On the Election, a Prediction


Since this is a popular game among political scientists (and an important one at that; too many poli sci people comment on the aftermath as if the result was a foregone conclusion without any accountability of being held to a prediction), I shall throw in my two cents.

At this juncture, it’s fairly clear–and personally, depressingly so–that Obama is likely to win with a comfortable, although not a landslide–margin.  The reason is quite simple: the Republicans are on the defensive, and there is not a single state, save perhaps Pennsylvania, which went for Kerry last time that may swich over to McCain this time.  Obama is holding ground in Kerry states and making inroads into states the Republicans should win, and win comfortably (think Montana, North Dakota, Indiana).  That alone is enough to predict an Obama victory.

The question is really by what margin.  The so-called “swing states” tend to be split among candidates in a close election; witness 2000 and 2004.  In a not-so-close year, close races fall to the winning party; witness 2006.  (By the way, in a landslide year, there are no close races.  Witness 1972 and 1984).  It is quite possible, considering the state of the GOP, that the close races all fall for Obama and he wins by a landslide.  I don’t think it will happen because I don’t think Obama is nearly as popular as the press thinks he is and wants him to be, but it’s quite possible.

Is there a McCain victory scenario?  Sure.  If he wins Pennsylvania and hold onto enough Bush states from 2004, he wins.  Is it likely?  Let’s put it this way.  Hope springs eternal.

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2 Responses to “On the Election, a Prediction”


  1. 1 Chris Schroeck November 14, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    Once Ohio went, I was watching CNN and they were turning all of the states that had not been called red, to try to find a path to 270 for McCain. McCain was at 269 if he had won every outstanding state besides California, Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii. At that point the anchor said something like “I can’t foresee any scenario where McCain wins now.” And if you think about it, that was the end.

    Frankly, I will be interested to see how the Republicans bounce back. Some of the “battleground” states are just becoming really blue and difficult to win back. Specifically I am thinking of Michigan and Pennsylvania, as well as New Hampshire.

    And some of these southern states are going to be difficult too. I live in Virginia, and I think Republicans can easily win it again, but North Carolina is a different story. North Carolina was close this year, but that state is urbanizing at an astounding rate.

    And let me tell you about a race down here, the house race for my district, Goode against Periello. Goode is a big time ultraconservative, Tancredo type. Except, he’s not nearly as smart as Tancredo. He has won reelection something like 6 times, and was originally a Democrat, then an independent, then a republican. His district is gerrymandered in a ridiculous manner to try to make Albemarle County, the liberal county that I live in, completely irrelevant. 6 weeks before the election, he would have won by at least 10 points. But the economy and a late push did him in, just barely.

    I think politicians need to take notes from this election, and when the economy is bad, realize that absolutely no other issue matters. “It’s the economy, stupid” is one of the smartest political realizations ever. If people are afraid for their jobs, they could care less about physical security, border security, international relations, etc. Fix the economy, then we’ll talk.

    If McCain had gotten his smart economic message out there first, he may have had a shot.

  2. 2 joesas November 16, 2008 at 4:46 am

    I knew it was over much earlier when Indiana couldn’t be called at 7. That’s a state that has no business being close for Republicans. McCain’s loss in Ohio just confirmed the inevitable.

    I was surprised by the extent of Obama’s victory. I really never thought he would carry Indiana and North Carolina and all three of Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. He even got a split electoral vote in Nebraska. Quite an impressive victory. Obama’s loss in MIssouri (once confirmed) would suggest that that state is no longer a bellwether but a reliable conservative state.

    That said, I’m far from persuaded there’s been a realignment. After 2000 and 2004, we have a tendency to believe most states are “red” and “blue” with some swing states, but the fact is, most presidential races are not close. In most presidential elections, the winner made significant inroads into the strength of the opponent. Actually, I think it’s quite telling that despite significant Obama victory, he could not carry any states in the deep South.

    I’m not sure it would have mattered what McCain said. It was a tough year for Republicans. But it would have helped if he didn’t run on such traditionally Republican message.


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