Forecast: Nevada and Oregon 'Tipping Points' in Presidential Race

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The New York Times' 2012 FiveThirtyEight blog presidential forecast gives a slight advantage to President Barack Obama over presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney. And while it is unlikely that Idaho, a consistently red state with few electoral votes, will be a key player in November's general election, some of the Gem State’s closest neighbors may become deal-makers or -breakers.

The FiveThirtyEight model, named for the nation’s 538 Electoral College votes, points to Oregon and Nevada as so-called “tipping point states,” based on the mathematical probability that either or both may ultimately provide the deciding vote in the race for the White House.

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Nevada is ranked fourth in the nation in one of the forecast’s surveys, with an 8 percent likelihood that it may provide a decisive electoral vote. Oregon is ranked eighth with a 3 percent likelihood.

In an every-last-vote-counts study, FiveThirtyEight also has a unique analysis that indicates that there is an 11 percent likelihood that an individual voter in Nevada might determine the Electoral College winner. An Oregon voter has an approximately 2 percent likelihood that he or she will determine the next president.

The Times reports that Oregon, while infrequently polled but historically competitive, may provide one of the nation’s tightest face-offs. The model gives Obama a 6.5 percent lead in Oregon and still considers the state to be a likely Obama winner come November.

In Nevada, polls are even closer, with Obama currently holding only a 3 percent lead over Romney. With nearly five months remaining before the election, The Times reports that Nevada could become a tossup state before votes are cast.

Other states likely to provide the deciding electoral vote include Virginia at a 36 percent probability, Ohio at 20 percent, Colorado at 10 percent and Pennsylvania at 7 percent. Iowa, New Hampshire, Florida and Wisconsin are also projected to be key tipping-point states.

The FiveThirtyEight forecast combines results from national polls, simulations of the Electoral College and indicators of national economic conditions, all projecting election outcomes.

According to the forecast, Obama would have an 80 percent chance to win if the election were held today, but could slip to 60 percent by Nov. 6. And while Obama frequently edges out Romney in national polls, future economic decline could have a growing effect on the outcome of the race, according to the Times.

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