Nate Silver: Presidential Race Nearing a Toss-Up


NYT election forecaster Nate Silver gives Obama a 71% chance of winning the November election, down from 86% a week ago.

Writes Silver:

For the first time since Aug. 28, President Obama is projected to win fewer than 300 electoral votes. And Mr. Obama’s projected margin of victory in the national popular vote — 2.0 percentage points — represents the closest the race has been since June 27.

The forecast model is not quite ready to jump on board with the notion that the race has become a literal toss-up; Mr. Romney will need to maintain his bounce for a few more days, or extend it into high-quality polls of swing states, before we can be surer about that.

But we are ready to conclude that one night in Denver undid most of the advantage Mr. Obama had appeared to gain in September.

Just look at that graph, folks. Let's hope we can starting sending those lines in the opposite direction real soon.


  1. Djeip says

    Depressing, but it’s even more reason to get people out to vote on Nov 6th! No one should think that their vote doesn’t count, especially this election.

  2. Steve in ORD says

    While I’m not the first person to say it, nor will be the last, Obama needs to step up to the plate. He was a disaster in Denver. Perhaps the plan was to be weak the first one, get all of Romney’s talking points out in the air and then in the other debate wipe him up with a wet mop. Either way, if Obama pulls another week, looking down and rubbing his toes in the dirt way of handling a debate then I won’t be surprised that the numbers continue to go in the direction they are going.

  3. Dan says

    It’s frightening that Romney can stand on a stage and shout lies with conviction, and that causes people to want to vote for him. He’s just as much of a liar now as he was at the debate, as he was the day before the debate. i don’t understand how it’s suddenly a good thing.

  4. jakke says

    What the heck is with that graph? It measures the popular opinion but then uses the electoral college as the marker?

    Romney may be catching up in the polls, but we don’t elect by popular vote. Romney has no path to victory because he’s not doing well in the necessary battleground states. I’m not worried here.

  5. Brian in Texas says

    We also need to wait for polling that doesn’t include the Thurs and Fri after the debate. Those 2 days showed a Romney bump, but by Sat and Sun it leveled out. I suspect Romney’s bump is just a sugar high.

  6. HadenoughBS says

    I’m amazed that as on target as the Obama re-election team has been for so long that they let the President “debate” the way he did last Wednesday night. IMHO, Mittens absolutely “won” the first Presidential debate but only on style and presentation – NOT on substance. Therefore, Obama cannot afford to be “presidential” in the next two debates. Instead, he needs to take the fight directly to the lying flip-flopping GOPer candidate. After all, if we’re expected to fight for him, we want to see and hear him fight for us – against the one and only foe that matters: Mittens Romney. It’s time for the polling graph trend lines to reverse themselves and only Obama can make that happen now (hopefully with an able assist from VP Bidens against Ryan tomorrow night).

  7. MarkUs says

    Oh. So dude is interested in keeping a reputation after the explosion after all. Who’da thunk it. He certainly was dragged kicking and screaming, even after UpChuck Todd.

  8. Zach says

    Well, as the gay right-leaning libertarian, I am absolutely overjoyed at this news. Obama’s cratering in the polls and Republican enthusiasm is soaring. I’m looking forward to the VP debate tomorrow.

  9. TerryA says

    I refuse to be inconsolable. Barack Obama STILL has the best chance to win. The economy is moving in the right direction. The unemployment rate is going down. President Obama has a damn good record to run on. And Mitt Romney is a shameless, habitaul liar. Now Romney says that he isn’t for limiting abortion. The man is a congential liar. And people ultimately realize and turn away from shameless, opportunistic liars like Mitt Romney.

  10. Randy says

    By the way Jamie, you may want to look at that graph again. It’s is clearly NOT by popular vote. You should be quite worried, if you’re actually for Obama.

    If you follow the linked article, the graph is in the sidebar to the right (not actually part of the article). You’ll need to enable scripting, if you’ve turned it off.

  11. GregV says

    @Jakke: The implication for the popular vote is only mentioned as a separate point of interest. Nate Silver understands that it is the Electorsl College that counts, which is why he analyzed the results state-by-state.
    I read yesterday that a poll said Romney had pulled ahead in Florida. Florida is a huge prize. If either candidate gets Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan, he will easily win the election… And if it’s Mitt, then we could be stuck with brand new Scalia-style court justices for the next half-century.

  12. KT says

    I sometimes really hate the American public and the news media. One debate – and the whole election has been tossed upsidedown. Hopefully Obama has regrouped and will be prepared to bury Romney in the next two debates.

  13. Dback says

    I appreciate the President exhorting all of us to keep working, not rest, etc.; however, I need him to give a much stronger debate performance next time around. The “Big Bird” thing is cute, but he should be running the ad with Mitt Romney debating himself and all the lies and flip-flopping; Obama should also be running an ad trumpeting the increasing strength of the housing market and the dropping of the unemployment rate. As long as the media is spinning the past week as a “disaster” for Obama (all this, plus Libya fallout, too), it just underlines an (unfair) image that the President if foundering, and Romney thus looks more “Presidential.”

  14. Bingo says

    Jakke: You should check out Silver’s work in detail. He does not use national polls to predict the electoral college. He uses all sorts of polls national and state by state and then weights them based on their past performance and adds in some economic data. The guy is in a totally different league from everyone else and not at all subject to the sort of objection you’re making. He’s worth studying and following.

  15. jamal49 says

    Like I’ve been saying, keep your passports handy. Romney wins and a whole new kinda crazy starts up in America. If you don’t have a passport, I suggest arming yourselves.

  16. Zlick says

    Great quote from I don’t know who: “When Republicans are behind in the polls, they want to kill you. When Democrats are behind in the polls, they want to kill themselves.”

    All the hand-wringing and eyes turned up to the falling sky have likely hurt the president more than his debate performance – which, if you can stand to watch it again – was not the disaster everyone makes it out to be (though it was hardly stellar).

    If Dems just stop kvetching and get back out there and fight, all will be fine. Obama is still ahead in the battle-ground states, and he’s been on fire on the stump. Yes, he needs to bring that to the next two debates. But it’s mostly the ground game, where his campaign has vast superiority over Romney’s.

    But it all comes down to who’s base gets out there to vote. So please let’s have a combination of a stronger candidate and a Democratic constituency that stops crying in their milk at every tiny setback. Sheesh.

  17. anon says

    The graph shows that Obama will win, not that the race is a toss-up. You’d need error bars to see if Romney has the faintest hope of pulling it out. And, clearly, if Romney wins somehow, it would about the closest election in memory.

  18. Redebbm says

    This isn’t in the bag. Gay rights advances. Healthcare reforms. The consumer financial protection bureau. People’s jobs. Basic functioning government are all under threat. The republican party has made it clear how far back they want to go with their agenda. They will throw everyone under the bus in order to cut taxes for the rich, and raise defense spending to levels we have never seen before. Don’t be disillusioned. Vote! Republicans don’t care about LGBT individuals and will roll back every bit of progress we have made, “but i only care about the economy,” good for you moderate to conservative LGBT individual, but the Republican party doesn’t care about you or the economy. Deficits will be ignored, and jobs will be swept under the rug if Republican gain power. Come on guys, stop it with the “both are the same” meme. It’s far from the truth on issues that affect a lot of people we know. Vote!

  19. Michael says

    This is a sad commentary on the poor intellect and memory of the average voter. Romney and Ryan have been shamelessly lying, and few people seem to care. The media has much to blame for this also. Yesterday I saw his flip-flopping on abortion called “refining his position”, truly pathetic.

  20. Helene says

    I feel bad for Bill CLinton who worked so hard to deliver a splendid speech at the Convention while Obama was so unprepared for his first debate. How could he not understand how much was at stake is something that riles me.

  21. Merlin says

    As with most people, I’m absolutely blown away that Romney shouts out lies and suddenly people want to vote for him. Why are people so stupid? It is mystifying. Now, Romney is even more emboldened to tell more lies. Today he said he was never against abortion, and has denied everything he ever said in the past because he sensed that there is no penalty for lying.

    The so-called liberal media is not helping matters by continuing to say that a man who lied aggressively won over a man who told the truth passively. The country will get what it deserves if Romney wins.

  22. Diogenes Arktos says

    “Yesterday I saw his flip-flopping on abortion called ‘refining his position’, truly pathetic.”

    And the Religious Right claims that he hasn’t really changed his uber-pro-life views. At best, he’s just seeming to move towards the center to get independents. Sounds like flip-flopping to me!