While the presidential candidates backed off the campaign trail Saturday to prep for their last debate, the race remained a dead heat, with poll numbers reconfirming that President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are in a dogfight to woo some of the major swing states before the election next month.
The Democratic panic that broke out after the lack of movement in a Gallup poll after Obama appeared to win the second presidential debate this week appears to have been overblown. Statistics guru Nate Silver of the New York Times predicts that Obama is still favored to win the election mostly because of his numbers in the major swing states. In most of them, he is still up on Romney, even after the GOP candidate's wave of momentum folwing the first debate.
Part of the reason for Romney’s favorability rating in Gallup's national tracking polls is his overwhelming lead in the South. Saturday's Gallup poll was Romney 51, Obama 45, unchanged form Friday. It was a seven-day average, with about half the survey taken after the second debate.
Silver wrote that despite Romney's six-point lead in the Gallup numbers, he isn’t necessarily closer to a victory in November because of his relative difficulty in the swing states. On the latest polls Saturday, Obama led in Ohio, Wisconsin and Colorado by three percentage points, according to Electoral-Vote.com. Obama was also ahead by four in Nevada while Romney looked increasingly likely to take North Carolina’s 15 electoral votes.
Still up in the air is how Virginians will cast their votes. Talking Points Memo reported that a Democratic-leaning poll credited Obama with a two-point lead but the incumbent is facing a high negative approval rating and an increasingly popular Romney.
The New York Times reported that the national popular voting numbers currently skew 50 percent in favor of Obama and 48.9 percent for Romney. On Saturday the Democrat was listed at a 70.7 percent chance to take Ohio, a number that could be devastating to Romney’s hopes.
Yahoo reported that losing in Ohio would make it almost impossible for Romney to win. (No Republican has ever been elected without it.) To make up for Ohio’s lost electoral votes Romney would have to win almost every other electoral vote up for grabs, a feat that looks increasingly unlikely in the wake of Saturday’s poll numbers.
Earlier this week Major Garrett of the National Journal wrote that the presidential race looks to be boiling down to four states: Ohio, Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada -- all of whch Obama carried in 2008. Along with the aforementioned leads in Ohio and Nevada, Obama also looks like he could be poised to take Iowa (where he has a 66.1 percent chance of winning) and New Hampshire (62.8 percent), despite some recent polls showing Romney ahead there.