Présidentielle Américaine: J-2, Mes Prédictions
I have been literally bombarded by messages and emails asking me to write something about the U.S. presidential election. Well, i made the conscious decision not to write a play-by-play of the campaign because it can be very tiring to read (and to write as well) and even very much redundant. So, in this post, i will summarize the GOP primaries (not much to write there), and then go directly into outlining the different paths to 270 electoral votes, and who’s most likely going get them.
A Short & Quick Recap:
Well, in 2 days, Americans will either reelect Barack Obama (D) or hand the presidency to a new president, Mitt Romney (R). This campaign has been long. First, we had the primaries of the Republican Party. It was truly a clown show, and if you folks missed it, well let just say that you didn’t miss much; maybe you missed some genuinely hilariously laughing out loud moments like Perry’s “Oops” moment or Michelle Buchmann playing the waitress for the other candidates.
By the time the Republican base chose its standard-bearer, Mitt Romney, the GOP candidate moved so far to the right that he fell off the cliff. In order to clinch the nomination, Romney radicalized his positions on women’s health, immigration, fiscal policy, education, FEMA, health care, the federal bench, deficit, etc. In short, you name it, he radicalized it. To top this mad-dash to embrace the fringes of the GOP base and the Tea Party, and to get their blessings, Romney espoused a vision of the role of the government that is truly alien to modern day moderate America. Taking his cue from the Tea Party clowns, Romney argued for a minimal role of the government in almost every policy. To Romney, less regulations lead to small government, which is synonymous with good government and some sort of mythical increase of freedom. Let’s just say that this vision of the role of the government is not even a valid vision for the role of the government in the 19th century.
So, by the time Romney went to Tampa to accept his party nomination, he was a walking-dead electorally. Something had to be changed: enters the debates season. For Romney, it was either stick to his radical views and philosophy, and lose in a landslide, or pivot to the center and try to make this race as close as possible. Well, Romney opted for the second option–i.e., a pivot to the middle. And what a pivot that was. By the end of the first debate–it’s useful to note that Obama delivered a very poor performance that day–gone was Romney the radical of the primaries, the summer and the republican convention, and voila entered the moderate Romney of the general election and October. But to do a seamless pivot to the center, usually candidates don’t trade what is perceived as their core beliefs and positions for new ones, otherwise it would be too obvious and too damning. Well, this little caveat wasn’t a problem for Romney. He changed almost all his positions. You name it, he flip-flopped on it. Sometimes Romney changed his positions so many times that he had even forgotten his own initial ones. Take for example health care: during the primaries, Romney dismissed, repudiated, and emphatically rejected his own heath care plan–i.e., Romney-care–that he implemented in Massachusetts when he was a governor. After rejecting his own plan, he pledged to repeal Obama-care on his first day in office. A couple of months later (after the RNC convention), he declared that there might be a few things in the Obama-care that he liked. Then during the first debate, he came very close to embracing Obama-care that Obama himself was in total disbelief. Before the debate even ended, his senior campaign managed declared to the press that Romney was still against Obama-care. He did the same thing on Roe vs. Wade, immigration, taxes, the deficit etc. By the end of the month of October, Mitt Romney was a walking-talking contradiction. He was everything and nothing. He was an empty suit without conviction or a core. That flip-flopping was aimed at attracting or splitting the independent/undecided vote, and to a certain degree, he was successful in doing that. But is it enough to get him to 270? Not so fast!
Obama’s Record and Agenda
On the other side, Obama is the incumbent and as such he has a record to defend and a vision (which is pretty much a continuation of his first term vision) to project. His record is a mixed bag, but in all objectivity, it is a good one nonetheless. America is the only advanced western democracy that according to the IMF projections will be the strongest economy in 2013. Moreover, the United States, as Fareed Zakaria rightly argues, is the only advanced western democracy that has negotiated this terrible economic recession and gotten out of it pretty quickly and with a strong and stable economy. For example: US companies have $1.7 trillion in cash on their balance sheets. Debt in the financial sector relative to GDP has fallen back to levels last seen in 2000. US households have reduced their debt relative to disposable income by 15%, more than in any other country. US home construction jumped 15% in September to a 4-year high with 872,000 new permits. U.S. exports, which have increased by 45% in the past 4 years, are at their highest level ever as a % of the GDP. A 2% GDP growth for 2012, while almost everyone else has had a sub-2% growth. The IFM’s latest World Economic Outlook forecast a 3% growth for the US, while everyone is sub-2.5%. Unemployment is at 7.8%. 30 consecutive months of positive job creation with close to 5 million jobs created. The stock market is almost as its pre-2008 levels. Consumer confidence is fine and up. Inflation is almost nonexistent. The federal deficit fell to $1.1 trillion in the 2012 fiscal year, down from about $1.3 trillion a year earlier, which is the smallest deficit since 2008. All these economic indicators are positive and point toward a serious take off the economy in 2013 and beyond.
Forecast, electoral maps, and the path to 270
So, where do we go from here? And who’s got the better odds at winning the election in 2 days? Well in one word: Obama.
Statistically, Obama has a probability of about 70% of winning the election with 305 electoral votes on November 6th.
This election was always going to be a tight one, and Obama was always better positioned to win. As all incumbent, Obama benefited from his incumbency. Moreover, the fact that he successfully ordered the military operation that took out Usama Bin Laden, and the way he’s been handling the aftermath of hurricane Sandy increased his presidential stature.
Now, let us look at the different paths that might lead Obama to 270. First, there are about 7 very important battleground states: Florida, Virginia, Colorado, Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin, and New Hampshire. In almost all of these battleground states, Obama is tied or has small, but substantially constant lead. As the 3 charts below show, Obama has been leading the polls in one very important state, which is Ohio. Why is Ohio important? Because of a very simple reason: without Ohio, the path to 270 for Romney becomes almost impossible.
Wednesday, 31th October: 27 Polls Released in the Battleground States
Sorting Competitive States for Mr. Obama’s Current Projected Margin of Victory or Defeat
Not-Weighted Averaged of all the Polls of likely voters in the FiveThirtyEight database
There is one conclusion that jumps at us when we look at the above charts and averages of the polls, and that is as of today Obama is extremely well positionned to win. His constant lead in Ohio widens the electoral maps for him, and shrinks it for Romney.
Let us now, look at all possible electoral maps that lead to Obama’s victory.
Map 1: Winning Ohio and Wisconsin, but losing Florida, Virginia, NH, Iowa, Colorado, Obama gets 271 EV
Map 2: Winning Ohio, Iowa, and NH, but losing Florida, Virginia, Colorado, and Wisconsin, Obama gets 271 EV
Map 3: Even when losing, Virginia, Florida, and Ohio, but winning Wisconsin, NH, Iowa, and Colorado, Obama get 272 EV
What these 3 electoral maps show is that there are several routes for Obama to get to 270, even if he loses Ohio. However, it is almost and virtually impossible for Romney to get to 270 EV if he loses Ohio. Unless a freakishly bizarre incident occurs between now and election day, i cannot see Obama lose this election.
Now, this is my forecast and my electoral map. You can hold me to my word on November 7. I think Obama will win Ohio, NH, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Virgin. He will lose Florida and Colorado (not by much). That would give him 294 electoral votes and the president.
My Map and predictions: Winning Ohio, Virginia, NH, Iowa, and Wisconsin and getting 294 EV