My guess: Romney to win 285-253

My hopeful prediction for the 2012 US election.

My hopeful prediction for the 2012 US election.

The BBC is one of various websites offering this fun graphic. It shows how difficult it’s going to be for Romney to win the White House… but, influenced by my own wishful thinking and a bit of psephology, here’s how I’m calling it.

Why for Romney? The party of religionistas and rednecks – not my favourite people at the best of times. But what America, in common with the entire Western world, needs right now isn’t vision or leadership so much as… a good accountant.

And if you look at how Romney handled healthcare in Massachusetts or spreadsheets in Salt Lake City, there’s only one choice. Romney is the man to balance the USA’s books – not his opponent, a nice-but-left-leaning statist whose answer to everything will always be “More Government”.

OK, polemicising over. As usual it’s all in the swing states, and nobody’s going to argue with my general shape. What I’m arguing with poll-wise is that the Republicans seem more fired up this time: my guess is that they underestimate Romney’s support by about 1.25%, with Democratic support falling off by the same amount. As predicted by every pollster for months, it’s all down to Ohio.

I call Pennsylvania for Obama. Romney’s made it a target in recent days, but I think its 20 Electoral College votes are far too much for the Mormon guy to hope for; the Dems are over 4% ahead. (I’m using polling data mainly from Politico, which tends to lean leftwards – a good foil for my rightward tendencies.)

Florida’s 29 votes though, I’m giving to Romney. Simply because he has to have them. But it’s also barely 1% behind in polling; get-out-the-vote should deliver the state for the Republicans. (Fairly this time.)

I’m also giving North Carolina to the Red team. It’s at the limit of my poll readjustment, but I don’t think the intelligentsia in the research triangle around Raleigh are going to cancel out the hordes heading to rural polling stations. 15 votes for Romney.

Virginia is a easier case: even Politico’s calculating barely 0.3% in Obama’s favour, so I’m calling its 13 votes for Romney.

Nevada’s six, however, I think sit on the Blue side. Much has been made of the Latino vote, but I think the retirees who’ve moved en masse to the beautiful desert also count for a lot… sadly not enough. Vegas goes to Obama.

Colorado I’m calling Republican. A 1.5% polling gap means a lot to play for in get-out-the-vote, and the snowy state has a lot of a) New Money who’ll vote Republican and b) Disgruntled blue-collar workers who voted for Obama last time but won’t tonight. 9 for Romney.

Iowa is the odd one: a white-bread rural State that’s far more finely balanced than its demographics would suggest. It’s right on the edge with a 2.5% gap, but I’m calling another six for Romney.

Wisconsin, though, seems to be staying Democratic. It’s odd – outside the liberal bastion of Madison it never looked very blue to me – but the polling gaps are wide, so it’s 10 more to Obama.

Which leaves the Big Prize: Ohio. It’ll also be among the first states to declare, which means we’ll basically know the result early on: if it stays Blue it’s all over bar the shouting. The gap seems alarmingly large in polling, around 3%, so this one is on the edge. A comfortable win for Obama and he’s got it in the bag. (A comfortable win for Romney means somebody cheated.)

But something about those 25,000-strong crowds last night suggests something odd’s going to happen. All my guesses today are based on what happens in Ohio.

Of course, the only thing I’ve got right here is the admission that I’m likely to be very, very wrong. But that’s elections for you.

I’ll be watching USA 2012 through the night… good luck America, and enjoy your democracy.

The day the Earth changed

I doubted… but at 3.15am this morning, I knew. When ultra-conservative white states like Iowa vote for Obama, it meant the game was up for the Republicans. Obama’s dream came true, thanks to a thousand details of decisionmaking and hard work.

Back in Chicago, Obama learnt the system, built his machine, worked it and made a difference in one of the most corrupt parts of the USA. During the candidacy, he organised again and beat a Democratic aristocracy at first opposed to him. In the campaign itself, he broke through racial barriers and appealed across the board, using the same skills of arranging things in order and getting things done.

If he can bring the same sense of organisation and discipline to the presidency, then he may be more than just the first black, or Hawaiian, or whatever else President; he may be one of the great ones. Another Lincoln. Or Roosevelt. He’s definitely got the spark in him.

Today the USA regains its dreams, and starts to live again. Well done, Obama.

Voting machines with a mind of their own

The Diebold machines already seem to be giving trouble… now, a machine failure I could understand, but flipping your candidate choice? Only weird when you consider a senior guy from this company is a prominent Republican. Grrr, what that party has done to the best of all political philosophies – enlightened self-interest, minimal government, and personal freedoms. A conservative party’s got to go pretty damn wrong for me to end up hoping a Democrat wins tonight.

Voting the Texan way

The Houston Chronicle has a useful article telling Texans how to vote. Amazingly, it doesn’t give Texas-centric advice – such as ‘Where it says punch a hole, this is not an invitation to use your six-shooter’, or ‘Only vote for the candidates with initials JM or SP’, but it’s still interesting to read just how complicated American voting forms are. It’s no wonder so many Americans voted for the wrong candidate last time.

But what’s that about being assigned a PIN number once you’ve identified yourself, which you then type into the voting machine before voting? “It is not used to…” Yeah, right. Does anybody, anywhere, seriously believe that such information isn’t recorded? And used?

The last 72 hours…

The time’s nearly here. I love American politics, and this is the most important election since the 60s: as far as the rest of the world is concerned, an Obama victory would basically wipe out the evils of the Bush years, and give the USA back the respect and admiration Dubya squandered so totally. But while the US’s mainly liberal press seems quietly confident, I still have nagging doubts. From day one I thought Obama would lead the campaign, but McCain would squeak through on election night. I hope I’m wrong; I fear I’m right.

Fortunately, some red states on the Eastern side – Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina and Florida – will declare before I get to bed on Tuesday, and if Obama wins any of these things start looking positive early on. McCain can’t afford to lose any of them. But Obama’s leads aren’t as big as the polls suggest: maybe a percent or two, but that could go up in a smoke of redneckism inside the polling booths. And that’s without outright voting fraud (as seems to have happened in 2000 and 2004; it’s a scandal that the USA’s intimidated press never really looked into the patterns of behaviour that led to Republican victories in Democrat-leaning little towns far from the TV cameras.) I’d say Obama is a long way from safety.

But I live in hope. Let’s have Obama for two terms and start the world healing. And politically, I’m not even a Democrat in the American sense.

Elephant in the room, or maybe a pit bull

Or maybe even a moose. The US elections are going pretty well for those of us outside the USA: Obama’s an exciting young healer, McCain’s a decent man, both could put America back on the right course.

But there’s something that we in Europe just don’t like to even think about.

The ultimate horror of….

….. a President Palin.

While John’s face is unlined and his spirit strong, he’s still pushing mid-seventies, and if the Republicans win next month – the lead isn’t that clear, Obamaniacs – she’s only a faltering heartbeat away from the Oval Office.

I mean, there we were thinking nothing could be as bad as the Bush years, yet a Prez Sarah ‘God buried the dinosaurs to test my faith’ Palin might be worse than Bush. Next to her, the rootin’-tootin, honky-tonk, rinky-dink yeehaw Dubya looks like an urbane liberal. On basically every newsworthy issue she’s either flat-out out wrong, intellectually incomplete, or just plain illogical.

Abortion. Nothing illustrates the differences between Britain and the USA so clearly as the abortion issue. In the USA it divides families and chooses senators; in the UK it’s barely even a debate, and Marie Stopes has just been honoured with a Royal Mail stamp.

Evolution. This young-earth creationist probably thinks the bible was written in English, like approximately 45% of the USA’s god theorists. Logic and rationality once again take a back seat to whatever feels right accordin’ to Momma. Risky. Very risky.

The god theory. A Palin presidency would mean the triumph of private feeling over rational decisionmaking. Anyone who understands religion at the meta level (‘why’ people believe – it’s a perfectly valid evolved trait, since shared beliefs allow societies and civilisations to form) gets frustrated by people who push their invisible friends as genuine explanations rather than comforting stories. And Palin’s a real get-the-kids-prayin’ type.

The War on Terror. Palin would be like Bush, only more so. Expect an Iran invasion within months, maybe Syria after that. Gotta keep those guns blazin’ at those nasty foreigners, ‘cos we sure as hell know what’s best for ’em. Worrying. At least she wouldn’t have Dick Cheney pulling her strings.

Hold on… a Palin presidency would mean a spare VP slot…

Oh dear.

Just do a switcheroo

Having thought about it, I think Joe Biden and Sarah Palin should just swap places. That’d give Americans a clear choice based on the factors people actually vote for – a) are they young, b) are they cute, and c) do they look like me. It’d be old crusty America versus young exciting America. C’mon guys, let’s add some spice to this campaign!

Palin for VP – but can she go around the world in 80 days?

Sarah who? The most unusual choice of VP since Dan Quayle seems to be leaving Americans abuzz and agog.

A small-town mayor and ex-beauty queen who married an Eskimo and whose kids are named Track, Trig, Bristol, Willow, and Piper? You couldn’t make this stuff up.

This could be disastrous, or it could be insane genius. In Joe Biden, Obama went safe by choosing an old white guy, so McCain’s gone all adventurous with a woman. What’s happening here? Is the real McCain – decent guy, maverick, loner – coming back and making his own decisions again?

Or it could all be really, really simple. Have you ever seen John McCain’s wife? There was a time… so perhaps it was a predictable choice after all. McCain just likes being surrounded by good-looking women. Well, considering Michelle Obama’s a babe too, this is going to be the hottest American election in decades. Actually, I’m not convinced this campaign is real, or just made-for-TV.