Who’s Going to Win in November?

In trying to simplify the state of the race and move past the statistical dead-heat that the national polls show the race in, I have done a little more electoral map analysis today.  I have taken advantage of RealClearPolitics’ delightful “create your own map” tool.  I put North Carolina and Missouri safely in the Romney ledger, but put New Mexico and Michigan safely in the Obama ledger.  I am putting Minnesota in the Obama ledger too, but a Pawlenty-as-VP pick could change that.  The reality is that some polls clearly show Michigan very tight as well; I am just trying to narrow it down.

So with every state assigned except NV, CO, OH, WI, FL, VA, IA, PA and NH, we have the electoral math at 217 to Obama and 211 to Romney in the race towards 270.

Pennsylvania is a state that just elected Pat Toomey as Senator two years ago.  Obama leads in polls there, but if voter turnout in the national embarassment that is the city of Philadelphia ends up being low, Romney has a very good chance to take the western 2/3 of the state which is not on welfare.  It is not the lowest hanging fruit for Romney of the eight battleground states I am highlighting, but it is possible.

Wisconsin is a “leans Obama” state in the polls too, and the best thing I can say is “I don’t believe it”.  I just don’t.  Nothing in that state’s recent voting outcomes tells me Obama will win this state.  Furthermore, polls show enthusiasm amongst college students is very low (and Madison is Obama”s hope in WI).  But we shall see …

NV is a state that Steve Wynn delivered to Harry Reid in 2010 and I believe he will deliver to Mitt Romney in 2012.  The other man who controls NV, Sheldon Adelson, also finds Barack Obama to be appallingly frightening (Wynn because of domestic policy; Adelson because of foreign policy).  The NV Senate race is shaping up nicely for the Republican too.  The reality is that the Democrats have mastered voter fraud in Nevada, but I think this one is winnable for Romney.

So the road to the White House looks like this in my opinion for Romney: The 206 he has now, plus Florida, Ohio, Virginia, and Iowa – this gets him to 272 and the White House even with a loss in Colorado, Nevada, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and Michigan.  Of course, a win for Romney in one or more of those states just makes things much more comfortable for Romney, and I think it could happen in at least WI and NV (and I wouldn’t mind seeing PA, MN, and/or MI in play as well).  This is the optimistic approach.  The concern is that a sweep of FL, OH, and VA may be tough.  I simply see their 2010 voting results and the possibility of either a Portman (OH) or Rubio (FL) pick boding very well for Romney …  But there is little margin for error for either candidate, and note that if Romney wins OH, VA, and FL, but loses IA, he loses the election.  It is that tight (at present).

Ultimately I can’t see how the eventual winner ends up taking much more than 285 electoral votes, but of course that assumes that one candidate does not break out after their convention.

Big picture, I still believe that the poll bothering me the most is not Ohio or Wisconsin, but rather the Intrade odds showing people betting money on Obama winning.  However, all of these polls should be re-visited after Romney makes his VP pick and after the convention.  The economy, voter enthusiasm, the 2010 results, and a plethora of raw empirical data still leaves me optimistic that Barack Obama will be a one-term President.

David L. Bahnsen, CFP®, works as a Senior Vice President in the private client group of one of the premier Wall Street firms in the country where he provides financial planning and investment management services to individuals and families. For more information about David Bahnsen, go to www.DavidBahnsen.com