• Monday night was the final set piece of the 2012 election—the last scheduled event in which a significant national audience will tune in to develop or refine their impressions of the candidates. Barring any more secret tapes or raids on high-value terrorists, the remainder of the election is largely outside the candidates' control.

    Instant polls of undecided voters after Monday night's debate by CBS, PPP and Xbox/YouGov all declared President Barack Obama the winner in the confrontation with former Gov. Mitt Romney. But the final debate has the smallest chance to make a difference in the election, and the president's performance failed to move the needle in his direction by more than a hair.

    Sources: Betfair, Intrade, IEM, HuffPost Pollster and RealClearPolitics

    We'll know in a few days how much "Monday Night Football," Game 7 of the National League Championship Series, and Anything-Else-but-a-Foreign-Policy-Lecture detracted from the TV audience Monday night. The Signal does not particularly care about this factor, because the final debate was always destined to have a small impact. Three reasons:

    Read More »from The election is over! (Results embargoed two weeks)
  • For Democrats still stinging from the 2000 election—that is to say, any Democrat born before about 1985—2012 could be the year of retribution. There is a distinct possibility that former Gov. Mitt Romney could win the popular vote and still lose the election to President Barack Obama.

    In roughly 45 clinical trials, American democracy has produced four presidents who did not win the popular vote: John Quincy Adams in 1824, Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876, Benjamin Harrison in 1888 and George W. Bush in 2000. (There have been 56 presidential elections, but popular vote data doesn't exist for the first 10 or so.) The Food and Drug Administration would soundly reject a drug that caused some horrible disfigurement upward of 10 percent of the time, but Americans appear to tolerate a constitution that rewards the overall loser this often. Consensus on the subject is difficult to build. Even though a majority of Americans support abolishing the Electoral College, the present system only punishes one side or the other in a given year.

    National polls swung dramatically in Romney's direction after he trounced Obama in the first debate. The odds that Obama will secure re-election under the Signal's model dipped in tandem, but never below about 60 percent. The reason is so familiar that the O, H, and I keys on my keyboards are wearing thin.

    Sources: Betfair, Intrade, IEM, HuffPost Pollster and RealClearPolitics

    To be clear, we don't necessarily think Romney will win the popular vote. Standing in national polls does not predict actual vote share, and those polls are swinging back in the president's favor. Romney's odds of winning a majority of the ballots, however, are higher than his odds of winning at least 270 electoral votes. This year, the Electoral College unfairly favors Obama: Romney must carry Florida, Virginia and Ohio, while Obama needs only one of them.

    Read More »from Romney could win the popular vote and lose the election
  • Woody Allen is often quoted as saying that "80 percent of success is showing up." Hackneyed though this expression has become, it applies quite accurately to the election as it stands today. President Barack Obama showed up at the debate on Tuesday night and stabled his teetering campaign.

    Given the wide consensus that Obama did not mentally show up for the first confrontation with former Gov. Mitt Romney, his combativeness and general vigor appeared to convince the television audience that he still has some fight left in him. Instant polls suggest that Obama scored well overall and, more critically, with undecided and leaning voters. Polls of overall voters are not that meaningful, because most people will say their candidate won. But surveys of undecided and leaning voters, like those from CBS and Xbox/YouGov, give us valuable clues. Obama clearly outperformed Romney in both.

    The Signal's real-time forecast, heavily influenced by prediction markets at this point in the campaign, ticked up nearly 3 percentage points during last night's debate.

    Obama vs. Romney before and after the second debate

    Sources: Betfair, Intrade, IEM, HuffPost's Pollster, RealClearPolitics

    Read More »from Obama still on defense

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About The Signal

The Signal is the Yahoo! News predictions blog featuring real-time forecasts and sentiment on politics, economics, and more. MEET THE TEAM: David Pennock, David Rothschild

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