Forward to a brighter future or back to a darker past? Thoughts and predictions on the 2012 election

We’re live-blogging the election results tonight over at my place, and I invite you to join us there while you continue to get the usual great commentary here at TMV.

But allow me to offer my predictions (which went up earlier today):

What will happen today? I am not normally an optimistic person, and I continue to be anxious. My concern is that the Republican voter supression effort, along with possible voting-machine tampering, will hand the election to Romney. And yet, I have confidence in Nate Silver and other polling experts, I think that the polls have generally under-counted core Obama constituencies (blacks, Hispanics, young voters) as well as cell phone users (who generally lean Democratic), and I think that Obama, who has been an outstanding president in contrast to conservative propaganda and progressive disappointment, will ultimately prevail, if narrowly, over a deeply unpopular party with deeply unpopular policies and a terrible candidate in Romney.

We all know it’s coming down to a handful of swing states. I think Obama will win them all with the exception of North Carolina. That will mean an Electoral College victory of 332 to 206. I see Florida, perhaps the craziest state in the union, as the toughest to call, and it could go for Romney, particularly if Gov. Rick Scott’s voter suppression efforts block enough Democratic voters. So I suppose I’d go with 303 to 235 as my second prediction. I don’t see Obama winning North Carolina, but it’s possible, and if he does, and if he really does outperform the polls, that would mean a 347 to 191 win.

In terms of the popular vote, I don’t think we’ll see the split decision the media are getting so worked up about. Which is to say, I think Obama will win the popular vote. I’ll go with Obama 50.8, Romney 48.2, a 2.6-point margin.

I would just note that as of midnight last night, Nate Silver gave Obama a 92% chance of winning, higher than it’s ever been.

I haven’t analyzed the House races all that carefully, but I’d say a Democratic gain of 5-10 seats is possible.

As for the Senate, some major races:

– Warren (D) over Brown (R) in Massachusetts (PICKUP);
– Kaine (D) over Allen (R) in Virginia (HOLD):
– Murphy (D) over McMahon (R) in Connecticut (PICKUP);
– Nelson (D) over Mack (R) in Florida (HOLD);
– Brown (D) over Mandel (R) in Ohio (HOLD);
– Donnelly (D) over Mourdock (R) in Indiana (PICKUP);
– McCaskill (D) over Akin (R) in Missouri (HOLD);
– Baldwin (D) over Thompson (R) in Wisconsin (HOLD);
– Tester (D) over Rehberg (R) in Montana (HOLD);
– Flake (R) over Carmona (D) in Arizona (HOLD);
– Heller (R) over Berkley (D) in Nevada (HOLD);
– Berg (R) over Heitkamp (D) in North Dakota (PICKUP);
– Fischer (R) over Kerrey (D) in Nebraska (PICKUP); and
– King (I) over Summers (R) and Dill (D) in Maine.

The current composition of the Senate is 51 Democratic, 47 Republican, and 2 Independent (both caucusing with the Dems). I think the Democrats will pick up a net of one seat and the Republicans will lose a net of one, with an Independent picking up Maine, meaning the Senate will be 52 Democratic, 46 Republican, and 2 Independents, or essentially a 53-46-1 Democratic majority (with the Independent in Maine likely to lean Democratic).

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