NOV 2, 2012 • BY JAY COST
When I started making election predictions eight years ago, I had a very different perspective than I do today. I knew relatively little about the history of presidential elections or the geography of American politics. I had a good background in political science and statistics. So, unsurprisingly in retrospect, I focused on drawing confidence intervals from poll averages.
Since then, I have learned substantially more history, soured somewhat on political science as an academic discipline, and have become much more skeptical of public opinion polls. Both political science and the political polls too often imply a scientific precision that I no longer think actually exists in American politics. I have slowly learned that politics is a lot more art than science than I once believed.
Accordingly, what follows is a prediction based on my interpretation of the lay of the land. I know others see it differently–and they could very well be right, and I could be wrong.
I think Mitt Romney is likely to win next Tuesday.
For two reasons:
(1) Romney leads among voters on trust to get the economy going again.
(2) Romney leads among independents.
Let’s take each point in turn.
Romney’s advantage on the economy. This to me is pretty straightforward. Take the recent NPR poll, which was a bipartisan survey conducted by Resurgent Republic and Democracy Corps. It found Obama’s job approval rating on the economy to be underwater, 47-52. The poll also found Mitt Romney to be more trusted on the economy over Obama, 50 to 46 percent.
Poll after poll, I generally see the same thing. Romney has an edge on the economy. That includes most of the state polls.