A number of these polls had very large sample sizes, meaning that the results are less likely than usual to have resulted from statistical variance.
But the modest gains that Mr. Obama has made in the high-profile national surveys should not be that much of a surprise. We’ve observed the race shifting toward him over the past two to three weeks in polls of swing states, where overwhelming majorities of polls have had Mr. Obama ahead over the past few days.
Where has Mr. Obama shown a bit of weakness in his numbers? His polls in noncompetitive states have been mediocre lately. In polls published by the online firm YouGov on Sunday, for example, there were declines in Mr. Obama’s numbers in California and Texas. Since these states have large populations, they could lower Mr. Obama’s popular vote even though they will play no role in his Electoral College tally.
The forecast model still does perceive some differences between the state polls and national polls, but it is within a reasonable range.
Perhaps more important, the fact that the national polls now suggest a slight lead for Mr. Obama removes one of the better reasons to think that our forecast might have been underrating Mr. Romney’s chances.
Based on the simulations that we ran on early Sunday evening, for example, Mr. Obama would have an 85 percent chance of winning the Electoral College if the popular vote were exactly tied nationally. This is where Mr. Obama’s Electoral College advantages, particularly in Nevada, Ohio and Wisconsin, would be of their maximum benefit. Given a tied national popular vote, we would expect Mr. Obama to underperform his polls slightly in these states — but since he leads by a minimum of about three points in the polling average in each one, he could underperform those numbers and still win them.
Mr. Obama would be almost certain to win the Electoral College if he won the popular vote by a percentage point or so.
And that's where he is at this point, with a lead nationally of a point or two. Nate is still hanging an 87% chance for the President, and about 12.5% for Romney, we've gone from one in six to about one in eight now for the Republican.
Having said that, it's important to note that Nate gave only a one in six chance 2 years ago of Republicans picking up 70 House seats. They got 67. Just because Silver assigns it a low probability doesn't mean the President can't lose. It means that out of every fifteen simulations, Romney does win two of them.
Keep that in mind. If you can vote early today (some states still have early voting on Monday) do so, and Tuesday get to the polls otherwise!