The Nov. 6 elections for President and Congress have one thing in common: They’re tight races across the board, and where some incumbents of either party might be expected to have comfortable leads, polling numbers show most key races in statistical dead heats.
Analysts now generally agree former front-burner issues – foreign policy, social issues such as abortion rights, and immigration – are quickly moving to the background as most voters this week tell pollsters their priorities in this election are mostly the “personal” economic issues, including jobs, taxes and health care costs.
The presidential contest has also narrowed based on the same focus on the economy, and as of Oct. 26, 2012, of six national public opinion polls among likely voters, Mitt Romney leads narrowly in five, and is tied with President Obama in the sixth.
The Electoral College count – it takes 270 votes to win – shows Romney able to tentatively claim 206 votes, with Obama taking 201, leaving 131 electoral votes in play. In the key presidential election states – Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Wisconsin, Virginia, North Carolina, Iowa and Nevada – Romney and Obama are effectively tied, and the leads enjoyed by Obama in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Iowa are narrowing.
In key Senate races in Indiana, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Virginia, Massachusetts, Montana and Nevada, almost all are statistical tie races at this point, with leads bouncing weekly and sometimes daily between contenders.
Even strong incumbents in Ohio and Pennsylvania have seen fairly comfortable margins dwindle in the last 14 days, putting both states’ Senate seats in play, and forcing the national parties to dump millions more in TV and radio advertising into those states.
In ag states, the inability of Congress to pass a Farm Bill has played a larger role than expected, with Democrats largely able to leverage the lack of omnibus farm legislation to their favor. In the House, a similar dynamic is playing out. According to polling analysts, it appears the House will remain in GOP control, but the majority may shrink by 2-3 seats.
In the Senate, election analyst Charlie Cook, National Journal, predicts a 2-4 seat gain by Republicans, while other pollsters see little change in Democrat control of the Senate. If the GOP picks up all four seats, the Republicans will control the Senate by a one-seat margin.