Saturday, October 27, 2012

This Election's Magic Number: One in Fourteen

    "Counting Our Chickens" was my first post after taking this blog public in January 2012.  Although the tone of the piece was rather lighthearted, my point was completely serious:
 I believe we can safely count our unhatched chickens. The chances of President Obama's reelection are so remote as to be virtually non-existent. 
    Nothing in the last 10 months has given me pause to reconsider my conclusion.  The polls of the last few weeks are finally reflecting what I believed all along.  Support for President Obama is no where near what it was in 2008, and without the looming financial disaster that tarnished the Republican ticket in 2008 and the simultaneous euphoria of overcoming our country's racially checkered past by electing our first black president, the country is looking for yet another change.

    My argument eschewed polls, swing states, and electoral vote counting and went straight to common sense.  Given the popular vote margin of victory for Obama in 2008,  only one in fourteen Obama voters needs to change his/her vote, all other things being equal, to give Romney the presidency.  As I put it in January, I ask you: Is there anything that has happened in the last four years that could lead anyone to credibly argue that less than one in fourteen voters will have changed their minds?

    On at least a few occasions, the Obama campaign has expressed concern about this very thing.   In Florida in September, Michelle Obama said this at a campaign rally:
“Think back to what happened in this state in 2008. Back then Barack won Florida by 236,000 votes. Now, that might sound like a lot, but here’s what it looks like when you break it down—that’s just 36 votes per precinct … So get that number in your head, because that could mean just one vote in your neighborhood, in your dorm. Just one vote in your apartment building could make the difference.”
    In other words, only about one in thirty-three Floridians who voted for Obama would have to pull Romney's lever to send the state's 27 electoral votes to the GOP candidate.  In Colorado, the magic number is one in twenty-three.  In Ohio, one in twenty-six.  And in North Carolina, one in three-hundred-and-ten.  Given that more than half of the margin of victory in the popular vote of 8,542,597 came from two states, New York and California, the magic number for most states exceeds the one-in-fourteen national number, making Romney's path to victory even more doable.

    To illustrate the power of these magic numbers, I've prepared the following graphics.  In a crowd of Obama voters, the red figure represents who needs to switch to Mitt Romney:

First, the national magic number.

How about Florida?

And what about North Carolina?

    If these visuals cannot spark some serious optimism, nothing will.  Still, I'll try to get the most cautious pessimists on board with this.  Above, in spelling out my theory, I included the caveat, "all other things being equal."  But all others things are demonstrably not equal.  The president has managed to alienate all kinds of voters with ObamaCare, support for same-sex marriage, infringing on religious liberty, and perhaps most important, his failure to help the economy to anywhere near the extent he promised in 2008.  The winning Hope and Change coalition of 2008 has fizzled, and his 2012 campaign has failed to reignite it.

    If that's not enough, many Republicans who could not get fired up about John McCain have surely recognized the importance of this election after four years of Barack Obama.  GOP voter registration and enthusiasm is up significantly over 2008.  And as Dan McLaughlin at Red State pointed out on Friday, Independents are deserting Obama in droves.

    I am not just counting my election-day chickens.  I've gathered every chicken recipe I can find and laid out the other ingredients.  I do not see this as overconfidence, but just a plain common sense reading of the mood of the country.  Whatever delusions Republicans hung on to in the fall of 2008, we all knew in our heart of hearts John McCain was toast.  This year, die hard Obama supporters know that feeling.  The rest of us?  Get the table set, because Thanksgiving is coming two weeks early in 2012.  And forget the turkey - this year we're having chicken.

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