In the battle for the Presidency, nothing has been spared scrutiny and criticismâ€¦ even the polls conducted to determine whoâ€™s leading in the minds of voters.Â In the past three months, voters Â have gotten a crash course in arcane polling terminology â€“ systematic error, population skew, confidence intervals, etc. â€“ as Democrat and Republican strategists have battled to convince voters on the other side of the futility of supporting their opponent.
Many adult voters who were around in 1980 recall that the polls for Reagan v. Carter were neck-and-neck â€“ with Carter holding a slight lead â€“ right up to the day of voting.Â But when the final votes were cast, Reagan pulled 50.7% of the vote, compared to Carterâ€™s 41%, an 8.3% victory that translated to 489 Electoral Votes for Reagan vs. 49 for Carterâ€¦Â a 10x thumping. Â (Independent candidate John Anderson captured 6.6% of the vote, and no Electoral Votes.)
It was, in short, a “surprise landslideâ€ť to everyone who was watching the race only through the lens of daily polls.
The problem with daily polls is that 1) they are filled with noise and sampling deviations; 2) getting people to participate who donâ€™t have an agenda of their own is increasingly difficult; and 3) pollsters are very shrewd at getting the data to support whatever conclusion they are after.Â Â As the saying goes, they use data the way a drunk uses a lamppost: for support, instead of illumination.
Here is where PIQscore.com is immensely illuminating, by providing the full, historical â€śmoving pictureâ€ť of voting behavior by state over time, not just unfocused snapshots of daily polls.
PIQscore.com looked at the historical FEC result from elections from 1980-2008 and assigned a Political Inclination Quotient (PIQ) to each state on a scale of 0-to-100: PIQ-0 to PIQ-44 are liberal scores; PIQ-45 to PIQ-55 are moderate; and PIQ 56-100 are conservative.Â All are laid out on a statistical bell curve.
When you see each stateâ€™s PIQ Score, and tallying the Electoral Votes that are likely to be earned by each candidate, you get a great moving picture of how the 2012 Presidential election will shake out.
- Barack Obama will take the LEFT side of the bell curve, with PIQ scores of PIQ-48 and LOWER).Â It delivers 174 solid Electoral Votes from 18 blue states (plus Washington DC.)Â He will also likely pick up another 49 EVs from 5 states with scores of PIQ-48, totaling 223 Electoral Votes.
- Mitt Romney will take the RIGHT side of the bell curve, with PIQ scores of PIQ-53 and HIGHER.Â It delivers 236 solid Electoral Votes (from 26 red states).Â He also likely pick up another 26 EVs from 2 states with score of PIQ-52, totaling 262 Electoral Votes.
- That leaves five states in the middle up-for-grabs, with their PIQ scores between PIQ-49 and PIQ-51â€¦ and their 53 Electoral Votes.Â The swing states are MI (17 EVs), NJ (15 EVs), MO (11 EVs), WV (5 EVs), and NM (5 EVs).Â Â Of these five swing states and their 53 Electoral Votes, Obama will need to win 47 EVs; Romney will only need 8.
The actual state rankings are animated at www.PIQscore.com/statesÂ Â To see a particular state score, type the name of the state in the address bar on the home page… for example, www.PIQscore.com/ohio or www.PIQscore.com/florida