I don’t have time for a nicely laid-out graphic map of the final red vs blue states in this election, and I am unfortunately ensconced away from the media in a 'secure location', but I wanted to pin down my expectations about the election results before the preliminary figures start rolling tonight.
My prediction is based on the substantial lead that Republicans have over Democrats in enthusiasm for their party and their likelihood of voting. That is a difficult idea to apply to real results but that will be a major factor in the election. Likewise, I continue to believe that the Bradley Factor in polling – a tendency for respondents to reply in favor of a minority candidate so as not to appear politically incorrect to a pollster, but voting otherwise at the ballot box – will play a part as well. That surge of self-satisfaction for voting for Obama because of his symbolic nature has now passed, and people that had been attuned to that are now ready to move on to a more realistic assessment. For that reason, the Bradley Factor will play an even more important role in this particular election.
The MSM has portrayed Obama’s ace in the hole in his foreign policy, centered around his incessant claim of having killed bin Laden. Yes, bin Laden is dead but so is Ambassador Stevens, but we are seeing the unraveling of Libya, Syria self-immolating, Iran marching toward a nuclear weapon, Israel practically abandoned, an al Qaeda that is not only still very much alive but gaining in strength, and so on. His claim to have ‘ended’ the war in Iraq is based entirely on the agreement from the Bush administration, and Obama managed to mess that up by abandoning any attempt to secure a status of forces agreement. In Afghanistan, we are slowly bleeding support away from our troops still left there for another two years, with a resurgent Taliban moving back in. Voters are seeing this.
The economy has never been Obama’s strong suit and he will suffer for that.
His campaign received a reprieve from his steady decline due to the intervention of Hurricane Sandy, which has received fairly neutral press in contrast to the howls about Katrina. It has nevertheless distracted the press (many would think willfully) from having to address the news about the Libya debacle and the non-response by the White House to calls for help, and other news that was seeing momentum in favor of Romney, like the increase in the unemployment rate back up to 7.9%.
But that addresses the national figures. More important is the Electoral College.
Just working off of the swing states, my read at this point is that Florida (29 votes) and North Carolina (15) easily go to Romney. In the ‘toss-up/too close to call’ category, I predict that, based on the early turn-out numbers in New Hampshire (4) which are enormous, that Romney will take that state too, though I admit that is pretty bold. Virginia (13) will go to Romney because of the large military presence there, affected by Obama’s almost cheerful expectation that defense spending will take an additional enormous cut, particularly with his comments about the Navy in the last debate. (I look to see the numbers in Connecticut (7), home of Electric Boat and ancillary companies, to sharply narrow as well.) Iowa (6) will be in Romney’s column too, having seen the top five newspapers strongly endorse Romney. Wisconsin’s (10) experience of the last two years in defeating the union counter-attack will carry it to support Romney, over and above the fact that it's Ryan's home state. Colorado (9) is tight but will go with Romney in the end.
That gives Romney 277 Electoral College votes, and that is without the support of Pennsylvania (20), which I believe to be in play, and Ohio (18). This is probably willful on my part, since I am sick to death of hearing about how nothing can happen without the concurrence of Ohio. I would love to put that beast to rest. Likewise Nevada (5) has seen a scathing editorial in the last few days against Obama; it looked pretty close when I was there a few weeks ago, and that might put it over the top.
Final answer, and that's a conservative estimate. With New York and New Jersey in electoral turmoil, and the army of lawyers lining up for come what may, the dust won’t settle for while yet unless it’s a blow-out. Don't rely on exit polls; if they were accurate, John Kerry would have won in 2004. So I don’t expect to see the final conclusion tonight, but I’m committed.
Well, in the immortal words of Governor Rick Perry -- oops. If it's any consolation (and a vanishingly small one at that), I find myself in good company but I take responsibility for my conclusions. There will be a lot of dissection of how it all went wrong, and that is for later. The model for us was wrong, and I refuse to believe that the Democrats knew for certain what the outcome would be, but they certainly had the better structure and picked the message that worked for this election.
Back to work. Pick up, dust off, dig in.