Guy Benson

You already know all the supposed reasons conservatives should feel downtrodden heading into Tuesday: The Obama campaign's balleyhooed turnout machine, heavily Democratic state polls in places like Ohio, Nate Silver's electoral model, and the overwhelming conventional wisdom in the media all suggest the president will limp over the finish line on Tuesday and secure four more years.  I've already written about why I think the race will ultimately hinge on turnout and enthusiasm, both of which could break either way in three days.  But while liberals attempt to sow seeds of despair -- perhaps in an act of Freudian projection -- ahead of the election, many conservatives haven't gotten the memo.  As you gear up for the final 72 hour push of this crucial contest, here are some causes for optimism moving forward:

(1) Peerless human political encyclopedia Michael Barone believes Mitt Romney will win.  Like Karl Rove -- who also picked Obama to prevail in 2008, incidentally -- Barone thinks Romney is at least in position to shock the world with a decisive victory:
 

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....Bottom line: Romney 315, Obama 223. That sounds high for Romney. But he could drop Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and still win the election. Fundamentals.  


Barone even slides Pennsylvania into Romney's column, which he concedes is going out on a limb.  I still think it's a bit of a stretch, but based on the demographics and trends in the state, who knows?

(2) Jay Cost, an extremely savvy analyst of polling and election data, believes Romney is "likely to win."  Here's why:
 

I think Mitt Romney is likely to win next Tuesday. For two reasons: (1) Romney leads among voters on trust to get the economy going again. (2) Romney leads among independents. Again, this is a different approach than the poll mavens will offer. They are taking data at face value, running simulations off it, and generating probability estimates. That is not what this is, and it should not be interpreted as such. I am not willing to take polls at face value anymore. I am more interested in connecting the polls to history and the long-run structure of American politics, and when I do that I see a Romney victory.  


(3) The Washington Post has updated its Congressional projections, now calling for House Republicans to roughly maintain their current majority margin in the next Congress -- if not expand on it.  Ed Morrissey makes a good point: If it took an evenly-split electorate (in terms of party ID) to build the 2010 red wave that swept Republicans back into a substantial House majority, how could they possibly hold or enlarge their advantage if 2012's electorate will be significantly more Democratic, as many pollster are assuming?

(4) WaPo also reports that their national polling indicates at least 13 percent of 2008 Obama voters are defecting to Romney this year.  Ace runs some quick-and-dirty, back of the envelope calculations:
 

So, ultimately, somewhere between 13 and 16% will defect from Obama to Romney. Obama won relatively big -- more than any Democratic president in recent memory -- but not so big he can afford that level of defection. 70 million voted for Obama in 2008; 60 million voted for McCain. 13% of 70 million is 9.1 million. Subtract that from 70 million and add it to 60 million and you get...


Romney leading by millions of votes, that's what.  Maybe the Post's defector percentage is exaggerated, plus turnout is likely to be down this year -- but then there are the Romney voters who stayed home last time.  WaPo also has Romney up comfortably with independents, yet they peg the national race at just 49/48 for Mitt overall.  More sample fun.  If their topline number is approximately correct, their internals are bunk, and vice versa.  Again, we'll see.

(5) Yesterday I reported that Jim Geraghty's top source (code name: "Middle Cheese") says internal data shows Romney looking solid in Florida, Virginia and Colorado.  But another insider I know has seemed skittish about all three states.  Might this new poll out of Florida validate Middle Cheese's outlook?
 

Mitt Romney has maintained a solid lead over President Barack Obama in the latest Miami Herald/El Nuevo Herald poll of likely voters who favor the Republican by six percentage points. Romney’s strengths: independent voters and more crossover support from Democrats relative to the Republicans who back Obama, according to the survey conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research. Romney’s crossover appeal is fueled by strong support in rural North Florida, a conservative bastion where a relatively high percentage of Democrats often vote Republican in presidential election years.  


The poll also shows Romney leading among both early voters and Floridians who will turn out on Tuesday.  Game over in the Sunshine State?

(6) Finally, we keep hearing the 'turnout and enthusiasm' mantra from the commentariat. (Guilty as charged). Marist/NBC has a new survey showing Obama up by six in Ohio...with a D+9 sample.  This predicts a significantly more Democratic Ohio electorate this year than in 2008, with Republicans underperforming their paltry 2008 levels.  This notion is defied by several factors: Common sense, early voting indicators, and anecdotal evidence, such as the epic rally Romney held in suburban Cincinnati last night:
 


Local officials estimated the crowd at 30,000 people.  The president drew 2,800 in Ohio yesterday.  Here's full video of Ryan and Romney's speeches (for a sense of how electric things were, skip to 8:50, when Ryan introduces the man at the top of the ticket):
 


Yeah, maybe the Ohio electorate really is secretly D+9 this year.  Or maybe it's D+2, 1, or zero.  One final fact:  Historically, Republican presidential candidates run ahead of their national percentage in Ohio.  This was true in 2008, when Obama won by seven overall and by 4.5 in Buckeyeland.  All of this is not to say that Romney's a shoo-in by any stretch.  There are so many moving parts and contradictory data points that I'm not nearly bold enough to make any prediction in this one.  Hell, go re-read the opening sentences of this post.  Having said that, I think the smirking liberal (public) consensus that Obama's just fine is misplaced, and could be proven spectacularly wrong in a few days.


Guy Benson

Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Senior Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography