Opinion Comment

Thursday 14 December 2017

Larry Donnelly: Maths trumped the myth in US presidential election

On November 6, the maths trumped the myth. As that date approached, two competing, and directly conflicting, narratives had emerged from the Democrats and the Republicans.

The Democrats repeatedly pointed to President Barack Obama’s steady, albeit small, lead in the polls in the key battleground states. The Republicans cited national polls favouring their nominee, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, as well as more esoteric “data” allegedly evidencing far less enthusiasm for President Obama among his core constituencies and a groundswell of support for Governor Romney. Both sides appeared confident of victory.

The steady lead in the polls in the key battleground states that President Obama had maintained was ultimately confirmed by what happened on Election Day. Indeed, he performed even better than had been expected. President Obama won Virginia and is likely to be declared the winner in Florida. Polls indicated that both of these states had favoured Governor Romney. If Obama does win Florida, then his margin of victory in 2012 will mirror, bar typically Republican Indiana and North Carolina, his landslide victory over Senator John McCain in 2008.

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