The polls show a close race and Intrade shows Obama with a 55.8% chance of victory as of 8:23 AM. This is down from 59% before the Ryan nomination and down from around 70% during the circular firing squad that was the Republican nominating process. Still, critical swing states are still leaning towards Obama and this may justify the Intrade odds advantage he currently enjoys.
Months before the Carter/ Reagan election Jimmy Carter was several points ahead of Reagan. The advantage dissipated at the end, some say because of the debate, and Carter only won 5 states.
If you were to ignore the polls, here are some other considerations to one who wants to handicap this race:
In 2008 Obama outspent McCain by more than two to one. While the financial advantage has limits after a point, this was an advantage that Obama will surely not have this time.
McCain ran a very poor campaign (besides his financial disadvantage). Those from the right and the left may debate if Palin was a liability or not and how much she impacted the campaign. But for sure Ryan is no Sarah Palin. He is smart, well spoken, experienced on national and critical issues, and most of all he has depth. He doesn’t just mimic conservative talking point, he understands them deeply. He is definitely an asset to Romney’s campaign.
McCain ran in the panic ridden midst of the worst financial collapse in recent history. At the time few truly understood the root causes and the tendency was to blame the current administration and the GOP. Four years later we understand that there were many elements of the government that were as involved in this debacle as there were elements from the private sector. Obama can no longer promise hope and change: he now has a record, and it is the longest recession, the slowest growth, the highest debt, and the highest unemployment we have seen in many, many decades. Only the most fanatic and ideologically blind can still blame Bush for the failure to recover.
None of the people who voted for McCain will switch to vote for Obama, yet many people who voted Obama will either switch and vote for Romney or will feel distant and not vote at all. Many of those who felt this distance after disappointment with Bush will re-enter the voting booth and they will not be voting for Obama. Obama, with so many winds in his favor, beat McCain by 7 percentage points. That means if only 3.5% switch he can lose. Add to that the previously pro Obama supporter who will stay home rather than vote GOP, and the right leaning voters who stayed home in 2008, who will surely turn out for this election, and Obama’s chance of success diminish further.
Among the special interest groups:
With the Black voters he can only go down. It may be only a few percentage points but it would be statistically hard to improve the almost unanimous support he got from the Black community. His support of gay marriage is less tolerated by the Black than the White Community.
He is also unlikely to improve his share among women. Those women whose litmus test issue was abortion and free contraception would remain loyal. But the women’s movement is a victim of its own success. Women who are suburban mothers with kids and with professional careers probably worry more about having a job and saddling their children with debt. They may also prove the least tolerant of the expansion of those receiving income and benefits without working for years at a time.
He may retain his share among Hispanic or Latino Americans. His pro-immigrant statements may help, but most Latino Americans are Catholic and his relationship with Catholics is very bruised with his requirement that Catholic institutions provide contraception.
The Jews were the second highest ethnic block for Obama in terms of their percentage who supported the president, surpassed only by the Black voters. He will still get a majority but it will be a much smaller majority. This may not impact the strongly blue states, but it will have a real impact in Florida, which is critical.
The young may have voted for him because he was cool, but much of the glamour is wearing off as they graduate into one of the worst job markets in forty years. Ryan is young and fit and is more attractive as a candidate to many of the youth. The young are less loyal to either party. Like other groups Obama can only go down with his youth support. Some may switch and others will just sit out. Either choice (and I think both are legitimate) will be a setback for the Obama campaign.
Independent business people who were willing to give the seemingly moderate Obama a chance the first time will be unheard of the second time. “You didn’t build this business” will go down as the most destructive gaffe of the campaign. Even Wall Street financiers who supported Obama are having serious remorse but these are very few voters. Small business people and their employees took great offense at the president’s statement and they comprise a much larger voting bloc. While these voters were probably a minority for Obama the first time, they will be practically nonexistent the second time.
In summary – there are very few groups Obama will improve upon and many he will do worse with. His financial advantage will be gone, and he now has a record that will not allow him to run on mindless platitudes like Hope and Change. His only hope is to demonize the Romney Ryan ticket as extreme and this will take a lot of money he does not have. Romney has the money to remind voters that governing is about results. Even with the major media in his corner Obama’s results are his biggest handicap.
As for the polls? They can change quickly.
The title and several points in this post were suggested by or came from Wayne Root in his video Why Obama Will Lose in a Landslide. He makes some of the points above and other points worth viewing.