Election Day Surprises
DICK MORRIS AND EILEEN MCGANN
Dick Morris advised Bill Clinton's 1996 reelection campaign and is a contributor to Fox News; Eileen McGann, a lawyer, is co-author with Morris of "Fleeced"
Every election comes down to a referendum on one of the candidates. When Hillary Clinton seemed likely to be nominated, hers was the only name under discussion. Voters had first to decide whether to back Hillary. If they decided not to support her, they then had to sort out which of the alternatives they would support.
Now, Obama has taken Hillary's place as the object of our scrutiny. This race is about whether we trust Barack Obama to be president, to handle the economy, to set proper levels of taxation and to guide our foreign policy amid two wars. Those who vote yes are supporting Obama. Those who vote no are either for McCain or undecided. The bulk of the undecided vote will end up going for McCain.
It does not matter how wide or narrow the gap is between the two candidates. What matters is how far above or below 49 percent Obama is in the final polls (49 percent assumes that Ralph Nader gets 1 to 2 points as he did in 2004). Right now, Obama is straddling the 49 percent mark; about half the polls put him over it and half under it. If the final polling numbers indicate that Obama is not convincingly north of 49 percent, we are in for a long night.
Manager of Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign; CNN political contributor
Extraordinary youth turnout will surprise many, but it shouldn't. Young voters will vote overwhelmingly Democratic up and down the ballot in record numbers. As for a surprise on Tuesday, the combination of Ralph Nader and Bob Barr's votes will affect the outcome of the presidential election in one or more states. We know that Nader cost Al Gore the election in 2000 by siphoning off votes in Florida. The outcome of this election will not be affected -- Barack Obama will be the next president of the United States. But how large will his electoral margin be? Much has been said about the "Bradley effect." I don't necessarily buy it, but why wouldn't voters who won't vote for an African American or a Republican (the GOP brand is at an all-time low), vote for a third-party candidate? Two states where they may have an impact are Georgia and Montana. Only Barr is on the ballot in Georgia, but in a state that only recently became a toss-up, his home-state support could tip the state's 15 electoral votes to either candidate. Their impact on even just a few states will surprise many.
Republican representative from New Mexico
The big news will be record turnout -- more than 130 million Americans will go to the polls. More young people and African Americans will vote this year, but that won't account for all of the increase.
Historically, if someone tells a pollster they are "undecided" at this point in a campaign, they are either disinterested and don't vote or they are refusing to reveal their choice. This year, the "undecideds" are telling pollsters that they are very interested in the race. They are going to vote.
Usually, the "undecideds" who show up in polling break pretty evenly when both candidates are well known. This year's "undecideds" are generally older, more rural, voted for Bush over Kerry, and they are concerned about Obama's inexperience and liberal views. The undecideds will break toward John McCain.