Love him or hate, you can’t argue that Rove knows his stuff. So, what does he say about how this Tuesday will turn out?
It comes down to numbers. And in the final days of this presidential race, from polling data to early voting, they favor Mitt Romney.
He maintains a small but persistent polling edge. As of yesterday afternoon, there had been 31 national surveys in the previous seven days. Mr. Romney led in 19, President Obama in seven, and five were tied. Mr. Romney averaged 48.4%; Mr. Obama, 47.2%. The GOP challenger was at or above 50% in 10 polls, Mr. Obama in none
Being under 50 percent is a bad place for an incumbent to be in. The bottom line is Obama is in a weak position with just two and half weekdays left before Election Day.
Some will say, “But what about Ohio?” or “National polls are irrelevant,” or “Look at the early voting!” Well, let’s look.
Adrian Gray, who oversaw the Bush 2004 voter-contact operation and is now a policy analyst for a New York investment firm, makes the point that as of Tuesday, 530,813 Ohio Democrats had voted early or had requested or cast an absentee ballot. That’s down 181,275 from four years ago. But 448,357 Ohio Republicans had voted early or had requested or cast an absentee ballot, up 75,858 from the last presidential election.
That 257,133-vote swing almost wipes out Mr. Obama’s 2008 Ohio victory margin of 262,224. Since most observers expect Republicans to win Election Day turnout, these early vote numbers point toward a Romney victory in Ohio. They are also evidence that Scott Jennings, my former White House colleague and now Romney Ohio campaign director, was accurate when he told me that the Buckeye GOP effort is larger than the massive Bush 2004 get-out-the-vote operation.
By no means am I suggesting Romney supporters take victory for granted. We’ll need a massive effort to counter Obama’s ground game. But, how are things looking from a combination of statistical and anecdotal evidence?
My prediction: Sometime after the cock crows on the morning of Nov. 7, Mitt Romney will be declared America’s 45th president. Let’s call it 51%-48%, with Mr. Romney carrying at least 279 Electoral College votes, probably more.