Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sunday numbers for 4/29/12:
The electoral college

Daily tracking of Obama%-Romney% on Gallup and Rasmussen
According to the media, the general election has begun. Both Gallup and Rasmussen have started their daily tracking polls, and every Sunday I will be showing the results.  Above the 0% means a poll says Obama is leading nationally, which Gallup has considered true for about a week.  Rasmussen has had Romney as the leader for most of the past two weeks, though there were a few days this week when both polls agreed Obama was in the lead. Rasmussen says they are polling likely voters, while Gallup only promises there sample is taken from registered voters. A likely voter sample should be more reliable, but Rasmussen has as their basic model a much higher percentage of Republican voters than any of the other major companies.

Electoral vote split by Confidence of Victory

Anyone who has not slept through the last three presidential elections knows that it's the electoral college that gives us a president, not the popular vote.  Not every state has been polled yet, but using polls from 2012 or the results from 2000, 2004 and 2008, the split of the 538 electors is as follows.

230 Solidly Democratic electors
181 Solidly Republican electors
127 electors "in the mix"

I define a state as being solid if the Confidence of Victory number is over 95% for one party or the other.  For my fellow number nerds, I have written out my methodology for 2012.

Odds of winning using CoV in purple states as of 4/29

I take the probabilities for the "in play states" created by the Confidence of Victory method and figure out all possible outcomes, assuming the solid states, both Republican and Democratic, will be won by the favored party. As of the polling so far, the states that are between 95% Confidence for Republicans and 95% Confidence for Democrats are:

Missouri, North Carolina, Virginia, Florida, Iowa, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania

Assigning probabilities to the 256 possible outcomes for these eight races, if the election were held now, Obama would have about a 70% chance of victory and Romney about 30%.  Of course, these numbers will change over time with new polling data and new stories in the press that favor one side of the other.  As time goes by, the pictures that are now bar graphs or pie charts will switch to line graphs showing the changes over time.

For anyone who feels it's far too early to start this sort of thing, I can only agree.  In 2008, I started my Sunday Numbers series just after Labor Day and the introduction to the general public of Sarah Palin.  This is what the media thinks the public wants, so I as a lowly blogger have decided to go with the current. I will also be including numbers for the Senate races once all the primaries are over.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Twitter is not all useless prattle.

For example, this was tweeted by Stephen Fry, the actor who played Oscar Wilde and Jeeves, among so many other roles.  A scattering a phrases that first showed up in Shakespeare, which Mr. Fry found tweeted by @JRhodesPianist.

Click on the picture for larger and more interesting.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Crystal ball on hold: No predictions for today's Republican primaries

Now that Rick Santorum has dropped out, no one is polling in states that have Republican primaries anymore. The only way I could see that changing is if Newt Gingrich or Ron Paul massively out-perform expectations in some race and that is unlikely.  The GOP voters may not be in love with Mitt Romney completely, but the distaste for Gingrich is very strong and Paul has shown no ability to expand his base.

What this means is my prediction system and Nate Silver's had sixteen contests and the final score is 10 wins and 6 losses for me. There may be some early elections where are systems can match up before November, but now the general election is the next big test, which is a long way away.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Get a room, you guys!

 Dog: You're adorable.

 Horse: No, YOU'RE adorable!

Dog: No, you!

Horse: No YOU!

Dog: Can't we both be adorable?

Horse: Ask the guy holding you.

Soldier: You are both adorable.

Dog: See, I told you.

Horse: No, I told YOU!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Levon Helm 1940-2012

Levon Helm (second from left), the drummer and singer with The Band, died today from throat cancer. I have read many tributes today, so I know I wasn't the only one sitting alone and listening to their music when I was a kid.  Jesse Kornbluth over at the Huffington Post wrote that The Band were "...five bearded men who looked as if they'd stepped out of a Matthew Brady photograph..." It's a very good line.  When their first album Music From Big Pink was released in 1968, they were men, not boys.  They were the back-up for Ronnie Hawkins starting in the late 1950s, and they gained more fame and some infamy as Bob Dylan's back-up band when he went electric.  They had called themselves The Hawks when they played behind Ronnie Hawkins, and they had some gigs as Levon Helm and the Hawks. But since they had spent so much time as a back-up band, they decided the name The Band would be good.  It might sound modest and generic, and there might be a little of that in the decision.  But they were also The Band every other band was trying to be as good as.

Like some other bands whose name start with a B - like The Beatles, The Byrds and Buffalo Springfield - The Band had several lead singers.  On the first album, Rick Danko was lead on Long Black Veil and This Wheel's on Fire. Richard Manuel sang Lonesome Suzie and Tears of Rage. Levon Helm sang The Weight. On later albums, he sang The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down and When I Paint My Masterpiece.  (When asked, Danko and Helm always said Manuel was the lead singer.)

The Band had lots of influences.  Their rhythm section definitely listened to Motown and Stax/Volt, and when The Band covered other musicians, they played Elvis' Mystery Train, Sam Cooke's A Change Is Gonna Come and the early Marvin Gaye hit Baby Don't You Do It. But one thing that set them apart is the their love and respect for what we now call "old timey music". When Levon sang, this group of Canadians sounded authentically Southern, because Levon was from Arkansas originally. (Levon did some acting as well, always played Southerners.  He was Loretta Lynn's daddy in Coal Miner's Daughter.  The scene were he is the only family member to show up to her wedding, stands at the door of the church when the pastor asks "Who will give this woman away?" and Levon says "I will", then walks away. That still makes me cry.)

The harmonies of The Band are family harmonies from the South, the way the Cox Family sounds on the Oh Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack, the sound of Charlie and Ira Louvin captured on vinyl back in the 1940s. When Levon sings "Virgil Caine is my name and I worked on the Danville train" at the beginning of The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, it is the purest sound of the Southern sadness, the men who did not start the war but fought the war and lived with the privation it brought. It can break your heart.

Levon wasn't always the voice of sadness. The music has a little melancholy to it, but Up On Cripple Creek is one of the greatest lyrics of a man recalling good times.

When I get off of this mountain, you know where I wanna go.
Straight down the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico.
To Lake Charles, Louisiana, there lives a Bessie girl that I once knew.
She told me just to come on by if there was anything that she could do.

I'm hearing a lot of Levon's song in my head today, Some makes my cry, but overall I could not be happier that I know his music and I saw him play.  He was one of the truly great musicians and we were lucky to share the planet with him.

Presented without comment.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

An impressive number.

Perhaps you glance at my blog buddy list from time to time.  I certainly hope you do, because it changes every time someone posts a new update.  You may have noticed that Cat In The Bag is near the top of the list most of the time. Well, there's a reason for this.  Victor (a.k.a Zoey & Me) has now published his 10,000th post.  To give you an example of how much determination that is, this blog has had just barely 2,000 in five years plus, and the gossip blog got killed when it got to 3,000 posts in slighlty less than two years.

Color me impressed.

I also have a little fun tidbit.  Why is a cat in a bag, other than cats love enclosed spaces?  Reading Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey and Maturin books (you already know I love them, yes?), the phrase comes not from a real cat but the cat o' nine tails, the whip used in Royal Navy floggings.  When the cat was in the bag, that meant the punishment was over, or if the cat stayed in the bag, that meant there would be no flogging.

As my dear father would say, you learn something new every day, if you're not careful.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The unlevel playing field:
Mitt's long odds.

Let us assume Mitt Romney is the Republican nominee.  It was pretty much a done deal before Sick Rantorum dropped out, and now it's as close to a stone cold lock as you can get without being at exactly 100.0000%.

He needs a miracle to become president.

Let us recall that Barack Hussein Obama did not beat John Sidney McCain by a narrow margin.  McCain got WHOMPED, beaten to within an inch of his life, horse-whipped like a red-headed stepchild.

This is the electoral map as it stood at the end of 2008.  The Republicans can look back to the two elections they won in 2000 and 2004, but the picture doesn't get much prettier.  There were 41 contests that either went all Democratic or all Republican in the last three elections.  Since we have to count the District of Columbia, that means 10 states in the last three elections are "up for grabs" in 2012. The number in parentheses is the electoral votes in that state in 2012, some of which changed from the 2008 numbers due to the 2010 census.

2 Democratic wins, 1 Republican win:
New Hampshire (4)
New Mexico (5)
Iowa (6)

2 Republican wins, 1 Democratic win:
Nevada (6)
Colorado (9)
Indiana (11)
Virginia (13)
North Carolina (15)
Ohio (18)
Florida (29)

So far, the story doesn't seem too hopeless, except that all the "1 Democratic win" states are actually "1 Obama win".

Okay, that's less hopeful.

So is this.

2012 electoral votes in states won by Democratic candidates in 2000, 2004 and 2008: 242
2012 electoral votes in states won by Republican candidates in 2000, 2004 and 2008: 180

Obama needs 28 of the 116 "up for grabs" electoral vote to win outright. Romney will need 90 to win outright, and 89 to make it a tie and throw it into the House of Representatives. Let's throw poor Mitt a bone and assume the House stays Republican and Mitt wins if the electors go 269-269. 

If we assume the states all the "up for grab" states are about 50-50, there are 1024 equally likely outcomes and Obama wins 929 times and Romney wins 85 times. That's 91.6% to 8.4%, or pretty close to 11::1 for Obama.

Let's be kinder to Mittens and say he has 2/3 of a chance to win the states Bush won both times, but only 1/3 of a chance if Bush lost a state either in 2000 or 2004.  Obviously, his overall odds have to improve because the 2 to 1 Republican states outnumber the 2 to 1 Democratic states both in number and in electoral votes.

Are my Republican readers (if they exist) sitting down?  This changes the odds to 76.5% to 23.5%, or roughly 13::4 for Obama.

And here's the worse news.

The demographics for the Grumpy Old (mostly white and male) Party are going the wrong way. Even if they could find a dream candidate like George W. Bush, a dry drunk who the Republican electorate decided was "a guy with whom they would like to share a beer", they have to face an electorate that is less white than it was in 2000.

And now the Republican standard bearer is Willard Mitt Romney, a guy who has all the stiffness of Michael Dukakis and John Kerry combined.  Maybe he has unplumbed depths I can't see, but he looks like exactly the candidate the rabid base of the Republican Party never wanted to see holding the flag.

It's April, close to seven full months away from the general.  A week can make a massive difference in politics nowadays. I make no certain statement as to the outcome, but it is uphill for the Republicans. The only question is how steep.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Into new territory.

Gallup national tracking polls Jan 1. to Apr. 9 2012
Rick Santorum went from a no-hope third tier loser to the top of the Republican heap in the space of six weeks.  His lead didn't last, but since early February, he has been the true challenger to Mitt Romney, Ron Paul never able to expand beyond his fiercely loyal base and Newt Gingrich reminding huge swathes of the electorate - left, right and center - exactly why he has so few friends.
This doesn't change my opinion that Romney is the nominee, but it will be interesting to see how the other squiggles on the graph move.  Is Romney going to skyrocket over 50% immediately?  Will this be a bigger bonanza for Newt or None of the Above? I honestly can't tell, but it should shake out within a week or so, in plenty of time for the next contests on April 24.

Still the strangest electoral cycle I've ever seen.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Ashley Judd says it better than I ever could.

Ashley Judd is an attractive young woman and prolific actress.  When I say 'young', this is from my viewpoint as a man in his mid-fifties talking about a woman in her early forties.

For a couple years, I followed the tabloids. When I started out, I figured because I went to the supermarket regularly and it seemed like people of all races and genders did as well, the supermarket rags were aimed at everybody.

It took me a while to realize my mistake.  Women are the market for the gossip rags, and so much of the editorial content is aimed at generating envy or hatred or pity, sometimes combinations of two at a time or even all three, making women feel either inferior to or superior to women who happen to be famous.

Ashley Judd writes about being the object of this sort of speculation. Any time a picture is taken and she looks in any way different from pictures taken in the past, sometimes even from last century, speculation runs wild.

Last July, I quoted Spike Lee about how insane it is for actors, how they are judged on their looks constantly. He has acted in his own films, but his living is based on being a director.  He is closer to the picture than I am, but he is still on the outside.  Ashley Judd is on the inside and her commentary is close to perfect.

Go give her a read.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The best and worst of the polling companies in the 2012 GOP primaries

As I (and many others) have noted, the 95% confidence interval is not doing what it is supposed to do in the polling results from the 2012 GOP primaries. When we add and subtract the "margin of error" from the given proportion, we are supposed to be 95% confident actual number in the true poll on election day will be within that interval from the opinion poll. One proviso is the line "if the election were held when the poll was taken", a statement that is almost never technically true, but should be close enough when the polls are relatively fresh, say within a week of election day.

Example:  Let's say some candidate is at 47% in a poll with a "margin of error" of +/-3%.  This means that 95% of the time, we should expect that candidate to get between 44% and 50% of the vote.  The thing is, maybe the None of the Above count in the opinion poll is 8%, while on election day None of the Above (third party candidates, left blank, etc.) only accounts for say 1.5% of the vote.  To be fair, we should scale the 47% to 47%/(100-8)%*(100-1.5)% = 50.3%. The new interval would be from 47.3% to 53.3%.

Using these methods, one polling organization with multiple polls this year stands head and shoulders above the rest.  Suffolk University in Boston polled in New Hampshire when there were six candidates, and in Florida and Ohio when there were four candidates. Of their 14 numbers, they caught 13 in the margin of error, only missing Ron Paul's big outing in New Hampshire. At 92.9% accuracy, no one else comes close except for some companies that are perfect but have only one poll in one state to put them in contention.

Then we have the work horse companies, the ones that produce lots of polls in lots of states.  Instead of 14 results, Public Policy Polling has 65 results with 47 caught inside the margin of error for 72.3%. (Remember, it should be 95%, so this is nothing to write home about, even if it is the second best around of companies taking more than one poll.) PPP did not do a good job of prediction in New Hampshire or Iowa, but since the field has been narrowed to four candidates, they have been perfect 7 times of 13 and better than the average poll 10 times of 13.

And then there's the other end of the spectrum.  Polling companies come and go, and I did not recognize the name from when I was reading polls in 2008. The archive on their website only goes back to 2010. They have taken seven polls fresh enough to be considered in this sample and they have never had a perfect prediction.  Even worse, they have never been better than average poll in any state and their "95% confidence intervals" catch about 32.1% of the actual numbers.

Polling companies come and go. If people looking for polling companies can actually do any comparison shopping - like visiting this blog, for instance - this outfit should not survive long.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Good news from fambly members.

I already mentioned that my adorable niece Holly (born Holly Smith, married Cleavon Smith, now Holly Smith-Smith) is expecting a baby, late this month or early next.  The new good news from the Smith clan is Cleavon's short play You Eat What You Kill will be performed next month in the 16th Best of PlayGround Festival. His is one of seven short plays that will be performed Thursdays through Sundays in May at Thick House, 1695 18th Street, San Francisco.  More information can be found by clicking on this link.

Congratulations all round for my niece Holly, her husband Cleavon and the eagerly anticipated new arrival, who shall be known by her bloggy great uncle as Itty Bitty Smitty until further notice.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Results from Wisconsin and Maryland.
Down goes Silver! Down goes Silver! UPDATED WITH GRAPHS!

To describe last night's prediction contest, I paraphrase the most famous boxing call in history, when Howard Cosell at ringside yelled "Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier!"  Absolutely NO disrespect to the great champion (here's a link to my remembrance of him), but what my system did last night to Nate Silver's system is what George Foreman did to Frazier all those years ago.

I could say it was close or I was lucky, but neither of those statements are true.  My system and Nate Silver's system are both good in their own ways, but in Wisconsin, a bad late poll was released and both of our systems took it into account.  My system barely noticed its ill effects, but it knocked Nate's system on its ass.  Here are the final numbers.

Romney: 42.5% (I guess too high, Nate too low. I gain 0.6%)
Santorum: 37.6% (Both too low. I gain 2.9%)
Paul: 11.7% (I'm too low, Nate's too high. I gain 1.2%)
Gingrich: 6.1% (Both too high. I gain 3.8%)
None of the Above: 2.1% (Both too low. I gain 1.6%)
Final score: Hubbard 93.2%, Silver 83.4%

Nate actually lost ground in both his Gingrich pick and his NOTA pick, which is why his column has no gray and no black.  This is also the reason his column is much, much shorter than mine.  This contest was the biggest butt-kicking so far in our sixteen skirmishes so far.

Romney: 49.1%(both high, I gain 2.8%)
Santorum: 28.9%(Both low, I gain 0.5%)
Gingrich: 10.9%(I'm high, Nate's low, Nate gains 0.1%)
 Paul: 9.5% (Both low, Silver gains 0.3%)
None of the above: 1.6% (Both of us low, I gain 1.5%)
Final score: Hubbard 97.0%, Silver 92.6%

With this graph you see we both got over the 90% mark, always a good sign, but I did much better on predicting Romney (marked in green for money, of course) and that makes up most of the difference in our scores.

The long and short of it.  In overall contests, I now lead 10-6, not massively dominating but not just luck, either. (One standard deviation ahead for my mathy readers.)  Last night, my system got the biggest margin of victory yet, a 9.8% win in Wisconsin, and the most precise poll yet, 97% accurate in Maryland.

I could correctly say I was lucky, since any time you try to predict the future you are at the mercy of a random world. But I'm going eschew false modesty today and say that my luck last night was the result of a better prepared system created by a better trained mind.

The things that make my system better are pretty simple.  I factor in the median as well as the average to keep outlier polls from knocking everything out of whack. I'm looking at averages after a reasonable None of the Above vote is factored in, while Nate is trying to extrapolate trends over time. My way is simpler and more mathematically sound, especially with just a few data points like we had in Maryland, a total of two polls.

So I have a lead right now of 10-6 and it's three weeks until several East Coast states have their primaries on April 24. It would be silly to think my system is fated to have an equally good evening later this month, but since I opened this up paraphrasing Howard Cosell, let me once again show my age by paraphrasing Mel Brooks, a line from the crazy playwright in The Producers.

I'm a mathematician. Nate's a statistician. I outrank him.


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Prediction for April 3:
The Wisconsin and Maryland primaries

There are three primaries today, Wisconsin, Maryland and Washington D.C. There were no polls from D.C., so neither Nate Silver or I have a prediction from there. There were multiple fresh polls from Maryland and Wisconsin, so there is enough data for two prediction battles with Nate Silver's method. Here are the numbers, mine given first and Nate's second.

Romney    43.5%     40.9%
Santorum    36.0%     33.1%
Paul        10.5%    13.8%
Gingrich      8.5%    12.3%
none of the above    1.5%    -0.1%

Romney    50.0%     52.8%
Santorum    28.5%     28%

Gingrich    11.5%    10.4% 
Paul        8.5%    8.8% 
none of the above    1.5%    0.0%
There are much bigger gaps in our predictions in Wisconsin compared to Maryland, and the reason is one outlier poll at the very end from We Ask America, one of the worst polling companies around this season.  I gave some thought to ignoring that poll completely, but I didn't and Nate obviously didn't, his numbers changing dramatically from yesterday to today.

An advantage to my system - at least I think it's an advantage - is that I take both averages and medians for the candidates, and then give a weighted average of those results.  This is EXACTLY the situation my method is built to exploit, damping down the effect of a late last poll that disagrees significantly with the other fresh polls.

The proof will be in the pudding tonight's battle in Wisconsin.  The things I like this time around are being on the high side of the Santorum numbers and the low side of the Paul numbers, since the polls often underestimate Senator Rick's support and overestimate Dr. Paul's.  Moreover, I have the high side for None of the Above, which has been getting over 1% nearly everyplace and is sometimes over 2%.

To have predictions this far apart as they are in Wisconsin is a little disconcerting, and even if I lose tonight I don't want to fiddle much with the system at this late date.  I've got an 8-6 lead right now. I'll report back on the numbers when the results are finalized.


Monday, April 2, 2012

Is polling accuracy getting worse this primary season?

My friend and longtime reader Ken made a comment on my post from a week ago about the margin of error, known technically as the 95% confidence interval. A shorter version of the post: It's nowhere near 95% accurate during the primary season, but it wasn't so bad during the 2008 general election.
Ken asked if the primary predictions from 2012 could be compared to the primary predictions from 2008. I found data online that makes an apt comparison.  
 Here's the records for the 2012 election predictions so far. The last column is what we expect all columns to look like, and as you see, none of the other columns have nearly enough of that yellow  representing the percentage of time the true result falls inside the margin of error.  Red means the poll's prediction was markedly higher than expected.  As you can see, Ron Paul gets over-predicted a lot. The purple says the poll guessed too low.  Rick Santorum is the king of exceeding expectations this year.

The 2008 race has a data set that has many features in common with 2012, though the time frame is different.  In 2008, Super Tuesday was in early February and there were over 20 contests, much earlier and much larger than Super Tuesday this time around.  There were four candidates still in the hunt at that point in the race, John McCain, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul.  Like this years' race, the primaries showed regional differences and top three candidates had all won contests outright. Here is my analogy of candidates in the two races.

McCain 2008 = Romney 2012.  The front runner and eventual nominee.
Huckabee 2008 = Santorum 2012. The preferred candidate in the South and in terms of polling, the most often underestimated.
Romney 2008 = Gingrich 2012.  This is slightly unfair to Mitt, because he was a stronger candidate than Newt has been.  More than that, even though he won multiple contests on Super Tuesday, he was clearly in third place and he dropped out of the race later that week.
Ron Paul 2008 = Ron Paul 2012.  He's polling better this year, but he is still the man on a crusade with no chance at the nomination and no outright wins in contests with enough polling data.

I'm going to turn all this data into a single number for each candidate, much in the same way I give single numbers to my predictions and those of Nate Silver.  The percentages of low guesses, correct guesses and high guesses should be 2.5%, 95% and 2.5% respectively.  Let's say the polling data for some candidate is low 20%, correct 68% and high 12%.

low: 20% - 2.5% = 17.5% off
correct: 95% - 68% = 27% off
high: 12% - 2.5% = 9.5% off

Adding up all the percentages gives us 54% off, which means only 46% correct.  That's a pathetic result in anything tougher than hitting in baseball.  (Batting .460 would be awesome.)  So here are the distances from correct distribution for each of our eight candidates, four from 2008 and four from 2012.

Romney '08: 70% correct
Huckabee '08: 57% correct
McCain '08: 46% correct
Paul '08: 46% correct
Romney '12: 36% correct
Gingrich '12: 31% correct
Santorum '12: 17% correct
 Paul '12: 12% correct

As Charles Barkley might say, these numbers are tuuuurrrible.  And to make matters worse, every 2008 candidate was easier to predict than any 2012 candidate.

The significantly less reliable results may be caused by the increased use of caller ID.  More people are opting out of the system and that number is increasing over time and they are opting out without ever having to be counted as a hang-up or a "refused to be polled". How the pool of people who will talk to pollsters differs demographically from the general population is hard to say. The best description I have heard is that it skews in favor of the less technically savvy and the more committed politically, regardless of position on the political spectrum. 

The level of commitment is probably the difference between regular overestimation of Ron Paul and the regular underestimation of Rick Santorum.  Paul's base numbers have stayed more consistent than any other candidate's.  That tells us that if someone is a Ron Paul supporter today, there's a good chance that person was a Ron Paul booster in December as well.  The story is different for Senator Rick.  He was a third tier candidate when there were more people in the race. While he polls at over 25% today, he was getting well under 5% until Christmas of last year. This means at least 4 out of 5 Santorum voters were not on board last December and the number could be higher still, possibly closer 9 out of 10.

What effect has this less reliable polling data had on the prediction contests between my method and Nate Silver's method?  Since we rely on poll numbers, it has many times brought our general accuracy down.  If all the poll numbers are with the margins of error, both Nate and I can hope for combined error rates of less than 10%, but if one candidate does much better or worse than we could have predicted, our combined error rates can be closer to 20%. In terms of the races so far, I was at the top of the class in Iowa with a 83.9% accuracy, but everyone who relied on the polls had to miss Santorum's excellent result by a bunch. On the other hand, polling data was very accurate in Georgia for all the candidates and my completely respectable 94.6% accuracy finished second to Nate Silver's method with 94.8%.

There are primaries tomorrow in Wisconsin, Maryland and Washington DC, but so far there is only enough polling data for our algorithms to make predictions in Wisconsin. I'll print my numbers and Nate's when he has factored in the latest poll from PPP.  I'm currently leading 8-6.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

One last look at March polling numbers

Gallup national tracking poll - March 1 through March 31st
The months of wild mood swings in the national polls are over.  The trends this month are pretty steady.
Mitt Romney: the clear front runner has climbed from hovering about 35% to hovering around 40%
Rick Santorum: He was just under 25% at the beginning of the month and has climbed a little, but 30% is right now a barrier for him.
Newt Gingrich: A slow leaking tire. Early in the month he wobbled a few points under or over 15%, but now he is much closer to 10%.
Ron Paul: The most consistent support of all the candidates since the beginning of the year, he flirted with 8% for a few days - a tie for his lowest ebb this year - but is now holding stead at 10%
None of the Above: See Newt Gingrich. It may not be precisely correct, but the loss of support for Gingrich and NOTA looks to have been accumulated by Romney and Santorum, slightly more for Mitt than for Rick.
The delegate count is at about the halfway point. Romney has a big lead and his lead will likely stretch on Tuesday barring a couple more weird primaries where Santorum's support is underestimated wildly. Right now it looks like a sweep of Wisconsin, Maryland and DC for Mitt, and even if he only takes two of three, the slow accumulation will continue.
As I have said before, the metaphor isn't the knockout punch but a boa constrictor killing some large animal then digesting it. It's not exciting, but if it's not inevitable, it's as close as anything gets.