National polls show the presidential race essentially tied. In the swing states, it's a mixed picture: Mitt Romney has the upper hand in Florida, the two are in a dead heat in Virginia, and President Obama is ahead in New Hampshire and Ohio. But that still means Romney's the underdog, because just winning Virginia and Florida won't get him to 270 electoral votes. Here's our guide to today's polls and why they matter.
Findings: Let's take a stop over at Virginia: an NBC News poll has Obama up by 1 point and a Rasmussen poll has Romney up by 2. Pollster: NBC News/ Wall Street Journal/ Marist, Rasmussen Methodology: For NBC/WSJ/Marist: Poll of 1,165 likely voters November 1 through 2. For Rasmussen: Automated poll of 750 likely voters November 4. Why it matters: According to the FiveThirtyEight model and Micah Cohen, Virginia is "one of the closest states." Based on Cohen's assessment, if Romney does even a little better than what his polling predicts then the state tips away from Obama, who is favored in that model to win by a small margin. Meanwhile, Nate Cohn of The New Republic explains: "Before Ohio reclaimed its spot at the center of the electoral map, there was a strong case that Virginia was positioned to be the pivotal state of the 2012 election." The results we get today don't make things any clearer and neither does the Real Clear Politics average, which gives Obama a .3 point lead. Caveat: Rasmussen leans Republican.
Findings: In Ohio, the state everyone's focused on, Obama leads Romney by 1.5 points in the University of Cincinnati's Ohio poll and is tied in the Rasmussen poll. But Obama is up by 5 points in a SurveyUSA poll. Pollster: University of Cincinnati Ohio Poll, Rasmussen, SurveyUSA Methodology: For Ohio Poll: Poll of 901 probable voters October 31 through November 4. For Rasmussen: Automated poll of 750 likely voters in Ohio November 4. For SurveyUSA: Poll of 803 likely and actual voters November 1 through 4. Why it matters: Ohio's so the focal point of this campaign that Romney is making a last ditch appearance there tomorrow. These polls indicate that it's a really close race, but Obama has the edge. A Dispatch poll out yesterday put Obama up by 2 points (still within the margin of error) and the Democratic-leaning PPP put him up by 5. Romney has led just a single one of the last 30 polls of Ohio. Caveat: Same as above. Also, the Real Clear Politics average makes Obama's lead look a little more comfortable: he's up by 3.
Findings: Swinging by to another swing state the WMUR Granite State Poll has Obama up by 5 in New Hampshire, but ARG has the presidential race tied. Pollster: WMUR Granite State Poll by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, ARG Methodology: For Granite State: Landline and cell phone poll of 789 likely voters November 1 through 4. For ARG: Poll of 600 likely voters November 2 through 4. Why it matters: FiveThirtyEight gives this one to Obama, but as CNN's Ashley Killough points out, it is definitely not as comfortable for Obama as it was four years ago when he beat McCain by nearly 10 points. Romney also has a kind of home town advantage here—he has a vacation house. Meanwhile, not all the polls make this race quite as tight as ARG indicates: a New England College poll has Obama up by 4. Caveat: RCP has Obama somewhere in the middle of the Granite State Poll and the ARG poll: he's up by two.
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Findings: In Florida, there's a divergence between state newspaper polls and national ones. In a Times-Union/ InsiderAdvantage poll, Romney has a 5-point lead over Obama in Florida. It comes after a Tampa Bay Times/ Bay News 9/ Miami Herald poll gives the Republican a 6-point lead. But Public Policy Polling deems the race "too close to call" with Obama up by just 1 point, while in Obama is up by 2 points in an NBC News/ WSJ/ Marist poll. Pollster: Times-Union/ InsiderAdvantage, Mason-Dixon for Tampa Bay Times/ Bay News 9/ Miami Herald, PPP, NBC News/ WSJ/ Marist Methodology: For Times-Union/ InsiderAdvantage: Poll of 437 likely voters November 4. For Tampa Bay Times: Poll of 800 likely voters October 30 through November 1. For PPP: Automated poll of 955 likely voters November 3 through 4. For NBC News: Poll of 1,545 likely voters October 30 through November 1. Why it matters: While the other states we've looked at today have made the race seem either tied or slightly in Obama's corner, this one looks more like either tied or slightly in Romney's corner. Caveat: Though he had two fairly substantial leads, the RCP average only gives Romney the 1.8 point advantage in the state.
Findings: Gallup and Rasmussen have Romney up by 1 point over Obama nationwide, while Monmouth, CNN/ ORC International, and Politico/ GWU show the presidential race tied. NBC News/ WSJ has Obama up by 1 point, and ABC News/ Washington Post and Pew have Obama up by 3 points.
Pollster: Gallup, Rasmussen, Monmouth, CNN/ORC International, Politico/GWU, NBC News/WSJ, ABC News/ Washington Post, Pew Why it matters: Here you go, the pollsters' final glimpses as to what will happen tomorrow, and really it's not clear. Gallup has made the race significantly tighter since their last pre-Sandy poll and Pew also indicates a bounce for Obama. That said, everything else indicates a true toss-up. Caveat: We should get a better sense of what this all means tomorrow. Election Day. It's here.