Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Ohio Early Voting Continues to Favor Obama Heavily

With Ohio becoming such a pivotal state in the now very tight race for President, numerous organizations are conducting polling of Buckeye state voters.  Ohio has early voting, and Ohio voters have been casting ballots now for several weeks. 

Many of the polls in Ohio report data on the preferences of those early voters.  We also have a pretty extensive archive of polls with similar data from the 2008 race.  So what can we conclude, so far?

First off, the early claim by Romney's campaign that they were running neck and neck with Obama in early voting clearly does not hold up to scrutiny.  We now have data from more than a dozen polls (all listed in reverse chronological order below) in Ohio, every one of which shows Obama with a significant lead over Romney among early voters, ranging from a high of 76%-24% to a low of 52%-46%.

Moreover, the margin of Obama's lead has not changed significantly as the number of early voters has increased over time.  For example, Survey USA has conducted four polls in Ohio during October.  In the first, Obama was ahead among early voters by 59%-39%; in the second it was 57%-38%; in the third it was 58%-39%, and in the most recent it was 56%-40%.

The most recent polls suggest that between a quarter and a third of Ohio likely voters have already gone to the polls, so Romney will have his work cut out for him come election day to make up that deficit.  In seeing how likely that is, it is instructive to look at the 2008 data.  When averaging the polls, it does appear that Obama's 2012 advantage among early voters is about 4 points lower than in 2008.  Since Obama won by 4% in 2008, this could be a very close race.  However, it appears that a greater percentage of voters are voting early this time around, so Romney has a smaller base to use on election day to climb back in it.

Finally, we can do a little head-to-head comparisons between 2008 and 2012 with polls taken by the same organizations.

Survey USA conducted polls in 2008 and 2012 that were concluded eight days before the election. In 2008, 22% of it's sample had already voted, favoring Obama by 56%-39% over McCain.  In 2012, 25% of the sample had already voted, favoring Obama by 56%-40% over Romney--basically no difference.

Likewise, Public Policy Polling conducted polls in 2008 and 2012 that were concluded about a week before the election.  In 2008, 30% of it's sample had voted, going for Obama by 65%-34% over McCain.  In 2012, 33% had already voted, favoring Obama by a margin of 62%-35% over Romney.

We wish we had some data from 2008 from Rasmussen to compare to it's 2012 polls. However, even in 2012 alone, Rasmussen appears inconsistent.  On Oct. 25, it reported that 35% of it's sample had already voted, giving Obama the edge by 52%-46% over Romney--the smallest margin in any Ohio poll so far.  But three days later, Rasmussen reported another Ohio poll.  This time, 32% had already voted, but Obama's margin was 62%-36%--a big swing from three days earlier.  So, which Rasmussen poll to believe?

Obviously, both campaigns are in high gear in Ohio right now.  But time is running out, as many Buckeye voters have already cast their lot.  It's pretty clear that Romney's campaign will have to get it's voters out on election day to catch up.  That's still quite possible, but for now Obama retains an edge.


Note:  As of today, we have 17 polls from Ohio with early voting data. We compared the average of those polls to the average of all similar polls from Ohio in 2008. While Obama, on average, has a big lead in the early voting in Ohio this time around (average of 59%-37%), his lead in 2008 was even bigger, at 60.5%-34% over McCain. 

Oct. 26-29: Survey USA--25% already voted
Obama 56%
Romney 40%

Oct. 29-30: Public Policy Polling--33% already voted
Obama 62%
Romney 35%
Oct. 29-30--CBS/Quinnipiac--doesn't say what % of survey already voted
Obama 60%
Romney 34%

Oct. 28: Rasmussen--32% already voted
Obama 62%
Romney 36%
Note: Not sure how to square this result with the Rasmussen poll just three days earlier!!

Oct. 25: Rasmussen--35% already voted
Obama 52%
Romney 46%

Oct. 23-25--ARG--28% already voted
Obama 55%
Romney 44%

Oct. 23-25: Purple Strategies--26% already voted
Obama 58%
Romney 32%

Oct. 25: CNN--59% EXPECT to vote early, no breakdown beyond that.
Obama 59%
Romney 39%

Oct. 23: Rasmussen--31% already voted
Obama 53%
Romney 43%

Oct. 22-23: Time--20% already voted
Obama 60%

Romney 30%


Oct. 20-22: Survey USA--26% already voted
Obama 58%
Romney 39%

Oct. 21: Suffolk Univ.--20% already voted
Obama 54%
Romney 41%

Oct. 21: CBS News--20% already voted
Obama 54%
Romney 39%


Oct. 18-20: Public Policy Polling--21% already voted
Obama 66%
Romney 34%

Oct. 16: Survey USA--18% already voted
Obama 57%
Romney 38%

Oct. 12-13. Public Policy Polling--19% already voted.
Obama 76%
Romney 24%

Oct. 5-8. Survey USA--11% of sample had already voted.
Obama 59%
Romney 39%

Monday, October 29, 2012

Storm surge potential for Hurricane Sandy likely to flood NYC subway system

In Landstrike, my fictional version of a major hurricane striking New York City, one of the more devastating effects of the storm was flooding of the NYC subway system due to storm surge up the Hudson River.

Fictional hurricane Nicole in Landstrike was predicated on a worst case scenario for New York--a strong hurricane striking just south of the city, thereby forcing the greatest storm surge up the Hudson River.

It now appears that Hurricane Sandy may bring that disastrous scenario to real life.  Here's what meteoroligist Jeff Masters had to say earlier today about the storm surge potential:

"This evening, as the core of Sandy moves ashore, the storm will carry with it a gigantic bulge of water that will raise waters levels to the highest storm tides ever seen in over a century of record keeping, along much of the coastline of New Jersey and New York. The peak danger will be between 7 pm - 10 pm, when storm surge rides in on top of the high tide. The full moon is today, which means astronomical high tide will be about 5% higher than the average high tide for the month, adding another 2 - 3" to water levels. This morning's 9:30 am EDT H*Wind analysis from NOAA's Hurricane Research Division put the destructive potential of Sandy's winds at a modest 2.9 on a scale of 0 to 6. However, the destructive potential of the storm surge was record high: 5.8 on a scale of 0 to 6. This is a higher destructive potential than any hurricane observed since 1969, including Category 5 storms like Katrina, Rita, Wilma, Camille, and Andrew. The previous highest destructive potential for storm surge was 5.6 on a scale of 0 to 6, set during Hurricane Isabel of 2003. Sandy's storm surge will be capable of overtopping the flood walls in Manhattan, which are only five feet above mean sea level. On August 28, 2011, Tropical Storm Irene brought a storm surge of 4.13' and a storm tide of 9.5' above MLLW to Battery Park on the south side of Manhattan. The waters poured over the flood walls into Lower Manhattan, but came 8 - 12" shy of being able to flood the New York City subway system. According to the latest storm surge forecast for NYC from NHC, Sandy's storm surge is expected to be 10 - 12' above MLLW. Since a storm tide of 10.5' is needed to flood the subway system, it appears likely that portions of the NYC subway system will flood. The record highest storm tide at The Battery was 10.5', set on September 15, 1960, during Hurricane Donna."

We suspect that subway flooding is only part of the story, as there are many low lying areas of NYC and its surrounding communities along the Hudson River.  We don't think it will be quite the magnitude of Landstrike, which was a more powerful and concentrated storm than Sandy, but we do think the coming disaster will cost billions and have long-lingering effects.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Ohio Early Voting Favors Obama

Note:  For more up to date info on Ohio (with over a dozen polls) and other states, see our more comprehensive post, updated daily, Poll Results for Early Voters.

If you're wondering why Republicans have been so keen to shut down early voting in Ohio, just look at the data.  So far we've found two polls that include early voting in their data.  In both, Obama has a commanding lead among those who have already voted:

Survey USA did a poll on Oct. 5-8.  In its sample, 11% of respondents said they'd already voted.  Of those, 59% voted for Obama, 39% for Romney.

Public Policy Polling, which tends to lean Democratic, conducted a survey on Oct. 12-13.  In its sample, 19% said they'd already voted.  Of those, 76% were for Obama, 24% for Romney.

And most recently, Survey USA conducted a poll on Oct. 16, in which 18% of the sample had already voted, with a 57-38 split in favor of Obama.

This is no surprise.  At about this point in the 2008 election, Survey USA reported that 12% had voted, and that they had gone 57% for Obama and 40% for McCain.  Ultimately, Obama comfortably carried Ohio in 2008, wining 51%-47%.

In the 2008 election cycle, we collected data from more than 80 polls that included information on early voting, and posted it HERE

We will look at this year's polls from here on out and begin posting anything interesting.  Early voting is already on quite a pace in Ohio, North Carolina, Iowa and Maine according to early voting expert Michael McDonald, a professor at George Mason University, (see here), so the results should be interesting.

There Ought To Be MORE Undecided Voters

To hear the election pundits, it's a surprise that there are still voters out there who, so close to the presidential election, remain undecided.  As in, what more will these voters learn in the next few days and why haven't they already made up their minds?

The real surprise, however, is that there aren't MORE undecided voters.  After all, both candidates are pretty disappointing, and neither has a particularly realistic vision of what can be done in the next four years.

Perhaps if we had more undecided voters, the quality of discourse in debates and campaign appearances would be greater.

To be sure, the Curmudgeon will be voting for Obama.  Not because we think he's done a great job in his four years in office, but because he is decidedly better than the alternative.  We probably would have been okay with the moderate Mitt Romney who served as governor of Massachusetts, but that Mitt disappeared in the bowels of the Republican primaries and is not likely to return, beholden as he is to the GOP right.  In any event, Mitt's prescription for restoring the economy is a true disaster--it really is more of what got us into the problem to begin with.  Obama is no Bill Clinton, but at least he'll stalemate a largely Republican Congress.

Let's take last night's debate as an example of why there should be more undecided voters.  Face it, neither candidate answered the questions.  Obama was asked what he would do about $4 a gallan gas, and proceeded to brag about increased domestic production of oil and gas, which is a result of the prior administration's policies.  But that has not reduced gas prices--and it won't. 

Our guess is that voters don't want to hear that government policies have little to do with the price of gas.  They also have short memories.  Gas was at $4 a gallon near the end of the Bush administration.  Then it plummeted to less than $2 a gallon at the beginning of the Obama administration because the economy tanked--not because of any policy of Obama or Bush.  It is now BACK to $4 a gallon because DEMAND has recovered (in line with the economic recovery that Romney says hasn't occurred).

Romney didn't have anything better to say.  He would increase domestic production, but there's not much more increase to be had, and in any event oil is a fungible global commodity, the price of which depends on global demand.

Another question went to Romney, concerning his tax plan.  Romney says he will lower tax rates, but offset that with elimination of deductions and credits.  That is certainly feasible, but Romney truly has never said which deductions and credits he would eliminate.  The questioner asked quite specifically about certain deductions--mortgage, charitable, childcare, education.  Of course, Romney completely dodged the question. 

Romney threw out there that perhaps one way to do it would be to allow a total deduction of a limited amount that could be spread among whatever deductions apply to you.  Huh??  When has he EVER said that was part of his plan before?  And if it is, let's have the DETAILS.  Our bet is that some taxpayers would be winners in that, and some losers, but you'd have no way of knowing under his "plan"--more like a vague sketch.

In any event, the fundamental premise of Romney's tax sketch is fatally flawed.  He says that by lowering rates, we will create jobs because small businesses will have more money to do so.  WHAT?  That is not economics.  Business owners don't create jobs because they have more money--that's absurd.  They create more jobs because demand for their products and services have increased to the point that they MUST add jobs.  No business owner wants to add employees just for the sake of it.  If anything, they want to eliminate employees and operate more efficiently.  The goal of business is to make money, not create jobs.

Now, if you want to create jobs with government policy, the best way to do so is to stimulate demand for goods and services.  With tax policy, that can be done by reducing taxes for the the largest number of taxpayers, putting more spending money in their pockets.  That was in large part the theory of the stimulus.  But since--as Romney has pointed out--47% of Americans pay no income taxes, reducing income taxes won't help about half the people to demand anything else.  Further, since income tax payments are concentrated in the wealthiest Americans, reducing income taxes puts money disproportionately into the pockets of the wealthy, who already have more than enough discretionary income to buy whatever they want.  In other words, it does not lead to economic stimulus.

In short, Romney's tax sketch is not likely to create many jobs.  On the other hand, Obama doesn't have room, given the current deficit situation, to do much either.  And neither candidate spoke about the real elephant in the room:  the fiscal cliff.

We could go on and on--both candidates dodged gun control, Romney lied about his positions on health care and Obama evaded on Libya.  The fact of the matter is that the President can only do so much in our deliberately divided government, with all its "checks and balances."  Congress is gridlocked, and will remain so.  The President can be a cheerleader, but that's about it, other than on foreign policy.  That, more than anything else, probably explains why this election seems more likely to be decided on style and emotional issues (such as contraception coverage) than substance.

As for you remaining undecided voters--good for you, you may be the only sane people in our electorate!