DR. HELEN SMITH
A few months ago, I felt depressed about the state of the country and figured that Obama would take the presidency. The country, I thought, was filled with too many people intent on entitlements and looking for a handout rather than those willing to take personal responsibility for themselves and their lives. Of course, at the other extreme are their enablers: those at the high end of society who have so much and live in such a bubble that they are shielded from or think they are shielded from too much government intervention. Either way, I had doubt in my fellow Americans to turn things around and lead our country back to its roots of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
My husband Glenn and I interviewed Mitt Romney on our old podcast shows a couple of times, and the first time I heard Governor Romney’s voice, I felt that he was a good guy. As I see him in action on the campaign trail, I feel that way more than ever. He wants Americans to have jobs, to keep more of what they earn, and to have the opportunity to grow their businesses and dreams in a free society. Obama, not so much.
That said, two people have changed my pessimism about the election. First, my husband Glenn, who has never wavered in his faith that Romney will win, even months and months ago when it seemed impossible. We were at dinner one night with an entrepreneur and reader of Glenn’s blog who said that Instapundit was the only place he could go that made it sound like Romney had a chance. Another place I turned for encouragement was Roger Kimball’s blog. He also believes that Romney will win and win big.
And now as I see the crowds and the momentum that Romney is building, I have hope that Romney might win, just as Glenn and Roger Kimball do. I am naturally a pessimist at times, but I predict (hope, pray?) that the American people will not let the great American experiment go down the drain that easily. I predict and hope for a Romney win.
But even if my prediction doesn’t happen, I take comfort in the knowledge that there are a great many people in this country who will continue to fight to keep the American dream alive and will not let one man and his enablers destroy the vision that has brought prosperity to so many.
As far as the GOP and the Senate races go, I don’t have a clue.
– Dr. Helen Smith is a forensic psychologist and a distinguished writer who has written for a variety of publications, including the Los Angeles Times, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
I think Obama is stronger than most conservatives think. If the president’s base were fully mobilized, he might win re-election despite his poor first-term record by 51-49. A recent poll showed that certain sectors, like ideological liberals, are really locked into him, and while other groups might be less loyal it is nevertheless the case that much of his base will vote for him because they “can’t vote for Romney.”
However, the confidence conservatives feel is real. But that confidence is based on the comparative difference in the motivations between the two sides this year. Obama’s supporters may be loyal, but they are dispirited. Their heart is no longer in the fight. Taking this into consideration, the probable popular result is probably 48-52, advantage Romney.
The Democrats know this and they are putting their trust in the discontinuous nature of Electoral College vote tallies and their “ground game.” If they can get the swing states, by any means necessary, then even the smallest of popular margins will give them all their electoral votes. Using this structural difference, they hope to edge Obama past Romney in EVs.
But in all of these calculations, everything depends on factors which cannot be accurately predicted. Just how energized are the conservatives? Just how dispirited are the liberals? Just how effective will the “ground game” be? Because the margins are so narrow and the true coefficients of the factors are only estimates, the election can “break” much more sharply than one might think.
Think of this as a pencil standing on its eraser. The forces unbalancing the pencil are very small, but when it tips it will go big either way.
If I were to guess, there’s a 50% chance it will be Romney by a squeaker, a 30% chance it will be Romney by a landslide, and a 20% chance Obama will pull it off. The House will stay with the GOP. The Senate is probably going to be retained by the Democrats. But in the event of a Romney landslide, there’s a small chance it will go to the Republicans.
The future is hard to predict, principally because it hasn’t happened yet.
– Richard Fernandez has been a software developer for nearly 15 years.
J. CHRISTIAN ADAMS
Romney will win because Catholic voters, particularly in the belt from Harrisburg to Minnesota, break for Romney. Obama will lose the election because he invaded one of the most sacred American traditions — religious liberty. There will be a surprise or two for Romney in either Pennsylvania, Michigan, Iowa, or Wisconsin. The Senate, however, remains barely in Democrat hands. Lackluster candidates and lackluster campaigns in places like Virginia, Missouri, Indiana, Florida, and Montana keep the Senate 53-47 Democrat.
– J. Christian Adams is an election lawyer who served in the Voting Rights Section at the U.S. Department of Justice.
DAVID P. GOLDMAN
The Senate is virtually a lost cause due to Republican errors in Kansas and Indiana. The presidency is a toss-up. The crosswinds are too strong to calculate the vector sum. It is astonishing that Barack Obama, who did a terrible job on the economy and made no friends on any major issue, should have a chance at re-election. He is playing to fear. As Joe Biden put it ever so clearly in the VP debate, “Who do you trust” to keep the welfare coming? The number of Americans receiving some kind of means-tested federal support rose from 20% in 2008 to 32% today. Romney’s message of entrepreneurial revival may not resonate. Most of the entrepreneurs who took a shot during the past fifteen years were carried out in body bags. Venture capital has underperformed the traded indices by a huge margin. Corporate America is cartelized to an extent we have not seen since the 1950s. We are in the middle of an unprecedented retirement wave for which Americans are financially unprepared, after the 40% median per capita wealth decline of 2008-2012. And we have a burgeoning underclass that is white as well as black or Hispanic. Forty percent of all births in 2011 were outside of marriage. We don’t know to what extent Americans feel beaten. If they feel beaten, they will vote their fears and re-elect Obama, and the country’s decline will accelerate. I am hoping and praying for a Romney victory. But it’s beyond my capacity to forecast.
– David P. Goldman joined PJM after nearly 10 years of anonymous essaying at Asia Times Online and two years of editing and writing at First Things.