by Eileen | 1:55 am, November 6, 2012 | Comments Off
I have been thinking. I do that at times. Now, in 2008, I called the Electoral College perfectly; I got Indiana right, for crying out loud. In 2010, I got every major race save one gubernatorial contest – and nobody got that one right. If that sounds like bragging, well, that’s because it is. Though I lack his visibility, I have a better record than the mighty Nate Silver.
An American election brings so much information that anyone with even a marginally good education and the willingness to spend some time looking at data and reading news should be able to make a pretty good prediction. It rests far more on paying attention long enough to soak up details and notice patterns than it does on statistics.
Usually, the predictions of the ‘experts’ will converge in the final campaign days and all the hotshots will more or less agree. That makes 2012 interesting; there’s pretty wide disagreement over what will happen tomorrow.
Whatever happens, lots of people will have egg on their faces.
It also means there will be room for enterprising minds to make bank explaining what went wrong with the losing side’s predictions. Tragically, the one certainty is that the pundits aren’t going anywhere.
Both sides are being awfully sanguine, or, rather, their talking heads and shrillest fanboys are overly optimistic. In a way, that means nothing. Talking heads are paid to squawk like parrots going through natural childbirth. The class of people who post illogical tirades on FaceBook are at that level, instead of, say, consulting for $500 an hour, for good reason – they’re idiots.
Still, it’s weird that two sides who can’t possibly both be right are so eerily confident. There is simply no way Obama replicates his 2008 margin, or comes anywhere near it, presuming he wins. If you look at the states where he hasn’t even been fighting, it’s clear Obama knows the best he can hope for is to limit that states that switch.
Taking the rosiest realistic map for Romney, I still don’t see him breaking 300. Here, I am assuming that he just won’t carry Michigan or Wisconsin, regardless of anything else.
In fact, one bet I will make is that whichever one wins will come in below 300.
The odd mismatch between swing-state polls that favor Obama and national polls that favor Romney could signal a split where Romney wins the popular vote but loses the Electoral College.
(As an aside, some left-leaning commentators have suggested this may happen, and have heaped preliminary scorn on right-wingers who will, they imagine, cry foul. Because, you know, Gore and his posse were all so mature and accepted defeat so graciously and quickly in 2000. Talk about chickens coming home to file amicus briefs before the Supreme Court.)
There’s also substance in pointing out that, when it comes to the Presidency, a tie favors the challenger. Barack Obama has been the most powerful and the most visible man on the planet for four years. If he hasn’t made his case well enough to have a decisive margin among us voting plebeians, he’s really getting it wrong.
We just may find the polls were overwhelmingly inaccurate. Some of the most absurdly favorable Obama scenarios rest on polls that presume the same Democratic turnout and enthusiasm this time around as in 2008. Between the Independents breaking for Romney, the Democrats experiencing some marked lethargy, and the Bright Young Things of 2008 resuming their default indifference, Romney could win and make fools of all the leftist pollsters.
I will also say that Obama’s persona the last few weeks is that of a worried man; I think he’s scared – maybe it’s the internals he’s seeing – and that, if he wins, he’ll be surprised and relieved. Unfortunately, this means he will also bounce back more narcissistic then ever, and likely with a new streak of vindictiveness.
If the Republicans lose, they have a major problem of their own to face. How on earth, will go the question, could they not have taken down Obama with his hubris, his arrogance, the dismal economy, his souring favorability ratings, his preference for golf over going to work, the fact that his signature legislation is roundly despised…and on and on and so on.
A GOP loss will also sound a powerful message that the American electorate prefers compelling, albeit fictionalized, life stories and the tawdry packaging of Camelot-redux to an actual policy platform. That will be a very sad truth about what we as a nation care about when handing over the massive power that rests in the Presidency.
True, the polls do seem ‘off’ to a lot of people who spend their days observing a wider swath of American behavior that polling data. This is the source of a lot of conservative and center-right commentators who have an ‘intuition’ that Romney will win. At least, it’s what they say is behind their tilt toward Romney. It’s easy to mistake desperate hope that your guys pulls it out, or utter bewilderment that there are people who want the next four years to be just like the last, for ‘intuition.’
This will likely be close, and that is astonishing. Obama being re-elected with 271 votes is actually a plausible map. So is Romney with 275. The fact that the American voters aren’t showing a runaway preference for one of two starkly different visions of governance means there are a lot of deluded people. This may be the one thing both sides agree on.
(Though, I’ll also say, if there is a runaway margin in the Electoral College, it’ll be for Romney. And ‘runaway’ in this context will still only be 330 or so.)
My reticence to make a solid bet on one map is that I don’t like the ones I come up with; right now, I’m frowning at a 277-261 Obama win and trying to convince myself it won’t happen. I’m hoping to be surprised tomorrow. I’ve disliked Obama since he came on the national stage and he’s been even worse then I anticipated.
I also think he’s the worst sort of man to be in a position where he has no need to run a re-election campaign or think about his political future. For one thing, this is not a man who will care about the fortunes of his party after he leaves office. A second Obama term will be four years of Barry-taking-care-of-Barry and then scooting off to private life.
Anyway, given that the states don’t move as discrete variables, I think we’ll know what we’re in for once New Hampshire and Virginia report. If Obama can carry Virginia, he’ll win. If Romney takes the Old Dominion, he’s still in it. If Romney takes both, then I think he wins.
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