I've decided to go out on a limb and tell you what I think will happen in tomorrow's vote. Before I reveal my prediction let me say emphatically this is not an endorsement of any candidate or an outcome that I am either hoping or not hoping for.
It is also not based on who I think is or is not the best candidate or designed to encourage you to vote or not vote for a certain candidate. It is simply my best assessment based on covering this race in a Swing State since essentially the end of 2009 and reading countless polls and the analysis of such polls.
While I believe the race is headed in a certain direction, I do believe it is historically close and every vote will count. It is quite possibly that I am very, very wrong.
But, I'm going out on a limb and here is what I think:
OBAMA 303 ROMNEY 235
Here is a look at my map courtesy of the handy "build your own map" at Real Clear Politics:
Obviously the most interesting thing to come from me as a Virginia based political reporter is that I am prediciting that President Obama will eek out a win here in the Commonwealth. This was something I didn't think was going to happen until this weekend, and I am not very confident in that prediction. However, a series of late breaking polls appear to be heading in the president's direction and while it is clear that the Republican ground game is leaps and bounds better than the McCain effort in 2008, I think when the dust clears the president will capture Virginia. It will be VERY close. Perhaps less than a percentage point win, but a win none the less.
However, it is my view that a win or loss in Virginia won't matter in terms of an Obama electoral win.
Virginia is a necessity for the republicans. For the democrats is running up the score. Gov. Romney has to win at least two, maybe three additional swing states in order to tip the balance to 270 in his favor. That means wins in places like Colorado and Wisconsin, Ohio or Pennsylvania. The polling in those states are all leaning in the president's direction. While I believe it is possible for Romney to pick off one of those states, winning two or three does not seem realistic.
Now comes the obvious question about the value of these polls. That is essentially what I am basing this entire prediction on. Unlike many of my journalistic colleagues who dismiss all talk about the oversampling of democrats in these polls I believe there is merit to question that methodology. Aside from one statistics class in graduate school at the Rockefeller College at the University of Albany, I am by no means a polling expert, but I think common sense would tell you that expecting the historic type of turnout that democrats brought in 2008 is unlikely in 2012. Many of these polls base their turnout margins, on a least in part, a 2008 model.
Yes, there is something to be said about these polls giving the president's supporters too much credit when it comes to turnout. If there is a surprise on election day, and that is absolutely possible, it will be in part because this polling data is relying to heavily on that turnout model.
However, even if you give Gov. Romney back some of that sample it only improves his margin a few percentage points in certain battlegrounds and not enough, in my view, to overcome the president's lead. I also believe that these polling companies rely heavily on being correct in their predictions and they probably know more than I do. Being that far off would be bad for business, regardless of who they want to see win.
So the next logical question is how does that impact the race for Senate in Virginia. I believe both George Allen and Tim Kaine have run their races incredibly well. There have been few, if any, mistakes made by either side. I believe this was in the beginning and continues to be a 50-50 race and I believe it will be completely connected to the turnout related to the presidential race.
That being said, I believe Kaine is positioned slightly better than Allen based on public polling. My sense is that in order for Gov. Allen to win, Romney needs to carry Virginia by 2 points or more.
If I am wrong about Obama winning Virginia and Romney wins by 2 or more points George Allen goes with him to Washington. If the margin is less than 2 points or the president wins, Kaine is Virginia's next senator.
Again, let me reiterate this is only based on my view of the statistical information available. This is not about the quality of any candidate or their stance on the issues.
Make no mistake. While my Electoral College prediction looks like a big win, this race is VERY close. Every swing state will be decided by a small number of votes.Tuesday night could be a long night.