Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Entering the Home Stretch of the Long and Winding Road...to the White House

Part of a continuing series on the U.S. Presidential Election. For more reading, be sure to check out the earlier posts: hereherehere,
here and

Last night the fourth and final debate of this 2012 U.S. Presidential campaign was held. With the conclusion of that debate we have entered the home stretch; the final two weeks before election day.

In fairness, though, calling it a final two weeks does not do justice to the next fourteen days. No, what we can expect is something that would better be described as frantic race to the finish of what has become an incredibly close race.

So what should we watch for?

In an earlier post, I referenced six things to keep an eye on...

1. Momentum
2. Who's spending money and time where
3. Polling, especially at the state level in the key swing states
4. Voter enthusiasm
5. The economy
6. Wild cards like Libya, Iran, Super PAC activity, voting irregularities / suppression.

How things play out under these broad areas or themes will go a long way towards giving clarity about the final two weeks and what we can expect on November 6th.


Currently, if you have a look at Nate Silver's excellent blog or Intrade you see that President Obama remains the favourite. The degree to which he is the favourite varies among such composites, but in all cases a key driver of the modelled outcome is the small leads he holds in the various swing states.

However, there continues to be a heavy focus on the national numbers - things like Gallup, the various media-sponsored tracking polls, etc. Those numbers tell a story which now favours Governor Romney.

Those numbers are important, without question. But in my opinion, their importance is less about the race we see now and more about an outcome with which we could be presented.

At this time there is a possibility that President Obama could win the Presidency but lose the popular vote. The probability is still low, but it has been increasing with each new national poll that shows Governor Romney with momentum.

Under such a scenario, the potential for real progress in the U.S. in the areas in which it is sorely needed is limited. Further complicating things is a Congress that will likely be split between the two parties (Republican House, Democratic Senate).

A country that is already severely polarized would become more so. That's not good for anyone - American or otherwise.


Quick trivia question - on November 6th, 2012, which state will likely lay claim to having the most lawyers per capita within its borders?

One other scenario has been on my mind lately; namely whether we have the potential for an election like the one we saw in 2000. This time around replace the state of Florida with the state of Ohio.

As President Obama's margins get thinner, all roads appear to be leading to Ohio. For the President, the state represents a firewall against a Romney surge elsewhere. For Romney it is a must-have, as without it his path to 270 becomes extremely difficult (though technically not impossible).

For these reasons one cannot overstate the bastion of hyper-political activity the Buckeye state will become between now and November 6th. Unfortunately, with so much at stake the concern about voting irregularity becomes legitimate.

Florida 2000 is still fresh in people's minds, as are the suggestions of irregularity in Ohio in 2004. In both cases, the White House was delivered to the Republicans. This time around, expect both parties to be on the ground, in large numbers, contesting anything and everything that they can.

All of which leads to the possibility of a 2000-redux. We might not know who wins right away.


Last night the debates offered President Obama and Governor Romney a chance to make their final arguments to a national audience. Now they take those arguments on the road.

To Virginia and Wisconsin. And Nevada and Colorado. Perhaps to Pennsylvania and North Carolina.  Likely to Florida. Definitely to Iowa. And yes, to Ohio.

Yet for all that work, money, time and energy it is still quite likely that we could get to the morning of November 6th and still be unsure as to who will win.

This is why I am A Guy Watching Politics.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Have a comment?

Canadian Blogosphere