Many see potential for Wednesday's presidential debate to be a deciding moment in the 2012 election. From the Signal's perch here on Forecasting Mountain, we don't see a whole lot left to be decided.
Since we posted our first forecast of the state-by-state presidential election on Feb. 16, 2012, six months before the Republican Party even had an official nominee, only three states have flipped camps at any point in time. Virginia pointed toward the Republican nominee for several months during the summer, while both Florida and North Carolina have recently shifted to President Barack Obama's column. Almost all of the other 47 states have moved further in whichever direction they were leaning in February as the game clock has ticked down from more than 250 days to fewer than 40 until the election.
In February, we predicted that Obama would win re-election with 303 electoral votes. That estimate fell to 290 when Virginia flipped to the Republican column, and now stands at 347 with the restoration of Virginia and the addition of Florida and North Carolina.
Sources: Betfair, Intrade, HuffPost's Pollster, RealClearPolitics
The forecasts were flat until mid-May, as we had little new information to update the forecast, which was then totally reliant on economic and historical data that doesn't update daily. We then added in polls and prediction market data, which gradually takes over the forecast as Election Day approaches. The forecasts from February are the best estimation we can make about a generic Democratic incumbent running against a generic Republican challenger. By Election Day, the forecast is full of information about how the public views the actual Democratic incumbent against the actual Republican challenger.Read More »from Even before debates, electoral map appears largely written in stone