Sunday, October 21, 2012

Electoral College now favors Romney- Our analysis of the numbers

Well, it's no surprise that former Mass. Governor Mitt Romney has been on an electoral upswing since his stellar first debate performance a couple weeks ago, (and the President's equally poor one).   In fact, unless you've had your head stuck in the political sand so to speak, you probably watched that historic debate yourself and no doubt know why.   And this is so regardless of the President's somewhat "comeback" in the second debate this past week.  So with an eye towards the third and final debate scheduled for tomorrow night we thought we'd take stock of the electoral map and re-assess our predictions for election night. 

Of course, it goes without saying that things in national politics can change quickly. But barring some bombshell "October surprise" (a time hallowed tradition of Presidential politics, especially from the left)), which could successfully wrest attention of the American people away from the state of the economy and America's place in the world under the present Administration, (a scenario we kind of doubt at this point, this is how we see the 2012 Presidential election shaping up.

Though they won't say so explicitly, it appears that the Obama camp has all but given up on winning once "swing" states of Florida and North Carolina, (for its part the Romney camp is pulling staff from N. Carolina, which means both campaigns see the Carolina's as comfortably on Romney's side of the political ledger).

This essentially means that while the Obama camp was desperately hoping to tamp down the pro-Romney brush fire that started after the first debate so as to keep down the number of "swing" states in play or even pull away from Romney in the majority of them by now, that hasn't exactly worked as they planned. 

Instead, Romney has been the one who has closed the gap or pulled away, and the number of "swing" states, if anything, has broadened, complicating the President's reelection bid exponentially.

So it is that we see the lea Obama previously enjoyed shrinking and in some polls disappearing entirely— in critical states like Ohio and Virginia, as well as expected "Democratic" states like Colorado and Nevada, (which Obama carried in 2008 and needs to again in 2012 in order to have a realistic shot at winning re-election).

Indeed, the Real Clear politics electoral map clearly shows that whereas Obama had a commanding lead just a few short weeks ago in the national polls (and correspondingly the electoral college), he no longer necessarily does heading into the final 2 weeks before the election, (as we shall see!)

This realization must be the cause of the seeming gloom that has descended on the political pundits of the left and the increasingly muted responses of Obama advisers re: their political playbook; indeed, the meme of "many different paths" to victory for the President that was once commonplace has been replaced with a "hold several key states" strategy that belies internal polling that must show an increasing uphill climb for Obama. Not that it still can't be done. It's just much harder for the President now, (much to the delight of conservative organizations like ours!). So just, why, exactly, is this?

Well, for starters, as above alluded to, Romney has seen a strong resurgence in the Midwest as well as all important Florida. When added to his already strong showing in the deep South and heartland of America, it leaves Obama with much less "wiggle room" than he previously had, (and this is so even after assuming the inevitable win for Democrats in most Northeast states like New York as well as the West Coast, most prominently California, the single largest electoral prize with 55 votes towards the 270 needed to win the Presidency).

Ohio, a state without which no Republican has ever won the Presidency without, had tightened in at least one poll to within 1 point, with a slight Obama lead overall, (but read below about how Romney could make history by winning without Ohio, an opinion that is not by any means only this author's, see here).

In Midwest states like Wisconsin, Romney is within the margin of error or even leads in some polls, with the national race dead even or favoring Romney among likely voters according to most polls.

Further, more than a few polls show Obama's support eroding even in Democratic bastions such as Minnesota, Michigan, and, astounding as it is to veteran political analysts, in Pennsylvania as well, where Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by almost a million votes (and at least one poll actually shows Romney up by as much as four points!) On election night watch especially these last two states closely, because if either of them goes for Romney, (especially PA.) it bodes extremely ill for Obama's bid for reelection.

Equally if not more important, the President's poll numbers have seen a precipitous swing in the swing state of Virginia, with most polls now showing a slight edge or within the margin of error for governor Romney.

Same goes for Colorado, (which, as mentioned above, was heavily counted on by the Obama team to keep in his column in their reelection strategy).

Driving the pro-Romney trend is a disaffected youth and Catholic vote, who Obama carried by large margins in 2008, the former of which have been stung by no jobs, and the latter of which have been casualties of Obama's all but announced war on the "conscience rights" of people of faith who seem increasingly likely to have their tax dollars used to fund abortion or contraception under the President's signature domestic achievement, Obamacare, (which in a shocker to many, including this organization, the Supreme Court upheld last June with Chief Justice Roberts surprise— and politically shrewd?— fifth vote).

Indeed, as we surmised it would in posts on this blog, in addition to the ability of Romney to shatter the stereotypes of his candidacy by his strong first debate performance that the Obama campaign had been able to paint successfully through early election season negative ads, the counter-intuitive boost to conservatives' political fortunes expected from a defeat in the high court has played out even more starkly than we expected, as middle America is faced with the realization that absent defeat of Obama this freedom-grabbing, job-sapping law will likely be fully implemented in 2014, (although that's far from assured, see this article on Liberty University's petition for "rehearing" before the Supreme Court on the basis of the court's previous ruling).

So, getting to the numbers, assuming North Carolina, (double digit wins for Bush 43 both times and barely won for Obama in 2008), and Florida, (Bush 43 two times, albeit very narrowly in 2000, a dynamic we don't expect again in this year's race in this fairly conservative anti-tax state with a popular Republican Governor and many Obamacare-wary seniors) go for Romney in 2012, which seems highly likely to us— and leaving New Hampshire, Nevada, Colorado, Ohio, and Virginia as "toss ups" for now and PA as an Obama win— that gives Romney a base of 235 electoral votes to 253 for Obama.  But hold on.

If Romney can wrest just Colorado, (RCP average gives a narrow lead for Romney in this Western— read pro gun— state which went for Bush 43 twice), New Hampshire, (Bush by 1.3% in 2000 and Romney as "Gov next door" as well as owns a home there), along with Wisconsin (successful and fairly popular Republican Governor who just won recall election) away from Obama it would give Romney 258 to Obama's 243 electoral votes, a striking reversal of the President's political fortunes and a mere 12 electoral votes from the "magic" number of 270 needed to win the White House and the role of most powerful leader of the free world.

Take away Iowa, a state that went for Bush 43 in 2004 and in which Obama has lost significant support with his focus on health care and liberal social causes in a state with a large contingent of conservative evangelical voters and Nevada— which went for Bush 43 not once but twice and has been hit very hard by the recession with the nation's highest unemployment rate at 11.8 %from the Obama column and Romney will be President, (although admittedly the tie scenarios abound, more on this another time).

What's that you say? You're still not convinced? You say that since Iowa is one of the few states in the union which haven't been hit as hard from the recession you think it could be convinced to again go for Obama? Or perhaps you think Iowa with all its evangelical voters will never back Romney, a mormon, for the nation's highest office? Perhaps. 

 But all indications are, in the face of a withering onslaught of governmental controls and regulations from not just Obamacare but banking, energy policy, taxation, and federal land management, most evangelicals are fully on board with the Romney campaign, as are most Independents, including tea party elements. (Indeed, this author leans tea party "evangelical" and has no problem supporting Romney. We are, after all, electing a President, not an elder, pastor, or Pope for that matter; I think the nation has had enough of the top-down-rule-by-Executive-decree paradigm). Rather, it is our considered opinion that the more conservative Romney/Ryan ticket naturally appeals to Iowa's largely rural, and likewise conservative— if relatively small population and electoral vote— state which Bush lost by a razor thin 03% to Gore in 2000 and won by twice that in 2004.  We therefore believe Iowa will, in the final analysis, be found in the Romney column, (though the ride may not be a smooth one!)

However, even if you don't give Iowa (or, alternately, Nevada, both having 6 electoral votes) to Romney, assuming as we do above that the Romney/ Ryan ticket could at least pull out a win in Ryan's home state of Wisconsin, Romney would need only 6 more electoral votes to hit the magic 270, which Romney could do by winning any one of either Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, or Virginia.

Let the naysayers scoff all they want, but it doesn't seem remotely probable to us that— provided the media doesn't regale us with tales of devil worship at the mormon temple in Utah or any last minute revelations of alleged affairs of Romney's or some scandalous last minute story of sexual "harassment" of women by Romney while at Bain or the Massachusett's Governor's mansion that gets mysteriously "leaked" by the media one week before the election a la Herman Cain style— that Romney could fail to win at least one of these closely fought states.

Indeed, when one considers that two out of four of these states (Ohio and Virginia), both voted fairly convincingly for Bush in both 2004 and 2008, (Virginia by almost double digits!), and Obama's national favorability numbers have been stuck in the mid forties and have never exceeded 50% at any point in this election— a level of support without which no incumbent has ever achieved reelection with, or any challenger has possessed and then went on to lose it seems fairly obvious, at least to us, that Romney's chances of beating Obama for the Presidency are looking quite good.

Moreover, if Romney should happen to carry Wisconsin and Ohio, and pick up either Virginia or Michigan in the process, he would win by a convincing mandate of 295 or 298 electoral votes to Obama's 243 or 240 respectively, (which however you slice it, surely seems like a good ol' fashioned butt whipping to us!)

For the slightly less optimistic among us, and to put it another way, even if Ohio is lost to Romney— a scenario the media constantly reminds us almost assures Obama's victory— as long as Ryan can pull Wisconsin for the ticket, which it seems to us no reason he cannot (with, we may add, his wonkish dedication to tackling the budget deficit and youthful exuberance playing Led Zeppelin on his ipod attracting a significant share of the "youth" vote), as long as Romney can pull either of these two states, (Michigan or Virginia), he would still win the Presidency with room to spare in the above scenario, (in the case of Michigan, with 10 electoral votes for a total of 280, and in the case of Virginia, seven).

With odds like this it's no wonder the website, (which allows folks to literally "put their money where their vote is" by betting on who the winner will ultimately be), shows Romney's stock rising, (as of this writing he was at a 39.1% chance of winning, still low but higher than he has been on Intrade's system).

Of course, none of these Romney victory scenarios will happen unless conservatives who dare not condemn our great country to another four years like the last four put aside any still lingering doubts and divisions and actually turn out at the polls to vote, a variable which is impossible to know beforehand.

But it is comforting to know that the so called "enthusiasm gap" seems to favor Republicans this time around.

And that's something conservatives should all be able to cheer about. 

Update 10/28:  P.S. For extra fun, and to consider Romney "blowout" scenarios, assuming the Romney/Ryan ticket can pull both Wisconsin as well as the state where Romney's dad rose to prominence as President of American Motors, (and, of course, Governor), then add back in Ohio or Pennsylvania, (a state in which, as mentioned above, at least one internal poll gives Romney a four point lead in, and conservative tea party favorite Pat Toomey won a state-wide race in two years ago), which gives you a whopping 311 or 313 electoral vote win for Mitt Romney (compared to 225 or 227 for Obama!) Add both states to Romney's column and you get 331 electoral votes for Romney! At such levels one starts to feel a little embarrassment for President Obama, (relief, perhaps, but embarrassment nonetheless!) Indeed, at least one study crunching the data indeed forecasts just such a blow out, (see here).

To put such totals into their proper perspective such a victory has rarely been achieved by a challenger to the Presidency; Just by way of comparison to an era of economic malaise many have compared to the Carter years of the late '70s, Ronald Reagan's 1980 win was by a electoral total of 489 compared to Carter's mere 49.

But given all the data we have before us, and again, and barring earth shaking and unforeseen political events, (which are always fluid), we are fairly confident that Romney will be the next President of the United States, (indeed, no challenger who has ever led in national polls by as much as Romney does presently has gone on to lose the general election).

Furthermore, we estimate a better-than-even chance, 52% in fact, that Romney will win by an electoral total of more than 300.

Whether Romney's margin of victory in the end, is, in fact, high enough to win in true "blowout" fashion, we are fairly certain that, all things considered, Romney will win the election with between 285 to 295 electoral votes, and likely at or very close to 292 electoral votes. Let's do all we can to insure that happens! jp

 11/1:  As of today, it appears Sandy's impact on the election is going to effect Romney.  (See today's post). Folks, we need to redouble our efforts and do all we can!  This election is that important to our country's future! 

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