President Barack Obama should win a second term after squeaking out narrow wins in a number of key swing states, according to the final presidential polls released on Sunday.
Polls by the Pew Research Center, NBC/Wall Street Journal, CNN/ORC International and YouGov show the president with enough of a narrow but significant lead over Republican challenger Mitt Romney to put him over the 270 electoral votes needed for victory.
The Rasmussen Reports nationwide poll for Nov. 5 shows Romney with a slender one percentage point lead over Obama, with 49 percent compared to 48 percent.
However, the Rasmussen Reports Electoral College Map Projections indicate that Obama is certain of taking 237 Electoral College Votes, whereas Romney only has 206 guaranteed. That means eight states worth 95 Electoral College Votes will decide who enters the White House after Tuesday’s election results are announced.
The eight key states, according to the latest Rasmussen Reports polls, are Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin.
The latest polls have also shown that Obama is leading among those in the critical swing states who have already cast their votes, however, Romney leads among those labeled as likely to vote.
The sheer volume of data tells us that Obama’s leads in the tipping point states like Ohio and Nevada are not a matter of random chance, and there are no signs of any late breaks to Romney. If anything, the latest national polls appear to indicate a slight uptick in Obama’s favor.
The only real remaining question is whether the final polling averages will prove to be accurate or whether some systematic error in the swing state surveys is concealing a hidden Romney advantage that will reveal itself when all the votes are actually counted.
For much of the last three weeks, the national popular vote estimate produced by the HuffPost Pollster tracking model has been a near tie, with razor-thin margins favoring Romney by a half a percentage point or less. The national popular vote estimate now favors Obama by 1.1 percentage points (47.9 to 46.8), the largest Obama margin since before the first debate in early October.
Given 82 new national and statewide surveys entered over the weekend, including the massive new 36,472-interview YouGov national internet survey, the model now reports with 91 percent confidence that the slim Obama national lead is real. When we factor in the potential for error observed in past national polling, however, the probability of an Obama lead in the national popular vote drops to 69 percent.
Ultimately, however, the race for president will be decided in the contests for Electoral College votes in the 50 states and the District of Columbia, and on that score Obama’s advantages are holding.
Of the 10 new surveys released in Ohio since Friday, all but one show nominal, single-digit Obama leads, except for one automated Rasmussen Reports poll indicating a tie. The Pollster tracking model, as of this writing, gives Obama an Ohio lead of over 3 percentage points (49.1 to 45.7 percent).
The weekend’s new surveys narrowed Obama’s margin slightly in Iowa. The most favorable result was a five-point Obama lead over Romney (47 to 42 percent) on the Des Moines Register/Selzer & Company survey, but three others showed closer margins.
Obama’s lead in Iowa combines with three- to four-percentage-point advantages in Wisconsin, Nevada and Ohio to give Obama an Electoral College lead. Victories in these four states plus the others where Obama leads by larger margins would net him 277 electoral votes, seven more than needed for victory.
The Pollster model also gives Obama narrower advantages in New Hampshire, Virginia and Colorado. Victories in these three states would bring the president’s electoral vote total to 303 to Romney’s 235.
The surveys show Romney enjoying a slim lead in Florida, but with a more substantial advantage in North Carolina.