I suspect it will be very tight nationally, and I try not to give predictions. But if Romney gets a landslide in the electoral college, many of us will have to reassess our entire understanding of America, politics and polls. And if Obama wins, Michael [Barone, who predicts a Romney landslide,] will presumably acknowledge where and how he was so, so wrong. There might even be a crack in the cognitive dissonance and epistemic closure across the right.
I really enjoy making predictions, and doing so as publicly as the few online forums I have access to allow. On one hand, since one of the more unfortunate aspects of my character is my general assumption that I am smarter than most people and unrecognized for it, and since the Internet is, in substantial part, an ego substantiation engine, being proved right gives me a little extra dose of strut. On the other hand, since I am aware of the failings in my character and do, genuinely, wish to patch up the holes in my knowledge and erode the bulwarks of my ego, getting egg on my face is just as appreciated. I, too, want to know where and how I am so, so wrong.
Here’s what I think is going to happen on Tuesday. I think Barack Obama is going to win Ohio, and consequently the Electoral College, and consequently a second term as President. (I don’t care what the popular vote is because it’s irrelevant and has always been irrelevant and the gargantuan cost and effort it will take to make it relevant so dramatically outweighs the benefit of it becoming the way we pick our President that it will not happen in the foreseeable future. On top of this there’s no consensus that it would be better, anyway. So why even bother?) I make this prediction based on everything I’ve read over the past year, and I don’t really understand how someone can absorb the same information I have and come to the opposite conclusion.
Plenty have, of course, and publicly predicted a Romney victory. Some of these people are advocates. They’re trying to project victory in order to create victory, however effective that might be as a strategy. They’re bullshitters and trolls and they’re boring. They can crawl back into whatever cynical jackal cave they’ve hollowed out for themselves as soon as this election is over, no doubt to emerge later at the first scent of prey. The others are in denial. And this is more hopeful to me because I think they’re going to break.
The thing about denial is that it’s always only a temporary condition. Once it passes, you see the situation as it is and go forward from there. Here the situation is clear. When the Tea Party and their ilk secured for themselves a foothold of power, it distorted the voice of the entire Republican Party. Specifically, they ceded the center-right to the Democrats, who didn’t so much as conquer that territory as they were sucked into it by an ideological vacuum. A perfect example of this is the health care mandate, which had its roots in the center-right but was somehow painted as a “liberal” issue once the Democrats took ownership. It doesn’t matter whether you think this country has a center-right or center-left ideology, when the left-leaning party holds the center-right ground, they have the majority.
The Republicans are about to lose a winnable election, and they’re going to lose it because the makeup of their party was constitutionally incapable of fielding a viable center-right candidate. I’m not sure how they will fix this. I’d like to see the David Frums of the world jump ship and reregister as Democrats, but I doubt this will happen. Somewhat more likely is that the moderate, “good” Republicans will find away to run the extremists out of town on a rail. The most probable outcome, I think, is that nothing will change for the next 8 years, and the Democrats will run the table until the next census, the next chance the Republicans will have to break up the “safe” districts that allowed the party extremists to take some power in the first place.
But since this post is about making predictions, I’m going to bet that the Republican Party splits down the middle, that the moderates will form a bloc that sides with the Democrats time after time during this coming term, that the RNC cuts funding to extremist candidates in 2014, and that they spend the next four years gutting their organization with the hopes of winning on the basis of sound strategy in 2016.