Which polls do you believe? Although there’s no way to be sure yet, I believe Gallup and Rasmussen. Not only do I think Mitt is going to win Ohio, I think he’s going to win by a large enough margin that Ohio doesn’t matter. Here’s why I say that:
- The Anecdotal Evidence: In 2008, Barack Obama was a challenger with no record, up against a non-incumbent. The Republican incumbent who was in office had an approval rating of 25% and a massive financial crash at the very end of his second term. Meanwhile, Obama had a 3-to-1 spending advantage, was drawing massive crowds, and was generating tremendous excitement while a lot of Republicans chose to stay home rather than vote for John McCain.
- Early Voting: In 2008, Barack Obama crushed John McCain in the early voting by a 55-40 margin. This was something his campaign was counting on doing again. Instead, both Pew and Gallup are finding that Mitt Romney is winning early voting by a 7 point margin. In state after state, like Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin, the evidence suggests that Obama’s numbers are way down. This is very significant because Republicans tend to outperform Democrats on Election Day. So, without that edge in the lead up to November 6, Democrats usually lose.
- The Flow of the Blow: At the end of the campaign, you’re starting to see Romney campaign in states that were considered givens for Obama a few months ago. Michigan (16), Pennsylvania (20), and Wisconsin (10) are all in play and arguably, even Minnesota (10) and Oregon (7) aren’t out of reach for Romney if he were to make some big ad buys. Obama is now in the same situation McCain was in back in 2008 when he was desperately playing defense in states like North Carolina and Indiana that are generally considered to be gimmie states for Republicans.
- Independent Voters: Since Republicans and Democrats overwhelmingly vote for their own side, Independents are obviously very important. In 2008, Barack Obama had an 8 point edge over John McCain with Independent voters. This time around, polls show that Mitt Romney has a big edge with Independents. Although the numbers vary from poll-to-poll, almost all of them have Romney winning Independents by somewhere between 7-20 points. Just to give you an idea of how significant that is, the last candidate to win Independents by double digits was George H.W. Bush, who won Indies by 10 en route to a 426-111 electoral victory. Romney isn’t capable of winning by that kind of margin, but if he takes Independents by 10 points or more, as a practical matter, it would be almost impossible for him to lose.
I just wish I could get more excited about Tuesday’s election. My problem is: I know too much. Back when I was a uninformed voter, I registered myself as a Republican. Now, however, no matter who wins on Tuesday, we lose.
Many years ago my dad asked me why I left the life insurance profession – the profession that helped him to become one of the top life insurance salesmen in the country – and I had to answer: I didn’t leave the insurance business. The insurance business left me. It had so drastically changed that I could no longer in good conscience ask my customers to buy what they were selling.
That’s how I feel about the Republican Party. After Tuesday, I’ll probably change my party affiliation to Independent.