1980, 2004 and 2012

In the summer Team Mittens posited that this would be a 1980-like election. Jimmy Carter was actually ahead for most of that campaign until the first debate. Somehow, by repeating, “there you go again” Ronald Reagan passed a fundamental plausibility test as President and thereby gave people the “okay” to dump Carter, which they were inclined to do anyway.

The Romneyians were somewhat correct. Mittens underperformed relative to Obama’s negatives up until the Debacle in Denver. Obama’s ambien-oriented performance garnered Romney the plausibility cred far more than Romney’s usually pile of verbal dung. Obama won the two debates he actually participated in.

But the damage was done. Just like in 1980, Mittens picked up anti-incumbent voters that weren’t sure about the challenger. The difference was that Carter was never really that popular — he barely defeated Gerald Ford even with Ford’s pardon of Nixon wrung around Ford’s neck. Also, “things” were largely getting worse at that point, whereas “things” are getting better too slowly now.

The challenger’s debate bounce, however, is just one more case where 2012 is turning out like 2004. Just as then a vulnerable incumbent largely outmaneuvered a flawed challenger, until the debate. Kerry cornered Bush over his obfuscations and misinformations aobut Iraq, whereas Obama was caught napping, but whatever. Team Bush won most of the news cycles after the debates and got an empty net goal when bin Laden cut an tape on election eve that created a worthy fugue with Bush’s fearmongering.

Similarly, this year Obama had won enough news cycles to reverse the momentum. Super Storm Sandy gave him the opportunity to lead. Mittens was pushed off the page, performed an absurd plastic “storm relief” event, and has resorted to lower tactics ever since. Sandy was beneficial to Obama both for the accolades from Christy, but also because it was a real event and made the churlishness of the right-wing dialogue against Obama appear silly.

Sandy has appeared to accelerate the slow drift towards the president nationally and in the swing states. Obama has the momentum heading into election day.

So, the election comes down to these three questions.

1.) Are the polls, in aggregate and general, using an incorrect likely voter screen that is too favorable for Obama?

This seems unlikely to me. Obama does worse after each LV screen, so they are already weeding out some of his support. It seems unlikely that they would not be restrictive enough, particularly in light of Team Obama’s ground game and their ability to get in early votes.

2.) Who are the Republican early voters?

Presumably, expanded ability to perform the franchise helps Democrats because more Democrats are of groups that are less likely to turn out. That is why Conservatron Secretaries of State have been trying to limit early voting. Team Mittens is doing better than Bush Patsy McCain did in getting early votes in (albeit basically by by default). Republicans are generally more likely to vote, but there must be some flaky Republicans. So is Team Romney increasing its margins or simply shifting people that would’ve voted on election day to an earlier day? Too early to tell, but numerically Team Obama is doing about as good or better than they did with early voting two years ago.

3.) Will voter suppression help the Conservatrons steal the election (again)?

Vote suppression is what is most sickening about the Republican Party. But I digress. Team Obama has tried to shift more early voting to absentee voting in Florida and has redoubled its ground game in Ohio. Still, there is no doubt that Team Obama would prefer, and would benefit, from the more reasonable early voting allowances of 2008. Will the votes shaved off of Obama’s margin under the 2012 rules allow the Conservatrons to “win”?

Overall, I don’t think so. Polling aggregates and models are modes of the day and are better than my own gut. In fact, they have influenced my gut. But here is how I’m calling it based just on my grey matter anyway:

Popular Vote: Obama 50.5%, Romney 49.1%

EVs, Obama 332, Romney 206

Of the swing states Obama wins: NH, PA, VA, FLA, OH, WI, IA, CO, NV. Romney wins NC.

Obama has been leading in most FLA polls towards the close, but the presumption is that FLA is a relatively red states so that Romney will win. My guess, is that seeing Obama handle Hurricane Sandy may have meant a bit more in FLA and NC, as those states are frequently hurricaned. It will be close in FLA and the voter suppression efforts of the governor may flip it for Romney, but I’m going to test the aggregate of the more recent polling.

NC is another interesting state. Most have Romeny favored there, but Obama has likely built up a decent lead with early voting. It is not as large as last time, because Romeny is actally trying unlike McCain, but numerically more people (and likely) Democrats have voted early than four years ago. Obama is getting his people to the polls, are there enough Republicans on election day to make up the difference. Obama has a similar advantage in Iowa, and Nevada may already almost be in the bag.

A final thought on the map, is that Romney has to win NC, VA, and FLA to begin to have any chance. That’s tough row to hoe when you are leading in one, about tied in the other, and behind in the third. If Romney wins that trifecta and then loses NH, then he has no non-Ohio path to 270. NH is relatively small, so if it’s called early that will be interesting for the rest of the night. If Romney hits the trifecta and wins Ohio then he only needs one more state to win, and then Colorado get interesting and scary. Still, that’s a tough bank shot — Obama only has to win one of those five states to get to 270.