Monday, October 24, 2011

2012 Election Options – 1980 Blowout or 2000 Close?

As the prospects for the re-election of President Obama have narrowed, only two scenarios are seriously discussed – a Republican blowout like 1994, or 2010 on the congressional level, where a united Republican Party was joined by the vast middle of the electorate, which swung away the Democrats; or a narrow national win, where a single state election may decide the winner, like 2000 (Bush vs. Gore).

One of the best signs a landslide is possible is the generic ballot test that shows Obama losing to an unnamed Republican nominee. A large majority of voters are voting either for or against the incumbent, and those against are significantly larger, mostly because of the shifting of the middle.

This type of election would be like the end of President Carter’s re-election effort in 1980 when voters took a chance on Ronald Reagan, giving him a big final win after an election season of close polls. In this case, Colorado’s electoral votes simply join the Republican majority.

The other scenario is a narrow or even one state victory, like 2000. The ultimate irony could be the Republican nominee wins the popular vote and Obama wins the electoral college – reversing the controversy and felt injustice among the Democrats in the Gore vs. Bush finale.

If this election gets down to one state, Colorado will likely be among the final battlegrounds and has many conditions and recent historical precedents that make it the best candidate for the final battle.

  • Recent elections have swung between the parties and been reasonably close. G.W. Bush won the state in 2000 by 8 points, 5 points in 2004, and then Colorado swung to Obama by 9 points in 2008. In between presidential elections, Democrats swept the congressional races in 2006, but the tide reversed in 2010 and they were swept out.
  • The 2010 U.S. Senate battle between Democrat Michael Bennet and Republican Ken Buck turned out to be the closest in the country, with Bennet the final winner by only 40,000 votes, or 2 percentage points.
  • Colorado is consistently at or near the middle of the states in ideology and partisanship. The closely balanced party identifiers are nearly matched by unaffiliated voters.
  • The independent voters are formed by unaffiliated voters and a large bloc of weak party identifiers. The entire group are volatile voters, swinging between the candidates, depending on events and targeted appeals.
  • And, they are late deciders, which under this election scenario means the two candidates and their respective parties will toss every general and targeted appeal into the mix through to Election Day.
Colorado polls in elections since 2004 have tended to mirror the national trend; hence, if it’s close nationally, it will likely be even closer in Colorado. And current polls show it’s close.

See National Journal article: Rocky Territory

1 comment:

Richard Charnin said...

The 2000 was not close. The recorded vote was close. But the True Vote wasn't. Gore won by 5-7 million votes.