By Jim Geraghty, October 26, 2012
Barring some dramatic change in the final ten days or so, Mitt Romney will win the popular vote in the 2012 presidential election.
In the 22 national head-to-head polls with Romney conducted in the month of October, Obama has hit 50 percent once, 49 percent four times, 48 percent three times, 47 percent eight times, 46 percent once, and 45 percent five times. (He hasn’t hit 48 percent in a national poll since October 20.) Mind you, in most of these polls Obama has trailed narrowly, with Romney at 48 to 50 percent, and in a few, he’s led Romney, with the GOP challenger at 45 percent or so. But the polling this month points to a strikingly consistent percentage of support for an incumbent president.
Not only is Obama’s percentage in the RealClearPolitics average 47 percent, he’s at 47 percent in four tracking polls: Rasmussen, ABC News/Washington Post, Gallup, and IBD/TIPP. It is not merely significant that Obama is likely at 47 percent at this moment, it’s that he’s been around 47 percent for most of the month – with debates, new attack ad barrages on both sides, etc. He’s around 47 percent in polls with many remaining undecideds and few remaining undecideds.
We can debate whether those remaining undecideds, ranging from 3 to 8 percent in most of these polls, will break heavily for the challenger. In 2004, George W. Bush and John Kerry split the remaining undecideds roughly evenly. But the one scenario that political scientists deem virtually impossible is one where undecideds who have declined to support the incumbent all year suddenly break heavily in favor of him. For most of the remaining undecideds, the choice is between voting for the challenger and staying home.