Monday, November 5, 2012

General Election Night Preview/Viewing Guide 2012

Hello all. Hopefully, this will be the last political post for a while and will be unless this goes past election day, which I hope it doesn't.

So, this post will be about how I expect tomorrow night to go. I'm not getting into the congressional elections as this will focus specifically on the Presidential election. This isn't a post in which I am predicting the outcome, but rather how the night will play out regardless of result.

Let's start with poll closing times. Here is nice and organized list of all the closing times:

So, the first closings will be Indiana and Kentucky. The portions of those states in the Eastern Timezone close at 6:00pm EST and at that point networks may project the winner in both of those states. These states will go Republican

The next batch comes at 7:00pm EST. Three non-competitive states close at this time, but the first biggie closes in Virginia.

7:30pm EST brings the closing of what seems to be the most coveted state of Ohio. The semi-competitive state of North Carolina will also close.

The biggest closing of the night occurs at 8:00pm EST. Mostly non-competitive states and Obama will get quite a few electoral votes out of this group. The Central Time Florida polls close at this time and as the networks found out in 2000 projecting prior to this is very unwise. The seemingly non-competitive Pennsylvania will also close.

Arkansas is the lone closee at 8:30pm EST

Another big group comes at 9:00pm EST. Wisconsin and Colorado are the two competitive states in this group.

A group of mostly red states closes at 10:00pm EST. Nevada and Iowa are in this group and are the final two 'battleground states' to close.

The left coast closes at 11:00pm EST. If the night goes well for Barack Obama this is the point at which the election will be called.

The final polls close with the Aleutian Islands in Alaska at 1:00am EST.

Okay, that's all nice orderly. However, it won't be that neat. I suspect that there will be emergency injunctions sought by the campaigns and granted by judges to extend polling time in states like Ohio. This has become a common practice and I see no reason to think it'll stop this year.

Alright, I want to talk about the four possible distinctions that each state will be given by the networks at their closing.

Obama wins the state's electoral votes: This is given to a state that based on pre-election polling, exit polls, and voting history will undoubtedly give its electoral votes to Obama

Romney wins the state's electoral: This is given to a state that based on pre-election polling, exit polls, and voting history will undoubtedly give its electoral votes to Romney

Too Early to Call: A state is likely to go to one candidate or another, but the network would like to see actual returns to confirm the result implied by the exit polling, pre-election polling and history.

Too Close to Call: All available data suggests a close contest in that state.

These distinctions with the early states can provide clues as to how the nation is breaking. The networks are extremely cautious with these things post the 2000 election. However, I will tell you that the people who make these calls are highly informed and the difference between 'early' and 'close' is significant.

A few possible hints that these distinctions could provide tomorrow night:

How North Carolina is initially classified. This state almost certainly a Romney state, but if it is given the 'too close' distinction instead of 'too early' it will be a good sign for Obama.

Another possible good sign for Obama would be Georgia not being immediately called.

A potential good sign for Romney could come in a very specific distinction for Maine. Maine can split it's electoral votes. Four are certainly going to be for Obama, but if the fifth isn't given to Obama quickly after close it's a good sign for Mittens.

Another potential positive sign for Romney could come from Michigan. It is state that should be called for the Democrats right a close, but another distinction could hint at a national trend.

I think there are several states whose results could take days. My ranking of likelihood:

1. Virginia
2. Florida
3. Colorado
4. New Hampshire
5. Ohio

The electoral votes of any of those individual states may not be important after election night though. So, while recounts may happen, they could be just for a consolation prize or a few extra electoral votes.

So, there you have it.

Thanks for reading


Sunday, November 4, 2012

2004 Deja Vu

Since it became clear that Mitt Romney would win the nomination, I've felt like this election has been strangely similar to that of 2004. When I say that, I mean in terms of incumbent vs. challenger not Republican vs. Democrat.

It is really hard not to find Mitt Romney reminiscent of John Kerry. Both are stuffy, rich white guys from Massachusetts who lack the public speaking ability of their opponent. Both stick their foot in their mouths often and it just proves how disconnected they are with the people. And both have a tendency to conveniently change their positions over and over again when it is politically advantageous.

In 2004, the incumbent party had the much stronger convention and saw a surprisingly large bounce out of it; much like this year. John Kerry won the first debate handily in 2004 as Mitt Romney did this year and it tightened the race basically by undoing the post convention bounce. The Vice Presidential debate were eerily similarly, with the incumbent V.P. pretty much schooling the young candidate. George W. Bush recovered and effectively fought the last two debates to a draw. Obama recovered a bit better, but the key in both cases was the poor first debate performances were made up for with the 2nd and 3rd debate.

I think the most significant comparison between the two campaigns is this: The challenging party is not enthused about their candidate, but are just wanting to get rid of the incumbent. Liberals hated George W. Bush as much the right hates Obama. However, that didn't seem to be an electoral advantage. Bush hovered around 50% approval as Obama has, but the challenger was less popular in both cases.

I think Obama is in a better position heading into election than Bush was in 2004 though. Obama seems to have bigger lead than Bush did in the polls (both national and swing state) and his electoral path is a clear and likely one.  

Probably another post tomorrow night about the election (my apologies)

Thanks for reading