By this time tomorrow night, we will know the identity of, or at least be well on the way to knowing the identity of, 435 members of the House, over a third of the Senate, and over a dozen governors. We will also know whether or not we are standing by our 44th president of the United States, or ushering in a 45th president.
And what do the final polling numbers tell us? They tell us that in the Congress, the status quo seems the likeliest outcome (though there is at least a shade of uncertainty there). And they tell us that, in the battle for the White House, the status quo is more likely than not, as well.
More on that after the jump. For now, though, on to the numbers:
NATIONAL (ABC/WaPo Tracking): Obama 50, Romney 47DOWNBALLOT POLLING:
NATIONAL (American Research Group): Obama 49, Romney 49
NATIONAL (Gallup Tracking): Romney 49, Obama 48 (LV); Obama 49, Romney 46 (RV)
NATIONAL (Gravis Marketing): Obama 48, Romney 48
NATIONAL (Greenberg Quinlan Rosner for Democracy Corps): Obama 49, Romney 45
NATIONAL (Ipsos/Reuters Tracking): Obama 48, Romney 46 (LV); Obama 47, Romney 43 (RV)
NATIONAL (Monmouth University): Obama 48, Romney 48
NATIONAL (PPP for Daily Kos/SEIU): Obama 50, Romney 48
NATIONAL (PPP Tracking for Americans United For Change): Obama 50, Romney 48
NATIONAL (Rasmussen Tracking): Romney 49, Obama 48
NATIONAL (UPI/CVoter): Obama 49, Romney 48
COLORADO (Ipsos-Reuters): Obama 48, Romney 47 (LV); Obama 52, Romney 41 (RV)
COLORADO (Keating Research/OnSight--D): Obama 50, Romney 46
COLORADO (Lake Research--D): Obama 45, Romney 44, Others 3
COLORADO (PPP): Obama 52, Romney 46
FLORIDA (Angus Reid): Obama 49, Romney 49
FLORIDA (Gravis Marketing--R): Obama 49, Romney 49
FLORIDA (Insider Advantage--R): Romney 52, Obama 47
FLORIDA (Ipsos-Reuters): Romney 48, Obama 47 (LV); Obama 50, Romney 43 (RV)
FLORIDA (PPP): Obama 50, Romney 49
IOWA (American Research Group): Romney 49, Obama 48
MICHIGAN (Angus Reid): Obama 52, Romney 47
MINNESOTA (SurveyUSA): Obama 52, Romney 41
MISSOURI (SurveyUSA): Romney 50, Obama 43, Others 4
NEVADA (PPP): Obama 51, Romney 47
NEW HAMPSHIRE (American Research Group): Obama 49, Romney 49
NEW HAMPSHIRE (New England College): Obama 50, Romney 46
NEW HAMPSHIRE (Rasmussen): Obama 50, Romney 48
NEW HAMPSHIRE (Univ. of New Hampshire): Obama 50, Romney 46
NORTH CAROLINA (Gravis Marketing--R): Romney 50, Obama 46
NORTH CAROLINA (PPP): Romney 49, Obama 49
OHIO (Gravis Marketing--R): Obama 49, Romney 48
OHIO (Ipsos-Reuters): Obama 50, Romney 46 (LV); Obama 50, Romney 41 (RV)
OHIO (Rasmussen): Obama 49, Romney 49
OHIO (SurveyUSA): Obama 49, Romney 44
OHIO (Univ. of Cincinnati): Obama 50, Romney 49
PENNSYLVANIA (Angus Reid): Obama 51, Romney 47
PENNSYLVANIA (Gravis Marketing--R): Obama 49, Romney 46
SOUTH DAKOTA (Nielson Brothers): Romney 53, Obama 41
UTAH (Mason Dixon): Romney 70, Obama 25
VIRGINIA (Ipsos-Reuters): Obama 48, Romney 46 (LV); Obama 49, Romney 42 (RV)
VIRGINIA (Mellman Group for Americans United for Change): Obama 48, Romney 45
VIRGINIA (NBC News/Marist): Obama 48, Romney 47 (LV); Obama 48, Romney 46 (RV)
VIRGINIA (Rasmussen): Romney 50, Obama 48
WISCONSIN (Angus Reid): Obama 53, Romney 46
FL-SEN (Angus Reid): Sen. Bill Nelson (D) 53, Connie Mack IV (R) 45Some final thoughts (!) await you just past the jump ...
FL-SEN (Ipsos-Reuters): Sen. Bill Nelson (D) 55, Connie Mack IV (R) 40 (LV); Sen. Bill Nelson (D) 54, Connie Mack IV (R) 33 (RV)
FL-SEN (PPP): Sen. Bill Nelson (D) 51, Connie Mack IV (R) 46
MI-SEN (Angus Reid): Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) 56, Pete Hoekstra (R) 43
MN-SEN (SurveyUSA): Sen. Amy Klobuchar (R) 60, Kurt Bills (R) 30
MO-SEN (SurveyUSA): Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) 51, Todd Akin (R) 36, Jonathan Dine (L) 8
MT-SEN (Garin-Hart-Yang for Majority PAC): Jon Tester (D) 44, Denny Rehberg (R) 43, Others 4
OH-SEN (Ipsos-Reuters): Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) 52, Josh Mandel (R) 43 (LV); Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) 50, Josh Mandel (R) 40 (RV)
OH-SEN (Rasmussen): Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) 50, Josh Mandel (R) 48
OH-SEN (Univ. of Cincinnati): Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) 51, Josh Mandel (R) 47
PA-SEN (Angus Reid): Sen. Bob Casey (D) 53, Tom Smith (R) 46
VA-SEN (Ipsos-Reuters): Tim Kaine (D) 48, George Allen (R) 45 (LV); Tim Kaine (D) 48, George Allen (R) 41 (RV)
VA-SEN (Rasmussen): Tim Kaine (D) 49, George Allen (R) 47
WI-SEN (Angus Reid): Tammy Baldwin (D) 50, Tommy Thompson (R) 48
MO-GOV(SurveyUSA): Gov. Jay Nixon (D) 48, Dave Spence (R) 39, Jim Higgins (L) 5
NH-GOV (New England College): Maggie Hassan (D) 47, Ovide Lamontagne 45
NH-GOV (Rasmussen): Maggie Hassan (D) 50, Ovide Lamontagne (R) 45
NH-GOV (Univ. of New Hampshire): Maggie Hassan (D) 49, Ovide Lamontagne (R) 40, Others 2
NC-GOV (PPP): Pat McCrory (R) 50, Walter Dalton (D) 43, Barbara Howe (L) 4
MN-08 (SurveyUSA): Rick Nolan (D) 47, Rep. Chip Cravaack (R) 45
NH-01 (Univ. of New Hampshire): Rep. Frank Guinta (R) 43, Carol Shea Porter (D) 43, Others 4
NH-02 (Univ. of New Hampshire): Ann McLane Kuster (D) 47, Rep. Charlie Bass (R) 40, Others 4
SD-AL (Nielson Brothers): Rep. Kristi Noem (R) 54, Matt Varilek (D) 41
It is the ultimate in potential irony that, after 2900 polls, two years, endless campaign stops, and gazillions of dollars, the partisan balance of power in Washington DC may look in January of 2013 almost identical to what it did in January of 2011.
If the polls are correct, it appears as if President Obama is en route to a narrow-but-clear majority in the electoral college. Furthermore, as the national polls have moved incrementally (but steadily) since the third debate, it now looks entirely plausible for him to have a popular vote plurality (and quite possibly, a majority) to go with it. Today's eleven polls yielded an average lead for Obama nationally of 1.1 percentage points. The range was a modestly narrow five-points: the best result for Romney was a lead of a single point (Gallup LV and Rasmussen), while Democracy Corps offered the best result for Obama, staking him to a four-point advantage.
At the state level, today's data is somewhat mixed, if only because some reliably conservative pollsters (Insider Advantage, Gravis, and Rasmussen) made up a lot of the data. However, taking the last three days of data collectively, the battlegrounds shape up quite clearly. Romney has a slight edge in exactly one: North Carolina. Florida has the look and feel of a true coin toss, but if you average out the last dozen or so polls there, it comes out to a Romney "edge" of about a quarter of a percentage point.
Aside from that, Obama has leads, though some of them are very tenuous. If one had to guess, the three closest races appear to be (in no particular order) Colorado, Virginia, and Iowa. Even if Obama were to cede all three of them (and that seems incredibly unrealistic), that would only get Mitt Romney to 263 electoral votes, seven short of the victory.
After that, he has to rely on states where he has led in far less than 10 percent of the available polling. The rumor mill was buzzing today that, despite dispatching Paul Ryan there this morning, Team Romney had essentially conceded Nevada. The unusual Election Day campaign schedule in Ohio and Pennsylvania suggests those are the pivot states in the minds of the Romney campaign, but they seem like longshots, based on the available polling.
As I said last night, it certainly appears as if Romney's best hope is that the available public polling is simply and systematically off the mark, and that is off the mark in favor of the president. Possible? Sure. Plausible? Not really.
Meanwhile, we have paid less attention downballot in recent weeks, if only because the presidential race became increasingly competitive. But the lay of the land there speaks to, despite the tireless campaign efforts on both sides, an essential wash. If anything, the 2012 cycle has been an exercise in confounding expectations. With more than double the seats to defend in the Senate, Republicans were talking Majority Leader McConnell early in the cycle. Alas, for the GOP, poor candidates and a few unexpected tenuous defenses led to a map where, as it stands on Election eve, the Democrats are more likely to pad their majority than the Republicans are to seize it.
The House also has seen the narrative shift notably since the start of the year. At one point, Democrats began to show increasing confidence in their chances. They had grown convinced that redistricting had not been the boon to the GOP that most believed it would be, and they were happy with both their candidates and their fundraising. The huge GOP dark money edge, however, coupled with the fact that redistricting was, indeed, better to the GOP than anyone previously thought, has created a landscape where it is the GOP cackling about the prospects of a larger majority. At this point, that smells suspiciously like spin, but you are also hearing very little from the Democrats about Speaker Pelosi. The consensus among those who analyze these things is a slightly smaller Republican majority in 2013, with the emphasis on "slightly."
However, there is cause for hope, and reason to watch tomorrow night downballot. This has been, without question, one of the least polled set of House elections in recent memory. Very little data, outside of internal polls, even exists. Therefore, the potential for surprises, unlike previous cycles where the cake appeared to be very much baked, is higher than normal. Three pivotal states to watch: New York, Illinois, and California. If Democrats make a legitimate run at things, it will come from there.
The beauty is, even from a polling analyst's perspective, is that the talk about the polls, and if they are right or if they are "skewed" is now over. Among the most tired bromides of American politics is that "the only poll that matters is the one on Election Day." It is not the only poll that matters, but it matters a great deal. And in less than 24 hours, we get to start unraveling the story of Election 2012.
We hope you'll join us here at Daily Kos and Daily Kos Elections to do just that.