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Charlie Sykes: Sykes Writes

Election Day Predictions

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I'm already on record saying that I think Mitt Romney will win both the popular and electoral votes for three reasons: 1. the economy, 2. his edge among independents and 3. turnout of an enthusiastic, motivated conservative base. This analysis seems to be shared by others, including Michael Barone, Jay Cost, and George Will. Here are two more predictions, which I chose because, well, I completely agree. If we're wrong, we're all going down together!

First, Fred Barnes it down by the key factors that he thinks will break for Romney tonight: 

Mitt Romney will win. The tie in the polls goes to the challenger. Here’s why:

Enthusiasm. It matters enormously, and it’s disproportionately on the Republican side, in good measure because of an intense desire to defeat President Obama. ...

In 2008, self-identified Democrats led Republicans in turnout by seven percentage points. Gallup’s projection is that Republicans will have a 49-46 percent edge this year. “The political environment and the composition of the likely electorate strongly favor Governor Romney,” Goeas says. The Battleground Poll’s “vote election model” projects Romney with 51 percent.

Ground game. The Obama get-out-the-vote drive (GOTV) is not quite the powerful juggernaut it was in 2008 and the Republican effort is far better than four years ago. The Republican National Committee isn’t alone this time. Americans for Prosperity and a coalition of a dozen conservative groups—from the National Rifle Association to the Republican Jewish Coalition—have put together a massive GOTV effort focused on swing voters in key states. They’ve averaged 1.8 million phone calls per day in recent days.

Early voting numbers are further evidence of ground game parity. Democrats have a slight edge, but their numbers are down significantly from 2008. Far more Republicans have voted early this year than in 2008.

Undecideds. Undecided voters are thought to vote disproportionately for the challenger over a sitting president....

Indicators. Many point to a Romney win. He does well among “high-propensity-voting” blocs such as, in the Battleground Poll, seniors (54 percent), married voters (56 percent), weekly church attendees (59 percent), white evangelicals (79 percent), and gun owner householders (60 percent). He also leads among key demographic groups such as suburban voters (54 percent), Catholics (53 percent), and middle class voters (52 percent)....

Issues. The most important ones favor Romney: the economy, the deficit, and the debt. Independents, the demographic group most sensitive to these issues, went for Obama by eight percentage points in 2008. Now they’re tilting to Romney by roughly the same percentage.

Conclusion: Romney will be elected the 45th president of the United States.

**

Peggy Noonan leans more on the vibe (which I also feel):

I think it’s Romney. I think he’s stealing in “like a thief with good tools,” in Walker Percy’s old words. While everyone is looking at the polls and the storm, Romney’s slipping into the presidency. He’s quietly rising, and he’s been rising for a while....

I suspect both Romney and Obama have a sense of what’s coming, and it’s part of why Romney looks so peaceful and Obama so roiled.

Romney ends most rallies with his story of the Colorado scout troop that in 1986 had an American flag put in the space shuttle Challenger, saw the Challenger blow up as they watched on TV, and then found, through the persistence of their scoutmaster, that the flag had survived the explosion. It was returned to them by NASA officials. When Romney, afterward, was shown the flag, he touched it, and an electric jolt went up his arm. It’s a nice story. He doesn’t make its meaning fully clear. But maybe he means it as a metaphor for America: It can go through a terrible time, a catastrophe, as it has economically the past five years, and still emerge whole, intact, enduring.

Maybe that’s what the coming Romney moment is about: independents, conservatives, Republicans, even some Democrats, thinking: We can turn it around, we can work together, we can right this thing, and he can help.

**

And, finally, Karl Rove's final electoral map predictions: Romney 285.... Obama, 253

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BONUS: Here's James Wigderson's projected map...

All that said, I’m predicting Romney will win the election with a minimum 275 electoral college votes. He could win as many as 331 votes, although I’m really leaning towards 295 votes. He’ll win the popular vote with 51%-48% of the vote.

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