Mitt Romney will be the next president of the United States. Paul Ryan, as vice president, will be breaking lots of 50-50 tie votes in the Senate. Bank on it.
Here's the big picture for the presidency: Romney will win the entire South, including "swing" states North Carolina, Florida and Virginia, plus all the usual solid-red states of the inland West. That gets him to 248 electoral votes. From there, he will need only one state from each of the next two conglomerations of three. He will need to win either Ohio, Pennsylvania, or Michigan, plus either Colorado, Wisconsin, or Minnesota. He will indeed take two of those six in the right combinations, and he will be president. And that doesn't even include New Hampshire (an absolute tossup), Iowa (I think it will go for Romney), or Nevada (probably an Obama state), or the lone elector from the Second Congressional District in Maine, which will go for Romney, too. And it doesn't include still theoretically possible longer shots Oregon (actually, it's doable) and New Mexico (probably not). Any of those states could help form other combinations that bring Romney to the 269-269 tie that he needs to carry the day -- or better.
What it boils down to is that it is Obama, not Romney, who really has to "run the table" in order to eke out a victory. But he won't. Romney will win, 284 Electoral Votes to 254 for Obama.
Romney will also win the popular vote, but with a plurality rather than a majority. I have it at Romney with 49.8 percent, Obama with 48.6 percent, and Gary Johnson/Virgil Goode/others at 1.6 percent. (Ignoring the fallacy of misplaced concreteness/misplaced specificity, and just to have some fun, I'll peg Romney's total votes at 64,576,316, Obama's at 62,982,965, and all others combined at 2,135,802.)
In the Senate, as indicated above, Republicans will pick up three seats, for a 50-50 tie. (In a bit of a surprise, the Senate race in Maine will remain in doubt well into the wee hours of Wednesday morning maybe even longer with Republican Charlie Summers giving "Independent" fraud Angus King all he can handle, and with Democrat Cynthia Dill well behind but still pulling far more votes than expected. And in one other longshot possibility, if it is clear early enough in the evening that Romney has won, then Republican Linda Lingle might eke out a victory in Hawaii, which would give the GOP a chance at a 51st Senate seat.) George Allen will win Virginia, by the way, thus resuming a career interrupted in 2006 by the Washington Post.
In the House, Republicans will easily hold a majority; in fact, they will lose a net of only two seats, ending with a majority of 239 to 196. Of particular interest to knowledgeable conservatives, Conservative Opportunity Society co-founder Dan Lungren will indeed hold on in California's hotly contested, redistricted Seventh District. And in Utah, Republican Mia Love will rush past incumbent Jim Matheson.
All of which would, of course, be mere assertions if there weren't some method to the predictive madness. Of course, there is such a method. (For my past record at this, please, please consult this, with 2006 being the only year that marred my record.) We start with a bad economy (unemployment higher than when Barack Obama took office; household net worth down hugely, the dollar terribly devalued, etcetera). We add the fact that 55 percent of those polled by the Washington Post say the country is "on the wrong track" (vs. 43 percent on the "right track"), and that by a 50-46 margin, voters think Romney can do a better job with the economy than Obama can. (The sample size is a reasonable Democrat +3 -- one that probably understates what the actual Republican turnout will be, but not by as much as many other polls.) These are not numbers that re-elect a president, nor ones that re-elect a Democratic Senate in a year in which Democrats are defending more seats, and more vulnerable seats, than Republicans are. They are especially not numbers that re-elect a president when tremendous intensity is on the side against him, while many of his own supporters remain somewhat disenchanted or dejected. Moreover, Romney also leads by a couple of points in the Real Clear Politics average of "net favorable" ratings, and leads by a huge margin in Rasmussen's crucial "intensity of favorable/unfavorable" ratings when compared to Obama.
Anecdotal reports from Ohio, Virginia, and especially Wisconsin and Pennsylvania agree that enthusiasm is strongly on Romney's side. The Republican "ground game" is light years better than it was in 2008, and probably even better than the superb effort put forth under Ed Gillespie's leadership in 2004. Plus, more outside groups on the right are doing more of the smart political tasks than ever before, by a long shot. Pro-life groups, the National Rifle Association, Tea Party groups, Catholics and others motivated by religious freedom, and sharp upstarts such as American Majority Action are doing wonders with voter identification and mobilization. Plus, of course, Romney and supportive Super-PACS have raised and spent multiple times more money than anything Republican presidential efforts have even dreamed of in the past.
Against all this, Barack Obama has had four years to hone an organization that did, after all, garner an astonishing 69 million votes four years ago, plus has had the significant advantage of the most slavishly and hypocritically unprofessional "establishment media" this nation has ever seen. Those twin assets have been enough to keep him close -- but they aren't enough to overcome the remaining good sense of an American public where just enough people still have a wisely inculcated value system that rejects the weakness, failures, and leftist claptrap that animates Obama's worldview.
With super-storm Sandy having interrupted Romney's momentum last week, however, I found myself as late as Thursday night convinced that the former governor and turnaround specialist would barely squeak through in a 269-269 electoral vote tie, lifted by a 27-state majority in the U.S. House, and with West Virginia's Joe Manchin breaking with fellow Democrats to cast the deciding Senate vote making Paul Ryan vice president. Significant civic unrest would have marred the transition, but it would have faded out in time for the inauguration due to the innate decency and common sense of the American people.
Thank goodness we probably won't be relegated to such a scenario. Barack Obama has lost his magic, and his troops are a bit enervated. Mitt Romney, on the other hand, has made up for a campaign-long spate of forgettable TV ads with a stretch-run personal performance worthy of the office he seeks. His stump speech has been sharper, his demeanor uplifting, his personal decency on display, and his deep love of these United States abundantly clear. And his running mate, Paul Ryan, has demonstrated knowledge, competence, can-do optimism and, yes, compassion, throughout an impressive first run on a national ticket.
For all those reasons, conservatives and independents who want a new and promising direction for the country they love can join Ryan in saying, yes, indeed, "we can do this. We can do this. We… can do this, now."
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