Propelled by impressive debate performances, Mitt Romney has surged in the polls. Gallup had the GOP nominee leading by as many as seven points recently, and likely women voters, who once favored Barack Obama by double digits, now lean toward the president by only one percent in the swing states. Even more significantly, Romney has finally taken the lead in the Real Clear Politics electoral-college estimate, 206 to 201. And it’s plain to me what all this means for November 6.
Barack Obama will likely win re-election.
As someone who thinks the president is the kind of man who lights up a room when he leaves it, I assuredly take no pleasure in making this prediction. My problem, however, is that I lost my rose-colored glasses a long time ago. And viewed without them, it’s clear that the electoral map won’t likely come up roses for Romney.
It’s not that I doubt the RCP estimate of 206 safe electoral votes for the former governor. It’s that it’s hard to see where the 64 additional votes needed to reach 270 can come from. How can this be with 131 up for grabs?
There are only 10 states that are realistically in play: Colorado, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, Virginia, and Iowa. And in the aggregate they are mostly blue.
Here are the facts: Obama won every one of these states in 2008, and Bill Clinton won 8 of 10 in both his ‘92 and ‘96 victories. It’s also true that George W. Bush won 6 of 10 in ‘00 and ‘04, but now let’s crunch the numbers. The Democrats have captured an average of almost 70 percent of these states during the last 20 years, with their high being 100 percent and their low 40; in contrast, the GOP’s low is 0 percent and their high only 60. In other words, during the last five election cycles, it hasn’t been unusual for the Democrats to run the swing-state table, whereas the two Republican victories on it have been relatively narrow. In this vein, note that Bush won Florida in 2000 by a mere 537 votes.
Why didn’t I reach back beyond two decades and include Ronald Reagan’s pair of landslide victories? Because the candidates and country are very different today. Not only was Reagan a transformational figure, but, more significantly, the nation has been transformed. Due largely to a steady influx of immigrants who are socialist-leaning, schools where there’s socialist-learning, and media that are socialist-yearning, states have been transitioning from red to purple to blue. As examples, California was once Republican habitat but now couldn’t even be won by Reagan himself, and once reliably red North Carolina is trending purple and was won by Obama in ‘08 (although the GOP will win it this time). In truth, with America’s rapidity of change, even the early and mid ‘90s are no longer relevant electoral gauges.
Now consider the swing states’ general character today. Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Michigan are light blue; Nevada and New Hampshire are trending blue; and Florida, Virginia, and Colorado are mostly purple. Of the 10, only Iowa can be called even slightly pink.
This is a major reason why — despite an economy in shambles, numerous Obama scandals, failing foreign policy, and doltish debate performances — the president still leads in six out of nine of the swing states, with Virginia tied. It’s hard to penetrate that thick blue line.
Thus, even if Romney wins Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, and Virginia, for a total of 52 additional electoral votes (which isn’t unlikely), he still needs to find another 12 somewhere. And it could end up being a case of so close, but yet so far. Simply winning Nevada, Wisconsin, or Colorado won’t do it; he must combine at least two of those states or in addition win Michigan, Ohio, or Pennsylvania, places in which Obama is still strong.
In other words, Romney needs almost half the swing state electoral votes to emerge victorious. And exactly what he needs, 64, are represented by four Democrat-leaning states alone: Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin. This means that Obama can win by capturing those four states and only one more whose name isn’t New Hampshire. In contrast, Romney’s path to victory is much narrower.
Having said this, I’d still predict a Romney win if it weren’t for one factor pollsters can’t quantify and pundits generally won’t consider: vote fraud.
This election will be very close, and recent history tells us that Democrats have mastered the art of extra-curricular voting (see Al Franken et al. in Minnesota). They just have a knack for finding lost ballots in car trunks, and their dead are far more politically engaged than the GOP’s.
All joking aside, however, urban areas, which are Democrat strongholds, are where most vote fraud occurs (I explained one way this is done here. And here is Bridgeport, Connecticut, mayor Bill Finch bragging about his election-stealing sleight of hand). And some of the swing states have many big cities. Thus, in a tight election, how unlikely is it that Ohio and Pennsylvania could be swung toward Obama via massive vote fraud in places such as Cleveland, Columbus, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh?
So here is my prediction: Romney will win the popular vote but lose the Electoral College, with vote fraud putting Obama over the top. And, sadly, little will be done about it.
Of course, my forecast is simply what I think probable. I have no crystal ball, and I hope the electorate makes a monkey out of me; heck, I’m going to keep editorializing against Obama and try to make a monkey out of myself. But I fear that I won’t be having a celebratory meal of champagne and bananas come November 7.