Sunday, November 4, 2012

Election Projection: The Presidency

It’s here.  It’s finally here.  Ok, technically, it’s still two days away.  But after months of (mostly) negative ads, billions of dollars, dozens of gaffes, and four debates, the Presidential Election will be decided by just a few people in a few states. 

So you are now likely wondering, “who will win”?  Throughout this article I will go through state-by-state and give my projection, as I did yesterday for the Senate.  However, like my projection of the upper chamber, I am only going to focus on states in which the campaigns have focused their time, money, and resources this year.  Therefore, foregone conclusions such as New York and Alabama won’t be discussed.

Arizona:  No, Arizona is not a swing state.  However, in the early part of the summer, there was a sense that it could have been.  Since Mitt Romney became the GOP presumptive nominee, there have been two polls in the state putting Obama ahead and three others with the President only trailing by a couple points.  However, while the state has certainly shifted towards the Democrats since 2008 when it’s own Senator was running against Obama, the shift is not likely to be enough.  As the demographics continue to change in Arizona, expect it to become more of a battleground in future elections. 
            Final Result:   Romney – 53.1
                                    Obama – 46.1

Colorado:  Colorado isn’t a “must-win” for either candidate.  However, it represents more of a “Plan B” if they fail to win Ohio.   Colorado certainly has shifted more towards Democrats in the last few decades, but if President Obama carries the state, it will be by a much smaller margin than he did in 2008.  Republicans so far have a small lead in early voting, but according to polling, it seems as though Obama may have a small amount of momentum going into Election Day.  This state will be a nail biter, but I predict Obama will win.
            Final Result:   Obama – 49.9
                                    Romney – 48.7

Florida:  The Sunshine State, like Ohio, seems to be thrust in the national spotlight every four years.  Yet, in 2012, though the Democrats certainly haven’t conceded Florida, it really isn’t seen as a must-have for Obama.  The opposite is true for Mitt Romney.  Simply put, there is little to no path to victory that doesn’t run through Florida.  Below is the most likely scenario I could conceive for Romney winning the election without winning Florida. 

Either way, it’s going to be a close election, and there may even be another recount, but for now, it’s Romney with the (very) slight advantage.
            Final Result:   Romney – 49.9
                                    Obama – 49.7

Iowa:  This is the state that was ultimately responsible for Barack Obama capturing the Democratic nomination in 2008.  It, like Colorado, is more part of a Plan B coalition.  However, polls in the state have shown a small but consistent lead for the President.  Further, Democrats currently hold an 11% advantage in early voting.
            Final Result:   Obama – 51.5
                                    Romney – 48.0

Michigan:  Polling has been all over the place in Michigan this year, but despite a few polls showing the race nearly tied, the Romney campaign has not invested much into the state.  It is possible that Romney’s “home state” advantage was partly nullified because he is running as Massachusetts being his home state.  But the more-likely cause for President Obama’s consistent lead is four words: “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt”. 
            Final Result:   Obama – 53.1
                                    Romney – 46.6

Minnesota:  Let’s be clear; Minnesota is not a swing state.  It is perhaps the exact inverse of Arizona, in that if the Romney campaign had invested in it from the beginning, the race would likely be very close now.  That isn’t to say that Minnesota hasn’t narrowed since 2008, when Obama won it by double digits.  The Romney campaign is now making what could be seen as a political head-fake by throwing some money into the state, but it is too-little, too-late.  Obama will win Minnesota.
            Final Result:   Obama – 53.2
                                    Romney – 45.8

Nevada:  As I explained in the Senate projection yesterday, Nevada has been trending democratic for some time now, due mostly to the huge influx of minorities, mostly Hispanic.  Further, the Republican party in the state is very disorganized, whereas President Obama’s early vote push and campaign infrastructure seem to give him the edge.
            Final Result:   Obama – 52.2
                                    Romney – 47.3

New Hampshire:  Unlike other states in the Northeast, New Hampshire has always had more of an independent streak.  The state voted for George Bush in 2000 and Barack Obama in 2008.  Now, polls show a dead heat, with perhaps a slight advantage to the President.  New Hampshire is not necessary for Obama, but its four electoral votes are still seen as highly valuable in the case of either campaign losing Ohio.
            Final Result:   Obama – 51.0
                                    Romney – 48.5

New Mexico:  This state has been one of the most frequently polled non-swing states all cycle.  I’m truly not sure why pollsters are so enamored with New Mexico, especially as it has consistently shown solid leads for the President.  One thing that does make New Mexico interesting is that its former Governor, Gary Johnson, is running as a libertarian.  Polls have shown Johnson pulling about as much support from Obama as Romney, so there is no real chance of a spoiler here.
            Final Result:   Obama – 52.7
                                    Romney – 43.5
                                    Johnson – 3.8

North Carolina:  The Tar Heel State has long been thought of as a long-shot prize for President Obama, just as Wisconsin likely is for Republicans.  Yes, most polls there show a very close race, but the President hasn’t led in a poll in North Carolina since the first debate.  While the President’s early vote operation has been good, he is swimming against the stronger Republican tide.  North Carolina will likely continue to be a swing state and will probably continue to shift towards being more friendly towards Democrats, but it is unlikely Obama will be able to re-create his 2008 surprise victory there.
            Final Result:   Romney – 50.8
                                    Obama – 48.9

Ohio:  Finally, we have come to the Buckeye State.  If you’ve watched the news (or if you live in Ohio), you would think the two candidates are running for President of Ohio.  It is true that no Republican has ever won the White House without winning Ohio, and that is unlikely to be changed in 2012.  Mr. Romney’s path to 270 narrows considerably without Ohio.  To win, he would also have to win Colorado, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin, in addition to holding on to Virginia and North Carolina. 

President Obama’s path to 270 isn’t quite as difficult if he loses Ohio, but it certainly isn’t desired.  To do so, he would need to keep Wisconsin and Nevada, as well as winning Iowa, Colorado, and New Hampshire. 

There is another path.  The President could win in Virginia and then lose one (or two) of the above states.  However, the President is unlikely to lose Ohio yet win Virginia.  Luckily for Obama, he holds a consistent lead in Ohio, and despite what each campaign is saying, the President is not likely to lose there.
            Final Result:   Obama – 51.5
                                    Romney – 48.0

Pennsylvania:  After ignoring it all cycle, the Romney campaign in recent days has decided to make a play for Pennsylvania.  There have been arguments as to if this is a show of strength or weakness for the campaign, but let’s be honest; this is nothing but a hail mary.  Mitt Romney hasn’t led in a single Pennsylvania poll since mid-February.  It’s certainly possible the Romney camp sees something promising in their numbers, but it is more likely that they care more about changing the narrative that it’s all about Ohio (where they are likely to lose).
            Final Result:   Obama – 52.0
                                    Romney – 47.4

Virginia:  In my opinion the national popular vote will look most like the popular vote in Virginia.  The two have been trending with each other all cycle, and like the national polls, Virginia is very much a tossup right now.  Polling in the state has been much more sporadic than other states, with one recent poll showing Romney with a five point lead and another showing a four point lead for Obama.  The winner will likely be decided by who has the better GOTV operations, and that currently appears to be President Obama.
            Final Result:   Obama – 50.5
                                    Romney – 49.2

Wisconsin:  No one really expected Wisconsin to be as competitive as it has become this year.  That all changed when Mitt Romney selected Paul Ryan to be his running mate.  Immediately after the selection, most polls showed a dead heat.  A couple even showed Romney with the lead.  However, the state seems to have shifted back into the “lean Obama” category.  Republicans in the state are still fired up from the Walker recall, but Democrats also have a good organization.  President Obama is likely to win Wisconsin this year.
            Final Result:   Obama – 52.2
                                    Romney – 47.4

Assuming my predictions are correct, Barack Obama will be re-elected with 303 electoral votes to Mitt Romney’s 235, as shown below. 

While it certainly isn’t the blowout many were predicting before the first debate, it also can’t be characterized as “too close to call” or a “tossup”.  People who are saying those things are either purposefully misleading the public or they believe the polls are just flat-out wrong. 

Popular Vote:  You may have noticed that I have not talked at all about who will win the popular vote.  That is because, according to the system we have in the United States for electing our Presidents, it just doesn’t matter.  Yes, there is a distinct possibility that we could have a repeat of 2000 in which President Obama wins the Electoral College yet loses the popular vote, but the chance of that happening is still relatively slim. 
            Final Result:   Obama – 50.2
                                    Romney – 49.1

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