Skip to content

Open Thread: Election Speculation

Tomorrow is Election Day for all us Americans. And while I normally try to base my arguments on solid evidence, far be it from me to deny everyone the chance to speculate wildly about the future every few years. So, let’s have it: What do you think is going to happen tomorrow?

I’ll start off: Given his small but stable lead in almost all the crucial swing states, I’m confident that Obama will be reelected, although the race will probably be closer than it was in 2008. I also think the Democrats will hold on to the Senate and Republicans will keep the House, albeit with a smaller majority than they had before. (If you’d like to gauge my accuracy as a soothsayer, in my last electoral predictions thread in 2008, I got 2 out of 3 right: Barack Obama was elected president and the Democrats did get to 60 seats in the Senate, albeit briefly and after a contentious recount.)

What this means, if I’m right, is that the next two years will be pretty much like the last two: lockstep Republican opposition, resulting in Congressional paralysis and nothing of significance getting accomplished. And this is almost certainly the best outcome we could have realistically hoped for.

What the U.S. needs, more than anything else, is time. With every election cycle, the country is becoming more diverse and more secular, steadily eroding the traditional voting base of the Republicans. As Jonathan Chait puts it:

Every year, the nonwhite proportion of the electorate grows by about half a percentage point — meaning that in every presidential election, the minority share of the vote increases by 2 percent, a huge amount in a closely divided country…. By 2020 — just eight years away — nonwhite voters should rise from a quarter of the 2008 electorate to one third. In 30 years, nonwhites will outnumber whites.

In this light, the Republicans’ scorched-earth opposition to everything the Democrats propose, even if it was originally a Republican idea, can be seen for what it is: a last-stand effort to hold off change as long as possible. If they win this election, they can influence the composition of the Supreme Court in ways that will let them dam up social progress for decades more. But if they lose, there’s a demographic twilight looming up ahead for them. I think it’s the recognition of this fact, even if subconsciously, that accounts for their literally apocalyptic rhetoric this election cycle.

Now, step up and place your bets. What do you see in your crystal ball?

Image credit: Shutterstock

Daylight Atheism: The Book is now available! Click here for reviews and ordering information.


Up Next
In a new co-authored study with John Besley and Sang Wa Oh at the journal Public Understanding of Science,we expand on our recent work examining how scientists as a group perceive and understand public opinion, […]