Tomorrow is election day and predictions are everywhere, so here comes mine. Professional predictors, known as pollsters, come in three flavors: openly partisan, disguised partisan and attempted objective. The attempted objective pollsters use a variety of methods and criteria, asking about feelings, issues and candidates.
I am an openly partisan democrat. But I am also a person who values honesty - starting with being honest with myself. Trying as objectively as I can to analyze and predict the outcome of the election is a mentally healthy exercise worth undertaking.
My analysis starts with the polls, discounting the partisan ones more than the objective ones, and paying attention more to the state polls in the battleground states, rather than the national polls, since the election will be determined by electoral vote instead of popular vote. I look at poll results on feelings and attitudes and issues as well as on candidate preferences. With regard to margin of error, while I do consider that, I nevertheless believe the error will probably break more often in favor of the candidate who scored higher within the margin.
Polls of decided voters are probably most accurate, since partisans and people who say they decide based on the person or position on issues rather than on the party are not likely to change before the election. My personal opinion is that many decided voters are actually partisan, especially Republican, in spite of the fact they say they are not. These include the people you hear describe the differences between the candidates in generic partisan terms, as if they are repeating the Republican mantras. I don’t believe there are that many truly independent voters - I believe most are actually partisan without realizing or admitting it.
It is the undecided voters who are so difficult to accurately poll and who will decide the election. Some are position shifters, mostly this time away from Bush because of his record as President. Perennial procrastinators traditionally trend away from the incumbent also. Older persons who have not voted ever or for many years will probably cancel each other out; Bush could have an edge here because of recruiting by evangelicals, but Kerry should pick up many new minority voters. The newest group of undecided voters are young, first time ones who may be concerned about a Bush military draft [rightly so in my opinion] but may also see tax refund Republicans as better for their pocketbook [wrongly so in my opinion].
The newly registered will be major determiners of the election outcome. Republicans are counting on those motivated to support our troops, fight terror and keep an Evangelical in the White House. Democrats have an umbrella of unacceptable Administration policies to point to for motivation to dump Bush. The newly registered who have no particular preference, but just want to be involved in making the decision, are expected to somewhat favor the challenger.
It may be a truism to say it will all come down to turnout, but that is a fact. The turnout should be tremendous. Absentee and early voting will probably trend Republican. The motivation is extremely high this time around and the Republicans are trying to sneakily discourage it in the general news, and specifically intimidate it at the voting polls,because they know the tradition says high turnout will favor Democrats. We have already seen four hour early voting lines in Jeb Bush’s Florida, but it seems like those in line, predominantly Democrats I suspect, are hanging in there, perhaps developing a community spirit with line mates. I do wonder though whether the Republicans have been putting impostors in the lines to make them longer and to make comments discouraging line mates from waiting so long. [Lest you think I am paranoid, remember when ballots were being re-counted in Florida in 2000 and what supposedly were outraged locals banging at the locked doors to protest the "phoney" recount turned out to actually be Republican staffers flown in from Washington DC].
Turnout can be affected by weather, which the Weather Channel is predicting will be wet in some areas, especially in parts of the South, but does not seem to be particularly discouraging to voters, especially those motivated as they are this year.
I am not superstitious, but will mention that Green Bay beat the Redskins Sunday, so if you go with that phenomenal string of game to election connections, the incumbent should lose.
FINALLY, PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER:
Undecided party shifters will go more for Kerry.
New registrants for a change will go for Kerry.
Republican attempts to discourage voting will backfire in favor of Kerry.
Truly undecided voters will by a majority favor Kerry.
The popular vote will be extremely close, maybe 49.75 to 49.25, with 1% to Nader. Either candidate could win the popular vote, it is that close.
I think Kerry will win the electoral vote by about 1 to 10 votes, though it could go a little higher. There will probably be some challenges but none with a serious prospect of affecting the outcome.
The House will stay Republican, especially with the Republican Gerrymandering of districts in Texas. The Senate will probably also stay Republican though it should remain close enough for a few moderate Republicans to align with Democrats on some issues.