As we start the 2012 Presidential primary season in earnest, here is my prediction. If the GOP nominates Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich, President Obama will win re-election with an Electoral Vote total in excess of his original 365 (270 needed to win) and could gain more than 425 against Romney. If the GOP nominee is Newt Gingrich, President Obama will win a Nixon or Reagan 2nd landslide of nearly 500 EVs.
Forget daily tracking polls, made up dramas of the week on US cable news and a plethora of talking heads… the real race will not begin until September, 2012. Despite ongoing economic troubles the unemployment rate will hover around 8%, there will be two years of small but sustained economic growth and voters will see the obstinate Congressional GOP, growing sense of global economic unfairness (thanks to the Occupy movement and Arab Spring), a perception of the GOP being only concerned with the rich and a growing Hispanic demographic wave. All create a perfect storm for yet another wave election for the Democrats, whilst the Tea Party will be reduced to the role of irrelevant irritant. The 84 freshmen they carried to victory in the angry 2010 midterms will be in serious trouble in 2012. This will be further amplified if the Congress, as expected, does nothing but obstruct and try to hurt the President in the run-up to the election.
For those with an iPad, there is a GREAT must have App called 270 to Win. It costs $5.99 (£3) and it is worth every penny. It gives one the ability to look historically at every presidential election ever contested and play with state by state results whilst working various scenarios. It is a political geek’s ideal toy with real value! Also when the New York Times’ Nate Silver speaks, listen! Nate is a former baseball statistician who turned the election of 2008 on its head by using a complicated algorithm to cut through the noise of competing polls and give a very accurate picture of that election.
The Dems Road to 400+ and Control
Let’s start with the races decided in 2008 by 5% or less. Here is where the Dems could pick up 2 states: Missouri (10 EVs) and, possibly, Montana (3). Missouri was lost by the President in ’08 by 3,700 votes out of 2.9 million cast. Senator Claire McCaskill is being challenged for her seat, will fight hard and bring President Obama across the line with her this time.
Montana Democratic Governor Brian Schweitzer was tough on oil companies and kicked them out when they played the ‘Gulf of Mexico spill shell game.’ He was not going to let them minimise their liability when the Yellowstone River pipeline leaked. He kicked them out for obstructing the cleanup. The state could be an upset for the president but it is ‘fracking’ country and delaying the Keystone XL pipeline could sway voters against him.
President Obama will likely hold North Carolina and Ohio. This leaves Indiana and Iowa at risk of turning red from blue.
The races decided by 10% or less include my 2012 upsets in Arizona (11) and South Carolina (9). Arizona will send its Governor Jan Brewer and anti-immigrant Sheriff Joe Arpaio (likely indicted by then by the Justice Department for illegal discrimination against Hispanics) a message: stop the crazy! South Carolina is my stretch pick because of their unpopular (and also likely indicted for failing to provide information in a FOIA request) Governor Haley.
My two solid red states that could go blue in ’12 are Texas (38) and Georgia (16). Texas has a very angry Hispanic population and their governor Rick Perry has been a campaign embarrassment. Georgia is suffering under a ridiculous state anti-immigration law that has angered nearly everyone and is causing crops to rot in the field. Do not underestimate the backlash in these two states.
Why Ignore Polls?
My admonition against tracking polls remains the methodology requiring land line telephone respondents and emphasis on ‘likely’ voters (people who voted in past elections). While youth may be disillusioned with President Obama, when they see the alternative they will gladly race back. Just as in ’08 they underestimate the power of the incoming group of 18-21 year old voters who did not vote in 2008 and the power of social media. The Justice Department will file suit against individual states (GOP-led) voting suppression and illegal poll tax laws. They will be struck down long before the November election.
Even the two major Supreme Court cases we will see a lot of media oxygen consume on Healthcare and Arizona’s immigration law are likely to go the President’s way despite a conservative court majority.
The only scary prospect is if former Utah Governor and Obama Ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman is the nominee. He is the only real game changer left but cannot break out in Iowa. His entire campaign is based on New Hampshire. If he finishes 2nd there, he could be seen as the sane and sober alternative. The problem is conservatives and evangelicals will stay home or likely spawn a 3rd party challenge from Ron Paul, Michele Bachmann or Donald Trump if he is the nominee.
If Ron Paul runs an independent campaign he could pull a Ross Perot and win 15% of the vote. The problem is he will steal votes from the GOP and put other southern states in play for the President.
So 11 months out, that’s my prediction. President Obama 429 to the GOP’s 109. This is more than enough time for folks to forget if I blow it and for me to say I was 1st when it plays out this way.
It won’t be as interesting as it was in ’08 with an elevated discourse, but the last three months will have their share of excitement.
So start your engines. It all begins in Iowa on 03 January.