I’ve looked into my crystal ball and present my fearless predictions for Election Day 2012
President of the United States
Popular Vote (rounded): Obama: 50% Romney 48%
Final EV Prediction: Obama 333 Romney 205
Obama wins Romney wins
IL NE (4 EV)
NE (1 EV – Omaha) ND
The state I’m least confident about for the President is Florida. Polling there has consistently shown the race to be neck-and-neck, but the I-4 corridor may be more receptive to Romney’s businessman pitch than it was McCain’s “Country First” claptrap. I also think Romney will narrowly carry North Carolina, owing to its natural Republican tilt. It is also possible Obama will not collect the Congressional District EV in Nebraska that he won in 2008. If so, his EV count drops to 303 (FL -29, NE -1), which would still represent a higher EV tally than either of George W. Bush’s wins. In Virginia, Kaine will win by 5-6 points and I don’t see Romney over performing Allen by that much. Head fakes by Team Romney in Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Michigan may have helped his “narrative,” but the President will win all three easily (albeit not be as large a margin as he did in 2008). Similarly, I expect the President to carry Ohio and Wisconsin by at least 3 points (media reports trying to paint each as a “toss-up” are belied by state-level polling). In fact, I think much of the after-action reporting on the President’s re-election will center on the degree to which the Romney folks were spinning to project strength when they knew their man was going to lose. Last point: an Obama win in the popular vote would make this the 5th election in the past 6 where the Democrat carried the popular vote (the lone exception since 1992 being Bush’s narrow win in 2004). While that will not put to rest the mainstream media belief that we are a “center-right” country, facts are stubborn things.
U.S. Senate (Key Races)
Who Will Win: Elizabeth Warren, Chris Murphy, Claire McCaskill, Tim Kaine, Sherrod Brown, Martin Heinrich
Who I Hope Will Win (& I think will win): Heidi Heitkamp, Tammy Baldwin
Who I Hope Will Win (but worried they will not): Joe Donnelly, Jon Tester
Warren should triumph not just because of Brown’s scurrilous and ugly campaign, but the rising tide that will be Obama’s 20+ point win in Massachusetts. Chris Murphy should benefit similarly in Connecticut, while McCaskill’s re-election in Missouri was secured when Todd Akin decided to share his views on rape with the electorate. Both Tim Kaine and Sherrod Brown have run strong campaigns on their own in Virginia and Ohio, taking two races that seemed like toss-ups and locking them down well before Election Day. Martin Heinrich looks like a strong bet to continue shading New Mexico blue and has also been helped by a weak (and soon-to-be two-time loser) opponent in Heather Wilson.
In other races, I do hope Heidi Heitkamp pulls off a minor upset in reliably Republican North Dakota. From everything I have read about that race, she has excelled at the “retail” politics that are required there and also has a middle of the road record (including a stint as state Attorney General) to run on. Similarly, although she started out as an underdog to former four-term (!) Governor Tommy Thompson, Tammy Baldwin has run a scrappy and tenacious campaign in Wisconsin. Both sides are highly motivated and organized in the Badger State, not just for the Obama/Romney match-up, but the residual mobilizing that was done both for and against Governor Scott Walker. Baldwin would bring needed progressivity to the Senate.
Even though recent polling shows Joe Donnelly leading “rape baby guy” Richard Mourdock by 11 points in Indiana, I am worried there won’t be enough ticket splitters in the Hoosier State to carry Donnelly over the finish line. In Montana, Jon Tester has a similar issue of needing to over perform the President, although Big Sky Country only went for McCain by 2 points in 2008. Tester barely eeked out a win in 2006 in a strong Democratic year and he will need all of that and more to be re-elected. I’m worried he may fall a little short.
The other two races I did not list are likely to cancel one another out – I expect Bill Nelson to cruise to re-election in Florida, while I fear Dean Heller may eke out a win in Nevada (though we underestimate Harry Reid’s turnout machine at our peril).