I believe in one sense that this election is closer than a lot of folks around here, in that those arguing that it was never close cause the state polls and projections persistently leaned in Obama’s favor were off-base. It’s moot now because I agree with the projections insofar as Romney never sealed the deal and the last-minute national movement appears to be in Obama’s direction. I consider the likelihood of a reverse-verdict to be greater, but I consider the greatest likelihood to be an Obama win that will not come down to the wire.

I believe Obama will win the popular vote by somewhere between 1.5% and 2%. If it’s closer to the latter, you can probably flip Florida into the Obama column (maybe you can anyway…).

Having said all of that, I do want to submit something else: There’s nothing wrong with a degree of poll-skepticism. They’re probably right. This year, I believe they are. But one of these years, they will be wrong. The likelihood of getting caught between shifting demographics, last-minute undecideds, cell phones*, and lower response rates will make polling increasingly difficult and the accommodations made for these realities will either fail to compensate or will create their own problems.

The polls have failed us before, and they’ll fail us again. Improved scientific technique seems likely to me to have a hard time compensating for various problems that will increasingly aggravate.

There are ways that this may favor Republicans in polling, and ways that it may favor Democrats. It depends on where the problem occurs, and how the pollsters respond to it.

My hope is that when it occurs, it will be something that brings a 9% margin down to a 5% or vice-versa and not something that flips an election. My belief that it could is one of the reasons I have been relatively uptight this cycle on the subject.

* – Yes, I am aware that cell phones are included in many polls. However, response rates from cell phones are likely to be lower and cell phone numbers are less likely to be up-to-date.


Category: Statehouse

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15 Responses to My Prediction: Obama 303, Romney 235

  1. Abel Keogh says:

    Empty seats do not bode well for the final stop in a re-election campaign. If Obama does win, he’ll be the first since Woodrow Wilson to win re-election with less support than the first time around.

    Romney 277 Obama 262.

  2. Abel Keogh says:

    You have the map as Joe Trippi. You could have won his book.

  3. trumwill says:

    A few days ago, I’d have given Romney about a 1-in-3 chance. That was dependent at least in part on late movement in Obama’s direction. It’s possible that this is the election in which there is a systemic bias for one reason or another, and that Romney’s internal polling is right and everybody else is wrong. It’d be a wild ride if that were true. But I’d bet against it.

  4. superdestroyer says:

    The real conclusion of the last two national elections is that the Republican Party is no longer a national party and has no bench left.

    Instead of worrying about polls and predictions, why not speculate about what politics will be like when one party dominates and the other party is irrelevant.

  5. trumwill says:

    Instead of worrying about polls and predictions, why not speculate about what politics will be like when one party dominates and the other party is irrelevant.

    Except that won’t happen for long.

  6. superdestroyer says:

    The Democrats have dominated Maryland for decades, have dominated Chicago for more than 50 years, and now dominate California.

    Do you really think that a conservative party can survive in a country that is less than 50% white and where most children are born to single mothers who are very dependent on the government?

  7. trumwill says:

    Regional domination is easy. The opposing national party becomes so unacceptable to the locals that they can’t win. The opposing national party won’t adapt, either, because what they’re doing is working elsewhere. The Democrats have no reason to adapt to Idaho because what they’re doing is working in California. However, if the entire nation were to start looking or thinking like Idaho, the national party would adapt and there’d be a Democratic Party (or *something* besides a Republican Party) in that state.

    Likewise, Republicans don’t have to cater to California if they have enough votes elsewhere to be competitive. If the nation as a whole becomes more like California, then they adapt to that. No party accepts losing forever in the name of ideological purity.

    Whether a conservative party – as we now define it – can survive is a different question from whether a second party, most likely something calling itself the Republican Party, can do so.

  8. superdestroyer says:

    The Republicans lost California by over 20%. The idea that the Republicans could move to the left enough to be competitve in California is laughable. The idea that Idaho, Wyoming, or Alabama is keeping the Republicans from being competitive in New York or California is crazy.

    What makes the Republicans non-competitive is how few people are the least bit interested in conservative politics. Then the argument becomes whether the U.S. needs two big spending, big government parties. Given the history of one party states, once the spending get big enough, everyone who wants any influence in governance had better be part of the ruling party that controls the goodies.

    The future of the U.s. will be about all of the former Republicans moving over to the Democratic Party in order to have some say in the government.

  9. trumwill says:

    SuperD, in that same election, almost half the voters in California voted against a tax increase. The biggest problem with the GOP in Cali is the GOP’s national profile. The state party is tied to it. Tied to Sarah Palin, a Mitt Romney who has to rally the party faithful in Pensacola, and so on. If the national party moves to the left, Californians might vote for Chris Christie or Scott Brown or someone else without the stench of the Evangelical, Creationist, let Detroit go bankrupt party.

  10. trumwill says:

    Is there room for two big government parties? Of course. That’s the terrain of most other countries. It becomes a question of how the money is spent (where, on whom, and through what intermediaries). There are social issues. No party can please everyone. Right now the Democratic coalition exists because the GOP is a viable threat. Once the GOP ceases to be viable, the losers in the Dem coalition will start looking at the GOP as someone they can work with. When the south started losing in the New Deal coalition, they left the coalition and ultimately destroyed it. In favor of the party of Lincoln. Hispanics or Asians or blacks or moderate Democrats or even lefties will do the same once the Democratic coalition stops working for them. Which it will, cause no party can please everybody. And no party (even the GOP) will accept defeat indefinitely rather than open their doors to defectors and make necessary concessions to have a competitive coalition.

  11. superdestroyer says:

    Do you really think that anyone inside the current Democratic Party is going to walk away from $5 trillion in spending and a party that completely controls government. The losers would be incompetent losers like the current Republican Party.

    David Axelrod is way ahead of you by realizing the think to the one party state is to tax those out of power (think commuters in Chicago). The top five percent will serve the role of outsiders and the 90% will split the spending.

    The Democrats know what the pitfalls of the one party sate is (given that they have dominated the urban cores for decades) and know how to adjust.

    There is just not enough people willing to risk being the outside for a second party to exist.

  12. superdestroyer says:

    Also, I think you are correct that most of the current groups inside the Republican Part will not tolerate defeat. That is why most of them will quickly move over to the Democratic Party. Why else do you think the Chamber of Commerce types in Maryland or Mass. are Democrats?

  13. SFG says:

    Everyone kept going on about how the Democrats were doomed in 2004. The Republicans will move left until they can get votes, and then win once Obama or his successor does something stupid enough, or the Democrats nominate another nerd.

    The two-party system will survive. The country will survive. It will continue to decline, but that won’t mean the end of the USA–England survived the death of its empire, and the USA is much more defensible than England.

  14. superdestroyer says:

    The Democrats may be able to screw up enough to lose Virginia for a cycle or New Hampshire. But does anyone really believe that the Democrats can screw up enough to lose California, New York, or Illinois.

    If you look at politics in the District of Columbia, it would be apparent that if the demographics are right, it is impossible for the Democrats to screw up enough to lose.

  15. trumwill says:

    Do you really think that anyone inside the current Democratic Party is going to walk away from $5 trillion in spending and a party that completely controls government. The losers would be incompetent losers like the current Republican Party.

    They will as soon as it becomes apparent that the $5 trillion is going to be spent against their wishes regardless of whether they’re in the party or not. This has happened before. Look internationally. Even the PRI loses, eventually. You’re talking about the inevitability of a model that doesn’t exist on the national level this side of Venezuela.

    Duverger’s Law is not absolute, but when it’s wrong, it’s wrong in the other direction. Political parties are not ideologies so much as they are coalitions of interests and ideologies. The coalitions hang together primarily due to the threat of a viable alternative. Republicans may not be competitive in DC, but they have historically been competitive nationally. Once that bogeyman is gone, Fenty’s coalition and Gray’s coalition become separate parties. Someone like Fenty agrees to run as a Republican or Republicans join the Fenty Party.

    Neither of these things happen so long as there is a Republican Party nationally, but in the absence of a viable one, that’s what happens. Which brings us back to the fact that you’re looking at individual locations within a national electorate. That’s fundamentally different from an electorate that is unconstrained by being a part of a larger party (when Jerry Brown can’t use George W. Bush to run against Whitman).

    The Democrats know what the pitfalls of the one party sate is (given that they have dominated the urban cores for decades) and know how to adjust.

    The Republicans have ceded to Democrats the urban cores. They’re not going to cede the nation’s entire electorate. They’re going to adjust as they need to and find those that the Democrats are failing. Just as they did before.

    Also, I think you are correct that most of the current groups inside the Republican Part will not tolerate defeat. That is why most of them will quickly move over to the Democratic Party. Why else do you think the Chamber of Commerce types in Maryland or Mass. are Democrats?

    Because the Republican Party has a lot of difficulty being competitive in those states. Because the national Republican Party has written them off. Chances are the Republican Party will never angle for those two specific states, but they’re not going to write off the entire country. Nationally, they can make adjustments. In individual states, they can only adjust so much because they’re a part of a national party.

    But does anyone really believe that the Democrats can screw up enough to lose California, New York, or Illinois.

    Not to the current Republican Party. That’s the rub, though. With enough losses, they’d be running against a different Republican Party.

    It’s worth noting that if Washington DC were a city-state, rather than tied to a national party dynamic, Fenty and Williams would probably be in one party and Gray in another. But they’re tied to a national dynamic and on that spectrum they’re both left of center.

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