In what is likely to be a very close election, President Obama could win re-election with 95 fewer electoral votes than he got in 2008, George Will told more than 600 attendees at an alternative investment conference sponsored this week by Financial Advisor magazine in Denver. At the same time, the president faces a deeply pessimistic electorate, only 27% of whom expect the U.S. economy to improve over the next year. So Will resisted making an outright call.
"If Obama is re-elected, it will be only the second time" that the U.S. has elected three two-term presidents in a row. The last time began in 1800, when the nation elected three Virginians, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and James Monroe.
But Obama could win fewer states by much narrower margins than he did in 2008 and enjoy four more years in the White House. The growth of minorities, particularly Hispanics, also works to his advantage, Will said.
In 1992, Hispanics represented 12% of the population. This year, they account for 27% of the citzenry.
With the exception of former President George W. Bush, who Will called our "Spanish-speaking president," Republicans have irrationally gone out of the their way to alienate the fastest-growing segment of the population. They spent over a year during the primary season arguing over who could build the "tallest, most lethally electrified fence" on the U.S.-Mexican border, Will noted. For some strange reason, he added, many Hispanics didn't find the arguments very pleasing.
On other hand, the Democratic Party is the oldest party in the world. For some reason, the party rarely wins the type of landslide victories that many Republicans, including Eisenhower, Nixon and Reagan, have.
In 2008, Obama won 53%, more than all but three other Democratic presidents in history, Andrew Jackson, Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson. "He won't get 53% of the vote this year," Will said.
And a small number of undecided voters, most of whom Will called "uninterested and uninformed," could tip the balance in the final weeks of the election. In 1980, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan were essentially tied one week before Election Day.