Predicting the Outcome of Election 2012

Posted on November 1, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

By Scott Orr

With polls set to open in just hours, the only thing on the election landscape that is certain is that nothing is certain.

Add to this uncertainty is the impact of Superstorm Sandy, which gave Obama a stage to display his ability to manage in a crisis and a boost from the rave reviews he got from Republican darling New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

As Larry Sabato, the University of Virginia expert on political America, noted this week, many of the usual predictors of election outcomes seem out of whack.

Normally, an incumbent president’s approval rating is one of the best predictors of electoral success. According to the RealClearPolitics average from last week, Obama’s approval rating was a solid 49.8 percent. Yet, he was running slightly behind Romney in the average of national horse race polls and Romney’s own favorability was slightly higher than the president’s.

Of course, national polls mean little when it comes down to the electoral calculus. Much more important in predicting the outcome of the election are polls in those critical swing states. With Florida leaning toward Romney and Ohio toward Obama, the ever-shifting focus now rests on Virginia, Wisconsin and Colorado.

If the election were held today and all the states that are safe or leaning one way or the other came through as predicted, Obama would have 267 electoral votes, to Romney’s 235, with 36 toss ups. It takes 270 electoral votes to win.

The races in Virginia, Wisconsin and Colorado are so close that polls show them not only within the margin of error, but within less than one percentage point. Even a win in tiny New Hampshire, with just four electoral votes, would put Obama over the top.

This all hinges, though, on the accuracy of the various polls.

Further clouding things is the question of what impact Hurricane Sandy will have on voter turnout.

So, let’s take a look at what people who are willing to back up their predictions with cash are saying. Intrade is an online commodities market where people can buy and sell shares in the outcome of various non-sports events.

Over the years, Intrade has been extremely accurate in predicting the outcome of political races. It places Obama’s chances of reelection at 63 percent, Romney’s chances of winning at 37 percent.

If we were forced to make a prediction, we’d have to say the electoral calculus favors Obama. But we’re not putting any money on it.

Turner GPA is a leading D.C.-based national lobbying and government affairs firm dedicated to delivering cutting edge policy advocacy for the manufacturing, defense, aerospace, health and energy industries. Members of our professional policy team can be reached at (202) 466-2511. We are also on the Web at

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