Don't Be Surprised if It's Pennsylvania
There's a serious flaw in all of the polls which is misrepresenting the current state of the presidential race. As Dick Morris has pointed out, the pollsters all assume the demographic turnout will be the same as it was in 2008. There are many reasons why this is simply not going to happen. Many African-American preachers have already indicated that Obama hasn't done anything for black people and that his views on gay marriage do not match their own. They will not be lining up the busses to take their parishioners to the polls.
Let's see what this means. At this point, it is fairly well predicted that if Romney takes Pennsylvania, he takes the election.
This seems clear from looking at RealClearPolitics' current calculations. Giving Romney Colorado, North Carolina, Iowa, and Florida, which is not unreasonable, Romney needs only 26 more electoral votes. If you give him Virginia, where he is slightly ahead, he needs 13. He can do this with Ohio. He can do this with Wisconsin and New Hampshire. He can do this with Pennsylvania. Few people believe he will win Pennsylvania, where he is trailing by 5% in some polls. (Susquehanna Polling -- which is very accurate in Pennsylvania -- did a poll October 18 showing Romney up by 4%. For some reason, RealClearPolitics is using its October 4 poll showing Obama ahead by 2%.) In 2008, in Philadelphia, the mother lode for Democratic votes and a city with a majority-African-American population, approximately 688,000 people voted in the 2008 election. Of these, 574,930 voted for Obama. In 2010, however, when the Republicans swept to power in the House -- due to disenchantment with Obama, primarily -- only 422,283 people voted in Philadelphia.
Granted, there are always fewer votes in a senatorial/gubernatorial election than in a presidential election, but this is a dramatic drop-off. To begin with, I should point out that Republican Tom Corbett won the gubernatorial race, garnering 54.49% of the vote statewide. In their final polls, no pollster had the Republican above 52%. In other words, they all underestimated him by nearly 2.5%.
Now, only 61% of the people who voted in Philadelphia in 2008 voted in 2010. Allegheny County is also predominantly Democratic, but considerably less African-American. In Allegheny County, 65% of the people who voted in 2008 voted in 2010. When you move on to the Republican counties, however, it is striking. In Westmoreland County, for example, 75% of the people who voted in 2008 voted in 2010.
This demographic difference was enough to elect a Republican governor in Pennsylvania. It is being ignored by the pollsters. The results in Westmoreland County are not atypical for most of the Republican counties in Pennsylvania.
Now, if all we do is split the difference in the demographics, you see something very interesting. Obama won Pennsylvania by 600,000 votes in 2008, which was a margin of 10%. The worst-case-scenario poll for Romney right now is 5% (not counting PPP, a highly partisan poll that should never be given any credibility). That cuts his lead to 300,000 with a similar turnout. If in fact the pollsters show just 3% by election day -- not unrealistic -- the margin would be 180,000. There were 220,000 fewer Democratic votes in Philadelphia in 2010 than in 2008. Taking just half of those cuts Obama's margin to 70,000 -- about 1%. When you add in the reduced Democratic votes in Allegheny County, where the Democratic vote shrank for the Democrats from 368,000 to 40,000, and other counties across the state, that 70,000 disappears easily. The demographics of 2008 simply won't be repeated.
The pollsters are ignoring another factor in the demographics. Many Republicans in the smaller counties simply didn't vote in 2008. They didn't vote because McCain was too moderate for them, and, frankly, the voting booth was not around the corner for a lot of them. But this year is different. These are the gun-toting, Bible-clutching western Pennsylvanians whom Obama was criticizing publicly and to whom he referred in Iowa by name. They don't forget, and they won't forget this time.
I've driven the highways in Blair County, Clearfield County, Fayette County, Westmoreland County, Butler County, and many others, where barns have biblical verses painted on them and there are billboards seemingly every five miles with a picture of Jesus on them. The people in these counties will be voting this year. The percentage of the electorate in 2012 voting Republican will be much higher than in 2008. The pollsters don't realize this.
Look for Pennsylvania to be for Romney. If he wins Pennsylvania, he doesn't need Ohio. He wins the election.