With one week to go before the 2012 US Presidential Election, I decided to make my prediction on who will win. So here it is.
I believe Mitt Romney will be the 45th President of the United States.
Now, mind you I will say upfront that I am a supporter of President Barack Obama. So I don’t come to this prediction lightly. But I have seen some signs that point to the serious possibility that Romney will outdo Obama in this particular election.
1. The Independent Vote
With partisans usually getting 90%+ of their partisans on their side, independents usually decide elections. Polls indicate Obama is trailing with independent voters, both nationally and in many of the swing states. In some polling samples, Obama has narrow leads based on the fact that the proportion of Democrats sampled is near or exceeding the proportion of Democrats who came out in 2008 which was an extremely anomalous year for Democratic turnout. Obama would need high turnout like 2008 to override independents turning against him.
2. Decreased Democratic Enthusiasm
Which brings me to my 2nd point…decreased enthusiasm on the Democratic side. Needless to say, polling seems to indicate GOP enthusiasm to vote is higher than Democratic enthusiasm this year. It’s not a landslide higher, but it is higher and so it is likely more Republicans will turnout than in 2008, especially those who sat out the election because of lack of enthusiasm for John McCain and the impending strong electoral college victory by Obama. Democrats were extremely excited for Obama in 2008, but even subjectively, such enthusiasm simply doesn’t exist in 2012 and in fact there was a huge jump in 2008 from 2004 in terms of party identification in the electorate make up. I simply don’t expect as many Democrats who would vote Obama to go to the polls this year.
3. A “Redder” Electorate in 2012
The polling agencies Rasmussen, Gallup and Pew Research all indicate the electorate in terms of Party-ID identification has become more notably Republican since 2010. Here is a Party-ID breakdown by the Winston Group based on exit polling showing the evolution through Presidential and mid-term elections:
The three polling firms mentioned are currently showing the electorate between R+2 and R+3 in party identification. This compares to D+7 in 2008, a potential 9-10% shift if the polling being done is accurate on election day. As you can see, there has never been an R+2 Presidential election in the 1984-2010 record. Republicans were elected with the electorate at D+3 to a tie. Democrats were elected with D+3 to D+7. The overall average for Presidential elections is D+3.1…pretty much the threshold between electing a Democrat vs. a Republican President. Why is this? I’m not certain. It may be because for whatever reason, there are more Democrat to Republican crossovers than Republican to Democrat crossovers and so Democrats need a higher level of turnout than Republicans to win the vote. Obviously an R+2 or R+3 electorate would be incredibly hostile to a Democratic candidate if all else holds true. Democrats may turnout just as they did in 2008 to support their guy…but Republicans may just turn out more.
4. The State of the Electoral War
To see the state of the ongoing war between Obama and Romney is like to look at a map of a war zone. Where are the troops located? Who is conquering territory? In 2008, Obama was competing in traditionally Republican territory such as Indiana, Virginia, North Carolina, Nebraska 2nd Congressional District (where I actually canvassed for the Obama campaign) and Montana. Obama won all those places, except Montana which he lost narrowly. What is the state of those places now? Let’s just say I project with 99% confidence that Obama will lose North Carolina, Nebraska CD-2 and Montana with a 65% confidence he will lose Virginia based on what I’ve seen. Colorado is slipping away, Iowa and Nevada are tight, he’s fighting to hold Ohio and now this week Romney is putting up ads and may campaign (or at least send surrogates) into Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. These states haven’t been won by Republicans since 1988, 1988, 1984, and 1972 respectively. Maine CD-2 also appears to be in play. All of them have polling suggesting the race is anywhere from marginally to extremely competitive (I always look at the internals, not just the top-line, “who has the lead?” stuff). Obama is responding with ads in Pennsylvania and sending Clinton to Minnesota. Either this is a Romney “head fake” and Obama is buying it (doubtful as they certainly would have the best polling money can buy just as Romney has) or these states are becoming competitive. Ohio should be where the fight is in this election for the Electoral College. But the fact that Romney feels the command to “jump the border” and launch an invasion of Blue Territory in order to make it red tells me he’s got the upper hand and Obama cannot do the same, he can only relentlessly defend. No point to winning Ohio if you lose Pennsylvania or lose Wisconsin and Minnesota. He must hold the historically Democratic states or he loses badly. Incumbent winners don’t go through such defensive measures historically. They usually expand the map a little (Bush ’04 and Clinton ’96) or a lot (Reagan ’84 or Nixon ’72). If they don’t, they usually lose (Carter ’80 or Bush ’92). There are exceptions to this such as Wilson in 1916 or Roosevelt in 1940 and 1944 who lost electoral votes and won, but they both had massive electoral vote wins in their previous elections to come down from and still win. It’s something for Obama go for historically, at least.
5. On the Economy and Deficit
In polling done of the electorate, both in post-debate polls and general election polling, Romney appears to be winning the economics argument. I don’t personally buy his economic ideas, but apparently many people do and it is the most important thing to people in this election. Everything else is icing on the cake. With 7.8% unemployment (we’ll see what it looks like on Friday for the month of October), the head winds should’ve been expected to be strong just they have been for most incumbent Presidents or parties dealing with high unemployment. People want someone to blame. First it was Bush (and so McCain was sent to the electoral firing squad) and now it’s Obama who’s being threatened by the same forces of gravity as McCain.
Now I’ve seen various models of the election; such as Nate Silver’s probabilistic forecasting based on polling to the University of Colorado political scientists’ model based on economic issues. This opinion is my own only and I’m not looking to somehow “convince” anyone about who will win (who cares, you’re all going to still vote anyways…right? RIGHT??). I’m still going to vote for Obama on Tuesday and do my part to keep him from being blown out in South Dakota (prospects for success are doubtful). But I said I’d make a prediction and so I’ve made one. As for the Electoral College…I’m going to punt on that one because I really have no idea how it may turn out. It’s easier for me to say who will win, than by how much.
Regardless of who you are voting for in this election, participate and make your voice heard! I have Election Day off from work so I will have coverage of the 2012 Election in this blog next Tuesday Night.