Mitt Romney (48.4%) leads Barack Obama (46.7%) by 1.7% nationally heading into the final week of campaigning.
Less than 5% of the electorate remains undecided, with self-described independent voters making up the majority of undecided voters. Mr. Romney holds an 11% lead among self-described independent voters, with 10% of independents still undecided and up for grabs.
In this past Friday's Swing-State and Electoral College Update, Mr. Romney increased his lead to 284 electoral votes to 253 for President Obama. The Washington Dispatch Electoral College Projection stands alone in this regard, with other poll aggregation models, such as Real Clear Politics and Five Thirty Eight, showing an Obama electoral vote lead.
The key factor driving this difference is The Washington Dispatch Poll Aggregation Methodology, as described below. Other aggregation models simply use polls' top-line result of total support for either candidate. On average across the polls, sampling by party ID has reflected the demographic make-up of the 2008 electorate. As a result, sites like RCP and 538 produce numbers also based on turnout very similar to the 2008 election.
The Washington Dispatch makes the assumption that nationally, while turnout will not be as favorable to Republicans as in 2010, it also will not be nearly as favorable to Democrats as in 2008. Using the average from the 2004 through 2010 elections, the primary Washington Dispatch turnout model, on which the official numbers are based, shows a Democratic turnout advantage of 2.5%.
In order to maintain uniformity, as well as to remove the human element, The Washington Dispatch has used this same average turnout formula to produce the turnout model for each individual state in the Washington Dispatch Swing State/Electoral College Tracker.
The next Electoral Vote Update will be released on Friday as always, and the next national vote update on Monday of next week. On Tuesday morning of next week, The Washington Dispatch will release the final results of both the national poll tracker model, as well as the electoral vote model. In addition, we will comment on these results, and perhaps make some final predictions for that evening's results based on the human element. Post-election, we will examine the differences between actual results and our model, and attempt to decipher why the models were accurate or inaccurate.
Links to Individual Polls:
Rather than simply averaging the overall result of major national polls pitting President Obama against Mitt Romney (as is done on sites like Real Clear Politics), The Washington Dispatch digs into the cross-tabs of data behind major national polls (those that freely publish the necessary data breaking down responses by party identification), and averages each candidates' share of the vote among Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. Then, these shares are applied to the actual turnout by party identification (as measured by CNN's comprehensive exit polling of between 13,000 and 18,000 respondents for the 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2010 elections) for the past four national elections. To calculate poll numbers for The Washington Dispatch's official head-to-head match-up between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, each candidates' average share of the vote by party affiliation is applied to the average turnout by party affiliation over the past four national elections.