The Campaign Spot

The Other ’47 Percent’ Worth Talking About

The magic number of this election cycle may be 47.

The number was already the focus of Mitt Romney’s much-derided “47 percent” comment at a closed-door fundraiser. But it’s also the percentage level that David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center, deems to be doom for an incumbent.

As mentioned yesterday, Paleologos said on The O’Reilly Factor last week that when an incumbent is at 47 percent or less, “it’s very, very difficult when you have the known quantity, the incumbent, to claw your way up to 50 — a very poor place for him to be.”

While the “undecided rule” — the conventional wisdom that undecided voters break heavily against the incumbent — has its exceptions, most of the remaining undecideds are likely weighing two options: voting for Romney or staying home. A September survey of “persuadable” voters found that 68 percent are white, 57 percent are married, 53 percent are men, 70 percent think the country is headed in the wrong direction, and 60 percent disapprove of how Obama is doing his job.

In Colorado, Obama is at 47.3 percent in the RealClearPolitics average; the two most recent polls, WeAskAmerica and the Denver Post/SurveyUSA poll put Obama at 47 percent exactly.

Obama’s RCP average in other key swing states:

  • Wisconsin: 50.0 percent.

  • Pennsylvania: 49.7 percent.

  • Iowa: 48.8 percent.

  • Virginia: 48.4 percent.

  • Ohio: 48.3 percent.

  • Nevada: 48.2 percent.

  • New Hampshire: 47.8 percent.

  • Florida: 46.8 percent.

  • North Carolina: 45.3 percent.

Obama’s national average on RealClearPolitics is 47.1 percent.

If indeed 47 percent is the threshold of doom, Obama doesn’t have much more ground to lose in these swing states before they start to look out of reach.


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