Alan Abramowitz, the Alben W. Barkley Professor of Political Science, has released his forecast for the outcome of the presidential election this November. Abramowitz, who has accurately predicted the popular vote winner of every presidential election since 1988, says incumbent President Barack Obama will win the election by a close margin of about 1.2 percent.
Abramowitz based his forecast on statistical analysis composed of the candidate’s approval rating at the end of June, the growth of the economy and the value of the “incumbency factor,” which refers to the advantage a candidate will have simply for being the candidate that voters are familiar with.
“The Democratic constituency is just larger than the Republicans’ and encompasses far more different types of people,” Abramowitz said. “Even if Romney receives the maximum turnout from white Republican voters, he won’t win.”
In the past, the incumbency factor has meant more, according to Abramowitz. But more recently, the value of merely being the incumbent candidate has decreased because of the stark polarization — the division of voters into political extremes — of the American voting public.
While Abramowitz has made his prediction about two months before the election takes place, he said that a very dramatic event would have to occur to change what he believes will be the outcome of the election.
He said, for example, that a foreign policy crisis between now and November would probably benefit Obama, while a relapse back into the economic recession would help Romney. However, about 95 percent of people have already made up their minds about their candidate of choice, Abramowitz said.
Abramowitz predicts that Obama will carry all of the swing states, or those that do not necessarily lean one way or the other, that he carried in 2008.
However, out of the three very closely divided swing states that will most likely determine the outcome of the election — Florida, Ohio and Virginia — Obama will carry all three or at least two out of the three because of his incumbency advantage, according to Abramowitz.
Voters, he said, will look back on the state of the economy when Obama took the office and most likely blame former President George W. Bush for the recession.
In addition, he predicts voters in Michigan and Ohio will think of Obama favorably because of the auto industry bailout during his term in those states that rescued millions of jobs.
Abramowitz also added that he thinks Romney has had issues connecting with America on a personal level.
“Romney’s not impressive in that he doesn’t relate with the normal American,” he said. “He’s very far out of touch with the average person with ordinary concerns.”
While the 2008 election brought out record numbers of young voters, the 2012 election will most likely not bring out as many young voters because President Obama will have lost the excitement factor of being a first-time president, Abramowitz said.
However, he predicted, Obama will still win the majority of the youth and minority vote because he will energize the base through “Get Out the Vote” voter registration drives and by working to convince young people and minorities that many of his policies will benefit them.
“Obama’s strategy will be to prove that Romney’s policies will have a detrimental effect on youth and minorities,” Abramowitz said. “In terms of education, immigration and gay rights, Romney will definitely hurt young people and minorities.”
In comparison to other presidential elections, Abramowitz said he feels this election was the most polarizing of the recent elections. Romney and Obama embody extreme ideological positions for the country in terms of their respective Republican and Democratic platforms.
Therefore, Abramowitz said, they are polarizing voters into either Republicans or Democrats, without diversifying their positions to appeal to more Independent voters whose voting preferences may not exactly match the views of the candidates.
According to Abramowitz, the Republican Party has moved Romney toward expressing more conservative positions.
Without having moved back toward the center, he chose Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan as a running mate. Abramowitz considers this a mistake because Ryan, an extreme conservative, will not help Romney get any voters he would not have already gotten.
Because conservatives are so anti-Obama, Abramowitz said, they would have voted for Romney even if he did not have Ryan on his ticket.
— By Anusha Ravi