The 13 projections are contained in the new issue of PS: Political Science and Politics, which is published by the American Political Science Association. Eight of them project that Obama will win the popular vote; five say the popular vote will go to Romney. But the degree of certainty in those forecasts differs. One projection favoring the president says there is an 88 percent certainty that he’ll win, while two others forecasting Obama say there is only a 57 percent certainty.
James E. Campbell, the department chairman at the University at Buffalo in New York, who wrote the introduction to the package, rates them this way: Five predict that Obama will win a plurality of the two-party vote, although three are on “the cusp of a toss-up.” Five predict that Romney will win the plurality of the two-party vote. Three are in what he calls the toss-up range.
One of the most bullish of the Obama-will-win projections comes from Helmut Norpoth, a professor at Stony Brook University, and Michael Bednarczuk, a grad student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. They wrote that Obama will defeat Romney “by a comfortable margin.”
Their projection, made 299 days before the election, is based on a model that takes into account the performance of the candidates in the primaries and presidential election cycles. “In plain English,” they wrote, “Obama has history on his side as well as the fact that he was unchallenged in the primaries.”
One of the most bearish about the president’s prospects is Alfred G. Cuzan, the department chairman at the University of West Florida. He notes that since 1880, a sitting president has lost his reelection bid only six times, and only twice when the incumbent had succeeded a president of a different party.
But Cuzan, whose model is called the “Fiscal Model,” looks at changes in government spending relative to the size of the economy as his guide. He argues that the expansionary spending policies of the president dim his chances of winning.
“Even if he does squeeze by the Republican candidate,” Cuzan wrote, “it is highly likely that President Obama would do so with a smaller share of the vote than in 2008, the first president in well over a century to be reelected to a second term by a thinner margin of victory than he received the first time around.”
Alan Abramowitz, a professor at Emory University, looks at the advantages of incumbency, presidential approval as of the end of June in an election year and change in real gross domestic product in the second quarter of the year. He calls his method the “Time for a Change” model. He also has made adjustments to factor in the increased polarization in the electorate, which he says has affected the impact of certain fundamentals that generally determine the outcome.