ere is my prediction. Wednesday morning you can grade me on how well I did.
Arizona: Don’t believe the hype. John McCain is in no danger of doing an Al Gore and losing his home state. McCain by ten.
Colorado: Bush won here by almost five. Barack Obama thinks that, along with Iowa, the Rocky Mountain State is his best chance for a pickup. The youth vote in Boulder and Denver will be up this year. So too will be the military vote in Colorado Springs and the rancher/farmer/landowner vote everywhere else. Net effect: some change in the Democratic direction, but not enough to swing the state. McCain by two.
Florida: McCain will do better with Jewish and older voters than did Bush four years ago when he won the state 52-47. They turn out to vote. The youth vote that Obama depends on will vote just like it always has in the Sunshine State: not very much. McCain by four.
Georgia, North Carolina, and the rest of the Deep South: Black turnout for Obama will be huge. It won’t be enough. Not even close. McCain will win the Tarheel State by eight points. The rest of the states between South Carolina and Louisiana will select him by ten points plus.
Indiana: In spite even of the fact that more people will vote in Lake County than live there, this is still a reliably red state. Bush won the Hoosier State by 21 points. However, Tuesday afternoon’s leaked exit polls will indicate that in Indiana Obama is leading McCain. Indiana’s polls are among the first in the nation to close. MSNBC will call the state for Obama soon after the polls close. They want to call it early in order to depress turnout in places like Colorado where polls will remain open three hours longer. Objectivity be damned. The other networks will be more cautious. For good reason; Obama starts out with a 13-point lead in exit polling simply because Republicans are less likely to answer them. When the actual returns come in from places other than Gary and Bloomington, they will reveal a race that wasn’t even close. McCain by double digits. MSNBC will be the butt of jokes on Leno and SNL after having called Indiana so wrong.
Iowa: The Hawkeye State is closer than the polls would make you think-why else would Barack Obama be there on the final weekend? If Iowa had a normal primary system, McCain would win. But it doesn’t. There is something even more important than the presidency at stake: the Iowa Caucuses are on trial in 2008. In a contested race they haven’t successfully selected a Democratic president since 1976. (And they’ve never selected a successful Democratic president.) If Obama loses this year Iowans know that the Hawkeye Cauci could go bye-bye (and with them will go ethanol subsidies). This is one of only two formerly red states he swings in his direction. Obama by five.
Missouri: Just like the last couple times, a Clinton appointee will order polling places to stay open until midnight, but only in Jackson County and St. Louis City. A federal judge will shut the polls down because the first judge wouldn’t keep polls open in the more Republican St. Louis County, which similarly experienced long lines and delays. The “Show me” state won’t like what Obama has shown them. McCain will clear the 50% hurdle.
Montana and North Dakota: These are not tossup states. How do I know? Look at the money being spent there. If they were really as close as the public polls say they are Barack Obama would be there. What these northern Great Plains states are instead is evidence that the public polls are broken this year. Bush won both states by double digits. So too will McCain.
Nevada: Usually reliably Republican, however the biggest boom town in the country, Las Vegas, is now in its biggest bust. Bush won 50.5% to 47.9% four years ago. Clark County will be ready to manufacture the votes necessary to secure an Obama victory. It won’t be necessary. Obama will outperform Kerry’s totals and win the Silver State by three points.
New Hampshire: John Kerry won here by a margin of 1.3%. But Kerry was from Massachusetts whose Boston media market blankets the southern third of the Granite State. Hillsborough and Rockingham Counties, the state’s two largest, went for Bush by just a few points four years ago. However, without a neighbor on the ticket, McCain’s margin in both of the state’s southern counties will be larger. Besides, if there is one word that describes the citizens of New England’s iconoclast state, it is “cantankerous” (but in a lovable way). McCain is cantankerous too. He always exceeds expectations in New Hampshire. Obama always underperforms there. And New Hampshire always surprises. Granite Staters love to lie to pollsters—it’s their way of telling the media what they think of them, and it announces that New Hampshirites know a little bit more about this whole presidential selection thing than most people–especially those upstart Iowans. McCain by two. When that is announced you will hear screams from off the set during CBS’ broadcast. Keith Olbermann will openly cry. All eyes—the dry ones at least—will then shift to Colorado and Pennsylvania, both of which Obama will need to win in order to prevail. For the first time Tuesday evening the tone of the news coverage will shift to, “Can Obama pull it out?”
New Mexico: With its Democratic governor, New Mexico is even more blue than it was four years ago when Kerry won here by only 6,000 votes, the smallest margin of any state in nation. Obama wins by five. But the real loser of the evening is Bill Richardson, who even though he delivered his state, committed the unpardonable crime of crossing the Clintons. Scandal will find him.
Ohio: Like Missouri, the Buckeye State almost always goes with the winner. It will again this time. Turnout in Butler, Clermont, and Warren Counties will overwhelm new registrations in the state’s urban areas—an unexpectedly high number of whom don’t show up to vote because ACORN simply made up names in Cuyahoga, Franklin, and Montgomery Counties. Every county east of Cincinnati and South of I-70 except for Athens goes for McCain–many by a margin of three or four to one. Keep your eyes on Mahoning County. Bush got only 37% there four years ago. If McCain clears that mark by five points or more it’s a signal that Ohioan Joe Wurzelbacher helped McCain make inroads with labor voters nationwide. That level of support in Youngstown indicates a McCain win in nearby Pennsylvania too. McCain takes Ohio by 50,000 votes. Clinton supporter Governor Ted Strickland is caught smiling during a phone call with Bill when he didn’t know he was on camera. Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner’s head explodes because she realizes that without Obama in office to shield her, a federal investigation of ACORN is going to incriminate her.
Pennsylvania: In a year that is slightly more Democratic than 2004 when Pennsylvania went blue 50.9% to 48.4%, the outcome in the Keystone State should not be in doubt. It’s in doubt this year because Obama and his allies have done everything they can to lose this state. Obama will lose rural and small town Pennsylvania by huge margins. He will win Pittsburgh, and especially Philly, by large margins. Erie will go for Obama by the slimmest of margins—if at all—further indicating how poorly Obama performed with white middle class Rust Belt voters. Pennsylvania won’t be called until late. It won’t be decided until the courts have spoken. That’s not good news for Republicans if the state’s 21 electoral votes make the difference. (The Philadelphia machine plays dirty.) At daybreak the state is still a tossup with less than 10,000 votes separating the candidates. But the real winner is Governor Ed Rendell who spends every day from now until January 20th yelling “I told you so,”—first because he said that Democrats should have picked Hillary, and second because he warned Obama that he wasn’t spending enough time in his state. He was right both times.
Virginia: Lots of newly registered voters helps Obama, right? Not exactly. A large number of them are newly registered to vote in red counties. A lot of them are military voters in Tidewater and DC, who this year registered to vote in VA instead of their home states. They prefer McCain 3:1. Bush won the Commonwealth 53-45 in 2004. The very popular former governor Mark Warner, in an effort to confuse the voters that he is the same Warner as the retiring Republican one whose seat he seeks, is not identifying himself as a Democrat in his advertising this year. That should be a clue. McCain by five.
Wisconsin: What? Wisconsin a tossup state? Yes. John Kerry won by only 10,000 votes. The Badger State will end up being much closer than anyone suspects. Madison’s youth vote won’t turn out in expected numbers. Obama will underperform expectations in Milwaukee and Green Bay. Obama will pull it out, but when most of the networks report when its polls close that Wisconsin is too close to call, Obama’s supporters will feel like they’ve been slapped in the face by a cold wet musky (Wisconsin’s state fish). It will be the first indication to them that the exit polls they’ve been celebrating since midday are off. Way off. Obama by only three.
Nationwide: Going in to election day, Obama will be leading 47% to 44% with 7% undecided. McCain wins the undecided almost 5:2. Increased support from black voters in the three Ds (DC, Detroit, and the Deep South) along with gains in other reliably red states runs up Obama’s popular vote totals, but adds nothing to the electoral bottom line. The only states he turns in his favor are two very white ones (Iowa 2% black and Nevada 6% black), providing evidence against the charge of racism. But facts don’t get in the way of the story line that racism decided the race.
Final popular vote tally: Obama 49.2%, McCain 48.8%, Other 2%.
Electoral votes: Obama 244, McCain 273, Pennsylvania’s 21 TBD.
Wednesday the 5th won’t be pretty