Sunday, November 02, 2008

Last Election Prediction In Three Parts

Specifically in regards the so-called "toss-up" states - FL, OH, MO, IN, NC - my prediction is that Obama takes OH and NC, McCain takes IN and MO. Florida is still anybody's guess, although polls for the past month have been pretty consistent in giving Obama a small but never disappearing lead. I refuse to guess, however, on the Sunshine State now, even though I did once. At any rate, for those states the pundits still say are "up for grabs", that is my prediction. I doubt Tuesday will be very exciting because the outcome in most of the states is pretty much a lock (although a surprise by either candidate in one of the toss-ups might just give the folks on TV something to get all sweaty and excited about).

The Democrats will probably pick up between 20 and 30 seats in the House of Representatives. Of the three closes Senate races, the Democrats have a good chance in MN, where Al Franken has Obama's coattails to ride, and GA, where Saxby Chambliss' attempt to smear his Democratic opponent (like he did triple amputee and decorated Vietnam Vet Max Cleland) have backfired. I think a Democratic win in either GA or MS would be a surprise, although in both of the southern contests mentioned here (Liddy Dole in NC is history) the Democrats have certain advantages they haven't had before, including a strong national ticket, a national swing away from the Republican Party that has eased southward, and very strong candidates against relatively weak incumbents (I think the last factor is the most important on a day-to-day basis). While I do not believe the Democrats will get that magic number of 60 seats, I didn't think they would retake the Senate in '06, either. But, even if they don't have 60 seats, 57 or 58 seats would be an impressive majority by the standards of recent history, and I do predict that one or two Republicans might just switch parties (Richard Shelby certainly might; he did it the day after winning in 1994 so he could keep his committee chair and other seniority perks). If it were any single one, I might predict either of Maine's Senators, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe. Neither is particularly ideological, and the Republican Party, should it really take a beating, will double down on those who stray from the party line. It seems to me that the Democrats might benefir from some wooing at this point.

The real story of this election will be turnout. My guess is that we will have the highest turnout in a Presidential election, by percentages, in a generation. I doubt it would be overwhelming; Europeans typically have between 90% and 95% turnout, even for local elections. By contemporary American standards, however, I believe turnout will be impressive. There will be much discussion of this, but I think the real reason for this is simple - most Americans, regardless of party affiliation or ideological identification, recognize this is an important election; they are excited by their own candidate, and repelled by the opponent (the feelings are running very strong), and the Democratic Party, at least, has a massive GOTV machinery in place. While the Republicans may try using third parties for this, much as the Democrats have used unions for this in the past, the infrastructure and history would lead on to give the edge to the Democratic Party.

A personal note. This is my last election post. Until Wednesday, I am just waiting, like everyone else, for this stupid campaign to be over. Then, of course, we have to wait for January 20 for George Bush to ride in to the sunset and have his memoirs ghost written so no one will buy them. This has been an ugly, hate-filled campaign, and yet I am sincere when I say: No matter whom you support, no matter what party you identify with, no matter what you believe about the opposition - Vote. Go before work, go on your lunch hour, go before you reach home. If someone you know doesn't have transportation, take them. Better yet, organize a group to take a bunch of folks to the polls. If you have to stand in line, don't complain but rather celebrate the fact that you are a small part of a much grander event, this experiment in governance called America.

Virtual Tin Cup

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