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So, here is the official, no-refunds-offered Philosopher's Tree prediction of the outcome of tomorrow's 2012 US Presidential election.
I predict a win for Obama, with possibly a slightly wider margin than might be expected.
1. It is difficult for an incumbent to lose a Presidential election in America. Only Jimmy Carter (Dem) and George Bush Senior (Rep) have done so in the post-war era.
2. The most recent opinion polls show a slight increase in Obama's popularity in the days immediately running up to Tuesday's election.
3. Mitt Romney's policy vacillations over years will ultimately damage his electability. In a way, this is unfortunate as Romney has merely responded democratically to the mood of the voters in the different contexts he has carried out his politics: in Massachusetts (arguably the most liberal state in America) he had to endorse some fairly liberal policies in order to succeed as a Republican Governor in a Democratic state. Indeed, the Massachusetts state health plan created by Romney when he was Governor was the blueprint for Obama's controversial health reforms a few years later. Then, in order to secure the Republican nomination for President, Romney had to swing to the right to appease the Tea Party lobby who now dominate the grass roots of the party. Finally, in order to be elected President, he has had to move to the centre to appeal to more mainstream voters. This process has damaged him electorally, leaving him open to the charge of being neither one thing nor another.
4. Romney's evasiveness on his personal income tax record, combined with one or two major media gaffes such as deriding "the 47%" of the population who he claimed depend on the government for a living, have hardened opposition to him among swing voters.
5. Late high-profile endorsements. Former Republican Secretary of State Colin Powell's backing for Obama is significant, as is that of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg - a Republican now turned Independent - who has praised the President's record on education, health care and climate change.
6. The Sandy Factor. Assuming that the power is back on in New York and New Jersey by Tuesday, the political winds arising from the recent Hurricane are likely to be blowing in Obama's direction. He does not seem to have put a foot wrong in his response to the crisis, looking every bit the competent and caring man in charge.
As always, watch out for voting in Ohio, which is usually a bell weather state. If Obama wins in Pennsylvania and Virginia, it will certainly mean it is all over for Romney. I predict a Democratic win in at least one of these latter two states.
See you on Wenesday for the post-match analysis.
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