One of the weaknesses of pWP is the fact it doesn’t take into consideration undecided voters. The basic assumption of my pWP model is that in close elections, the undecided voters split rather evenly; otherwise they break toward the leading candidate. The main exception is when there’s an obvious macro-event (recession, war, hyperinflation, the candidate murders someone, etc), in those situations the undecideds break away from the incumbent, or the murderer, unless it’s a good macro-event, in which case the opposite is true.
Thus, I have no problem ignoring undecided voters when calculating pWP.
Rasmussen, and other pollsters, have ways of trying to gauge how undecided voters are leaning. Currently Rasmussen has Romney leading Obama 47%-45% (giving Obama a very low 25% pWP). However, when they include leaners, the race is much tighter:
The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Monday shows Mitt Romney attracting support from 47% of voters nationwide, while President Obama earns 45% of the vote. Four percent (4%) prefer some other candidate, and four percent (4%) are undecided. See daily tracking history.
When “leaners” are included, the race is tied with both Obama and Romney at 48%. Leaners are those who are initially uncommitted to the two leading candidates but lean towards one of them when asked a follow-up question.
Leaners make the race a toss-up. They break 3:1 for Obama. But what can we say about the 4% who are truly undecided? What can we say about the energy of the leaners? are they likely to make it to the polls? What about the four percent who are looking at voting third party? what percentage of them will decide on the lesser of two evils? (From my own experience, many of those who intend to vote 3rd party in the weeks before an election will decide on one of the major candidates on election day.)
I just don’t have good answers to many of these questions. My hunch is the undecided voters will break the president’s way if there’s no double-dip recession. The current aggregate pWP for Obama is 65%, which is outside of ‘toss-up’ territory, based on pWP, I would predict an Obama victory.
If the electorate is really 48%-48%, as Rasmussen’s poll including leaners suggest, then the Undecideds may not be important at all. Voter turnout will be the tiebreaker. Voter turnout is summoned by three things: macro-events, party-organized GOTV, and voter enthusiasm. In terms of party GOTV, I think Obama wins. In terms of macro-events, Obama wins. In terms of voter enthusiasm, I think Romney rides high on the anti-Obama sentiment.
In other words, Obama is still in control of this race.