Michael Barone: “Romney beats Obama, handily”
Here's a Saturday morning salve for all of you sweating this most important presidential election of our lifetimes: Michael Barone, political statistician extraordinaire, says Romney will beat Obama handily.
Fundamentals usually prevail in American elections. That's bad news for Barack Obama. True, Americans want to think well of their presidents and many think it would be bad if Americans were perceived as rejecting the first black president.
But it's also true that most voters oppose Obama's major policies and consider unsatisfactory the very sluggish economic recovery -- Friday's jobs report showed an unemployment uptick.
Also, both national and target state polls show that independents, voters who don't identify themselves as Democrats or Republicans, break for Romney.
That might not matter if Democrats outnumbered Republicans by 39 to 32 percent, as they did in the 2008 exit poll. But just about every indicator suggests that Republicans are more enthusiastic about voting -- and about their candidate -- than they were in 2008, and Democrats are less so.
That's been apparent in early or absentee voting, in which Democrats trail their 2008 numbers in target states Virginia, Ohio, Iowa and Nevada.
The Obama campaign strategy, from the beginning, has recognized these handicaps, running barrages of early anti-Romney ads in states that Obama carried narrowly. But other states, not so heavily barraged, have come into contention.
Which candidate will get the electoral votes of the target states? I'll go out on a limb and predict them, in ascending order of 2008 Obama percentages -- fully aware that I'm likely to get some wrong. [...]