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2012 Predictions

The election is a week away.  It’s time to make a few predictions and offer some analysis, if only so that everyone can make fun of me when this is all over.

Regular readers know how much disdain I have for the horserace that characterizes most of the reporting, but in the end it comes down to that.  Still, there are many issues revolving around the ability to call this thing properly that are fascinating, at least to someone too far into it.  My fondest hope is that at least some of them break in ways that defy conventional wisdom and shake things up.


Obama will win the election, at least in the Electoral College where it counts.  Polls in Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania give him far too much of an advantage there to suggest otherwise, and Romney can’t win with none of those states in play.  There is always a chance that Romney will get the popular vote, but even that is not likely.

The Senate will remain Democrat and the House will remain Republican, but both majorities will narrow.  The nation is very much split.

Part of what makes everything so difficult to analyze is that there are actually too many polls these days.  Democrats are making a lot out of a month old analysis by FiveThirtyEight (the NY Times political blog) which shows that polls which include cell phone only households invariably have a greater lead for Obama.  That appears to still be true now, but it’s hard to say just what that means.   Cell phone only households are younger and their turnout is always questionable.  It comes down more to the Enthusiasm Gap than anything else, and that remains very difficult to quantify.

What this does point to, however, is that the Republicans have a serious demographic problem developing for the next elections.  Their base is older and won’t be around forever.

Here in Minnesota, we have two highly charged constitutional amendments on the ballot.  These are impossible to predict because polls have always shown that same-sex marriage votes always turn out more conservative than polls show ahead of time.  My hunch is that the same-sex ban will fail, but only because of the “drop off” of people that don’t vote one way or the other – it requires a majority of all persons voting to pass.    If the Voter ID amendment fails it will be for the same reason, although it’s hard to tell.

What has been remarkable is that many rural and otherwise conservative newspapers have endorsed the No-No position, especially the St Cloud Times.  This list includes the Mankato Free Press and many others.  These amendments, both polling very close, are going to be a test of the clout of newspapers in many ways – if they both go down, it shows that paper endorsements still matter.

In our Congressional delegation, I think we can expect Chip Cravaack to lose in MN8.  He should never have won in the first place and honestly didn’t seem to want it once he did.  The most recent poll had him down by 7, which is going to be hard to overcome.  Michele Bachmann should beat Jim Graves rather handily in the even more conservative MN6, a result that will confound the left.  We shouldn’t fret about MN6 anymore than we do about MN2, a district we gave up on long ago.  Our delegation will return to 5/8 Dem with both Senators Dem and a solid 10 electoral votes for Obama.

The state House and Senate are always much harder to predict, but this should be a good year for the DFL.  I predict that the DFL will take one or both houses back, but very narrowly.  I base this on information I’ve gotten through the grapevine that is not at all reliable.  Make of it what you will, but there’s a reason I stuck this at the end – it’s really hard to be sure.  The DFL has a better “ground team” in place and has done its homework to make victory possible.

In the end, what we should look for are not more and more polls.  The Enthusiasm Gap remains the most important aspect of this election, which like any other will be decided by who shows up.  Polls are terrible at detecting this, especially polls that do not sample cell-phone only households.  What we should look for at the end of this is the end of polling as we know it and the strength of newspapers.  The rest?  It will, like any election, be interesting.

14 thoughts on “2012 Predictions

  1. You may not like polls but they do appear to be going Obama’s way lately. The turnaround has been slow but ever since the second debate it looks like he got the mo back.
    I hope the amendments both go down but it is so hard to tell. People outstate are not going to vote against the marriage amendment, no way. The voter ID amendment sound really good until people read it, as you say it will be a test of the newspapers which have been very unanimous against it.

    • I did predict Obama would have a problem with the first debate, given that Romney had been so vilified he would look better just by looking human. That was amplified by a bad performance on Obama’s part and a very successful campaign after that by Romney. The “mo” has changed, and did after the veep debate. It’s cool. I think we have this still, but it should not be this close.

  2. Well, well, I sure hope you are right. Frankly, I am less optimistic. Seems to me the DFL takes a very cynical and uninspiring approach. I honestly don’t know if I can vote for the DFL candidate for state senate in my district. And the guy running against Kline, who is an asshole no less than Craavack, has no visibility to speak of. But the real killer is Obama. If one set out to present the most uninspiring possible picture, you would get something like Obama in the recent debates. Yeah, he’s the lesser evil; I’m clear on that and maybe enough others are to squeak him in, but he’s soooooo bad.

  3. I have never faced an election with more dread. It’s not that I don’t care it’s that I don’t have anything to vote for, just against. I will do it but this is a terrible way to run a country.

  4. Barry Goldwater was rejected in 1964.

    Conversely, President Lyndon Johnson had a large electoral victory in 1964. He had a long, Democratic coattails.

    A lot of the people doubted Lyndon Johson, but on domestic policy he and Congress ushered in:

    April 11, 1965: Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Pub.L. 89-10
    July 27, 1965: Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act, Pub.L. 89-92
    July 30, 1965: Social Security Act of 1965, Pub.L. 89-97 (including Medicaid and Medicare)
    August 6, 1965: Voting Rights Act, Pub.L. 89-110
    August 10, 1965: Housing and Urban Development Act of 1965, Pub.L. 89-117
    August 26, 1965: Public Works and Economic Development Act of 1965, Pub.L. 89-136
    September 29, 1965: National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act, Pub.L. 89-209
    October 3, 1965: Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, (Hart-Celler Act, INS Act) Pub.L. 89-236
    October 6, 1965: Heart Disease, Cancer, and Stroke Amendments, Pub.L. 89-239
    October 20, 1965: Motor Vehicle Air Pollution Control Act, Pub.L. 89-272 (including Solid Waste Disposal Act)
    October 22, 1965: Highway Beautification Act, Pub.L. 89-285
    November 8, 1965: Higher Education Act, Pub.L. 89-329
    November 8, 1965: Vocational Rehabilitation Act Amendmens Pub.L. 89-333
    April 13, 1966: Uniform Time Act, Pub.L. 89-387
    September 6, 1966: Pub.L. 89-554, which (among other things) enacted what is now called the Freedom of Information Act
    September 9, 1966: National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, Pub.L. 89-563
    October 15, 1966: National Historic Preservation Act, Pub.L. 89-665
    October 15, 1966: National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act, Pub.L. 89-669, §4-5
    October 15, 1966: Department of Transportation Act, Pub.L. 89-670
    November 2, 1966: Cuban Adjustment Act, Pub.L. 89-732
    November 3, 1966: Comprehensive Health, Planning and Service Act, Pub.L. 89-749

    I was still in diapers but a lot of interesting things happened back then.

    • I was born in the middle of it. One Hell of a list. As Johnson was quoted as saying, “I’m going to be known as the best President there was, better’n the whole lot of ’em!”.

  5. LBJ dreamt big, wanted to be greater than FDR. He temporized on Vietnam though and lost it all politically.

  6. Romney is +5 in the Gallup. Here in Nevada, I’m working as hard as I can.
    Kasich will win Ohio for Mitt. Romney is going to triumph, just like Scott Walker.

    Paul Ryan will be president someday.

    • Nevada is strange, Romney might be able to pull it out but after the Reid election I don’t trust their polls at all.
      I don’t think Ohio can go anywhere but Obama – excepting a really big snowstorm. Ug.
      Ryan does have a future, I’m sure. There is a story he’s upping his House campaign lately – a little nervous perhaps. But I think midwesterners like him are going to be the future of the party for a while. Wish the Dems could claim the same thing.

  7. A movie is coming up on Lincoln.

    It’s a good time to remember him. He is buried in Springfield Illinois. When I was a kid we took field trip to go see him.

    150 years ago in 1862 Lincoln issued the preliminary emancipation proclamation.

    Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, September 22, 1862
    A Transcription
    By the President of the United States of America.
    A Proclamation.
    I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America, and Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy thereof, do hereby proclaim and declare that hereafter, as heretofore, the war will be prosecuted for the object of practically restoring the constitutional relation between the United States, and each of the States, and the people thereof, in which States that relation is, or may be, suspended or disturbed.
    That it is my purpose, upon the next meeting of Congress to again recommend the adoption of a practical measure tendering pecuniary aid to the free acceptance or rejection of all slave States, so called, the people whereof may not then be in rebellion against the United States and which States may then have voluntarily adopted, or thereafter may voluntarily adopt, immediate or gradual abolishment of slavery within their respective limits; and that the effort to colonize persons of African descent, with their consent, upon this continent, or elsewhere, with the previously obtained consent of the Governments existing there, will be continued.
    That on the first day of January in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State, or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.
    That the executive will, on the first day of January aforesaid, by proclamation, designate the States, and part of States, if any, in which the people thereof respectively, shall then be in rebellion against the United States; and the fact that any State, or the people thereof shall, on that day be, in good faith represented in the Congress of the United States, by members chosen thereto, at elections wherein a majority of the qualified voters of such State shall have participated, shall, in the absence of strong countervailing testimony, be deemed conclusive evidence that such State and the people thereof, are not then in rebellion against the United States.
    That attention is hereby called to an Act of Congress entitled “An Act to make an additional Article of War” approved March 13, 1862, and which act is in the words and figure following:
    “Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That hereafter the following shall be promulgated as an additional article of war for the government of the army of the United States, and shall be obeyed and observed as such:
    “Article-All officers or persons in the military or naval service of the United States are prohibited from employing any of the forces under their respective commands for the purpose of returning fugitives from service or labor, who may have escaped from any persons to whom such service or labor is claimed to be due, and any officer who shall be found guilty by a court martial of violating this article shall be dismissed from the service.
    “Sec.2. And be it further enacted, That this act shall take effect from and after its passage.”
    Also to the ninth and tenth sections of an act entitled “An Act to suppress Insurrection, to punish Treason and Rebellion, to seize and confiscate property of rebels, and for other purposes,” approved July 17, 1862, and which sections are in the words and figures following:
    “Sec.9. And be it further enacted, That all slaves of persons who shall hereafter be engaged in rebellion against the government of the United States, or who shall in any way give aid or comfort thereto, escaping from such persons and taking refuge within the lines of the army; and all slaves captured from such persons or deserted by them and coming under the control of the government of the United States; and all slaves of such persons found on (or) being within any place occupied by rebel forces and afterwards occupied by the forces of the United States, shall be deemed captives of war, and shall be forever free of their servitude and not again held as slaves.
    “Sec.10. And be it further enacted, That no slave escaping into any State, Territory, or the District of Columbia, from any other State, shall be delivered up, or in any way impeded or hindered of his liberty, except for crime, or some offence against the laws, unless the person claiming said fugitive shall first make oath that the person to whom the labor or service of such fugitive is alleged to be due is his lawful owner, and has not borne arms against the United States in the present rebellion, nor in any way given aid and comfort thereto; and no person engaged in the military or naval service of the United States shall, under any pretence whatever, assume to decide on the validity of the claim of any person to the service or labor of any other person, or surrender up any such person to the claimant, on pain of being dismissed from the service.”
    And I do hereby enjoin upon and order all persons engaged in the military and naval service of the United States to observe, obey, and enforce, within their respective spheres of service, the act, and sections above recited.
    And the executive will in due time recommend that all citizens of the United States who shall have remained loyal thereto throughout the rebellion, shall (upon the restoration of the constitutional relation between the United States, and their respective States, and people, if that relation shall have been suspended or disturbed) be compensated for all losses by acts of the United States, including the loss of slaves.
    In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
    Done at the City of Washington this twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord, one thousand, eight hundred and sixty-two, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty seventh.
    [Signed:] Abraham Lincoln
    By the President

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