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Published on October 25th, 2012

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Obama vs. Romney: Who Will Win?

Tuesday, November 6 is the big day all political scientists are looking forward to. This is when the 57th presidential election in the United States takes place. The incumbent Barack Obama (Democratic Party) meets head to head with his challenger Mitt Romney (Republican Party), and the big question is: who will win?

Different people predict different outcomes. If one looks at the gambling community, the odds favor a Democratic victory. However, Professors Kenneth Bickers (Boulder) and Michael Berry (Denver) have an election forecasting model which predicts Romney as the winner. This model takes into account state-level economic data.

However, the US is changing and it is becoming more and more difficult to predict the outcome of elections on scientific models or gamblers’ inside knowledge. We in Popular Social Science have interviewed an expert on the subject, namely Virginia native professor Jennifer L. Bailey.

According to Bailey there are three factors that are of uttermost importance, namely moving patterns (within the US), the ideological divide, and race.

Starting with the first, the US is a country with a high degree of internal migration. One cannot look at the nation-wide opinion polls, one need to break it down state-wise. As most are readers are familiar with, some states are considered more or less permanently red (Republican, the South and Middle-America), while some are permanently blue (Democrat, the West and North-East). Also, there is a tendency that urban areas vote Democrat while rural vote Republican.

What is important here are the states that are up for grabs, and the most important of these are the ones with the most electoral votes, namely Florida and Ohio.

Florida has a total of 29 electoral votes. It is a diverse state, traditionally belonging to the south, but with an increasing conservative Hispanic population, as well as internal migrants from the northeast. The latter category includes a lot of elderly and Jewish people, who have tended to vote for the Democratic candidate.  However, the polls suggest that Florida is leaning towards Mitt Romney.

Ohio, on the other hand is still considered a “light blue” state. Still, its population includes many small business owners who have been hurt by the economy. Bailey’s tip here is that the candidate who manages to convince the undecided voters that things will take a turn for the better with their plan, may manage to win Ohio (with its 18 electoral votes).

 

Race is also an issue. People in today’s US are set back by the relative decrease of whites, whether they will admit it or not. The US is not what they grew up with, and race is a component of this. Also, attitude toward the role of government is a main bone of contention in the 2012 election. The Democrats tend to hold states where there is more government presence, while red states are often hostile to unions. There is definitely a split in the country.

The US is changing rapidly, which makes it difficult to predict. The election will be a battle over the undecided and also to get your own people to show up at the polling stations. Bailey predicts that the campaign that is most successful in “getting out the vote” is the one that will win. When asked directly who will win this election, she replies “Obama, but it is going to be close”.

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