a few thoughts from an aging hippy, sitting at home in Arlington VA.
This election has a different feel for me. For many years I would vote as soon as my polling place opened, being one of the first 3-4 voters. In Virginia we have elections every year - next year all state-wide state offices and the House of Delegates, two years later the entire General Assembly. For the past few years I have voted in person absentee. This year, for the first time, so did my wife. EVen so, I would often be doing some kind of election day vote - driving from precinct to precinct to get hourly voting totals, or in 2006 doing visibility events for Jim Webb. There is none of that this year. Nor will I be doing any last minute GOTV. While I am up now to see what the lat minute conversation might be (which is why I am putting up with Morning Joe), I expect that once I get my wife to work around 9 or 9:30, I will probably go back to sleep for a few hours. For the 3rd Federal election in a row I will be at the National Democratic Club with my computer - able to jump from website to website - getting details on, say, how Loudoun and Prince William counties are performing - which is the clearest indicator of how Virginia will perform - or checking on individual House and Senate races. The bar at the Club is scheduled to be open until 2 AM, legal closing time - the expectation is a long night. And for some House and Senate races that might be the case.
But that is not my expectations for the Presidential.
As I listen to the various "pundits" on Morning Joe, many are still reacting as if this were like previous elections, not one where more than a third of the vote is already in. And we know that Obama is leading, except possibly in Colorado, a state that Obama does not need. While Republican early voting numbers are up from four years ago, that is not an indication of better overall performance, because there is evidence, albeit anecdotal, that they may simply be getting regular voters out early.
One thing I wanted to do today is reevaluate the predictions I nmade here on Friday To revisit
1. electoral college 347 for Obama, sweeping the swing states
2. four point margin popular vote 51-47 with 2 for minor parties
3. Senate 56-4-2 with the 2 being Sanders and King both caucusing with Dems, meaning Dems sweep all competitive seats
4. House Dems gaining net 16, gaining 23 Republican seats but losing 7 of ours.
Here's where I am as of this moment.
I have no doubt of Obama's reelection. I am sure of 294 electoral votes even if there were a late Romney surge. All that is not positive is Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, and Arizona, which I now think is in play. If pushed at this moment, even as I know the Obama folks - who know how to count - do not feel confident about NC and do not think AZ is play, think it may be 358 b/c I think there may be enough of a Latino turnout to just swing AZ. Here I look at the PPP poll which says Romney is up by 7, but Latino participation is only 16% for the state. I tend to rely more heavily on data from Latinao Decisions, which predicts a 20% turnout rate, with <20% for Romney. For me that represents at least a 6 point swing in the direction of Obama, maybe 8. I still have trouble seeing how the redrawn 2nd CD of NE can stay blue.
ON popular vote, I note that almost every poll I have seen, whether national or state, when the same poll is looked at over time, shows movement in Obama's direction. I think the Jeep ad is part of that, not just in the industrial Midwest. Clearly Obama's performance in Sandy is part of that. Good economic news does not hurt. I note Obama's approval rating has been going up, independents seem to be turning back to Obama, as are women.
I have said all along I thought at the worst Obama's national popular vote margin would be at least 2 points, which seems to be the consensus of the national polls. Thus who attempt to convert state polls to national margin seem to point at something just under 3 points on average. But many of those are head to head, and I now think the minor parties may hit 3%, with the additional point coming from Romney's hide. That takes it out to at least a 5 point national margin, with 5.5-6 not out of reach. Thus if pushed now I would guess 51-46-3. I can see Obama as high as 52 but have trouble seeing Romney lower than 45.5.
I am not as clear on the Senate. I said on Friday i thought Kerrey holding on to the NE seat might be a reach. Right now I actually feel better about that than I do holding on to the seat in NV. I feel more confident about Tester holding his seat, because of the presence of the Libertarian candidate. The same way I think AZ might flip Presidential, despite some polling I think the Latino turnout in AZ may just carry Carmona over. ND is a tossup. We will pick off MA ME and IN while retaining VA and MO and PA and OH and probably MT.
I am less sanguine about the House, even with a possible increased presidential margin. I am now pretty sure about 10 seat we seem poised to lose, maybe as many as 12. I think worst case we net 10, and I still have a hard time getting to net 20. For that to happen there would have to be a number of upset in our favor. I am aware of increasing amounts of late money targeting House races.
Quiet confidence on winning electoral college and popular vote and retaining the Senate.
Reasonable confidence on hitting something over 300 EVs and gaining at least slightly in the Senate.
So this is not a prediction diary. I am not really worried about how accurate I can be. I am saddened that it is unlikely to take back the House, even if Obama could get to a 6 point lead. I am confident we keep our President and the Senate.
This election is different for me. I am an observer, and an explainer. Yesterday I was on Sky TV briefly - I was asked if the numbers in Virginia were unclear, and I said they were not: the last poll there which showed Romney at last even was 10/26. Obama's margin is from 1 to 8, with the average a solid 2-3 points, with similar numbers for Tim Kaine.
For me the real story's tonight are going to be different, not horse-race numbers per se.
Romney will get 7% or less of the African-American vote.
Romney will get less than 30% of the Hispanic vote if we measure it all- exit polls may not show that since neither CA nor TX (are subject to exit polls.
The percentage of the vote nationwide that is White will continue to decline from the 74% of the last presidential cycle to 72% or less - again, because of CA and TX not being included in the exit poll.
Presidentially this is the last gasp of the model of the Republican party for the past few cycles. In a country with a decreasing white share, where increasing numbers of white are personally connected with people of color, trying to win an election only with whites will no longer be possible in national elections, and will remain possible in states and localities on a decreasing level.
Obama does not have a white problem. He has a Southern and Appalachian white problem, one which has been stoked for political advantage. The country will be more difficult to bring together after this election because of how Romney has run his race, because of what he has allowed his surrogates to say and do, even because of what he has said AND NOT SAID.
I am thinking aloud.
I am offering some musings of an aging hippy.
Nowadays I am more of an observer and an analyst, and less of an activist except through my writing and occasionally my speaking.
America is now very different than the one in which I grew up. I experience this on a personal level, with friends and family who are racially and culturally mixed, who are straight and gay and bi- and even transgendered. Our religious and cultural diversity should be a source of pride, something that enriches us all, not something against which some choose to rail and to use to stoke fear and resentment.
I remember the hatred and anger and violence unleashed on those seeking basic equality in employment, housing, schooling and political participation. For all our advances, I see those who would seek to unleash similar destructiveness for political and economic gain, and to hell with the damage it does to the soul of this nation.
I can only hope that after this election the chattering class will focus less on the closeness of the election and rather on what we as a nation need to do, that this nation largely rejected the approach of divisiveness of the other side.
I can hope, but I expect that hope to be vain.
It is why I still try to teach in what I write and do, to try to persuade the next generation that things have to be like this.
Just a few thoughts as this election day has now begun.
Thanks for reading, if you did.