FiveThirtyEight’s initial 2012 presidential forecast found President Obama as a slight favorite to win re-election. These projections are unique, both in means and ends, but the FiveThirtyEight model is operating in a crowded field.
State-by-state race ratings have been published by The New York Times (these come from the politics desk and are distinct from FiveThirtyEight’s forecast), The Washington Post, RealClearPolitics, Pollster, CBS News and NPR (actually, many more projections are available, but these maps use the same five-level ratings scale, making comparisons easier).
Although each map takes a slightly different approach to projecting state-by-state results, they all have Mr. Obama leading Mitt Romney in “solid” and “leaning” electoral votes. It’s in the breadth of that lead and the most likely paths to those vote totals where disagreements arise.
The New York Times sees Mr. Obama with the slimmest edge, a mere 11 electoral votes. Pollster, on the other hand, has Mr. Obama with 270 electoral votes, a 79-vote advantage over Mr. Romney and already enough for a second term.
As one would expect with an incumbent president elected by a fairly large electoral-vote margin but now facing a teetering economic recovery, the horse-race debate revolves around the vulnerability of Mr. Obama in states he won in 2008, both handily and by a hair. Accordingly, more divergence is found in Mr. Obama’s column than in Mr. Romney’s. Mr. Obama’s total ranges from 212 to 270, a 58-vote difference. Mr. Romney’s range is more narrow at 36 votes.
The disagreement among the six maps — as measured by the standard deviation — is concentrated in states where the ratings range from tossup to solid Obama.
Read the rest at Where Electoral Forecasts Agree and Disagree