Friday, May 8, 2009

Election 2008

Below is an analysis/prediction that I wrote the day before last November's election. Although I was not off by a whole lot (many of the swing states were relatively close), I underestimated Obama's margin of victory. I have added some commentary today in red text to bring things up to date.

Goes to show that us profs aren't always as wicked smaht as we think we are!

Published on Nov. 3, 2008
Ok - T minus one day and counting. Time for Professor Lovoi's amazingly accurate prediction for Nov. 4, 2008

The Professor's Prediction: (270 electoral votes needed for victory)
Electoral College: Obama 311 McCain 227 Actual was 365 to 173
National popular vote (two party): Obama 52% McCain 48% not too far off - it was 53% to 47%

All of this is mapped out and can be accessed at the following address - note the red and blue colors on US Election Atlas are reversed with blue for Republicans and red for Democrats

Looking at the electoral college math, it is a decidedly uphill climb for McCain and a relatively easy path for Obama to the White House. Lets look at the swing states and the latest Real Clear Politics polling averages…

Battleground States Obama McCain Spread

Florida 48.6 to 46.8 Obama +1.8
McCain is a squeaker (echoes of 2000?), the Jewish vote in South Florida won't be as Democratic as it usually is, although this may easily go the other way as the Cuban vote is less Republican - Mac by 2. Missed this one as Obama cleaned up with the Hispanic vote and won FL by 3

North Carolina 47.7 to 48.3 McCain +0.6
Ditto McCain - Obama will make it very close, but will fall 3-4 points short. However, he has forced Mac to spend resources in a state that should have been safe Mac by 4 points. Obama squeaked it by a point , the Tar Heel state is slowly changing politically and this is evidenced by Obama's strong showing in what should have been a gimme state for McCain.

Virginia 49.8 to 45.5 Obama +4.3
Obama wins - demographics have changed too much - Mac's only hope is that there is a huge turnout in Newport News (military vets), and in the rural southwest, but O's advantage in the DC suburbs should cement it for him by at least 4 points. got this one, Obama won by 6

Ohio 49.0 to 45.8 Obama +3.2
Obama hanging on by a thread, but it will be razor this as the Republican party is well organized and will get its voters out. However I would not at all be surprised to see Mac win either, a real tossup state Obama by 1. Obama won by 5, much like Clinton's victory in 1996.

Missouri 47.5 to 48.0 McCain +0.5
McCain hangs on, but high black turnout in St. Louis and Kansas City may make it a late night in this bellwether state Mac by 2. McCain won this by 0.1% -by only 6,000 votes out of 2.9 million cast!

Colorado 50.8 to 45.3 Obama +5.5
Obama - young people and Hispanics put him over the top and the state is skewing more Democratic at the local level, Obama by at 5. Obama won by 9, CO is turning bluer than I thought, again Hispanic voters were key

Nevada 49.6 to 43.4 Obama +6.2
Ditto Obama - organization and turnout should have him winning by at least 4. Obama took NV by 13 - I really was off on this one. Shows conventional wisdom can be very wrong

Other swing states
PA - (Otherwise known as Pennsyltucky) Essential for McCain if he is to have any hope of victory - if this goes blue lights out for Mac, if not, 'twill be a long evening. I think Obama will win PA by a couple, his turnout machine in Philly will put him over the top... Obama won by 10 as this state continues its Blue trend. Senator Specter's recent party switch is largely driven by him reading the political tea leaves in PA astutely.

NH - The four electoral votes out of NH should have been McCain's to lose, but the millstone around his neck named GW Bush will drown him is a sea of blue in the southeastern part of the state and the more liberal Ct Valley region And lose he did, by 10 points. NH is not the rock-ribbed Republican state of old.

IN - Surprise!! Indiana is a swing state where W. won by 20 points in 2004. McCain pulls it out by about 5, but again Obama has forced him to defend turf that he should have owned. Obama took this reliably red state by 1 point. The minority turnout in Gary and McCain under performing in the rural areas made this a sweet victory for the Dems.

Iowa - Obama by at least 5, I wonder why McCain sent Palin there over the weekend, unless his internal polls showed tightening…or he wanted the SNL appearance all to himself! Obama wins by 9 going away - the early organizing for the primary paid off in the general.

New Mexico - Obama easily (by at least 7) although W won this in 2004. And Obama won by 15 - again propelled by the Hispanic vote.

Outstanding questions we can ponder this evening…

Keys to Obama's Victory I think I was pretty darn close on these!

Change - the watchword for the Obama campaign. He has become the personification for what many voters want, a young, intelligent, and very new breed pf politician. This is also a chance to start putting America's racial issues to rest and that has immense appeal. McCain has run a poor campaign and unfortunately is not the guy he was in 2000 when he was the change candidate.
Money - he has raised a ton and by bypassing the spending restrictions has carried the fight to McCain' turf. McCain only has outside shots in the blue states of PA and NH. Without money he has been handicapped and abandoned states like MI, WI, and MN which could have been Republican pickups if not for...

The Economy - the Wall street meltdown hit as voters were making decisions and has acted calm and collected whilst McCain has lurched from idea to idea with no consistent message.

The Debates - Obama performed well in the debates and has run an incredibly disciplined campaign. He came across very well and was able to look and act presidential. McCain's debate performance was mediocre although it did improve in the last one, but he never got the knockout blow he needed.

New voters - minority voters are going to be a tsunami that will help that will help Obama in former Bush states such as NV, NM, VA, and OH. Young voters are enthusiastic as well - but will they turn out…I think so looking at the impressive organization that Obama has created.

Palin - which at first had seemed a positive tactical move to woo blue collar voters in the heartland, I think Palin has hurt Mac among women and suburban independents, although she did shore up the party's evangelical base. What if he had picked Ridge and put PA into play…or Romney who may (or may not as he is associated with Wall St!) have helped McCain's economic credentials? Palin's obvious inexperience and poor interviews with Gibson and Couric is outweighing her populist and reformer persona.

McCain's Age - see above. If he was 55 with no health issues, Palin would not be a drag she is now.

Biden - as with the Hippocratic Oath, rule #1 with a VP pick is do no harm. With Joe Biden, Obama helped calm concerns that he would be untested In foreign policy - he would only be tested by Mr. Biden's many gaffes!

George W Bush - with abysmal 25% public approval ratings, Obama has skillfully hung him around McCain's neck like a millstone and it has worked. Voters are looking for a way to punish him on the way out. The Republican brand image has suffered severe damage and they will lose at least six if not up to ten Senate seats along with thirty House seats. Thanks George!!

Can McCain win?
Yes, but his path runs thru PA and hanging onto OH, FL, and NC. Some argue that the polls have been wrong this year by over sampling, there may be a lot of undecideds breaking a the last minute…at least these are the McCain campaign's talking points over the weekend. The polls have tightened over the past few days and many of the swing states are within the margin of error. If he does score an upset by making the electoral college math work (I think he has about a 10% chance of doing this) there is the real possibility of 2000 all over again with the electoral college winner losing the nationwide popular vote. In hindsight given the dynamics of the campaign there was little chance he had any path to victory. I do think he made it closer than a Romney or Huckabee would have, but Obama is an absolute phenom who took this election by storm.

A blowout?
If certain things such as turnout and organization for Obama skew more his way than I think, he could well run up the total upwards of 375 electoral votes. This means the swing states all go his way and he picks off states like Louisiana and Georgia due to extraordinary African-American turnout. Even Arizona could go blue if some of the national polls showing Obama up by over 10 are indeed correct. Not quite a blowout, but a good decisive victory for Obama. McCain did hold the South and actually out-performed Bush in some of these states (WV and AR come to mind), but fared poorly in many traditionally Republican regions elsewhere. Obama's freshness, incredibly disciplined campaign, and organization served him well!

Massachusetts Results

Obama wins Massachusetts 62-38 (will be one Obama's top states behind VT, NY,and IL)
No incumbents lose in the state legislature - 100% reelection rate yet again (yes, it was a 100% reelection rate as always) …(I am hoping Diane Wilkerson wins the sticker campaign even though she has dropped out - it will just be funny if she does!) It was Obama 61-36 so I almost nailed it, Nader and Barr took the remainder

Massachusetts Ballot Questions
Question 1 to eliminate the income tax fails 60-40 Question 2 to decriminalize marijuana passes 55-45 Question 3 to ban greyhound racing passes 51-49 I was pretty close on these!

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