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2012 Prediction: Mitt Romney In A Squeaker

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… GOP NOMINEE WILL NARROWLY DEFEAT BARACK OBAMA IN TUESDAY NIGHT’S ELECTION

Billions of dollars in television commercials, millions of individual voter contacts, thousands of media articles, hundreds of days and seemingly dozens of televised debates will come to a head on Tuesday evening … or sometime shortly thereafter (we think).

What will happen?  No one really knows …

National polling suggests that the 2012 presidential election between Democratic incumbent Barack Obama and “Republican” nominee Mitt Romney will go down to the wire – although polling in swing states suggests that Obama enjoys a much easier path when it comes to securing the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House.

In fact conventional wisdom holds that Obama can afford to lose several battleground states whereas Romney’s “path to 270” involves a much narrower margin of error. According to the latest Real Clear Politics’ Electoral College map, there are eleven “toss up” states heading into the final 24 hours of the race – Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Virginia.

Together, these states comprise a total of 146 electoral votes … more than enough to put either candidate well over the top.  Also there’s a very real chance that any number of scenarios could unfold resulting in an Electoral College tie – in which case the presidency would be decided by the “GOP-controlled” U.S. House of Representatives.

Is “four more years” a given?

To hear the pundits tell it, though, even a “tie” is wishful thinking for Romney – particularly if he loses Ohio to Obama.  In that scenario, the former Massachusetts governor would have to pretty much run the table in the rest of the battleground states – a tall order if you accept current polling which shows that the race is statistically tied in each of those states.

Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post sums up the mainstream media’s view of this polling data – predicting that Obama will be reelected with 277 electoral votes compared to 261 for Romney.  Cillizza also believes that Obama will win 50.1 percent of the popular vote compared to 48.5 percent for Romney.  And again … based on current polling, those predictions are pretty solid.  Meanwhile InTrade – a leading online prediction market – puts Obama’s reelection prospects at 67.8 percent.

So … four more years of Obama is pretty much a foregone conclusion, right?

Maybe … but maybe not.

Several prominent pollsters and politicos – most notably former Bill Clinton strategist Dick Morris, former George W. Bush strategist Karl Rove and columnist George Will and Michael Barone – are all predicting that Romney will emerge victorious.  In fact several of them are predicting Romney will win in a landslide.

At the heart of these prognostications is the fundamental belief that 2012 polling is reflecting a 2008 electoral landscape – one which no longer exists.  According to these pollsters and politicos, Romney will benefit from sagging Democratic turnout and surging Republican intensity aimed at defeating Obama – and that nowhere will this trend be more evident than in the battleground states (all of which Obama won in 2008).

“In battleground states, the edge in early and absentee vote turnout that propelled Democrats to victory in 2008 has clearly been eroded, cut in half according to a Republican National Committee summary,” Rove wrote last week for The Wall Street Journal.

Given this “intensity gap,” polls which show the race tied – or Obama slightly ahead – are fundamentally flawed.

From the beginning of this race, we’ve accepted the basic premise that there was roughly a 4-6 percent advantage for Romney that wasn’t showing up in mainstream polling.  The only problem for the GOP nominee?  Prior to the first presidential debate it appeared as though he had slipped below this margin – meaning that even if the anticipated “intensity gap” manifested itself, he would still lose.

Since Romney’s command performance in the first debate, though, he has brought the race back to “even” – or reclaimed his lead, if you buy into the “intensity gap” theory.

We don’t think there will be a landslide on Tuesday night – for either candidate.  We predict a tight race – one that may take a day or two to sort out.  In the end, though, we predict that Romney will be elected the 45th President of the United States by a handful of electoral votes – and will win the popular vote by anywhere from 3-5 percent.

Does that amount to a hill of beans for U.S. taxpayers?

Probably not … which is why this website endorsed former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson.

Who do you think will win on Tuesday night?  Vote in our poll and post your thoughts in our comments section below …

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