I had planned to wait until Monday night to make my presidential prediction, but the way the polls have broken over the last week, President Barack Obama is a clear favorite to win reelection on Tuesday. Only a massive, last-minute reversal on Monday, or the unlikely and unprecedented occurrence of virtually all reputable polling being dead wrong, can alter this result.
For most of this year, I have expected the president to win reelection with 303 electoral votes to Mitt Romney’s 235, with Romney reclaiming Indiana, North Carolina and Florida for the Republicans, and Obama holding all the other states he won in 2008. As his fortunes have improved or declined, the number has gone up a bit or down a bit, but I seem to always come back to that total. With some hesitance about one state—Colorado—I am going to go with the number I’ve been predicting all along: Obama 303, Romney 235.
I arrive at this number by examining 12 states that Obama carried in 2008, 11 of which appear to be close in 2012.
Let’s start with the one state, among this dandy dozen, that will not be close: Indiana will not go into the Obama column again. This has been clear for months, if not a couple of years, and the Obama campaign wrote the Hoosier State off a long time ago. Its unexpected flip into the Democratic column in 2008 was a fluke, the by-product of a meaningful Democratic primary there, a bad year for Republicans and off-the-charts Democratic performance among young people and minorities.
Less certain are Romney’s bids to reclaim North Carolina and Florida. While it is likely he will slip by in North Carolina, Florida now appears to be up for grabs. It’s a tough call, but I think the dynamics favor Romney in Florida by a very slim margin.
Among the other swing states that I have largely expected Obama to hang onto, almost nobody is giving Romney a chance to win Nevada, and I concur. Obama has consistently led by small but clear margins, and his expected landslide among Hispanic voters seems to cement Nevada in his camp.
Although Romney’s team has made a desperate effort at the end to flip Pennsylvania and Michigan, there is no credible polling evidence that he will win either state. In my opinion, a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review poll today showing a 47-47 tie in Pennsylvania is not credible. The newspaper is owned by Richard Mellon Scaife, a conservative activist, and the poll is at odds with all other reputable polling.
In five of the remaining six states, the last week has seen clear movement in Obama’s direction, and the polling shifts in Ohio and Virginia appear decisive. Less certain, but unquestionably also shifting in Obama’s direction, are Wisconsin, Iowa and New Hampshire. If the preponderance of the polls and the polling trends are right, and I believe they are, Obama wins them all.
Tonight, the only state I don’t have a clear feel for is Colorado. By the looks of things, the president should hang onto it. The state has many Hispanic voters and many young, educated urban voters, and that’s in his favor. But he seems to have a problem in the suburbs, and the polling data from Colorado have been inconclusive. While the other swing states have all seen clear, even dramatic movement toward Obama in the last few days, Colorado is still close and doesn’t appear to be budging. I really feel that Colorado—along with perhaps Florida—is a coin flip, and candor compels me to admit that I can’t really call it.
If Romney wins Colorado, and everything else goes as expected, Obama would win 294-244 in the electoral college. If Obama wins Colorado and all the other states I project he will win, it’s 303-235. Because Colorado does appear to be a coin flip, I’m going to say that the Obama organization and the Hispanic vote will ultimately save the state for the president, but not by much.
The popular vote is a tougher call. Romney is going to absolutely slaughter Obama in most of the South, but then, Obama is going to rack up big margins over Romney in some of the nation’s largest states, such as California, New York and Illinois. I expect we will see third-party candidates such as Gary Johnson, Virgil Goode and others combine for about 2 percent of the total votes, perhaps slightly more, which is roughly in keeping with what normally happens. Based on the trajectory of the final national polls, all of which show Obama tied or slightly ahead by 1-3 points—and all of which have moved in Obama’s direction in the last week—I figure on Obama ending up somewhere between 49.5 and 50 percent, and Romney somewhere between 48 and 48.5 percent. Let’s call it at Obama 49.7, Romney 48.3.
So, to sum up:
Obama to win the electoral vote, 303-235, and the popular vote, 49.7-48.3
Democrats to retain control of the Senate, 54-46 (Democrats +1)
Republicans to retain control of the House, 235-200 (Democrats +7)