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Analysts Make Their Election Predictions

By The NewsHour, The NewsHour - November 5, 2012

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GWEN IFILL: Well, ever since this year's first votes were cast in Iowa, our "NewsHour" political brain trust has joined us here to tell us what to watch for next.

They're here again: Stuart Rothenberg of The Rothenberg Political Report and Roll Call newspaper, Andrew Kohut, president of the PewResearchCenter, and Susan Page, Washington bureau chief of USA Today.

Andy, I'm going to start with you because you have exciting new poll numbers, or I should say poll numbers which finally end this poll madness. Where have we ended up?

ANDREW KOHUT, PewResearchCenter: At the end of the madness, we have 50 percent saying they're going to vote for Obama, 47 percent for Romney.

That's a statistically significant lead, given that the sample is 2,800 likely voters. About a week ago, it was tied 47 to 47. And an important message from the polls that I have been watching, obviously including ours, is that momentum seems to be going to Obama over the course of the past week.

GWEN IFILL: Does this last-minute trending in the direction of one candidate or another, does it traditionally mean something, or can it flip back the other way between the time you get out of the field and the time votes are cast?

ANDREW KOHUT: Well, when people's attitudes are in transition, any -- one of a number of things are possible. It could be like 1980, where we're underestimating the Obama vote. I don't think so.

I think that there is still probably a fair amount of uncertainty in the electorate. We have 11 percent saying they might change their mind or they're flat-out undecided. And we know in exit polls, when we ask them -- last look at tomorrow night -- we will find 8 or 9 percent saying, yes, I just made up my mind in the last couple of days.

So, there's still the potential for change and there's still some things in this race that say this is -- it ain't necessarily written.

GWEN IFILL: Susan, we just saw Judy spent her lovely weekend in Ohio. Where else are the final battles being waged?

SUSAN PAGE, USA Today: Well, we're looking at Ohio, Florida, of course, Virginia, a very important state.

One good thing about tomorrow night is we have all these East Coast states that are important. So maybe we won't have an endless 2000 kind of night. The polls will close in Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire by 8 o’clock.

So maybe we will have a very close race, and it will go on forever because we will have disputes over provisional ballots. But maybe this will not be such a late night.

And you see that Andy's poll and also the ABC/Washington Post poll also gives a three-point lead to Barack Obama.

So, after this long campaign, where a lot of voters have been disappointed in President Obama, especially on the economy, we may be seeing, because of Hurricane Sandy and some other factors, people settling on him.

GWEN IFILL: Well, let me ask you one other question, Susan. It seems that at some point, we saw that the Romney campaign, they're spending tomorrow, Election Day, in Pittsburgh and in Cleveland. What is that about? What does that mean?

SUSAN PAGE: Well, I think, I mean, this is obviously close. In the USA Today/Gallup poll of swing states, we were at 48 percent-48 percent. Cannot get any closer than that.

Obviously, the thing that could save Mitt Romney, that could give this election to him is that we continue to see Republicans being more enthusiastic about the election than Democrats are.

So, maybe that means that turnout will be better for Republicans. And on some of these very close states, that could swing it. And I think that is why you see him going to these states even on Election Day.

GWEN IFILL: Stu, what does a race this close tell you about the electorate?

STUART ROTHENBERG, The Rothenberg Political Report: Well, it tells us something actually we have known for a long time, Gwen, I think that the country is roughly evenly divided. They have two very different views of government and of the two parties.

It's funny you should ask that. We didn't plan this or anything. But I went through...

GWEN IFILL: You just happened to have this.

STUART ROTHENBERG: I did. Actually, I did.

I went through Andy's poll earlier when we were in the green room there. And I went through the various demographic groups as to which party or which candidate is winning.

And it's not shocking, but it's a reminder about how these divisions have existed for a while.

So, I went through Andy's poll.

And who is Romney winning? He's winning whites, both men and women. Let's be very clear, both men and women. But he's winning whites. He's winning older voters, religious voters, self-described conservatives, Republicans, and Southerners.

And who is the president winning? African-Americans, Latinos, younger voters, lower-income, self-described liberals, including white liberals, Democrats, voters in the Northeast and West.

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