Friday, October 31, 2008

Will Barack break 50%?

So, as I write this, we're four days out from the 2008 presidential election. As I wrote two years ago, Democratic presidential candidates never get above half of the popular vote unless there has been sufficient national trauma to drive voters to them. While the last two years have seen soaring gas prices (which have come back down quite a bit), bailouts, a continuing war in Iraq, and more, I'm not sure that any of those things constitute the kind of crisis that makes the Democrats a majority party.

In discussions with friends a few months ago, I first made a prediction that Barack Obama would win the presidential election with 44% of the popular vote. I assumed that Ron Paul or some other spoiler, combined with conservative loathing of John McCain, would cause enough of a split in the right half of the country to create such a result.

As of Halloween, no such spoiler appears likely. Ron Paul is not on the ballot in very many places, and no other candidate will get anywhere near 1% of the vote. I still predict that, barring a major surprise between today and Tuesday, Barack Obama will be elected.

However, this is still a very divided nation. I wouldn't be surprised to see a repeat of 2000, where the winner of the popular vote is not the winner of the electoral vote.

Looking at the most recent polls, the ones I was able to find indicate about a 49-42 popular vote split for the two, with the remainder presumably undecided or 'other'.

That bodes well for an Obama majority. Assuming, of course, that Obama supporters are not more likely to refuse to answer pollsters or lie to them, that they come out to vote, and that the polls are otherwise accurate.

So, I don't think that 44% will happen. But 48-49% - with victory - wouldn't surprise me at all.