When I look at the broader picture, I see a few things that suggest the national polls have a better view of things. First, and perhaps most importantly, the polls showing closer state races are consistent with the national polls, which almost all show a close race. This gives us an opportunity to resolve the two data sets somewhat.
Second, in four of the past five elections, the national polls and generic ballot for Congress have lined up almost perfectly, reflecting the decline in crossover voting. Most analysts see no change in Congress’ makeup, which would suggest a generic vote edge of three to four points nationally (there’s almost always a drop-off in the national vote after a wave, even if it doesn’t result in a loss of seats). The presidential polls are more consistent with this…
If you assign, say, an 80 percent chance that the national polls are correct, that still translates to about a 60 percent chance that Obama will win. That’s a lot less than most of the other oddsmakers are giving right now, but it’s about how I see things.
So my final sense of things is offered with a reasonably high degree of uncertainty. I think that the popular vote will be close, and that Romney will win North Carolina, Florida, Virginia and Colorado, bringing him just shy of what he needs to win. But I think that Virginia, Colorado, New Hampshire, Iowa and Ohio will be very close, probably around a point each. But it wouldn’t take a large error in the national polls for Romney to win these states. And all it would take for this thing to turn into a healthy Obama win would be for little Marist polling to outshine Gallup.