NRD Editor’s Note: This column originally appeared at TheHill.com.
By Rick Manning — The left and the right agree on something this morning. Their guy is going to win the presidency.
The left is buoyed by publicly released media polls that show Obama clinging to a lead in swing states, even though the national polls are a toss-up. They have believed the narrative that voter turnout will closely approximate 2008, and if they are correct, Obama wins a second term.
The right knows that the 2008 turnout model is not going to happen, if for no other reason than conservative intensity in this election far exceeds what was seen in that low-water-mark year. Even if intensity on the left remained the same, the turnout numbers will shift due to greater participation on the right.
The right also looks at places like North Carolina and Virginia, states won by Obama in 2008, where Team O has picked up its tents and is moving north, conceding these electoral votes. In addition, in Cuyahoga County (Cleveland), Ohio, reports are that early voting is behind 2008 totals, while in Republican areas, early voting reportedly has dramatically increased.
Conservative pundits also point to polling from both sides that shows independent voters giving Romney a significant edge, but the left argues that Obama showing his leadership during Hurricane Sandy will bring some of those voters home to them.
What makes this election different than any since the Nixon-Kennedy race in 1960 is that going into the weekend before the election, there is genuine and honest disagreement about what the outcome will be among those who are supposed to know.
In 2000, going into the weekend before the election, most people expected Bush to win and it was only a weekend release of a drunk driving arrest from his youth that changed the tide of late deciders toward Gore. The ensuing mess gave the word chad more meaning than just being the first name of a third-generation kid in an expensive boarding school.
In 2012, both sides not only expect to win, but are already measuring drapes in the White House. And it all comes down to who votes in our 50/50 America. If voters turn out like they did in 2000 or 2004, Romney is president. If voter turnout is more like 2008, Obama gets a second term.
Strange that after about a billion and a half dollars spent, it all comes down to a simple American concept — whoever gets his people to vote wins.
And on Wednesday, Nov. 7, one side or the other is going to be bitterly disappointed with no soft landing of knowing in your heart that winning was highly unlikely.
It is going to be an interesting day.
Rick Manning (@rmanning957) is the communications director for Americans for Limited Government.