Friday, October 26, 2012

Election 2012: Into The Last Lap

And with the last debate in the can, the campaign rolls past the starting gate into the last lap. In only eleven days, we go to the polls to elect the next President of the United States, the entire House of Representatives, and a third of the Senate.

The last debate didn't tell us anything we didn't already know. There were a few good zingers about horses and bayonets, and "The '80s called, they want their foreign policy back" is ... well, not a classic, but still pretty funny. Romney does seem pretty fixated on Russia. It sure looks like he wants to have a Navy built to take on the Red Banner Northern Fleet, an Air Force equipped to take on Soviet Frontal Aviation, and an Army ready to bust up an assault from the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany. Never mind that none of those things have existed in the last twenty years. We've gotta be ready for those sneaky Russian bastiges.

I do have to say a word in defense of bayonets, though. There are going to be times when having a stabby bit to put on the end of your rifle will come in pretty handy. Case in point:

We'll probably never see horse cavalry again, but a blade plus mechanical advantage will never go entirely out of style.

Now, with both campaigns beginning to pursue their endgames, we get to see how it plays out. The Republicans have bet heavily on the SuperPAC-funded advertisements, while the Democrats are relying on saturating the important "battleground" states with more campaign offices. Air superiority versus ground superiority, if you will. It'll be very interesting to see how this one ends. And there are liable to be more than a couple of frustrated billionaires, if it proves that they couldn't buy the election outright, after all.

And now, on to the numbers. As usual, my sources are Intrade, FiveThirtyEight, and Pollster. Information is current as of Friday evening.

From Intrade:

Barack Obama (D): 63.8%, 276 EV (+2.3%, -16 EV)
Mitt Romney (R): 36.3%, 260 EV (-2.1%, +18 EV)

From FiveThirtyEight:

Barack Obama (D): 74.4%, 295.4 EV (+6.5%, +7.6 EV)
Mitt Romney (R): 25.6%, 242.6 EV (-6.5%, -7.6 EV)

From Pollster:

Strong D: 237 (+20)
Lean D: 40 (-20)
Tossup: 55 (+/- 0)
Lean R: 15 (+/- 0)
Strong R: 191 (+/- 0)

First, it looks like the only movement on Pollster was a firming-up of Democratic support. If all they do is hold onto what they've got, Pollster has Obama winning 277 votes in the Electoral College. Team Romney's performance is essentially flat. That's bad. He really needs to start pulling some of those toss-up states into his Lean column, and then pull some of that into his Strong column. That hasn't happened, despite his strong showing in the first debate. If there's no movement, soon, that's a really bad sign.

It may already be too late. The time for plans and policy is over, now it's all about execution.

What Romney Must Do: Team Romney faces a daunting mathematical proposition. They have to have all of the toss-up states, all of Obama's weaker support, plus 24 EVs worth of Obama's stronger support. It's doable, particularly if Team Obama screws up something important in the next week and a half, but it's virtually impossible without outside help in the form of an international disaster or major unforced opposition error. Moderate Mitt has to hit the trail, hard, and try to win the center. That's his only path to daylight.

What Obama Must Do: Really, he has to approach the endgame as if he were in Romney's position. He has to go for each and every one of the tossup states, Romney's softer support, and even some of his core support. But the truth is, he doesn't need to win all that much of any of the above categories. Going by the Pollster map, all he's got to do is keep what he's got, and he's in. His worst enemy at this point is complacency. He's got to avoid it like Death itself. He's got to run hard, every day, until the polls close on November 6th.

And The Winner Is... I'm really tempted to copy and paste last week's entry. Nothing important has changed. The odds are still hovering around 3-2 in favor of re-election, and the solid over/under in the Electoral College is still 290. It's creeping upwards, though. There's still a case, getting better by the day, for 300. But I don't think there's going to be much movement from that range. We'll know more by Tuesday.

As always, vote early, and vote often!

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