Obama's Reelection Hopes Built on Three Improbable Things
Could President Obama win reelection tomorrow? Sure, its possible. Is he so favored to win reelection that any argument that Romney will win is irrational and a denial of reality? Of course not. But, certain nether-regions of the left and the media believe an Obama victory is pre-ordained and obvious. This actually was their narrative from the beginning of the campaign. They stumbled a bit after the first debate, but have now recovered into the smugness of absolute certainty. But, to get there, they have to believe three very improbable things.
1. Obama will be the first President to win reelection while losing Independents by a signficant margin. In virtually ever poll taken since the first presidential debate, Romney has led Obama among Independents. In most polls, Romney's edge among Independents is close to double-digits. In the final CNN poll of the campaign, Romney crushes Obama by 22 points among Independents. In 2004, Bush essentially split the Independent vote with Kerry, 48-49 according to exit polls. In 2008, Obama won Independents by 8 points.
2. The economy will not be a decisive factor in voters' decision. In poll after poll, voters give Romney the edge on who voters trust to handle the economy. Romney also has a significant advantage on who voters trust to handle the federal deficit. Obama leads on questions of empathy, i.e. whether the candidate "understands" or "feels" the voters' concerns. But, in every poll, the economy and government spending are issues 1 and 2 on voters' minds. Are voters going to elect the person they least trust on these issues?
3. Obama will match or exceed his 2008 turnout/GOP will again stay home. In 2008, Obama's election was built on an unprecedented turnout advantage in the electorate. Democrats made up 39% of voters, against 32% for the GOP, a D+7 advantage. A great many polls, and almost all of the state-level polls, assume Obama will again have a similar or greater turnout advantage. But, outside of polling samples, where is the evidence for this? In 2008, the energy fueling that turnout was palpable. Crowd sizes for Obama were massive, and traditionally Republican states were moving in his direction. Today, almost the exact opposite is true. Moreover, one of the biggest factors fueling the turnout wave was Obama's big lead in early voting. Today, though, all signs are that Obama's early voting is below '08 levels, and that the GOP has erased his big advantage and in some states has reversed it.
In addition, much of Obama's big advantage on turnout wasn't due as much to more Democrats voting as fewer Republicans voting. In 2004, the electorate was split between the two parties at 37% each. Most of the Democrats' 7 point advantage in 2008 was due to the GOP share of the vote dropping 5 points to 32%. Does anyone really think the GOP is going to stay home again tomorrow?
Gallup's survey of likely voters finds, for the first time ever, that more voters identify as Republican than Democrat. In 2008, Democrats had a 12 point advantage in party ID. Today, the GOP has a 3 point advantage. If Gallup is even close to being right about this, then tomorrow could see Romney winning in a landslide.
I suppose it's possible that Obama can eke out a win tomorrow. He would be the first President in the modern era to win reelection with fewer states than elected him. It's possible, but not in any way probable. The certainty with which the Left and the media believe he will win is curious. All three of the above items will have to be true tomorrow if he is to win. All three. I don't think any one of them will be true tomorrow.
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