Monday, October 29, 2012

Get Ready for a Crazy 7 Days, and Perhaps Beyond!

I keep saying that 2012 looks like 2004 and that advantages Romney, but there is an important caveat. In 2004 Bush narrowly won OH and narrowly lost many states such as WI and PA. This time around we are seeing similar trends with Romney and Obama close in otherwise Democratic states such as WI, MN, MI and PA. The few polls that have come from solid Democratic states like NJ and CA show Obama with much smaller leads than in 2008 while Romney is well ahead in truly red states.

This does set the stage for that rare event - a split between the electoral college and the popular vote. Though I have no faith in Nate Silvers so-called "election models" I agree with him in one area - Obama has a better chance of winning the electoral college than he does of winning the popular vote (and the electoral college is all that matters - I say that because it's obvious and because I support the electoral college). So it's possible Romney will win the popular vote by 1 or 2% and lose the election by losing OH. In that light, it is possible to see the closing week actions by the president in a different light.

Obama may be expending campaign resources in states like PA and MN because he wants to boost his popular vote numbers, but also because he fears that he may win OH and then lose the race because a state like PA or MN slips away from him.

Now, am I hedging my bets? No, not really. I predicted a Romney win because I believe the fundamentals point to his win. But even with those fundamentals it is not a certainty. Rather than a 50/50 chance Romney wins I see a 55/45 chance. That's hardly overwhelming and I am fully prepared to be wrong - but in the end I've made a prediction based on campaign activity, choices regarding ad buys and campaign stops, on polling numbers among key voting blocs (women and independents), and actual early voting data (not polling data). I do not believe that an election can be predicted the way one might predict a batting average.

Much evidence will come in the next 7 days - that Romney is planning an even in MN and that Biden is going to PA are telling and suggest a race breaking toward Romney. GOP early voting numbers are up in nearly every battleground state and Republican enthusiasm remains higher. But if there is a late break for Obama or for Romney there should be some clear indication by Friday... I know I'll be obsessed with every twist and turn between now and next Tuesday.