A lot of people complain that election coverage these days is all about the “horse race” and not the issues of the day. Yet I find the horse race – the competition for the Presidency and control of Congress – absolutely fascinating.
Part of the interest is professional. My current area of research relates to the media, rhetoric and discourse. Watching what the campaigns do, what’s effective and what isn’t, says a lot about the state of our country and culture. Much of my interest is just fun – watching the political game in the last sixty days of an election cycle is as exciting to me as it is for a baseball fan to watch a series of close pennant races!
Though I won’t blog daily about it, the tab near the top of the page that says “2012 Polls!” goes to a page updated daily (and many times a day) as new polls come out. I’ll give my thoughts and analysis there. On my blog I’ll focus more about events and trends. I’ll still try to be eclectic — I’m proud of the fact that my blog is not primarily a political blog but one that touches many themes — but for the next 60 days the share of political posts will increase.
My analysis has to be considered partisan. It’s not an effort to be partisan, however. Here’s the deal: I like President Obama. I like Vice President Joe Biden (who was my favorite back in 2008). At this point, I cannot think of two other people in either party that I would rather see in the role of President and Vice President. That’s a claim I have never before in my life been able to make, so I really hope that I can have four more years of this!
I don’t want that to affect my analysis, but inevitably it does. So if you’re a supporter of Mitt Romney and find my analysis too optimistic about Obama’s chances, you can chalk it up to my bias. But I’ll write what I believe. Some partisan blogs see themselves as part of the horse race, impacting public opinion. They believe they’re contributing to their candidate with their efforts, and so they’re overtly partisan. They often don’t believe what they say, they think they’re contributing to the cause.
I don’t have enough readers to see that as worth my while. I’d rather record my thoughts and ideas as they are, whether they turn out right or wrong. If I’m wrong, I can learn better to adjust for bias. If I’m right, well, so be it!
The State of the Presidential Race: Right now Intrade has Obama’s odds of being re-elected at about 58.4%. Recent polls show that the GOP convention did not help Romney — he didn’t get the hoped for ‘bounce’ — and state polls in swing states are still positive for the President. At this point in time, I think it’s Obama’s race to lose. He has a lead, the other candidate is weak, and while Democrats decry all the GOP PAC money that will go to negative ads, Obama has the incumbency and the office of the Presidency, and that’s very powerful. A successful convention is important.
My current prediction is Obama being re-elected with 332 Electoral votes. I have Obama carrying the usual so-called “blue” states as well as also Iowa, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and New Hampshire. I think North Carolina is in play as well, and could add to that total.
While this seems optimistic for Obama, I’d note that it is the same as if you go to conservative leaning “Realclearpolitics.com” and click their “map without toss ups.” In all these states polls show Obama on average with at least a slight lead. Most are so close that they’re not being called either way. I believe that the momentum will swing slightly to Obama in the race and thus places he leads now, even slightly, will stay with him. Given the intrade odds and the polls, Obama is clearly favored by any objective measure. But that could change as the race goes on!
US Senate: Right now the Senate is in the hands of the Democrats, 53-47 (with two independents siding with the Democrats). The Republicans have to pick up four seats to gain control. The races now make it appear likely that the Democrats will hold the Senate. However, the Republicans have a real opportunity. Their best shot is the open seat in Wisconsin where Tommy Thompson leads Democrat Tammy Baldwin in most polls. Jon Tester is in trouble in Montana against Republican Denny Rehberg.
However, the Republicans are almost certain to lose their seat in Maine to independent Angus King, who is likely to caucus with the Democrats. Scott Brown is in danger in Massachusetts against Democrat Elizabeth Warren. Races once considered possible pick ups for Republicans are starting to drift away – Michigan, Florida, and Ohio are now leaning Democratic rather than being toss ups. The true toss ups held now by Democrats are Missouri, North Dakota and Virginia. Missouri should have been an easy pick up for the Republicans, but Todd Akin’s weakness means Democrat Claire McCaskill has a good shot at keeping her job. Moreover, the GOP is also defending toss up seats in Indiana and Nevada. All told, the Republicans would have to significantly out perform current polls to win enough to take the Senate. My prediction: Democrats 52 Republicans 48, a one seat pick up for the GOP.
House: Right now the House appears to be safely in the hands of the GOP, especially if the power of the incumbency is strong. Still, there are a lot of races the GOP won in 2010 that are likely to revert back to the Democrats. At this point I have no basis for any numerical prediction (though I will as we get closer in). For now I believe the Republicans will maintain control, but lose a significant number of seats.