Here we are. Election Day 2012. Tomorrow, you’ll wake up and either wear a righteous smirk or a miserable frown to your 9 a.m. That’s because by then, you’ll know who won the Presidential Election -— hopefully.
As you watch the results —- or turn off the television and social media to avoid them -— here are some keys to look for both candidates, and a prediction of who will be in charge until 2016.
Let’s start with the safe state electoral count:
Obama 207—Romney 191, 11 states to go
Now let’s start breaking down the 11 swing states:
Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Nevada Colorado, Iowa and Ohio
Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin were once safe Democratic states, and if they don’t go blue, that’s a bad sign for Obama. So watch early on. If one turns to Romney, expect a very tight race, or a likely Romney win. As of now, the President is polling about four points or ahead in each of these states. Advantage Obama.
Obama 247—Romney 191, 8 states to go
If North Carolina and Florida appear to be trending toward Obama, that’s a bad early sign for Romney. Polling there has been strong for Romney throughout the fall, having been strengthened after the first debate. Advantage Romney.
Obama 247—Romney 235, 6 states to go
In Ohio, Obama is polling three points ahead, which combined with a fast recovery and the auto bailout, should give Ohio to the President. Historically, a three-point lead in a state the day before Election Day holds up well. Advantage Obama.
Obama 265—Romney 235, 5 states to go
Now we get into the true toss-ups that will decide the election. If the other states go as I’ve predicted, the race will come down to Nevada, Iowa, Colorado, New Hampshire and Virginia. The polls here are all within just two points. To win, Obama needs to win just one state.
Let’s start with Virginia. Obama’s defense spending cuts affect Virginia jobs more than the rest of the country, but the unemployment rate is low, and Virginia’s economy has recovered faster than average. All told, Virginia could go either way, but based on past voting history and the apparent strength of Romney with independents, I’ll say Advantage Romney.
Obama 265—Romney 248, 4 states to go
In Colorado, the polls have Obama up by .6%, the race is tied, but the Obama camp has two advantages. One, marijuana legalization is on the ballot, which should increase youth turnout slightly. They also have 55 state offices to Romney’s 14. However, the state’s Latino vote is less loyal to the Democratic Party than average, and Colorado remains a western, largely white state. Romney should eke out a win here, but it will be a very close race. Advantage Romney.
Obama 265—Romney 257, 3 states to go
Iowa and Nevada make things interesting. Obama appears to have a slight lead in Iowa, which relies heavily on government farm subsidies and has a low unemployment rate of 5.5%, compared to the national 7.8%. However, the large evangelical population may be more enthusiastic to vote and turn the tide. On the other hand, Nevada has a very high unemployment rate of 12.2%, but Democrats have a 90,000-plus registration advantage, and early voting appears to favor Obama. Advantage Obama in Nevada and, Iowa. New Hampshire could go either way.
Final prediction: Obama 281—Romney 257
The President should win a second term thanks to favorable electoral math, but the popular vote is a different story. Thanks to a depressed turnout in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut from Hurricane Sandy, expect a razor-thin margin, and a possible Romney popular vote win. In the Electoral College, expect a close race all night, but if the early predictions in this article start to switch sides, a national late-breaking trend that sweeps Romney into office is possible.
What do you think? It’s a very close race, and I’m likely wrong somewhere. Do I have it a little wrong? Horribly wrong? Give your take.
Contact staff writer John McAuliff at email@example.com