Monday, November 5, 2012

Election 2012: The early call

EARLY PREDICTIONS are coming for tomorrow’s election, and a growing number of the final pre-election polls, spanning the political spectrum, seem to point to the re-election of President Obama.

TheStreet, the financial Web site launched by hypercaffeinated CNBC analyst Jim Cramer, is predicting a victory by the president. Cramer himself sparked a firestorm of criticism when he predicted an Obama “landslide” of 440 electoral votes.

Cramer, a man known to hoist its convictions high, told The Washington Post that Obama would crush Romney with 55 percent of the vote, a calculation that presumes Obama will run the table, capturing such conservative bulwarks as Florida, Georgia, Virginia and North Carolina — blowing up the notion of the Solid South for the second time in four years. “The presidential race is nowhere as close as the polls suggest,” he said.

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It’s fair to say Cramer’s forecast is a serious outlier; many other predictions call for a more modest win, but no less decisive, by Team Obama. The Intrade electoral map predicts an Obama win with 303 EV. The Intrade predictions market predicts a 67.3 percent chance of Obama being re-elected. And Nate Silver of The New York Times predicts President Obama has an astronomical 86.3 percent chance of re-election.

Gallup’s final pre-election poll shows the president trailing Romney by 1 point among likely voters, but leading Romney by 3 points among registered voters.

Conservatives, not surprisingly, are calling a completely different race. On Sunday’s broadcast of “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” on ABC, conservative columnist and commentator George Will forecast a Romney victory of 321 EV to Obama’s 217. Two prognosticators at The Daily Caller, Tucker Carlson’s right-wing Web site, have called it for Romney. Dennis Gartman, the publisher of the Gartman Letter, predicts that Romney will win the presidential election “quite handily.”

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BUT ON the basis of the numbers of these polls, relative to the rising tide of statistical confirmation of the anecdotal hunch, they’re in the minority.

The polling expert who bigfoots just about everyone — The Dean, veteran political forecaster Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia Center for Politics — has declared it a solid Obama victory. “Our final Electoral College projection has the president winning the key swing states of Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio and Wisconsin and topping Mitt Romney, with 290 electoral votes,” he writes at his Crystal Ball Web site.

“While Romney surged after the first debate, he never quite closed the deal in the key swing states. And now, we believe he has run out of time.”

Image credits: Election forecast map: Larry Sabato, University of Virginia Center for Politics. FiveThirtyEight EV forecast chart: Nate Silver/© 2012 The New York Times Company.

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