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My 2012 Presidential Election Prediction

President Obama will win re-election today.

There. I've said it. Cue the trolls in 3... 2... 1...

If you had asked me to make this prediction in early October, the outcome might have been very different. The President's performance at the first Presidential Debate was, well, bad. But the perception of his performance was even worse than the actual debate itself.

Mr. Obama then spent the next several weeks playing catch-up in the polls and in his campaign's ground game.

But, the "October surprise" (as it were) was not a political scandal or some gaffe by a candidate. My feeling -- which is shared by many people who watch politics even more closely than I -- is history will show that Hurricane Sandy was the tipping point in the 2012 Presidential election. And that will favor the President.

For the past week Americans have been seeing President Obama in the role of a leader, rather than a campaigner. Whether or not you like his policies is irrelevant -- he has been forced to respond to a natural disaster. In that role, Americans have seen their president working with others -- notably others from the opposing political party -- to get things done. I think that this will go a long way at the polls today.

I've created two different Electoral College maps at 270towin.com. The first is my base prediction; Obama will win re-election with 329 Electoral College votes:

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As you can see by the map, I predict that the President will win both of the oft-talked-about swing states of Florida and Ohio. Recent polling suggests an edge for Obama in the Buckeye State, and I would attribute this to support from the auto industry.

As for Florida, most (good) pollsters have the race in the Sunshine State as a statistical dead heat. I think that this favors Obama for one simple reason: he is the incumbent. If this was 2008 over again and neither candidate was up for re-election, then I would likely feel differently. However, because Mr. Obama has four years in the job, I think that he is favored there.

Now, all of that being said, let's take Ohio, Florida, and Colorado (three of the more sought-after swing states) out of the equation. As you can see by this prediction, the President still has a path to the magic number of 270:

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Even without the combined 56 Electoral votes from Colorado, Florida and Ohio, President Obama ekes out an Electoral victory with 273 votes to Mitt Romney's 265.

These are two paths for President Obama to win re-election. The first is my prediction of what will actually happen. The second is a (ironically) very conservative view of a different path -- but the same outcome.

President Obama will win re-election today.

Feel differently? Sound off below...