By Ralph Schwartz
The election is coming up fast, so this might be my last chance to post before the results are in.
(OK, I started off being disingenuous already. The election isn’t coming up fast. It’s coming excruciatingly slowly. I’m even resenting the extra hour we get this weekend at the end of daylight saving time because that’s one more hour to wait before this is all over.)
So on the Friday before Election Day, let’s go out on a limb and predict who is going to win the presidential race.
Some people might be in it for the policies. I’m in it for the horse race.
(Another parenthetical needed: The pick I am about to make is not an endorsement. It’s just playing a hunch.)
So with the horses in the home stretch, what are the odds?
Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight is revered for seeming to be able to read the real meaning of polls with his secret mathematical formula. He’s also maligned for going public about supporting Obama in 2008, so some figure his vaunted formula is tilted in the sitting president’s favor.
Think of him what you will. The graphs on his website show steady gains for Obama since his standing slipped immediately after the first debate on Oct. 3. After dropping to just a 2-to-1 chance of winning the Nov. 6 election, Obama’s back up to 4-to-1 (80 percent chance of winning) today.
But I’m going to buck Silver’s wisdom and predict a Romney win. I’m going on the hunch that these polls of “likely voters” aren’t accounting for the enthusiasm gap. Fewer Dems will show up at the polls in the key swing states, and Republican angst over what has happened in this country over the past four years will drive them there.
Assuming I’m right on my first prediction, let me make a few more.
Most of the people who said they would move out of the country if Romney won … won’t.
Romney will have to work with a divided Congress — Dems still in control of the Senate (or at the very least having filibuster power), so the first two years at least of his term will be marked by little or no significant legislation. Congress will continue to enjoy approval ratings in the tweens.
Romney and Ryan won’t create 12 million jobs in four years, but the economy will grow, slowly but steadily, owing to forces far outside the executive branch’s control.
If Romney/Ryan do get to make any meaningful changes — tax reductions coupled with reductions in government services — then some people will benefit, and most people should go unharmed.
Anyway, here’s hoping I’m wrong about the do-nothing Congress, and the next four years are the beginning of a new era of post-partisan congeniality in which everyone sets aside petty political differences and has the good of the whole nation in mind.
(Give me a break. We’re on the eve of an election here. It’s like spring training at the Pittsburgh Pirates’ camp. Anything is possible.)