The current discussions as to which side is leading in the race for the Presidency between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama can be interpreted in either candidate’s favor. Republicans will quote those polls showing Mitt Romney with a narrow lead while the Democrats quote the polls where Barack Obama with a slight lead. But the poll reports are hiding the one count that really elects a President, the Electoral College votes. The Electoral College count is decisively in favor of Barack Obama by a count, if the polls in individual states are accurate, by 242 to150 in the most lopsided prediction we’ve seen to as close as 217 to 191 in one of the closer polls from among the 538 electoral votes with 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House. That leaves Mitt Romney needing to win an additional 79 to 120 votes of the remaining 146 votes which are considered still in play in the twelve swing states while Barack Obama need only 28 to 53 additional votes. The two main swing states are Florida with 29 and Ohio with 18. This means that Mitt Romney would need to win at least one of these two critical states as these alone would very likely place President Obama safely back in the White House for a second term. These little inconvenient facts should have the GOP and Romney supporters scrambling to find some way of placing more states into the undecided column from the Obama column as well as concentrating on every one of the swing states as well as anywhere they have even the slightest possibility of catching and surpassing President Obama by November.
Most polls agree the swing states still in play are Wisconsin with 10, Colorado with 9, Virginia with 13, North Carolina with 15, New Hampshire with 4, Iowa with 6, Ohio with 18, Florida with 29, Nevada with 6, and possibly Pennsylvania with 20. These states have 130 Electoral Votes in total from which President Obama need take about one third of the votes while Mitt Romney will need closer to three fourths. This places Mitt Romney with the steeper hill to climb but should gas prices spike without any Middle East wars or revolutions breaking out or the job numbers continue to lack any improvement, that climb will become a much easier grade to climb but still require a fair effort. What helps Mitt Romney reach the necessary Electoral College majority has been hashed out endlessly over the Republican primaries as well as since whenever new poll numbers are released. Stressing the economy, jobs, sluggish housing market, and general feelings of what we referred to during the Carter Presidency as malaise are the Romney ticket to the White House. Did we mention jobs and the economy? Also, should inflation rear its ugly head, Romney will be able to pound that as well.
So, barring a rapid and decided economic recovery and stark drop in unemployment that is accompanied by a sharp rise in employment numbers, what else could President Obama have happen that would raise his chances of grabbing the necessary additional Electoral College votes? Listening to the news one would likely say that the above items are the only hope the President has for reelection, but that is not entirely accurate. There are other events and possibilities which easily could affect the November elections. Unless something unforeseen drastically changes things in either Iraq or Afghanistan, neither one should figure prominently in the election. In both cases President Obama can point to some success and having brought both conflicts to an end. Since neither Iraq or Afghanistan have been sterling successes, I doubt President Obama will even bother to mention either and as they have not proven yet to be unmitigated disasters, neither will Romney have any use for them as an issue. But there are some events out of the Middle East which could very seriously change the election results.
The first one would be should Iran test a nuclear weapon before the election, that might very well torpedo any hope President Obama has for a second term as he would appear to be totally incompetent for not having taken any precautions to prevent such despite repeatedly claiming that he would never allow Iran to acquire such abilities. An Iranian nuclear weapon would be a glaring and undeniable disaster showing President Obama as incapable in handling foreign and world affairs. If, on the other hand, Iran were to launch an attack on Israel or on our fleets in the Middle East and President Obama reacted swiftly and decisively, this might very well guarantee his reelection. Should he not react decisively, or in the case of an attack on Israel, not react at all, then his reelection hope would likely be sunk. The same would apply to any other county launching an unprovoked attack upon Israel; President Obama’s action or lack thereof would figure prominently in determining the November election results. If Egypt were to fall into complete chaos and have violence similar to the current events in Syria that too would reflect poorly on President Obama and could be used by Mitt Romney in his campaign to great advantage. Should Iran launch an attack on Saudi Arabia or any of the other members of the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) that too would require determined reactions from President Obama with the results mirroring if the attack had been on Israel. As far as the Arab Spring turning out to be more of an Arab Winter, that will not likely do much damage to President Obama’s reelection hopes. Neither will the continuing violence that currently grips a band across Africa on both sides of the southern edges of the Sahara Desert and in the Horn of Africa as that area has not received much attention in the press and the terror and civil strikes and strife in that region has been slowly simmering but has yet to break into open warfare. This is an area that the next President may find the need to address as the intensity is closing in on a point where it will make news within the next two or three years should things continue to escalate.
What other foreign events might sneak their way into the mix before November? There is Europe which is teetering on the brink of insolvency. Should the European Union collapse or the Euro completely go bust and become near worthless against other world currencies, these might have some affect. Such events would heavily depend on two things, how much importance and coverage these events would receive by the mainstream media and exactly what the President and Congress chose to do about such actions. Should the European monetary problems be contained and the bailouts work as hoped or solely with the dismissal of Greece from membership in the European Union and from the Euro exchange, then Europe will likely be seen as a nonevent. Should France, Spain and Italy all go over the edge and have severe problems or if Germany decided to go it alone and refuse to assist her European neighbors, then President Obama would face a difficult situation. If, by some miracle, he could take effective steps and relieve the economic distress, though how I have no idea, then he would be lauded as a savior and easily win reelection. Anything short of this and the President would be open for serious criticism. Such a crisis in Europe would have no easy solution and be a damned if you do, damned if you don’t scenario. In such a case of economic collapse in Europe, whatever President Obama chose, either intervention or avoidance, either could be used by Mitt Romney with a host of arguments on how the opposite would have been wiser and safer for the United States. Europe has the potential to be very destructive to President Obama’s reelection and the best he can hope for is that Europe continues to hold on financially until after the elections.
The last item which has but a remote chance of taking a toll and having meaning this fall would be the Occupy Movement. Should these protests return at some point this summer or even if they explode only at one or both party conventions, how such protests are handled could affect the election results. This would be especially true if the Occupy Movement were to continue to plague the campaigns of either or both candidates this fall. The likelihood that such protests could work in the favor of President Obama is unlikely unless they were to provide him with a stage to appear Presidential and if such demonstration also were kept from turning violent. If the Occupy Movement were to reassert itself and have violent demonstration throughout the major cities and disrupt daily life for the residents and shut down parts of major cities, then President Obama would face question from the Republicans and conservative groups as to why he had not reacted and put an end to the disruptions. If, on the other hand, the President did act against the Occupy Movement demonstrators, then he would run the risk of alienating a portion of his base which would pose a problem as getting the base out will likely be the determining factor this November.
Will any of these items or combination thereof actually make deciding who we should elect to run the free world before the election? Who knows? I do oft make predictions but on this one my bet is that both candidates will make statements despite their handlers best efforts which will be used by their opponents in the presumably unbiased media will ride for all it is worth and then some. It may come down to who makes the most gaffes in the final few weeks, day, hours or even election morning. Maybe one will be caught in such a tremendous misstatement that recovery will be near to impossible. And then again events might simply take control of the way the dominoes of fate are going to fall and make the choice seem like child’s play. Or, we may come upon election day and the candidates will still be close enough in the few critical last states that have yet to swing one way or the other that we will all need to make coffee and wait for the final results from west of the Mississippi River or even west of the Rocky Mountains before it is decided. I can predict that if by the time we hear the results from east of the Sierra Nevada and Olympic Mountains that if Romney has not received sufficient electoral votes for a victory, then President Obama will win reelection. I’m not really taking any chance when the only states I am predicting are Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska and Hawaii. We all can pretty much guarantee that Alaska will vote Romney and the rest will be for President Obama, so by then we can add the big three Electoral votes from Alaska to Mitt Romney’s column and the remaining seventy-eight Electoral votes from the rest to President Obama’s column. But then we just might have one or even as many as five or six states where the vote count is so close that we will have to wait through who knows how many recounts before it’s all said and done. We may all have gnawed our fingernails to the bone before this election is over or it may become a rout giving one of the two men a landslide victory, though that is not likely. There is one prediction I can make tonight, and that is that if “None of the Above” was one of the choices it might very well be the winning selection. What do you think?
Beyond the Cusp