Prediction: Obama 347

See the map above for when polls close in the various states (note that some states have parts of the state close at different times). All times EST.

Yesterday I predicted Obama would win the election Tuesday, based on data from polls, early voting and voter turnout projections.  It does not appear likely that state pollsters were statistically biased or that voter turnout will go significantly below 2004 – 2008 levels.   Moreover, late polls seem to be breaking for the President.  It is still close, but the evidence points to an Obama win.

Caveat:  While the headline prediction looks excellent for the President, it’s based on four states that literally could go either way:  Florida, North Carolina, Virginia and New Hampshire.   If they go for Romney, then he’s within 16 votes of the Presidency — Ohio would give the election to Romney.   The data suggests to me that Obama is favored in each, but not heavily.   The election could still go either way.

Predicting which states he’ll win and what his electoral vote total will be is difficult.    I’ve been pouring over information about early voting stats in Florida and North Carolina (my two hardest calls), reading different prognostications and trying to figure out my own best guess.    So here goes.  First, a number of seats are not competitive:

SAFE  ROMNEY                                SAFE  OBAMA

Alabama  (9)                                   California (55)
Alaska (3)                                      Connecticut (7)
Arkansas  (6)                                  Delaware (3)
Georgia  (16)                                   District of Columbia (3)

Idaho  (4)                                        Hawaii  (4)
Kansas  (6)                                     Illinois (20)
Kentucky (8)                                   Maryland (10)
Louisiana  (8)                                  Massachusetts (11)
Mississippi (6)                                New Jersey (14)
Nebraska   (5)                                 New Mexico (5)
North Dakota (3)                              New York (29)
Oklahoma   (7)                                Oregon (7)
Tennessee (11)                                Rhode Island (4)
Texas  (38)                                      Vermont (3)
Utah (6)                                           Washington (12)
West Virginia  (5)
Wyoming  (3)

VALUE:  144 EV                            VALUE:  187 EV

A number of other states will only be competitive if there is some dramatic twist in the election.   I’ll just list these, giving electoral vote values.

Likely Romney:  Indiana (11), Montana (3), Missouri (10), South Carolina (9)  South Dakota (3)

Likely Obama:  Minnesota (10), Maine (3)* (Maine divides its EV by Congressional district and the 2nd district is only leans Obama)

Total safe and likely Romney EV:  180   Obama EV:  200

And now my state by state predictions for the rest, with explanation where warranted, in alphabetical order:

Arizona (11):  Romney:  Soon Arizona may join Nevada and New Mexico as swing states or even Democratic leaning if the Latino population in the US continues to predominately support Democrats.  It is possible that a surprising uptick in Latino votes could push Arizona into Obama’s column — that’s why it’s listed out here.   The polls suggest that strong white support for Romney will keep Arizonia with the Republicans.

Colorado (9):  Obama:  This was a hard state to call.  It’s been at times in the polls for Obama, and at times for Romney.  Republicans are doing well in early voting.  A strong Latino vote and late polls that leaned Obama cause me to award it to the President.   Also today reports are that the Romney camp is down on Colorado due to internal polling.

Florida (29):  Obama:   I thought as late as yesterday that I’d guess Romney on this one.  But the early voting was phenomenal given the shortened time period (near equal to 2008), and a backlash against attempts to limit early voting might work against Romney and the Republicans.   Also, I think polls might be underestimating Latino votes (note – as becomes clear, this may be an election Obama owes to Latinos).   I think voter turnout will be high, and Obama will pull it off.

Iowa (6):  Obama:   Obama hit this state hard at the end, and most polls showed him pulling away, though not to the extent they did in other swing states.   Still, this is where it started for him, he’s winning the early vote big time, and recent polls have looked strong.

Maine 2nd Dist. (1):  Obama:  I live here, and it’s definitely the rural/conservative portion of Maine.   Still, both polls I’ve seen suggest Obama has a decent lead, and I expect he’ll take the district.   I wouldn’t be shocked if Romney got this EV, but the election doesn’t seem to be trending this way.

Michigan (16):  Obama:  Pretty easy call, though some late ad buys and a couple close polls made it at least conceivable Romney could do well.   Most polls show an easy Obama win, especially given the auto bail out.

Nevada (6):  Obama:  This one is closer, but most polls show Obama with a decent lead of about 4%, and Romney stopped really competing for it in the last week.  This suggests that they consider it out of reach and in Obama’s camp.

New Hampshire (4):  Obama:  Polls have varied widely for New Hampshire, and this is a state that likes to defy expectations, whether in primaries or general elections.   It’s often forgotten that if New Hampshire had gone for Gore in 2000 Florida would have been irrelevant – Gore would have won.   I was very close to giving this to Romney, but some huge rallies, good late polls and lots of effort by Obama there towards the end suggests that they’ll have the momentum to pull it off. 

North Carolina (15):  Obama:  North Carolina is another that had me switching sides — first I thought Obama should take it, then new polls and the very narrow margin of 2008 made me lean Romney.   After all, nobody expects Obama to do as well in 2012 as in 2008, do they?   So I’ve been reading about early voting results, the mood in North Carolina, and watching what the campaigns are doing.   Since I think this election is breaking towards Obama, I decided, perhaps more from the heart than the head, to give this to Obama.   I was about to call it for Romney but when I saw that early voting increased over 2008 I decided to take a bet that this means very heavy turnout.   Still, I’m sticking my neck out here!

Ohio (18):  Obama:  Ohio has been polled more than any other state, it seems, and the polls are overwhelming in favor of Obama, some late polls by a solid margin.    Early voting has also been strong in Ohio, and I read reports that Republicans were alarmed by the level of early voting in Democratic counties over the final weekend (the weekend where the Legislature and Governor didn’t want anyone but military families to be able to vote early, until overruled by the courts).   So everything points to a clear Obama win here.    If Ohio is really close, that could be a sign that the Romney team’s assumptions about this race were accurate after all – an important state!

Pennsylvania (20): Obama:  Late ad buys and a final appearance by Romney cause many to think that the GOP considers Pennsylvania winnable.   John McCain made a similar effort in 2008.    Yet Obama has had pretty consistent leads in most polls (and those that show otherwise tended to be outliers or partisan).   With 20 electoral votes, Pennsylvania is a real prize.  If you have to gamble, this is the place to do it.   But Obama should win by at least 5.

Virginia (13):  Obama:  Until a few days ago I was leaning Romney on this one, but late polls seem to be breaking for Obama.   Virginia does not have no excuse early voting, which is one reason I thought Romney might pull it out, especially if Democratic enthusiasm is even a bit down.   Still, given the late polls I end up giving it to Obama.  Not as hard a call as North Carolina, but this could go either way.

Wisconsin (10):  Obama: Wisconsin was to be in play with the choice of Paul Ryan of Janesville as Romney’s VP candidate, but all signs are that Obama is finishing strong here.    On Monday Bruce Springsteen opened for Obama in Madison.  How many people can say that they’ve had Springsteen as their opening act?

So, add all these together and the result is:

OBAMA:  347 EV          ROMNEY:  191  EV

Other Predictions:

Popular Vote:   National polls have moved to give Obama a one or two point lead.   They now seem in line with the state polls.  I don’t expect Obama to win the electoral college and lose the popular vote, in part because the small states that go red tend to have smaller population to EV ratios.  I’ll predict Obama 50.8   Romney 48.2.

The House of Representatives:  I have not been following the House races closely enough to make an informed prediction.   In 2010 I paid more attention and the best I could do was to pick a range of Democratic loses from 29 to 69 – it’s hard to miss with that kind of range!    All I can do this year is say that I think the Democrats will gain at least ten.    If things really break their way they could take the House back, but from what I can tell even Democratic optimists doubt that.

Same Sex Marriage:   It looks very much like it should pass here in Maine — it was close in 2009, and that was an off year election which allowed the evangelicals of the state to have a stronger impact.   I’m not sure about Minnesota, Washington state and Maryland.    Polls in three of the states show about 52 – 45 in favor of same sex marriage (not sure about Washington state’s polling).   Polls tend to overstate support, so it will likely be much closer.   If it were to pass in all four states this would be a watershed, perhaps the most historic aspect of the 2012 election cycle.    Even if only one state supports same sex marriage this will mark its first success in a referendum, and that would be a big deal.

So it comes down to tomorrow!   However it turns out, this has definitely been one of the more topsy turvy and interesting general elections in recent history.   It’s been fun to watch!   Don’t forget to vote!

  1. #1 by Larry Beck on November 5, 2012 - 13:01

    347 eh? That would be nice because this number would also likely give Obama the popular vote plurality too.

    I know for a fact that I am worn out so I’m done for this election cycle on comments. All that can be said has been said and anything else will be ineffectual.

    Here’s hoping your figures hold up Scott.

  2. #2 by huxley on November 5, 2012 - 13:11

    Prof. Erb: I see a decisive win for Romney for much the same reasoning SShiell outlined in the previous topic.

    If the question is one of authority, I’ll take Gallup and Michael Barone (who predicts 315-223 EV for Romney) over the other polls and Nate Silver, which depend on a 2008 turnout model instead of 2010.

    I understand that presidential and mid-term elections are generally different and not to be compared, but from what I see the issues which drove voters in 2010 — Obamacare, jobs, and the economy — still drive them. Meanwhile, aside from killing of Bin Laden, the Obama administration has provided little good news to compensate or campaign upon.

    Of course, there’s also my gut sense based on the body language of the respective campaigns. Obama is showing up at small venues, and he makes small-minded complaints (Big Bird, bullsh*****, revenge, etc.). Romney shows up at large venues, and he speaks positively and optimistically.

    I live in the Bay Area and I’ve seen no Obama signs and almost no Obama bumperstickers — entirely different from last time. I don’t see the off-the-charts 2008 turnout that Obama inspired happening this year, here or anywhere.

    Of course, you can dismiss my points, but you called it wrong in 2010 and I believe you are calling it wrong this year.

    • #3 by Scott Erb on November 5, 2012 - 13:54

      No reason to dismiss your points – we’ll know tomorrow so I’ll just take a wait and see approach. Gallup has it a one point Romney lead, down from five, so momentum seems to be Obama’s now. But the margins are so close in so many states that I’ll make my call, accept it if I’m wrong, and congratulate you if you’re right. At this point arguing about it is pointless, we’ll find out soon!

    • #4 by Scott Erb on November 5, 2012 - 22:16

      By the way, Huxley, thanks for your comment. You may be right, we’ll see tomorrow. It’s all a matter of whose assumptions are right about who’s going to turn out. But it has been a fun race to watch.

  3. #5 by Ron Byrnes on November 5, 2012 - 13:18

    I know it’s easy to forget the upper left hand corner, but on same sex marriage don’t forget Washington State—Initiative 74. Looks like it’s going to pass here.

    • #6 by Scott Erb on November 5, 2012 - 13:55

      Yikes, how could I forget Washington. I’ll add that in. Thanks!

  4. #7 by bravesmartbold on November 5, 2012 - 18:23

    Let’s see. I trust your evaluation more than mine, but I’m still worried about the state of Florida.

    • #8 by Scott Erb on November 5, 2012 - 21:31

      Florida and North Carolina I could have gone either way on. But if people wait seven hours in Florida for early voting, I gotta respect that! (Roger Simon tweeted that he didn’t know if he’d wait seven hours even if they gave away a free Ipad at the end!) I’m pretty confident Obama will win, but less so about those two states!

  5. #9 by Alan Scott on November 5, 2012 - 20:31

    I find it hard to believe that so many voters can be turned either way to keep the polls swinging back and forth . It’s scary to think that such people might hold the fate of the country in their hands . I still believe it is a turn out election . Which base wants it more .

    • #10 by Scott Erb on November 5, 2012 - 21:32

      Not just the base, but who can turn out the most voters who don’t usually vote. Bases are crucial in low turn out elections. This looks to be a high turn out year, like 2004 or 2008 (which had similar turnouts).

  6. #11 by SShiell on November 5, 2012 - 22:34

    Erb, I gotta say that I agree with your assessment 100%.

    Except for:
    New Hampshire
    North Carolina
    And Pennsylvania too close to call!

    Romney = 295 minimum (315 with PA but I’ll stick with 295)

    House: GOP gains 5 seats.

    Senate: GOP gains 3 seats to reach 50-50.

    Popular Vote:
    Romney 52.0%
    Obama 47.0% (There’s that 47 again!)

    But I could be wrong.

    Cheers & Out!

    • #12 by Scott Erb on November 6, 2012 - 06:29

      LOL – We’ll see if Obama can rise above the 47%!

      OK, we’ve got our predictions down and in less than 24 hours we’ll know. It all comes down to turnout. If Romney wins I’ll put up a blog post sometime soon about how Neil Newshouse (Romney’s supporter) got it right and most public pollsters and pundits got it wrong. It’s in the voters’ hands now.

      • #13 by Doris Dawn on November 11, 2012 - 08:07

        Did you check out the predicted 147! Dude, that was awesome. Like sayings, 100 + the doesn’t matter 47%.

        Sometimes God allows you to feel how others, that you hate, despises, or just DO NOT CARE ABOUT (dosen’t matter). It’s like losing the Presidential election, Romney just did not matter to at least 106 electoral votes.

  7. #14 by elizjamison on November 6, 2012 - 06:29

    Thanks for your continuing information, Scott. It’s has been so interesting to read. My colleagues love it as well.

  8. #15 by elizjamison on November 6, 2012 - 06:30

    I sure do hope Romney wins, though. I know you want Obama. What are you going to write about after the election? 🙂 I am waiting for tomorrow’s post, that’s for sure.

    • #16 by Scott Erb on November 6, 2012 - 06:35

      I’m looking forward to NOT writing about just politics. Whoever wins, after a couple of post-election reflections I’m going to try to shift towards other topics and get my mind in a more “real” place! Thanks!

      • #17 by elizjamison on November 6, 2012 - 06:39

        I know. You can write an advice for new bloggers blog series where you explain the philosophy of writing on a blog, how to get new followers, and how to finish a dissertation. Really though, I’d be interested in reading some more about “faith and philosophy”. It is interesting how many conversations I have had with very different people about those two things.

      • #18 by Scott Erb on November 6, 2012 - 06:47

        That’s actually my favorite topic. I’m teaching an Honors first year seminar which is basically a history of western thought and it’s been amazing. The students are reading different thinkers starting with Augustine but focusing on the era from 1300 onwards (our last topics were on Adam Smith and the birth of capitalism, and then the French Revolution). I’m sure that if it wasn’t for this pesky election that class would have sparked a lot of blog posts!

      • #19 by Norbrook on November 6, 2012 - 12:01

        I join you in that. 😀 When I started my blog, it was actually to do all my “non-political” blogging. I was already doing a lot of political blogging elsewhere.

  9. #20 by william12k on November 6, 2012 - 11:38

    In a way I am with you on obama… He looks to be the winner… especally with that FUBAR that
    Romney pulled in Ohio with the auto industry….

    & Scott … I agree.. this election seems to me the most overwhelming one I have ever seen..(also the closest one) The Blog world will be an empty space whan this is done


  10. #21 by La Kaiser on November 6, 2012 - 15:36

    I hope we CAN close the election in the next few hours and not have the results drag on… So many close states… I think the probability is high for at least one close state to not be answered in the next few hours.

  11. #22 by La on November 6, 2012 - 23:36

    It’s 10:34 pm cst and I’m off to bed. Great job Scott, it looks very, very close to your predictions and I am thrilled I won’t be tired tomorrow!!

    • #23 by Scott Erb on November 7, 2012 - 07:13

      I knew I was taking a risk on North Carolina and Carmona in the Senate. But it looks pretty close. Alas, I stayed up to see how some of the down ballot races across the country would go (and I’m on the East Coast which is an hour later anyway) so I’m tired this morning! Thanks!

  12. #24 by SShiell on November 7, 2012 - 02:01

    Well, I did say I could be wrong. At least I was right on that! LOL!!!

    Cheers & sleep well.

    • #25 by Scott Erb on November 7, 2012 - 07:12

      At least you had the courage to put your prediction out there! In any event, now comes the hard part — the problems are still real, and government divided. Can they find a way to deal with reality, starting with the so-called ‘fiscal cliff’? The horse race is over, governance is back.

  13. #26 by Doris Dawn on November 11, 2012 - 07:51

    I was astonished to see the number 347 for President Obama and 200 predicted. It was like the 47% (Romney’s not cared about) showed up, and another 100 (the cared about) stated; we will make 100% sure to back the 47%, (not cared about) so 147% help defeat Romney. I wonder what Romney thinks about the 47% who do not pay taxes now. Did the matter? They must matter to at least 100 people who did matter to him.

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