US goes to the polls
United States goes to the polls today in a massive voting exercise covering a range of elected positions.
Whilst most eyes are focussed on the race for the presidency, there are also elections for the House of Representatives, Senate, Governorships of states and a myriad of local legislatures.
The presidential race couldn’t be closer, although in recent days incumbent Democrat President Barack Obama appears to have pulled out a little lead in the battleground states. His Republican rival, Mitt Romney is very close behind and as much as anything the real battle will be to get a weary electorate to vote and here the polls suggest that Romney may have more success in getting out his supporters.
There are a number of different polls around, but we have used RealClearPolitics.com national average throughout the campaign. The latest poll average puts Obama on 48.5% and Romney on 48.1% of the vote.
We have watched eleven battleground states (the number varies depending upon the media outlet) and Obama is ahead marginally in all but two. Romney leads (Electoral College votes in brackets) in Florida (29) and North Carolina (15) whilst Obama leads in Colorado (9), Iowa (6), Michigan (16), Nevada (6), New Hampshire (4), Ohio (18), Pennsylvania (20), Virginia (13) and Wisconsin (10).
The Electoral College for the presidential election is 538 votes derived from the 435 House of Representative seats plus the 100 Senate seats and three votes allocated to the District of Columbia. The winning candidate needs 270 votes.
Elsewhere, all 435 seats in the House of Representatives, the lower house, will be elected today and 33 Class 1 Senators are also up for election (the Senate elects roughly a third of its seats in three classes every two years).
The House of Representatives is currently made up of 241 Republicans and 191 Democrats. The Senate comprises 53 Democrats (including two Independents who vote with the Democrats) and 47 Republicans. In the election today there are 21 Democrat, 10 Republican and two Independent seats being contested.
In addition to all of those elections 11 of the 50 state governors will be up for election along with other local elections and referenda.
Out of a population of 310 million, 131.3 million voted in the 2008 general election which equates to around a 60% turnout of eligible voters. Because each state acts independently it is difficult to derive precise figures for the electorate this time, but the vote in 2008 was judged to have been high and the closeness of the contest may result in another high turnout.
The United States Elections Project at George Mason University has been monitoring early voting and as of yesterday estimates that 31,726,603 voters have voted in the early polling. You can see more here.
We have been asked who we favour and who we think will win. Our website works hard to retain its non-partisan approach to reporting on these matters and will continue to do so. As to who will win – the odds look in favour of incumbent president Barack Obama but early voting in the past couple of weeks suggests that Mitt Romney might achieve a higher turnout.