Sunday, November 4, 2012

Final 2012 Prediction: Obama 277 Romney 261

Well here we are - it is final prediction time!  

I have been working on this post for three days as I wanted to have all necessary data and news over the weekend before releasing this.  There have been some tweaks based on this material.

I rewrote this a couple of times.  However new data over the last weekend pushed me to the prediction that I am making.

Michael Barone, long-time editor of the Almanac of American Politics put it very succinctly in his projection yesterday: "Fundamentals usually prevail in American elections." With this in mind, I predict that we will re-elect President Obama on November 6, 2012

This is my reasoning:
  • Demographics. The White vote will not be enough for Romney and there will be a larger than expected minority turnout - just enough to get Obama victories in states like OH, NV and WI.
  • Swing state poll models are correct and Rasmussen is the outlier. It is possible that the electorate will be as Democratic-leaning as 2008...although I will really be shocked if this is the case.
  • Romney peaked a week too early. Hurricane Sandy allowed Obama to look and act presidential (will Gov. Christie be drummed out of the GOP for his embrace of the President if this happens?) and the October jobs report was generally OK, not great, but not terrible.   
  • Hurricane Sandy took Romney's closing arguments off the news cycle and "froze" the race.
  • Romney's infamous 47% remark turned off many voters who may otherwise have considered him.
  • Obama successfully defined Romney as a corporate raider and swung enough Independents against Romney to hold on in battleground states.
  • Obama was successful in arguing that his policies prevented a second Great Depression. Economic trends are positive enough that voters wanted to "stay the course". 
  • Four years of political organizing paid off with a better than expected Democratic GOTV effort.Organization
  • Bin Ladin is dead and GM is alive.
  • Obama successfully tied Romney to George W. Bush in policies, if not syntax. This helped tremendously with Independents.
    Now this will be a VERY close election. If I am wrong and Mitt Romney prevails, these will be the reasons:
    • Romney has maintained a consistent lead among Independents, in some cases by nearly10 points.  Many of these Independents in swing states are suburban residents where elections are generally won or lost.
    • Romney will pull north of 60% of the White vote.  This will negate his severe disadvantage among minority voters. 
    • Republican enthusiasm outperformed Democratic enthusiasm.  This is evidenced by early voting and in all likely voter polls. Along this line of reasoning groups such as younger voters, single women, and African-Americans who had higher than normal turnout in 2008 will return to a more" normal (i.e. lower) turnout which will benefit Romney.
    • The Economy and Jobs remains the number one issue.  Obama is losing to Romney regarding his effectiveness in dealing with these vital areas.
    • Obama's unfavorability and wrong track numbers are generally higher than his favorability and right track numbers by several points; fundamental rule of politics - this is political death!
    • Polling models are tilted ever so slightly to the Democrats, but turnout will show these models to be off.  In an election this close being off by a few points in data modeling can and I believe will yield a very different result. Much of the poll modeling also understates the White percentage of vote buy a percentage point or two.
    • ObamaCare has been a "death panel" for the President in Florida.
    • Romney's "etch-a-sketch" to the political center and social moderation (I really think he is agnostic on many hot-button social issues) will help him among suburban college-educated professionals who would have a great amount of trouble voting for a genuine GOP social conservative.  Obama will still win many of these voters, but by nowhere near as large a margin as he did in 2008.
    • Romney was able to undo months of negative campaigning with his debate performances and has favorability ratings of about 50% - just enough. 
    • Bottom line - If the Obama campaign is not able to replicate its 2008 turnout model  the President will lose.
        Nationwide two-person popular vote

        But in the end this doesn't matter...
        Romney  50.2%
        Obama    49.8%

        Margin of victory will be 0.4%

        Swing States

        North Carolina - 15 EVs:  
        The Tarheel State which is historically Republican was captured by Obama by a whisker in 2008.  This was mainly driven by high African-American and college student turnout. Current head to head polling shows Romney with a small, but consistent lead.
        Early Prediction - Romney  

        September: But some recent polling shows it now tied.  Unless there is a total meltdown, I still think Romney squeaks it out here.   
        September Prediction - Romney
        October: Looks like with Romney's October surge, that NC has been put away.  Early voting numbers show that Obama's advantage of  2008 has evaporated.  I think Romney wins comfortably in NC now.  
        October Prediction - Romney

        November: Well let's start with the easiest call.  Turnout as in all places will matter.  Early voting shows a smaller advantage for Obama than in 2008 and a heavy Romney vote on Tuesday will swamp this.
        North Carolina Final Prediction: Romney 52-48

        Nevada - 6 EVs: 
        This state is an interesting mix with both a sizable Hispanic and Mormon population.  Won easily by Obama in 2008, Nevada is a battleground once more. However, I think that the president's advantage among Hispanics will pull it out for him in the end.
        Early Prediction - Obama

        September: Still agree with this analysis although the polls remain fairly close. September Prediction - Obama

        October: Polls remain close, now a tossup, but I think early voting numbers are enough to favor a small Obama victory.                                                                                October Prediction - Obama

        November: Early voting and the President's wide lead among hispanics deliver the state for Obama.  The substantial Mormon and rural population will keep it closer than last time, but Clark County (Las Vegas area) will put Obama over the top.  He won by 15 points in 2008 and Romney simply won't be able to make that up.
        Nevada Final Prediction: Obama 53-47

        Iowa - 6 EVs:  
        Recent polling shows this state as tied which is good news for Romney. Obama is well-organized here and this will be nip and tuck.  However, Iowa is very white and this is a group that has been deserting Obama in droves since 2008. Current polling shows a neck and neck race here. Both candidates are working very hard at this one.    
        Early Prediction - Romney

        September Obama is in better shape in Iowa now than he was a month ago and based on his momentum, I will flip Iowa to the Democrats...for now...                              September prediction - Obama

        October: Polls have shifted this back to a tie.  Romney's strong lead among white voters nationwide will just put him over the top here methinks...                                           October Prediction - Romney

        November: Polls are still showing it neck and neck.  This will be about turnout and independent voters.  Early voting shows an advantage for the President, but my sense is iot will be a late evening as Republican registrations are now on par with Democrats, unlike in 2008, but the counting may be late into the night.  Watch the turnout in the pro-Obama Quad Cities and in conservative western Iowa. Last batch of polls show Obama gaining momentum so I am flipping it to him.
        Iowa Final Prediction: Obama 51-49
        Colorado - 9 EVs:
        This is an eclectic state with a conservative rural and military population combined with liberal meccas like Boulder.  A high Hispanic turnout should help Obama, but early polling shows a very close race.  I have to flip a coin on this one.  
        Early Prediction - Obama

        September: The coin I flipped in June is still on edge, but state polling is showing either a tie or small Obama lead so we will keep this the same as well. 
        September Prediction - Obama

        October: Romney has moved into a very small lead here and the early voting number appear to favor him so I am switching COP back to red. This is a close one.
        October Predication - Romney

        November: Early voting figures (based on registered voters casting ballots) are continuing to favor Romney.  As everywhere, turnout is key.  If Denver and Boulder do not come out in massive numbers, Romney will win this by a whisker helped by the large number of active  military and retired veterans who reside in the state.
        Colorado Final Prediction: Romney 51-49

        Florida - 29 EVs:  
        This is a must-win for Romney and lends some weight to selecting Sen. Rubio for VP. Florida historically leans Republican, but Obama will be very competitive here.  But I see Romney pulling it out in the end based on his strong lead among voters over age 50.  
        Early Prediction - Romney

        September: Polls show an absolute tie in Florida.  Not good news for Romney who hoped to put away this swing state early. Without a win here, his path to 270 becomes almost impossible. No longer think Romney has the advantage here as he is being hammered over Medicare and immigration.  But with the state's economy in poor shape comparatively I will leave it where it was, but would not be surprised at all if it flips back to the president.  
        September Prediction - Romney

        October: Polling now shows that the nationwide Romney surge has hit the beach in FL and is eroding Obama's chances of keeping this state blue.  Feeling more confident that Romney steals this state's critical 29 electoral votes. 
        October Prediction - Romney

        November: Romney has spent time in Florida this week which shows that he does not have Florida nailed down yet. Watch returns from the critical I-4 corridor from Orlando to Tampa and is turnout in hyper-conservative North Florida is high (some of these counties lean Republican 75-25). Do Hispanics stay with Obama in the Miami suburbs?  This will be close, but the over 65 vote looks to be a lock for Romney (ObamaCare is not popular with this crowd) and this put him over the top.  I also believe that the Jewish vote in South Florida will not be as pro-Obama as it was in 2008 due to differences over US policy toward Israel.
        Final Prediction: Romney 53-47

        Virginia - 13 EVs:  
        The Old Dominion is getting more purple than it was thanks to an influx of wealthy, educated, and socially liberal whites in the DC suburbs, but much of it remains part of the old South.  Republicans won big here in 2010, but I think Obama prevails here for a second time due to a large and enthusiastic turnout in Fairfax County. This will be very closely contested.  
        Early Prediction - Obama

        September: Polling now shows Obama expanding his lead.  This is another must-win for Romney, but if things continue as they are I see him losing by at least 5 points. Obama really has solidified his lead in northern Virginia and the DC suburbs.  The addition of former VA Rep and Libertarian presidential candidate Virgil Goode also drains some votes that would likely go to Romney.  
        September Prediction - Obama

        October: As in several other swing states, Romney has taken a small lead in most polls. Obama will do well in Fairfax County and the DC suburbs, but Romney will sweep in coal country and likely among military voters in the Virginia Beach area.
        October Prediction - Romney

        November:  This is a must win state for Romney and he has poured an incredible amount of resources into it.  The President's team has done the same thing so again, this will be all about who turns out their voters.  Early voting numbers suggest that Republican leaning counties are outperforming their 2008 turnout while turnout in the DC suburbs is slightly lower than 2008.If Obama outperforms in Northern VA and the DC suburbs he will win.  However, I think Romney will do just well enough in these areas coupled with a strong vote elsewhere in the state (especially coal country) to win another late night squeaker - assuming that Goode of the Constitution Party does not steal more than a few votes.
        Final Prediction: Romney 51-49

        Pennsylvania - 20 EVs:  
        Described by strategist James Carville as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh on the ends with Alabama in the middle, PA is a state with a split personality.  Romney will win in the rural central part of the state and in coal country while Obama will rake in the urban areas.  The election will be won in suburbia but with a historic Democratic lean I will place PA (for now) as an Obama state.
        Early Prediction - Obama

        September: Polling shows this state leaning further into Obama's camp.  The fact that Romney is not campaigning or advertising heavily in PA is another indicator that he is writing this state off.  Obama should win by a comfortable margin, some polls now have him in a double digit lead.  
        September Prediction - Obama

        October: Polling has tightened again with a few showing a tie, but Obama seems to be maintaining a lead of between 4 and 6 points.  If Romney has a huge turnout in rural areas he could take it (and thus the election), but I think Obama hangs on here based on the overwhelming Democratic registration advantage. Also, Romney has not committed significant resources here.
        October Prediction - Obama

        November: Big news here is that in the past week Romney has poured a ton of resources here late in the game.  This would not be happening and he would not be personally campaigning here if something in their internal numbers did not show them with a legitimate shot here.  Romney will do very well in rural areas, but I still think Obama wins PA with overwhelming urban support, but if Philly doesn't turnout like it did in 2008, this is a call I may end up missing thus causing Obama campaign manager David Axelrod to shave his legendary mustache. Calling it for the President based upon past state performance in close races (2000 and 2004) where Republicans fell just short and the Democrats nearly million person advantage among registered voters.  But I think this is the place where Romney is most likely to surprise.
        Final Prediction - Obama 51-49

        Ohio - 18 EVs:   
        Another must win for Romney; no Republican has won the presidency in recent history without the Buckeye state. Again this is a battle to be waged in suburban Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati with Romney winning big in rural areas and Obama holding the cities.  This will be close, but I give the edge to Romney at this point.  
        Early Prediction - Romney

        September: Not any more.  Romney is consistently down by ever widening margins especially over the past couple of weeks.  Looks like the auto bailout and Ohio's comparatively good local economy is boosting the president.  In some polling he is winning women by 20 points and the race is even among men.  Romney needs to turn this one around immediately or he is in deep trouble.  
        September Prediction - Obama

        October: What a difference a month makes.  This is back to a coin toss.  Obama is maintaining a very slight advantage in the polls, but all are within the margin of error.  Ohio is indeed ground zero of this election - if Obama loses OH, he is a one term president.  If he wins, Romney's path to 270 is very difficult.  For now, I will keep it with Obama, but I can easily see Romney squeaking it out here.  May be a long night!
        October Prediction - Obama

        November:  Rasmussen has the only poll out this week showing Romney with a 2 point lead, but every other poll still has Obama up by a few. All are within the margin of error making this yet another tough call.  Enthusiasm seems to be on Romney's side especially with a 30,000 person turnout at a Friday evening rally near Cincinnati. In the end however, I think that the successful attacks on Romney, the auto bailout, and superior organization keeps Ohio in the Obama column, but 'twill be another late evening.
        Final Prediction - Obama 51-49

        Michigan - 16 EVs:  
        Obama seemed very strong here a month ago, but recent polling shows a closer race.  Romney has family ties here, but his opposition to the auto bailout has hurt him. MI has been trending Democratic in recent years and while close, I think Obama will squeak it out here. Early prediction - Obama

        September: Like Ohio, the president seems to be pulling away.  Another state where Romney has stopped advertising as well. looks like another state Obama does not have to worry about or dedicate a lot of resources to.
        September Prediction - Obama

        October: Michigan, like PA has closed.  Unemployment remains high, thus Romney does have a shot here, but I am betting the auto bailout helps keep this state blue.
        October Prediction - Obama

        November: I concur with my last prediction, this will be close, but it is telling that neither Romney nor Ryan is visiting here over the past week.  Both candidates have launched limited advertising in the past ten day, but this is just a bridge too far for Romney.
        Final Prediction - Obama 53-47

        Wisconsin - 10 EVs:  
        This state was very close in 2000 and 2004, but was won easily by Obama in 2008.  The recent failure of the recall election against Gov. Walker and a strong Republican organization makes this very competitive this time around.  A possible Paul Ryan VP pick makes this even more interesting. Another coin flip...
        Early Prediction - Romney

        September: The Ryan pick has made this state competitive, but polling in WI is showing the same trend of independents and women to Obama.  Ryan may not be enough here as Romney continues to falter, in fact, I am now thinking that Obama wins this by a few.
        September Prediction - Obama

        October: Like other swing states, the gap has closed back to a tie.  WI is getting a lot of attention as it is crucial for Romney if he loses OH.  Ryan is helping here and the momentum favors Romney.  I am going to move it back to red, but this is a 50/50 state.
        October Prediction - Romney

        November:  Both campaigns are fighting tooth and nail here.  Obama won WI by 14% in 2008, but it is as close as they come and is vital for Romney if he loses OH.  Republicans benefit from a strong ground operation as evidenced in the successful defense of Gov, Scott Walker in last spring's recall.  Democrats benefit from Wisconsin's presidential vote for Democrats since 1988. But...the 2000 and 2004 margins were Democrat victories by less then a single percentage point.  Like with Iowa, the last few surveys show a bounce for the President, therefore:
        Final Prediction: Obama 52 - 48

        New Hampshire - 4 EVs:  
        In an election as potentially close as this one, the Granite State's four electoral voes may decide the winner. Historically Republican, but trending Democratic, this will be close.  Romney has spent a lot of time here, but polling shows that his move to the political right may hurt him in this libertarian state.  One more coin flip.
        Early Prediction - Obama

        September: Based on consistent polling showing an Obama advantage, I am keeping this where it is.
        September Prediction - Obama

        October: Polling has tightened here (like everywhere else!)  Some are showing Romney in the lead, but the socially conservative nature of the national GOP simply plays very poorly in libertarian NH and should keep Obama ahead on election night - barely.
        October Prediction - Obama

        November: This is a very tough call. Polling tjhis week is showing a tie.  However, if Romney is indeed leading among independents by several points, this may be the same in NH.  Also, Romney is wrapping up his campaign with two stops here in the last three days.  On the other hand Obama has carried a reservoir of good will in this state with a relatively low unemployment rate and NH voters are more liberal on social issues than the national GOP.. I think Romney makes it by the skin of his teeth.
        Final Prediction: Romney 51-49


        These are the "stretch goal" states that either side which may be contestable...
        in a perfect storm (like we saw in 2008)! It is highly unlikely that any of these are seriously contested on Tuesday, but let's have some numbers fun anyway.

        Minnesota:    Obama 53-47
        Arizona:        Romney 54-46
        Indiana:        Romney  56-44
        New Jersey:   Obama 55-45
        Georgia:        Romney 55-45
        Oregon:         Obama 53-47
        Missouri:       Romney 55-45
        New Mexico:  Obama 54-46

        The two polls out this weekend showing both Minnesota and Michigan tied are outliers...I think!

        Five Best Romney States
        1. Utah            72%
        2. Oklahoma    70%
        3. Idaho           69%
        4. Arkansas      64%
        5. Wyoming     63%
        Five Best Obama States
        1. Vermont         67%
        2. Hawaii           64%
        3. New York      62%
        4. Rhode Island  61%
        5. Maryland       61%
        For my (and Romney's) home state of Massachusetts, Obama romps 59-41.

        Based on these predictions, this is how the map will look...

         Democrats retain control of the Senate, perhaps losing one seat.

        The House remains Republican with maybe a 2-4 seat shift towards the Democrats.

        Bottom line - this is an extremely tough call.  Some very notable pundits are predicting a  Romney victory with over 300 EVs.  If the late Romney strategy in Pennsylvania catches the Obama team napping it will result in him being elected.

        If I am wrong on Iowa or Wisconsin (or Ohio) Romney wins as well.  On the other hand if either Florida or Virgina goes to Obama it will be an early evening/

        48 hours to go - I will be getting little sleep this week.

        BTW, I reserve the right to make revisions should anything happen inthe next 24 hours to change things...


        The Prof

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