William Katz:  Urgent Agenda







THE CRYSTAL BALL IS POLISHED TONIGHT – We don't make predictions here, but I can summarize the mood of the "experts."  Most of them think Obama has the advantage for tomorrow, and the polls agree.  However, some of them, like Brit Hume and Peggy Noonan, believe that something is happening out there that the polls aren't picking up – in Noonan's case it's an electric enthusiasm for Romney.  In Hume's case it's an oversampling of Dems in the polling.  I haven't seen Michael Barone change his prediction of a Romney victory.  Rove is predicting a narrow Romney victory.

STORIES – Anecdotal evidence from the campaign trail bodes well for Romney.  His rallies, right up to tonight, are much larger than Obama's.  There is a positive mood in his camp versus a guarded one in Obama's.  While early voting tends Democratic in all elections, and is favoring Obama again, his numbers are down from 2008.   The election will depend on 1) which groups vote, 2) whether the Romney on-the-trail enthusiasm turns into actual votes, and, most important 3) whether the Dem base, especially the black vote, gets turned on by the possibility of loss and shows up in larger numbers tomorrow than Romney expects.

HISTORICAL CAUTION – There are plenty of warnings from history on both sides.  Obviously, the year 1948 comes to mind, when every major poll showed a decisive Dewey victory.  But Truman won, in part because of Republican overconfidence.  In 1960, any measure of "enthusiasm" would have had Kennedy an easy winner.   Teenaged girls would jump up and down as his motorcade went by.  (I saw this myself.)  But as Kennedy himself said at the time, "I wish some of them were old enough to vote."  Enthusiasm is in the eye of the beholder, and hard to quantify.  It also tends to be regional.  I hope the enthusiasm for Romney turns into votes, and doesn't stimulate the other guys to vote.  We'll see.

FLORIDA – Watch Florida.  Something is going on down there.  Mitt Romney is making a last-minute appearance in Florida, which we thought had been nailed down.  Candidates don't make last-minute appearances in states that they've put away.  A last-minute poll shows the race even, but one taken a few days ago shows Romney comfortably ahead.  There must be an internal Romney poll pointing to danger.  Romney cannot be elected without Florida, our fourth largest state.  So watch Florida as the returns come in.

November 5, 2012