Graphs Tell the Story of the 2012 US Election

Who will win the 2012 presidential election? I was a bit confused by all the different polls being reported – some saying Romney was gaining momentum, others arguing Obama had the edge. So I decided to create a simple set of graphs that clearly tells the story of the 2012 US presidential election.

1. Romney is favored by 51% of Americans according to Gallup. They not only ask people who they would vote for, but also how likely they are to vote on election day. Those who are not likely to vote are not counted.

2. But Obama has more electoral votes. US presidents are not elected by “national votes” but by “electoral votes“. That is, Americans elect local state representatives. The state grants all its electoral votes to whichever party has more state representatives. Many states have a long history of voting Democrat or Republican, based on their own culture and values, and recent polls show that trend is likely to continue in 2012.

270 electoral votes gives a candidate the majority. And based on state polls (usually “likely voters”) and historical trends, Obama is closer to that goal than Romney.

3. The swing states will decide the election. There are 8 states where the polls are roughly tied, or the candidate has a 1% to 3% lead which changes every few days. We call these “swing states” because they could swing either way.

Florida is the largest swing state, with 29 electoral votes. Romney leads in Florida by 2% and has lead for several weeks, so there’s a good chance Florida will swing to Romney. Ohio is the second largest swing state, with 18 electoral votes, and that’s why Obama and Romney are campaigning so hard in this state.

Romney still needs 79 electoral votes. Even with the 57 votes he’ll get from the 3 states leaning his way, he still needs another 22. Romney needs Ohio. Without Ohio, it will be tough to get the other 22 votes he needs. There’s a good chance Ohio’s vote will determine your next president.

Ohio is currently leaning toward Obama by about 2%. We’ll see if that lead holds until November 6.

If you enjoyed these graphs, you’ll love my new book “Storytelling with Graphs”. Subscribe to this blog to learn when it’s available.

About the author: Bruce Gabrielle is author of Speaking PowerPoint: the New Language of Business, showing a 12-step method for creating clearer and more persuasive PowerPoint slides for boardroom presentations. Subscribe to this blog or join my LinkedIn group to get new posts sent to your inbox.