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How Much Will the New Jobs Numbers and Presidential Debates Impact Romney’s Election Odds?

Oct. 5, 2012
Personal Finance
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by Susan Lyon

Update: Polling from the last several days shows that the first presidential debate increased Romney’s election odds to 14% up from 10% last week.

The government announced today the U.S. unemployment rate has dropped to 7.8% in September – down from 8.1% in August, with 114,000 new jobs added.  Pundits are calling these positive new jobs numbers a major “gift” to Obama’s reelection campaign.

Meanwhile, pundits are also widely recognizing that Obama “lost the first debate” that aired this Wednesday.  Everywhere you look, members of the media are citing both as factors in an inevitably “close” election.

But is this even the case?  Does either of these big events this week change the election outcome odds a lot?

NerdWallet’s election prediction model, updated daily with the most recent polls affecting key states, says otherwise:

  • The polling from the day after the first debate did not change Romney’s electoral odds at all.  It remained at 8% both days.
  • The polling two days after the debate jumped up, giving Romney 10% odds of winning.
  • Individual polls are trickling in already showing the jobs report is boosting Obama’s ratings.

Historically, not only do strong jobs figures help the stock market, but they also help the incumbent candidate.  Economic performance is a strong factor in voters’ minds, and positive jobs numbers will likely bring in more polling in Obama’s favor.

But in the key battleground states that will be needed to get the winner to 270 electoral votes, will any of this make a difference to the actual election outcome?

Romney v. McCain v. Kerry: Where Romney Stands With Five Weeks To Go

At the end of the day, this is not a close election; in fact, this is the least “close” election since at least 1996.  NerdWallet’s statistical analysis shows that Romney’s current chances of winning are worse than either McCain’s or Kerry’s chances were in their respective years, five weeks before election day:

  • In 2004: Kerry’s odds of beating Bush at this point were 15%.
  • In 2008: McCain’s odds of beating Obama were 28%.
  • In 2012: Romney’s odds of winning remain at just 10%. (as of 10/5/12).

As you know, neither Kerry nor McCain won the presidency.  Because of the way the electoral map is drawn, Romney’s odds are pretty slim – but only time will tell.