Monday, November 5, 2012


Four years ago I did a pretty decent job of predicting Election Night. This time around, my guess is pretty much a reflection of Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight website. I don't think Obama/ Biden will pull out Florida or North Carolina, but they'll get every other swing state and win with 303 electoral votes.

How I see it

Here's how you know President Obama is headed to victory:

  • Desperate Attacks in Ohio: The Romney campaign has steadfastly maintained it would "not be dictated by fact-checkers." Never was this more apparent than in its ads that claimed the auto-industry bailout would lead to Chrysler shipping jobs to China. But in a campaign full of half truths and outright lies, that was a bridge too far. Chrysler called them out, and the claims failed to dent Obama's consistent lead. It seems to me this attack was a last-ditch desperate attempt to swing Ohio. If Romney thought he was ahead there, his campaign wouldn't need to resort to such tactics.
  • Romney tries to open Pennsylvania: Romney spent parts of the week before the election campaigning in Pennsylvania. The Romney campaign claimed it was expanding the map and laying the groundwork for a landslide. Nonsense. Romney campaigned there for the same reason he ran the Chrysler ads, he knew he wasn't going to win Ohio. McCain did the same thing four years ago, making a late and ultimately unsuccessful play for Pennsylvania. Seeing Romney bound around the Keystone state tells me his advisors can read polls better than many of their supporters, who are hellbent on discrediting Silver's math. But if you can't win Ohio, which normally leans Republican, you ain't winning Pennsylvania, which leans Democrat.
Nate knows. And, really, Mitt does, too.
  • Emphasis on tiny states: I actually live in a battleground state media market, New Hampshire. This is just anecdotal evidence, but it seems to me Romney is advertising here far more than Obama. Once again, this tells me that Obama realizes his campaign is 1) ahead NH in polls, and 2) safe electorally without New Hampshire. Romney's appeal for New Hampshire's four electoral votes indicates how desperate he is to patch together 270.
  • Threw up in my mouth a little: Last night I watched 60 Minutes which aired a truly disgusting segment on the broken mess that is the U.S. Senate. It was the typical "Both parties are partisan and don't want to get things done!" B.S. that has made shows like 60 Minutes largely irrelevant. The most odious part was watching Tom Coburn, the ultra-conservative senator, say that the Senate is so lacking in leadership that it is better off broken than functioning. Of course no one called him on his crap, but it's a perfect example of why the Right will always triumph in our system: Conrad and his conservative colleagues WANT that disfunction. Steve Kroft, or whichever dinosaur was interviewing Conrad, kept saying that the American people want the parties to come together to solve problems. But he never mentioned that Republicans do not believe the government should solve problems. They do not believe in government. They joined it to destroy it. So when Conrad tells his constituents the Senate is better off not functioning, he wins. That incentive system is what has destroyed the U.S. Congress.
  • Gross consequences: This messed up system is what allows Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan (!) to tell people to vote with them because they'll be able to deal with Congress. Think of the cynicism. The Congressional Republicans publicly stated their top goal, with the economy in shambles, was to make Barack Obama a one-term president. They fought him at every step to block his agenda. Now, when Romney says he will be able to get things done the implication is clear: We know that if the president wins the Republicans won't let him do anything, so vote for me and since I'm pushing their agenda and we control the House, and Democrats believe in government action, we'll be able to do something. Either reward our terrible behavior or suffer more of it.
  • More awful incentives: A similar incentive system has destroyed U.S. elections. People hate how incessant political campaigning has become and, more than anything, how negative it is. That, too, plays into Republicans' destructive hands. The constant negative campaigning can depress turnout, which helps Republicans. So Republicans go ultra negative, and Democrats (knowing they cannot stay silent) respond with equally negative messages, causing many to tune out and drop out of the process. Again, a win for the conservative movement. Democrats rely on people participating, but Republicans have an incentive to be as negative as possible.
  • Excuses excuses: Just like revisionist historians have credited the financial crisis with Obama's big victory in 2008, expect similar Republican handwringing about Hurricane Sandy. But the fact is Romney's momentum stopped before the storm, and the race is now where has always been, save three weeks between the DNC and the first debate: Obama with a small but solid lead.
  • A battle for the soul of the Republican party will begin on Wednesday, as establishment Republicans seek to wrest their party back from the Koch brothers/ Tea Party wing of ultra conservatism. The team captains already seem to be staking out their ground, with Governor Chris Christie on one end and Congressman Paul Ryan on the other. Because of the primary system, Ryan's scorched earth orthodoxy will likely win out. That is ultimately bad for Republicans, good for Democrats, and terrible for the country.
On that sunny note, I'll wrap this up. Enjoy the returns. And the weeks of Republicans shouting about how the election was stolen (unless Obama loses, in which case it likely was stolen).