gap?
Now to be clear, Republicans have made gains in their early vote totals as well compared to 2008 (it's independents who are mostly down everywhere). Part of it is a shift in focus—John McCain had no early vote operation in most states, part of it is shifting voting habits away from in-person Election Day voting, and part of it is more Republican enthusiasm than they had for McCain.
But are Democrats having trouble bringing out their own base? The early voting data is clear—they're not. In fact, they are turning out in equal to greater numbers.
So I'm having a hard time buying the overly restrictive likely voter screens, not just because of their historical accurace record, but because of what we're seeing on the ground.
So let's keep up our strong GOTV. Leave nothing on the road. Sign up with our partners at Worker's Voice to help get out the vote, no matter where you live. Seriously. Do it. Unless you're already doing GOTV for someone, click that link and plug yourself in.