This week, I’m going out on a limb by publicly stating an opinion I have been expressing privately for some time: I believe Mitt Romney will defeat Barack Obama in a near landslide comparable to Ronald Reagan’s win over Jimmy Carter in 1980.
Many of my friends and family, while hoping I’m right, actually think I’m crazy. My wife fears that there is now a disproportionate number of people in America who have gotten used to the idea of having things handed to them by government, rather than cherishing the opportunity to work for those things themselves.
After the Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare this summer, my brother, who lives in the battleground state of Missouri, announced with resignation that, “Obama has just been re-elected.” He reaffirmed that belief recently, during the Todd Akin flap in Missouri’s U.S. Senate race, by once again declaring his state all but lost for Republicans, including Mitt Romney.
A close friend, with whom I have worked on numerous campaigns and who now works for a conservative lobbying organization, has a tendency to fret about all things political. He has been a basket case over the possibility of Obama, part two.
I point out to him that no president from either party since FDR’s second campaign in 1936 has ever been re-elected with an unemployment rate even approaching the numbers we are seeing today. I tell him that any incumbent president who cannot get his poll numbers above 50 percent cannot and will not win.
Sometimes my friend’s anxiety is temporarily assuaged, but there is no doubt in my mind that he will sleep much better after he has seen my prediction come true on November 6th. (Won’t we all?)
Now comes a scientific study of presidential elections, from a pair of faculty members at the University of Colorado, which reinforces the political gut feeling that has been driving my prophecies to a large degree. The long-term model used for this study is the brainchild of Professors Kenneth Bickers and Michael Berry, working at CU’s Boulder and Denver campuses, respectively. Their prototype, Bickers and Berry stress, analyzes economic data from the 50 states and the District of Columbia, including both state and national unemployment figures, as well as changes in real per capita income, among other factors.
Since 1980, their model has accurately predicted every presidential election. Their analysis was accurate even in those years when there was a strong third party candidate running (John Anderson in 1980 and Ross Perot in 1992 and 1996). Perhaps most impressive, their model worked in predicting that Al Gore would win the popular vote in 2000 while losing the electoral vote to George W. Bush.
So what does the model forecast for 2012? They predict that Mitt Romney will soundly defeat Barack Obama by winning 32 states, 53 percent of the popular vote and a whopping 320 electoral votes (270 are needed to win).
“The apparent advantage of being a Democratic candidate and holding the White House disappears,” Professor Berry notes, “when the national unemployment rate hits 5.6 percent. The incumbency advantage enjoyed by President Obama, though statistically significant, is not great enough to offset high rates of unemployment currently experienced in many of the states.”
Berry and Bickers are predicting that Romney will defeat Obama in almost every battleground state, as well as a few the GOP hasn’t won in decades. These include North Carolina, Virginia, New Hampshire, Colorado, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida and, yes, the “show me” state of Missouri.
Bickers notes that their election prediction model suggests that “presidential elections are about big things and the stewardship of the national economy. It’s not about gaffes, political commercials or day-to-day campaign tactics. I find that heartening for our democracy.
“Based on our forecasting model,” Professor Bickers adds, “it becomes clear that the president is in electoral trouble.”