Biden will win. #Bigly. Trump is going down… but not in a way he’d like!

This column appeared on Broadsheet.ie on Oct 12th 2020. Here I take my courage in my hands and predict – three weeks out from the official US Presidential polling day – that Joe Biden will win the presidency… and win it comfortably.

This is less based on polling, though national polls continue to show Biden with a clear 7 – 9 pt lead over Trump, and is more predicated on the evidence from the Trump side that it knows its man is beaten and is now focused on challenging the authenticity of the result. The Trump campaign is spending billions so Trump can sit in his Maralago golf resort this time next year and tell himself: I didn’t lose, I was robbed!


When trying to forecast an election result a few weeks out from polling day political pundits protect themselves by saying well, this would be the result if people were voting tomorrow, but there are still a few weeks to go and anything could happen.

But, when it comes to this American presidential election, people are voting tomorrow, just as they were voting today, yesterday, last week and even back to mid-September.

According to Vote.org, 27 States are already voting in person and/or have totally mail-in ballots. 9 out of the 50 States have been open for early voting from six weeks before the November 3 polling date, including Pennsylvania, Illinois, Virginia and New Jersey. Early voting started in California a week ago.   

Over 9 million Americans have already voted, this is 8 – 10 times as many as voted this early in 2016. In five states the number of ballots already returned is more than 20% of the 2016 turnout.

Continue reading “Biden will win. #Bigly. Trump is going down… but not in a way he’d like!”

Mitt Romney heading to White House… but just to visit

Mitt Romney heading to White house

I snapped this pic of Mitt Romney on my Nokia phone just outside The Warner Theatre on Pennsylvania Ave, DC. He was on his way to the nearby White House for lunch with President Obama.

As soon as Florida became too close to call, it was all over

My take on the US Presidential election results from tonight’s Evening Herald

My Evening Herald column on the Obama victory night

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half!” If this is how Henry Ford felt about his cash you can only imagine how the campaign treasurers in both American parties feel about 90% of theirs.

Last January polls showed Obama and Romney in a statistical dead heat within a point or two of each other. Ten months and some €4.7billion of campaign spending later and the two parties appeared to have hardly budged an inch.

Watching the early results in the Presidential and Congressional come in this morning you had to wonder did either candidate or party get value for its money.

On Monday I said that I though Obama would win and that he would win the majority of the so called battleground States. While I was fully confident of that view when I penned it last Monday, I did have one brief  moment of doubt last night.

It came by way of a stern but firm Facebook message from an old friend in New York. He said he thought that Romney might just shade it. His comments came as a bit of a shock as my mate is no political novice and is usually a good judge of these things.

The first key result I was waiting for was Virginia. While Obama could win the election without winning in Virginia it would be a good early indicator of how the election was going.

According to the US TV networks they would be ready to make a prediction, based on exit polls, about 30 minutes after midnight Irish time.

The final pre election polls had Obama set to win it by around 2%, but that was inside the margin of error.  The exit polls would tell all. My heart sank a little when the Networks declared Virginia too close to call at the appointed time.

Could my mate be right? Could it be that Romney had managed to claw back enough to reverse Obama’s small lead? Virginia was not essential or critical to an Obama win, but it might be an indication of other problems.

The uncertainty lasted about thirty minutes. Soon reports started to emerge that Florida was too close to call. On Monday I had predicted it would go to Romney. Almost every polling company had been calling it for Romney for weeks, yet the reports coming out from precincts and districts across the State were saying that it was neck and neck.

Latino, women and young voters were coming out for Obama in bigger numbers and by wider margin than predicted. Obama had been expected to get about 66% of the latino voter, but the exit polls were not putting it at 71%..

Florida was the third easiest State for Romney to win from Obama, yet it was going to Obama, though only just. Of the swing sates only two: Indiana and North Carolina went to Romney, the rest stuck with the President.

In each case the margin was tight, but in America’s first past the post system, the winner takes it all.

By a little after 3.00am is was virtually all over. While there were several races still too close to call, all were favouring the President. Obama had not won the magic 270 electoral college votes but it looks now that there was almost no mathematical possibility of Romney reaching it.

While he was not losing them by large margins the States were being stacked up against Romney.  By 4am it was all over once Ohio was called for Obama. With that Romney’s last remaining hope was quashed. While a few diehard Republicans refused to accept the prediction it was over and so Election 2012 ended with a stronger Electoral College victory for Obama, 332 to 206, than even I dared imagine a few days ago.

Why I’m convinced Obama is on course for a second term.

My column predicting an Obama victory from today’s Evening Herald   

My Herald Column Calling The Election For Obama

 

To quote Niels Bohr: “Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.” Though I’m loathe to disagree with a Nobel prize-winner, when your editor asks for a prediction you don’t reply: don’t know.

While national polls show the US Presidential election as a dead heat, I reckon Obama will make it. The two keys to forecasting US elections are polls in the nine battleground states and voter turnout.

It is the “electoral college” system. Get the most votes in a State and you get all its “electoral college [EC] votes”. The votes allotted are weighted roughly according to the States population with the winner being the one to get 270.

The system is far from perfect. You can win the election without a national majority. It happened in 2000 when Bush beat Gore by 271 EC votes to 266, while getting 544,000 fewer votes nationally. It may happen again this time.

The campaigns are framed accordingly. President Obama jokingly acknowledged this truth at the Al Smith dinner in New York saying: “In less than three weeks, voters in states like Ohio, Virginia and Florida will decide this incredibly important election, which begs the question, what are we doing here?”

Last night’s State polls show Romney likely to take just one of these: Florida, but trailing the President in the other two. Like Meath, Ohio is seen as a bellwether state. No Republican has ever won without winning Ohio and Obama’s lead there looks solid.

Over the next 24 hours, ahead of polls closing on election day tomorrow, both campaigns will be focussed on their GOTV campaigns – getting out their vote. This is still crucial even though around 20% of likely voters (approx 29 million people) have already cast their ballots.

Obama’s handling of the Hurricane Sandy crisis plus the sight of him working with one of his staunchest Republican critics: New Jersey’s Gov Chris Christie cannot have hurt his chances.

Just in the same way as Romney had started to surge before the first debate, Obama had started to regain ground before Sandy hit. Each event was not the catalyst for a bounce it was what encapsulated something already in progress.

Even before the first debate Romney was closing the gap with Obama, particularly with women voters. The Obama campaign had spent millions over the Summer on TV ads portraying Romney as an aloof, remote right winger, using his own words from the primaries to indict him. The Republican convention and Romney’s selection of arch fiscal conservative, Paul Ryan, as his running mate did not help dispel the image.

But as soon as he hit the campaign trail proper Romney eased his message. Gone was the tea-party rhetoric that won him the nomination: in its place the more emollient, stern but fair tone that had made him a moderate Governor.

Women, particularly married women and mothers, started to rally to his cause as they heard him talk about rebuilding America and securing their children’s future. Obama’s double digit lead amongst woman was slashed to about 6%. This is roughly the same amount by which Romney led Obama amongst white men.

By contrast Obama has a 2 to 1 lead among Latino/Hispanic voters, an increasingly important constituency, and a 20 to 1 lead with African-Americans. Getting both groups to the polls in numbers could clinch it for him.

I could go on quoting polls of other groups. Under 35s, veterans, middle class etc, but let me close with a slightly more bit quirky one. Asking voters who they think will win has, in previous elections, been seen to be a better indicator of an election result than asking them who they plan to support.

This time around voters, by a double digit margin, think Obama will beat Romney. It may not be quite as scientific but it, and my gut instinct, convinces me Obama is on course for a second term.

ENDS

“Bayonets and horses” one-liner wins debate for Obama, but will it impress voters

My take on the third and final presidential debate between President Barack Obama and Gov Mitt Romney, from tonight;s Evening Herald.  The print edition features an abridged version of the full piece below.

 

If recent polls are right then last night’s presidential debate outcome will please about 95% of us, even if a deal on Irish bank debt never made the agenda!

Derek Mooney column as it appeared in print version

In their third encounter President Obama again came out on top, but Romney was not too far behind. While Obama has been slipping in the polls since even before the first debate, he still leads Romney on the issue of foreign relations and he showed why last night.

He has, after all, been dealing with foreign affairs for the past four years, while Romney has just been studying it for the past few months. President Obama is the man who took the US out of Iraq, the man who focused on finding and eliminating of Bin Ladin. Then again George Bush I was the man who presided over the fall of communism and drove Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait, but found his re-election bid frustrated by the weakened economy.

Last night’s confrontation was not nearly as fierce as the previous debate, partly because it focussed on foreign affairs, but largely because the two men were seated throughout.

For this rsason their individual body language was not as noticeable as it had been last time. Their words had to carry the force of their argument – and they did. Both went on the attack – Obama attacked Romney’s grasp of the issues, while Romney dismissed the President’s foreign policy record as faltering.

Obama had the one-liner of the night. He countered Romney’s criticism that the US Navy has fewer ships now that it had 1916: ad libbing that they also had fewer bayonets and horses. Obama’s prepared put down saying that Romney’s foreign policy was from the 80s, his social policy was from the 50s and his economic policy was from the 20s was good, but not as effective.

The reality that dare not speak its name last night is the fact that foreign relations is not nearly as important as everyone likes to pretend.

Despite the high flown rhetoric from both on America’s place in the world, this election is about the contents of the ordinary man or woman’s wallet – no other issue comes closer.

Yes, America’s attitudes to the Middle East, Libya, Afghanistan and Syria are important, but these will not decide the outcome of this election, jobs and living standards will.

The two candidates as good as admitted this as they wove the economy and domestic concerns into their replies. The purpose of the debate was not so much to debate foreign policy, but to see how both candidates could handle complex issues.

As with the past two debates the role of the moderator was almost as important as the performances of the two contenders. Across the three debates it has had something of a Goldilocks quality to it. In the first Jim Lehrer was judged to have taken a bit of a back seat. Candy Crowley, the moderator of the second debate was accused of taking too big a role in the encounter, framing supplementary questions and, most notably, pulling up Gov Romney on his alleged misquoting of the President.

If Lehrer and Crowley had made the presidential porridge too cold or too hot, last night’s moderator, veteran news man Bob Schieffer, worked to get the balance just right. Schieffer was more forceful than his close friend Lehrer in enforcing the agreed rules, but was less interventionist than Crowley.

Most american commentators agree that these have been the most exciting debates in decades, but they have not done much to reduce the numbers of undecided voters.

As in previos elections the debates have envigorated those whi have already decided who they will support. The battle for undecideds will be won or lost on the ground in a handful of states, particularly Ohio.

The outcome of this election will be tight, the next fortnight will be fraught.

ENDS.

Obama lost first TV battle – but he’s still on course to win the war

My analysis of Wednesday night’s US Presidential Debate from tonight’s Evening Herald (Oct 4th 2012) .

—————————————————————————————————————-

Before last night’s Obama/Romney debate the American political rulebook said that debates do not swing elections. While the debates can give a candidate a short term bounce, the trend after the debates tends to be the same as the trend before them.

Sesame Street
Obama never mentioned Romney’s infamous 47%, though it seems Big Bird and pals are part of it.

Without a doubt Romney had a good night. But nothing happened in Denver to change the political rulebook. While commentators, especially the network TV ones, like to think that TV debates swing elections, the reality is that they haven’t.

Yes, there have been some incidents like President Bush Sr’s constant looking at his watch at the 1992 debate or President Ford’s assertion in the 1976 debate against Jimmy Carter that eastern Europe was not dominated by the USSR, but none of these reversed the course of the elections.

Bush Sr had started to lose ground to Clinton before the debate. Ford was trailing Carter badly by the time they debated. Indeed Ford only agreed to the debate because he was behind. Though we think these TV debates have been the norm in the US since the famous Nixon/Kennedy debates of 1960, the 1976 Carter/ Ford one was the first in 16 years.

Presidential debates by their nature tend to favour the challenger. The format raises the challenger’s status presenting the two candidates as equals. The challenger can put the President on the back foot by going on the attack and picking apart the incumbent’s record.

That is what Romney did last night, and he did it effectively.

While the current race is relatively tight, the polls have favoured Obama since before the summer. As with Carter in 1980 the Democrats should be in trouble. Polling suggests that Americans believe their country is on the wrong track by a margin of almost 20%. Optimism is on the decline. Only 43% of middle class Americans expect that their children’s standard of living will be better than their own. This compares to 51% four years ago.

These numbers should be poison for Obama and the Democrats and make the election a slam dunk for the Republicans, except the same Americans either do not understand or do not believe the alternative vision offered by Romney.

Romney’s people know this. He went into last night’s debate with a mission to change American’s views of him. He did himself some good in that regard. He not only went on the attack on Obama’s record he also scored several points in denying the Democrats portrayal of him as a tax cutter for the rich. The issue for him is that he did this at the expense of discussing the details of his alternative.

Perhaps his position behind Obama convinced him that he had nothing to lose with this approach, but the other risk for Romney is that his lurch to the centre may mean leaving some right wing voters at home?

In contrast, Obama seemed aloof and remote. He was reluctant to attack and take Romney on directly. This may have been a deliberate tactic. His people may have felt that scrapping and politicking with Romney wouldn’t look Presidential – he never mentioned Romney’s 47% remarks even once – however, it also meant that he allowed several very answerable attacks on his record go unchallenged.

While Romney didn’t land a knock out blow, he did win in terms of punches landed. He also did well in terms of appearance and body language, he dominated the debate. These things matter. This is television after all. We get as much information from what we see as what we hear.

Arguably the real impact these debates will have will be down to the clips the TV news shows choose to use in the coming days, though neither man gave a hostage to fortune.  The late night comics will have fun with Romney’s threat to cut public funding for PBS and Big Bird, but I don’t see last night’s rather boring exchanges as switching anyone’s vote.

Romney may have won the debate – but I reckon he will still lose the election

ENDS

Obama lost first TV battle – but he’s still on course to win the war

My analysis of Wednesday night’s US Presidential Debate from tonight’s Evening Herald (Oct 4th 2012) .

—————————————————————————————————————-

Before last night’s Obama/Romney debate the American political rulebook said that debates do not swing elections. While the debates can give a candidate a short term bounce, the trend after the debates tends to be the same as the trend before them.

Sesame Street
Obama never mentioned Romney’s infamous 47%, though it seems Big Bird and pals are part of it.

Without a doubt Romney had a good night. But nothing happened in Denver to change the political rulebook. While commentators, especially the network TV ones, like to think that TV debates swing elections, the reality is that they haven’t.

Yes, there have been some incidents like President Bush Sr’s constant looking at his watch at the 1992 debate or President Ford’s assertion in the 1976 debate against Jimmy Carter that eastern Europe was not dominated by the USSR, but none of these reversed the course of the elections.

Bush Sr had started to lose ground to Clinton before the debate. Ford was trailing Carter badly by the time they debated. Indeed Ford only agreed to the debate because he was behind. Though we think these TV debates have been the norm in the US since the famous Nixon/Kennedy debates of 1960, the 1976 Carter/ Ford one was the first in 16 years.

Presidential debates by their nature tend to favour the challenger. The format raises the challenger’s status presenting the two candidates as equals. The challenger can put the President on the back foot by going on the attack and picking apart the incumbent’s record.

That is what Romney did last night, and he did it effectively.

While the current race is relatively tight, the polls have favoured Obama since before the summer. As with Carter in 1980 the Democrats should be in trouble. Polling suggests that Americans believe their country is on the wrong track by a margin of almost 20%. Optimism is on the decline. Only 43% of middle class Americans expect that their children’s standard of living will be better than their own. This compares to 51% four years ago.

These numbers should be poison for Obama and the Democrats and make the election a slam dunk for the Republicans, except the same Americans either do not understand or do not believe the alternative vision offered by Romney.

Romney’s people know this. He went into last night’s debate with a mission to change American’s views of him. He did himself some good in that regard. He not only went on the attack on Obama’s record he also scored several points in denying the Democrats portrayal of him as a tax cutter for the rich. The issue for him is that he did this at the expense of discussing the details of his alternative.

Perhaps his position behind Obama convinced him that he had nothing to lose with this approach, but the other risk for Romney is that his lurch to the centre may mean leaving some right wing voters at home?

In contrast, Obama seemed aloof and remote. He was reluctant to attack and take Romney on directly. This may have been a deliberate tactic. His people may have felt that scrapping and politicking with Romney wouldn’t look Presidential – he never mentioned Romney’s 47% remarks even once – however, it also meant that he allowed several very answerable attacks on his record go unchallenged.

While Romney didn’t land a knock out blow, he did win in terms of punches landed. He also did well in terms of appearance and body language, he dominated the debate. These things matter. This is television after all. We get as much information from what we see as what we hear.

Arguably the real impact these debates will have will be down to the clips the TV news shows choose to use in the coming days, though neither man gave a hostage to fortune.  The late night comics will have fun with Romney’s threat to cut public funding for PBS and Big Bird, but I don’t see last night’s rather boring exchanges as switching anyone’s vote.

Romney may have won the debate – but I reckon he will still lose the election

ENDS