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Dick Morris makes a prediction in Williamsport

May 22, 2012 - Mike Maneval
During a visit to Williamsport last week to speak at a Manufacturers and Business Association dinner, pundit Dick Morris predicted President Barack Obama would lose re-election this fall, going as far as to say the incumbent was a "goner." There are a few points to be made in assessing this prediction.

My first observation would be that it is far too early for predictions; much of what will influence the decisions of the sliver of the electorate that feasibly could vote for either the president or presumptive Republican nominee and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney - the conventions, debates, and dozens if not hundreds of gaffes and great moments on the part of both - have not happened yet.

Morris' claim that Pennsylvania will send its electoral votes toward Romney because, as the Sun-Gazette reported, "Republicans are increasingly winning important races in the state," ignores the political history of independence in Pennsylvania. For only the most obvious example, in 2000 Pennsylvania re-elected U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum on the same ballot with which they chose to give Democratic nominee Al Gore the state's electoral votes. Pennsylvania's election of Tom Corbett in 2010 followed a long precedent of the governor's office being passed back to the opposite party after two elections - a precedent that goes back decades.

But to instead give the prediction by Morris some credence, the best place to begin to contemplate is this: The conventional wisdom is that Pennsylvania, along with four or five other bellwether states, will decide the election. In 2008, Obama won Pennsylvania by about 10.4 percent, Virginia by 6.3 percent, Ohio by 4 percent, and Florida by 2.5 percent.

In every state, some percentage - difficult to measure with polling - were single-issue voters, casting ballots for Obama motivated by a desire to see the U.S. conclude military engagement in Iraq. Some of these voters likely disagree with the president and his party on a few - or many - domestic issues. Some likely supported the Iraq invasion but had grown skeptical of nation-building, and some likely opposed the initiative from the beginning.

In any case, the issue is off the table in 2012. And if the percentage of single-issue voters supporting Obama to oppose staying in Iraq indefinitely is merely greater than 2.5 percent in Florida, than 4 percent in Ohio, and so on, what still could deliver on Dick Morris prediction is the role Obama's Iraq policy played in securing his victory in 2008.


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