October 4, 2008 With the 2008 general election just a month away, it's high time I made my presidential election forecast. As some of you know, I've made a quadrennial habit of this since 1960. My predictions are not based on who I WANT to win, but on evidence suggesting who actuallyWILL win. So far, I have correctly called nine of twelve US presidential elections. Admittedly some were dead-easy calls, like Nixon over McGovern in 1972 and Reagan over Mondale in 1984, but some prognosticators got even those wrong. I've guessed wrong only three times -- and each of those elections hinged on states where alleged-and-never-disproven voting "irregularities" tipped the electoral balance away from the outcomes I had predicted: Illinois in 1960, Florida in 2000, and Ohio in 2004. Of course I can't guarantee that no swing states will be "stolen" this time around. In fact there are good reasons to think such shenanigans are quite possible. Nonetheless, assuming (perhaps groundlessly) that elections will be fair and honest in all fifty states, I predict that Barack Obama will win both the total popular vote (perhaps by as much as 10%) and the electoral college vote (probably not by so much). Now I'll tell you why I think so. 1: SWING VOTERS. In the course of my lifetime, "straight ticket" voting has steadily declined as more voters have decided to exercise their own judgment instead of automatically supporting their own parties' nominees. Meanwhile, the proportion of unaffiliated voters has steadily increased -- in Oregon they now outnumber those registered as members of any one party. In 2006, it was those unaffiliated and loosely affiliated voters who gave the Republicans such a good thumpin'. Current polls indicate swing voters (especially women) are distinctly unimpressed by the McCain/Palin ticket. 2: REPUBLICANS. Personally, I blame the gutless Democrats in congress nearly as much as their Republican counterparts for the dismal state of the union. Nevertheless Republicans have dominated the federal government for most of the past 14 years, and I think the average American voter is sick of their hamfisted governance and ready to hand them their elephantine posteriors. For better or worse, Democrats will increase their lead in the House of Representatives and may wind up with as many as 60 seats in the 100-member Senate -- enough to actually get things done. 3: YOUNG VOTERS. In the past, "young voters" has largely been a contradiction in terms; it wasn't far off to equate a US citizen's percentage likelihood of voting with his or her age. For various reasons including loose talk about reinstating the military draft, young Americans have been registering to vote in much larger numbers in the last few years. They are much more likely to actually vote once they realize how strongly politics can affect their own daily lives. And far more young new voters are registering as Democrats than as Republicans, whatever their reasons. 4: MCCAIN/PALIN. Less than a month ago, I told friends that I thought the race was a toss-up between Obama and McCain. Then McCain picked Palin as his running mate, apparently hoping to (a) please GOP conservatives and (b) attract women voters unhappy about Clinton's exclusion from the D ticket. The first hope came true. Unfortunately for McCain, nobody else seems to think having Sarah Palin as Vice President is such a wonderful idea. An editorial cartoon in today's paper sums it up, showing the two in a joint medical checkup; as one doctor holds a stethoscope to McCain's chest, another holds one to Palin's head. No caption is necessary. So that's what I think, my friends. I'm uninterested in arguing about it or reconsidering my prediction. I've made my call, and will stand by it. Take it or leave it. Now go vote!
Bruce Alexander Knight is based in Portland, Oregon, United States of America,
and is a Stringer for Allvoices.