Nate Silver: Obama Has 86 Percent Chance of Winning


NYT number-cruncher Nate Silver says national and state polls on Sunday are coming into agreement with one another as we round the final curve of the 2012 presidential horse race, and showing a marginal advantage for Obama not unlike that which he enjoyed before his first disastrous debate against Mitt Romney.

Silver also looks at the popular vote and its relationship to the electoral vote:

Mr. Obama would be almost certain to win the Electoral College if he won the popular vote by a percentage point or so.

Instead, the model estimates that Mr. Romney would need to win the national popular vote by about one percentage point to avert a tossup, or a loss, in the Electoral College. A tied popular vote, as Mr. Romney’s better national surveys now indicate, would likely yield an unhappy outcome for him.

Mr. Romney would not be in much danger of losing the Electoral College if he won the popular vote by more than about 1.5 percentage points. For example, he would be about a 95 percent favorite in the Electoral College if he won the popular vote by two percentage points, according to the forecast model.

But with national polls now showing a slight edge for Mr. Obama, these outcomes have become less likely. If Mr. Romney wins the popular vote, it may be only barely, and that might not be enough for him to win the Electoral College.

State and National Polls Come Into Better Alignment [fivethirtyeight]

CNN says the race is a dead heat. "Forty-nine percent of likely voters questioned say they support the president, with an equal amount saying they back the former Massachusetts governor. The poll is the fourth national non-partisan, live operator survey released Sunday to indicate the battle for the presidency either a dead heat or virtually tied. A Politico/George Washington University survey has it tied at 48%; an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll indicates Obama at 48% and Romney at 47%; and the latest ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll puts Obama at 49% and Romney at 48%."


  1. Brian in Texas says

    I’m still a little worried about turnout and enthusiasm or lack there of in the swing states. Although, the early voting numbers look really good for The President.

  2. Quest says

    Didn’t Nate Silver predict that Harry Reid had the same odds of losing his senate seat to Sharon Angle? I don’t know why people are acting like Silver is some sort of prophet… He has been wrong before!

  3. MarkUs says

    “Instead, the model estimates that Mr. Romney would need to win the national popular vote by about one percentage point to avert a tossup, or a loss, in the Electoral College. A tied popular vote, as Mr. Romney’s better national surveys now indicate, would likely yield an unhappy outcome…..”

    In case you’re too thick to have noticed, the excuses why he will be so famously wrong are being released in bits and pieces.

  4. MarkUs says

    Once a dailyKos hack, always one. Jon Stewart will have him on his show and they’ll have a funny skit like, say, Nate getting a good spanking or piloting the Hindenburg.

  5. melvin says

    I agree with Matt Taibbi that polls should be banned. But then, like who knows how many others, I don’t answer unknown callers and refuse to participate in polls.

    The media has a great interest in pretending that it is a virtual tie right to the end; they are making millions off the ads and eyeballs.

  6. simon says

    It is not just Nate Silver. The commentators on ABC stephanopoulos show also projected almost the same results. Out of 5 commentators, only George Will projected a Romney’s win. That translates into a 20% chance. The trolls here certainly will complain that the panel is liberal and biased.

  7. Lucas H says

    I’m feeling optimistic, but I’m still mentally prepping myself for (at least) 4 years under an extremely religious, conservative, jack@$$ President just in case.

  8. MikeH says

    Our press is really a joke now. Controlled by corporate conglomerates who push a particular point of view… what is particularly silly is they are the ones that are paying for the polls, but then twist them. So now Nate Silver is crunching the numbers and reporting what they are saying, and the media freaks out because that isn’t following their narrative. Whatever, we’ll see who is right tomorrow…

  9. Caliban says

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I am SO ready for this whole thing to be over!

    The constant GOOD NEWS/BAD NEWS up/down yin/yang push/pull of constant political news is exhausting. If nothing else voters in “swing-states” really got a taste of how bad the “citizens united” SCOTUS decision is, with literally thousands of ads put out by Super-Pacs, or “monied interests” as they used to be called.

    If Romney wins and appoints one or more Supreme Court Justices it’s a terrible set-back, not just for gay rights but many other issues. It’s enough to make an atheist pray.

  10. Sanderson says

    I tend to agree with you, MikeH, except that Nate Silver crunches the numbers for the New York Times. That said, he has no interest in being wrong. And he has said, time and time again, that his predictions rely on polls. If the polls are wrong, then he will be wrong. I continue to be surprised by the criticism heaped on him when he explains in great detail his methodology. I fail to see how it would make sense for him to give Obama anything but an 86% chance of winning. Obama has led in nearly every poll taken in Ohio in the last month. Without Ohio, Mitt’s road to the White House is very, very difficult. That alone should give the President a shot at winning. The only upset is if the people polled as likely voters aren’t actually likely voters. But that’s the risk with every poll. All of this is factored into Nate Silver’s calculations. Florida has tightened, North Carolina has tightened, Wisconsin and Iowa are both polling outside the margin of error for Obama, Virginia has a slight lean towards Obama, and Obama is now leading in more national polls than the isn’t leading in. I fail to see how anyone can say Nate Silver is crazy for predicting an Obama victory. If he’s wrong, so was everyone else.

  11. simon says

    I suppose the Romney’s staff are rational human beings. They got their own internal polls that are not disclosed. It is for their own interest to analyse the polls rationally and plan their next step. That is the only way they can affect the outcomes.

  12. We are Here says

    “I’m still a little worried about turnout and enthusiasm”

    I strongly suspect that all of the misogyny by the Republicans is going to highly motivate women to vote, as will the overt racism. The Republicans have basically presented themselves as callous about rape, if not openly pro-rape. I think that will have a real impact.

  13. Javier says

    Obama will not have a problem carrying Northern VA, but their are several other parts of VA that will be difficult for him. One more day, Obama make my day! Everyone please vote.

  14. jamal49 says

    It won’t even be close. I do want this whole thing to be over, though. I get off work at 7:00AM tomorrow morning. It’s vote and then Supernatural reruns and some gwip. Enough already!

  15. sooty says

    To all those saying that a Romney win will prove Nate Silver wrong:

    At 86% to 14%, he is saying that the odds of Romney winning are approximately the same as Romney coming up with a six in a single roll of a standard 6-sided die. If someone said that that was unlikely, and then someone rolled a six, would you say the first person was proved wrong? Spectacularly so?

  16. Diogenes Arktos says

    @Caliban: “It’s enough to make an atheist pray.” Just like your comments on the Romney blimp. LOL

    @Simon: Regardless of what their internal polls indicate, the campaign shall go full steam forward ignoring the truth so as not to disappoint their supporters.

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