Professor Pundits: The Expectations Game

We’re almost to election day. What could happen in the last few days to significantly change the trajectory of the race? Well, historically, not much. But then again, the unexpected doesn’t usually give much notice. Middlebury “Professor Pundits” Bert Johnson and Matt Dickinson fill us in on expectations, the electoral college, and what to look for on election night in their final pre-election installment.

Matt and Bert will host an election-night gathering at the Grille in McCullough Student Center. Please join them if you’re in town, or follow their live-blogging and tweets. On Twitter, Matt is @Mattdickinson44 and Bert is @bnjohns.

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  1. Wondering what Bert thinks of the chances for Prop 37 (GMO labeling) in California. Monsanto, Dow, and their ilk have spent many millions on misleading tv ads over the past several weeks, with the pro-labeling/anti-GMO folks not able to afford tv ads until this weekend. Anti-GMO still has the lead, but that lead has shrunk with the biotech barrage; with phone campaigns and the new ads, pro-labeling groups hope to regain the size of their lead. Any ideas on how this might shake out?

    thanks!

  2. The polls seem to show the Prop 37 nos and yeses slipping into a statistical tie, which suggests that the odds for passage are getting slimmer. (The most recent poll I’ve seen is the USC/L.A. Times poll from Thursday, which shows 44 percent in favor and 42 percent against.) Generally speaking, most initiatives fail, so if there’s a tie, the best bet is against passage. Also, political science research (by Elisabeth Gerber, among others) has found that moneyed interests are significantly more successful at blocking initiatives than they are in getting their preferred initiatives passed. This could be a case of a successful “blocking” campaign.

  3. Matt:

    Those of us not at Midd were unable to attend your meeting last night when you were going to share your predictions, at least, I thought that what was going to happen.

    Did it? If so, do you want to post them here? Or, is it too early to place your bet?

    As a note, did you notice that RCP (which you seem to value over Rasmussen and Gallup, the more accurate of the bunch, historically) just put Mitt up by a hair? Also, Rasmussen has him up 2 points in Ohio (2 days in a row), which is a very new development.

    So, what say you?

  4. Hi Sheldon,

    Alas, due to Tropical Storm Sandy, my election talk was cancelled. I’m trying to see if I can reschedule it. If so, I will certainly post the new time on my presidential power blog site. Regarding polls, as I’ve noted before, I am a firm believer in not relying exclusively on any single one as providing “the truth”. But neither do I advocate throwing any poll out. That goes for both the national tracking polls and the state level polling in places like Ohio. At this point, my best read of the polls, one week out, is that the race is tied at the national level in the popular vote,

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    but that Obama is holding onto a slim electoral college cushion based on state level polls. Moreover, it is as probable that Obama will “flip” some states that I now put in Romney’s column as it is that Romney will steal Ohio from Obama, which he must almost certainly do to win the election. I do expect the discrepancy between the national and state-level polling to grow smaller as we get closer to Tuesday, although they may not ever fully align. This is not to say the election is a done deal – it is not. But there are very few undecided voters left, which means Romney must pin his hopes on having a better turnout game as well as winning slightly more of those undecideds than Obama does if Mitt hopes to pull this out.

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  5. Great straddle. Keep watching RCP…it is moving.

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We hope to create a lively discussion on MiddMag.com and invite you to add your voice. Please keep comments civil and relevant to the news item at hand. MiddMag.com may remove comments that do not follow these guidelines.

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