Poll Analysis: Obama leads Santorum

ObamaSantorum
100.0% probability of winning 0.0% probability of winning
Mean of 356 electoral votesMean of 182 electoral votes

Several weeks A week and a half ago, former Sen. Rick Santorum surpassed former Gov. Mitt Romney in the national polling to become the presumptive front-runner in the G.O.P. primary contest. In fact, Santorum has led Romney in the past six consecutive polls since February 9th. Santorum has led by double digits in the last two (here and here).

So why am I just now getting around to the first analysis of state head-to-head polls for a match-up with President Barack Obama? In fact, I’ve been ready to go for weeks now. The problem is that there is a scarcity of polling data for Mr. Santorum. It seems pollsters have, until very recently, considered Santorum one of the least likely nominees in what was once a crowded G.O.P. field.

To quantify it, I have one or more polls in 37 states (plus each of Nebraska’s three congressional districts) for Newt Gingrich. But, after throughly scouring the the intertubes for polls, I only find polling for 18 states that match up Obama and Santorum (and no polls for Nebraska’s CDs). I’ve been waiting a couple of weeks for more polling, and the wait has not gone unrewarded. In the past 9 days, 13 of 19 polls have included an Obama–Santorum match-up, some of those polls are state firsts.

What do we do with states for which there is no polling? As described in the FAQ, I average the 2004 and 2008 elections according to Democratic and Republican percentages. The winner wins the state in each of the simulations. What this rule means statistically is that the results are underdispersed—that is, the distribution of electoral votes is narrower (and lumpier) than it would be if we had polling data for the “missing” states. The problem will correct itself as more polling data come in.

Here’s the result for today. A Monte Carlo analysis using the state head-to-head polls gives Obama a victory in each of the 100,000 simulated elections. Obama receives (on average) 349 to Santorum’s 189 electoral votes.

Earlier today, I did similar analyses for Gingrich and Romney:

  • Obama v. Santorum: 349 to 189
  • Obama v. Gingrich: 397 to 141
  • Obama v. Romney: 331 to 207

This summary shows that Santorum performs much better against Obama than Newt Gingrich, but a little worse than Mitt Romney.

Electoral College Map

AlabamaAlaskaArizonaArkansasCaliforniaColoradoConnecticutDelawareFloridaGeorgiaHawaiiIdahoIllinoisIndianaIowaKansasKentuckyLousianaMaineMarylandMassachusettesMichiganMinnesotaMississippiMissouriMontanaNebraskaNevadaNew HampshireNew JerseyNew MexicoNew YorkNorth CarolinaNorth DakotaOhioOklahomaOregonPennsylvaniaRhode IslandSouth CarolinaSouth DakotaTennesseeTexasUtahVermontVirginiaD.C.WashingtonWest VirginiaWisconsinWyoming

Electoral College Map

GeorgiaAlaskaArizonaArkansasCaliforniaColoradoDelawareConnecticutFloridaMississippiAlabamaHawaiiIdahoIllinoisIndianaIowaKansasKentuckyLouisianaMaineMarylandMassachusettsMichiganMinnesotaMissouriMontanaNebraskaNevadaNew HampshireNew JerseyNew MexicoNew YorkNorth CarolinaNorth DakotaOhioOklahomaOregonPennsylvaniaRhode IslandSouth CarolinaSouth DakotaTennesseeTexasUtahVermontVirginiaD.C.WashingtonWest VirginiaWisconsinWyoming

Here is the distribution of electoral votes [FAQ] from the simulations. That’s a pretty lumpy distribution, largely reflecting uncertainty in Iowa, Missouri, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania:

Ten most probable electoral vote outcomes for Obama:

  • 362 electoral votes with a 24.63% probability
  • 347 electoral votes with a 12.24% probability
  • 352 electoral votes with a 10.27% probability
  • 342 electoral votes with a 8.09% probability
  • 368 electoral votes with a 6.37% probability
  • 337 electoral votes with a 5.00% probability
  • 327 electoral votes with a 3.93% probability
  • 332 electoral votes with a 3.59% probability
  • 353 electoral votes with a 2.89% probability
  • 358 electoral votes with a 2.45% probability

After 100,000 simulations:

  • Obama wins 100.0%, Santorum wins 0.0%.
  • Average (SE) EC votes for Obama: 348.7 (13.9)
  • Average (SE) EC votes for Santorum: 189.3 (13.9)
  • Median (95% CI) EC votes for Obama: 348 (317, 368)
  • Median (95% CI) EC votes for Santorum: 190 (170, 221)

Each column of this table shows the electoral vote total aggregated by different criteria for the probability of winning a state (Safe=100%, Strong=90%+, Leans=60%+, Weak=50%+):

ThresholdSafe+ Strong+ Leans+ Weak
Safe Obama232
Strong Obama85317
Leans Obama4545362
Weak Obama000362
Weak Santorum000176
Leans Santorum66176
Strong Santorum38170
Safe Santorum132

This table summarizes results by state. Click on the poll count to see the individual polls included for the state.

00EC#Total%%ObamaSantorum
48VotespollsVotesObamaSantorum% wins% wins
AL90(0)(100)
AK30(0)(100)
AZ111*426 55.9 44.1 95.6 4.4
AR60*(0)(100)
CA5511880 67.8 32.2100.0 0.0
CO90(100)(0)
CT70(100)(0)
DE30(100)(0)
DC30(100)(0)
FL2944904 56.6 43.4100.0 0.0
GA160(0)(100)
HI40(100)(0)
ID40(0)(100)
IL200(100)(0)
IN110(0)(100)
IA61736 47.8 52.2 20.2 79.8
KS60(0)(100)
KY80(0)(100)
LA80(0)(100)
ME40(100)(0)
MD100(100)(0)
MA111453 65.1 34.9100.0 0.0
MI161498 56.2 43.8 97.5 2.5
MN1021585 58.0 42.0100.0 0.0
MS60(0)(100)
MO101530 51.7 48.3 70.9 29.1
MT30(0)(100)
NE20(0)(100)
NE110(0)(100)
NE210(0)(100)
NE310(0)(100)
NV61*481 61.5 38.5100.0 0.0
NH41450 61.6 38.4100.0 0.0
NJ140(100)(0)
NM51460 59.8 40.2 99.8 0.2
NY2921836 64.2 35.8100.0 0.0
NC151989 51.1 48.9 67.5 32.5
ND30(0)(100)
OH1842848 52.1 47.9 94.6 5.4
OK70(0)(100)
OR70(100)(0)
PA201450 52.2 47.8 75.3 24.7
RI40(100)(0)
SC90(0)(100)
SD30(0)(100)
TN110(0)(100)
TX381466 42.1 57.9 0.8 99.2
UT60(0)(100)
VT30(100)(0)
VA1311390 54.5 45.5 99.0 1.0
WA121511 57.3 42.7 99.2 0.8
WV50(0)(100)
WI100(100)(0)
WY30(0)(100)

* An older poll was used (i.e. no recent polls exist).

Details of the methods are given in the FAQ.

The most recent analysis in this match-up can be found from this page.

Comments

  1. 1

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Interestingly, Ricky Sanitarium gets more EVs than The Newt, although that’s academic as it’s obvious Obama will be a 2-term president.

    The EU reached agreement on a Greek bailout deal tonight, which doesn’t solve all of Greece’s problems, but prevents a chaotic default on March 20 that could have pushed the global economy into a worldwide recession. Europe probably will take a short and shallow recession, but the U.S. should keep growing, which will help the incumbent.

    Not that the incumbent needs any help beyond what he’s getting from the Republicans. They can re-elect him all by themselves.

  2. 3

    rhp6033 spews:

    # 2: You are quoting an article which depends upon it’s sources as the Tax Foundation?????

    The Tax Foundation was organized in 1937 to fight against F.D.R’s “New Deal” programs by attacking graduated income taxes. It hoped to starve the New Deal, much like Grover Norquist. The founding members were the heads of the major oil companies and general motors. It’s ideological bent is well known, Paul Krugman (N.Y. Times) referred to it as “not a reliabe source”, and even referred to one press release from that organization as “deliberate fraud”.

    Referencing them is like trying to turn in a college paper on the possibility of life on other planets. by using the National Enquirer as a source.

    It’s even worse that what’s being referenced in the quoted material are paraphrased conclusions, not actual quotes, conclusions, or real numbers.

  3. 4

    bob spews:

    Um, Santorum surpassed Romney about 9 days ago, not ‘several weeks’.

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/152.....-Vote.aspx

    If you go to realclearpolitics and look at the head-to-head page:

    http://www.realclearpolitics.c.....-2912.html

    You’ll note that both PPP and CBS/NYT polls have the gap narrowing significantly over the past month (although CNN/Opinion Research has Obama increasing his lead slightly in this matchup, to be fair).

    I suspect you will be writing a very different post next time you compare Santorum and Obama head-to-head. If the economy DOES improve, Santorum still has a path to criticize Obama over social differences, while Romney’s approach to criticize Obama over economic woes would likely diminish.

    My own thought is that Obama’s likelihood of retaking the White House is something less than 100%, no matter who his opponent might be. Seen gas prices lately?

  4. 6

    bob spews:

    @5 Darryl:

    Done that more than once myself.

    Do you REALLY think FL deserves to be a deep blue state?

  5. 7

    rhp6033 spews:

    # 4: Of course, the big disclaimer in all this is “if the election were held today”. I have no doubt that once a nominee is selected, that quite a few Republicans will grit their teeth, swallow the bile which rose up in their throat, and vote for the guy who’s name is next to the GOP label on the ballot. Most will vote for just about ANYBODY other than Obama.

    But I doubt that’s going to be enough to change the outcome of the election. All the President needs is half of the independents and a significant number of republicans – say 5% or so – to stay home and mutter to themselves, and the President wins any contest against any Republican they care to put up.

    Normally, by this time the party bigwigs would be twisting arms to get Paul and Gingrich to drop out of the race, “for the good of the Party”. But neither Paul nor Gingrich care about the good of the party, they are at this point effectively outsiders who wouldn’t mind seeing the GOP burn down around them than give up the dream that they might be able to win the nomination. Due to age concerns, this is probably the last potential shot either of them has at a Presidential run. I don’t think either one’s ego is small enough to accept a VP nomination.

    In the meantime, a lot of Republicans are looking at their current chances of winning in November, and shaking their heads. They are hoping a “dark horse” enters the race to rescue the party at a brokered convention. Party leaders are making lots of visits and phone calls to Chris Christie, and to a lesser extent to Jeb Bush. If they could bring Ronald Reagan back to life as a zombie, they would try that. Even Sarah Palin seems to be switching into campaign mode. Newt Gingrich probably thinks that at a brokered convention, he can talk his way into the nomination, regardless of the primary results.

    Somebody pass the popcorn, this is going to be entertaining.

  6. 8

    spews:

    Bob,

    “Do you REALLY think FL deserves to be a deep blue state?’

    It isn’t about what I think. There are four polls in Florida taken within the last month that test Obama v. Santorum. Obama takes them all—two of them by double digits.

    At this point, using all current polling in the Florida race, the weight of evidence is that Obama beats Santorum in Florida with a 100% probability.

  7. 9

    spews:

    Seen gas prices lately?

    Interesting.. No President since Jimmy Carter has had more domestic drilling take place on his watch. Yes I’m talking about Obama.

    And Israel’s saber-rattling against Iran with the possible consequences of a shutdown of the Straits of Hormuz is just a dandy treat for an oil futures trader.

  8. 10

    bob spews:

    @9:

    I asked about gas prices, not about drilling. If gas is $4.50 in the Fall, it won’t really mean much if we’re ramping up production. All people will see is prices far, far higher than they were in 2008.

    @8

    Of those four polls, three are covering time periods four weeks ago. An eternity. The fourth (Rasmussen, granted) has BO up by a huge one percentage point.

    @7

    My response would be that your point reinforces the need to consider most strongly polls that survey LIKELY voters (Rasmussen, for instance), rather than ‘adults’ or ‘registered’ voters. If you are hoping for/expecting half of independents to stay home, then why bother to survey the ones that won’t show up?

  9. 11

    bellinghamer spews:

    Gas prices are up despite low demand this winter for one reason..the oil companies are exporting gas to China and Europe. Unbelievable and right under Obama’s nose. Lou Dobbs has nailed this.
    Will Obama win re-election with $4-5/gal gas prices?

  10. 12

    spews:

    10 – LOL! What happened to drill, baby, drill bob?

    We’re drilling just fine aren’t we? We’ll be pollutin’ like crazy too but why piss in anybody’s cornflakes?

    Oh and another thing? We’re consuming less oil too – we’re driving less because we’re all poorer.. And what does that mean – oh yeah we’re actually EXPORTING refined petroleum products because we’re too strapped to consume them ourselves, kind of like the Asian countries we’re so used to buying their junk from at the local Wal-Mart.

    What’s the solution to so many of us being poorer bob? Republicans like the Mittster, Newtie and little Ricky Sanctimonious? Don’t make me laugh!

  11. 13

    spews:

    Gas prices are up despite low demand this winter for one reason..the oil companies are exporting gas to China and Europe.

    WRONG! Demand for gasoline has CRASHED since 2008 and earlier. Sorry with so people in this country (what is it? 40 million?) on freaking food stamps there’s much less incentive to fire up the beater to pick up a candy bar at the mini-mart across the street.

    More people are strolling or riding a skateboard and it’s about freaking time.

  12. 14

    spews:

    Prices are up because supply continues to be tight globally (big oil fields are producing less and less) and war drums are beating against Iran.

  13. 15

    bob spews:

    12, 13, 14:

    The point in the Fall will be that gas prices are up. Way up. Wasn’t it just today that BO said something to effect that good thing we passed the payroll tax cut because we can use it to fill the tanks?

    You have Geithner on record saying he won’t support another extension of the payroll tax cut.

    So in the Fall, you will have the GOP looking at high gas prices, blaming Obama for it, and Obama won’t have another extension of the payroll tax to use to pay for the high price of gas because Geithner says it’s a bad idea.

    And, YLB, crowing about how the US has cut its oil usage because of the poor economy won’t be a winning argument for BO, either.

    The high price of oil and gas, if still there and especially if worse in the Fall, will be bad, bad news for Obama. Especially when it’s broadcast along with that ‘If I don’t have this economy solved in three years…..’ statement he made in early 2009.

    Doesn’t matter why the price of gas is high. It will be hung around the neck of the incumbent.

  14. 16

    rhp6033 spews:

    # 13: Yes, but locally the economy is getting a shot in the arm. Aerospace hiring is rapidly ramping up as of the last few weeks. We tend to look at Boeing numbers in the newspaper, but it’s Boeing’s suppliers how are trying to figure out how to turn out airplanes in record production levels – like 37 or 38 per month of 737′s out of Renton. They are doing a lot more hiring than Boeing itself. And after the last few years, people are jumping at a chance to get a high-paying job, even if it means a long commute (from Everett to Auburn round trip each day, or vice-versa).

  15. 17

    spews:

    15 – this reads strikingly familiar to wishful thinking..

    High gas prices didn’t help McSame and they won’t hurt Obama – not as much as you think anyway..

    People have adjusted. Your analysis is static.

  16. 18

    spews:

    Especially when it’s broadcast along with that ‘If I don’t have this economy solved in three years…..’ statement he made in early 2009.

    Oh but Bob he did “have this economy solved”…

    And here’s the proof:

    http://www.businessweek.com/ne.....onomy.html

    C’mon! Oh those executives will surely get to that little wage problem as soon as all the loot is counted.

  17. 19

    bob spews:

    @17

    This reads strikingly similar to ‘Hey, if there’s nothing you can do about being raped, might as well lean back and try to enjoy it.’

    You know. Adjust. ’cause it’s for Obama.

  18. 20

    spews:

    19 – Raped by who Bob? Who’s been making the record profits?

    Gee whatever happened to “letting the market decide”?

    Last I heard, a gallon of gas costs over 11 dollars in Istanbul and the city is gridlocked with traffic. At least they have a subway there.

  19. 21

    spews:

    Bob @ 10,

    “Of those four polls, three are covering time periods four weeks ago. An eternity. The fourth (Rasmussen, granted) has BO up by a huge one percentage point.”

    Yes…the criterion for inclusion of a poll is that the midpoint of the collection period fall within the last month. (That “current poll” window gets narrower as we approach the election.)

    As it happens, Obama has led Santorum in all seven Florida polls—three of them by double digits. Both Rasmussen polls, the most recent one, and one from last November, had Obama up by only +1%.

    So, while polls from a month ago don’t necessarily capture the immediate dynamics of a Santorum surge, the pattern overall is deep and consistent. The problem with the “immediate dynamics” is that they are frequently highly transient. The polling against Obama seems to improve a bit for the non-Mitt of the week/month. But so far, those “surges” have proven to be quite transient.

    So, will Santorum surpass Obama? Could be. But right now the evidence is that Obama has a solid lead.

    You my be “comforted” to know that without any new polling, Florida will go from dark blue to a lighter shade of blue in about a week as the three older polls “age out” and we are left with just the Rasmussen poll as “current.” That is subject to change with new polling, of course. Stay tuned.

  20. 22

    bob spews:

    @20:

    Why does it matter? After all, people have adjusted to the high price of gas and the profits that go with it.

    So I read recently, anyway.

    Oh, and the high profits? Apple. The company that owns the iPad you’re using right now, probably. The company whose former CEO’s widow was sitting awfully close to the First Lady at SOTU last month, if I recall correctly.

    Oh, and the company whose former CEO, John Scully, sat next to HRC when Bill was presiding a couple of decades ago.

    I guess some high profits are less politically incorrect than others.

  21. 24

    spews:

    22 – What choice do they have Bob? Prices are set “on the world market” whatever the hell that really means.

    Well actually there’s quite a few choices people have.. They can live closer to work. They can walk or pedal a bike more. They can take the public transit.

    They can purchase a more fuel efficient vehicle. I’m sure you get the idea.

    And it’s totally wishful thinking that “adjusting” automatically translates into resentment or enough resentment to matter.

  22. 25

    spews:

    No Bob I’m using a lowly HP/Compaq laptop that I purchased maybe 4 years ago.

    I’m looking to swap in a faster processor that I have languishing in a non-functioning Mac Mini..

    That’ll be my upgrade for the year. Serves my needs just fine as it is actually but what the heck you can never be too thin or have too much bandwidth/processor speed.

  23. 26

    bob spews:

    @24

    Purchase a more fuel-efficient vehicle? Really? That’s your answer? The middle class says it’s under pressure from all sides and your answer is to sell them a Volt?

    What did you say in @12 above, YLB? Oh, yes:

    “What’s the solution to so many of us being poorer bob? Republicans like the Mittster, Newtie and little Ricky Sanctimonious? Don’t make me laugh!”

    I get it. People can’t afford to drive because they can’t afford the gas. They’re ‘strapped’, as you said above.

    Ah, but they can afford to buy a more fuel-efficient car. Maybe they can push it on their skateboard, YLB. Uphill, to where they live on Queen Anne, ’cause they’ve moved into the city to save on gas, that they can’t afford, but somehow they can afford to live in-city.

    Got it.

  24. 27

    spews:

    26 – Calm bob calm…

    Only one of the answers..

    Yeah sure dump the gas guzzling Expedition/Surburban and get a Ford Focus off the rental agency lot for heaven’s sake or E-Bay or Craigslist.

    We’re all apt to make a few dumb purchases in our lifetimes.

  25. 28

    spews:

    And I believe I said people are driving less and they’re “adjusting” by driving smarter, i.e. dumping the gas guzzlers..

    Maybe folks are finding it really difficult to walk away from their underwater mortgages but somehow dumping a gas guzzler doesn’t seem as much of a challenge to me.

  26. 30

    bob spews:

    @29

    Yet another intelligent addition to the discourse by Rujax. Had an original thought, lately?

    Didn’t think so.