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October 3, 2012

ISU professor: Obama favored for White House, Republicans for Senate

TERRE HAUTE — Barack Obama has a “slight edge” in what is shaping up to be a tight U.S. presidential race, an Indiana State University political science professor has forecast.

Carl Klarner, associate professor of political science, made his forecast on July 15 that Obama would receive 51.3 percent of the popular vote and have a 57-percent chance of winning the Electoral College against opponent Mitt Romney.

His model indicates “it will be an extremely close presidential election … but my prediction is that Obama will win,” Klarner said Tuesday.

His forecast also shows Obama could have a tough time accomplishing his agenda in his second term.

His model predicts that Republicans will retain control of the House while taking two more seats. He also predicts a 62-percent chance that Republicans will take control of the Senate by picking up five seats.

Klarner and his model accurately predicted elections in 2006 and 2008. In 2008, Klarner predicted Obama would win with 53 percent of the vote. Obama won with 53.4 percent.

Using a statistical model gives more insight into why an election turns out the way it does, as opposed to forecasting methods based on expert judgments, Klarner said. His model varies from other political scientists in that he includes and considers state data while most others incorporate national data only.

To make his predictions, Klarner compiles each state’s prior voting history, economic conditions and more. He also considers individual state races and voting records.

His predictions have been published in this month’s edition of PS: Political Science and Politics.

He stands behind the forecast and doesn’t offer any updated predictions. “That might be perceived as hedging your bet,” Klarner said. “It’s good to take a risk and go a little earlier.”

Voters already know what direction Obama and Romney will take the nation and the policies they will pursue, he said.

He doesn’t believe isolated comments or gaffes made by Obama or Romney that become publicized and blown up by the opposition party over the next few weeks will necessarily sway the average voter.

When moderates hear about these “gaffes,” they attribute it to partisan bickering and “they have a tendency to ignore it,” he said.

He’s not saying that people have already made up their minds, but “because of political science and theories, we can predict how they will make up their minds later on,” he said.

Klarner predicted that Florida and Ohio would be closely contested between Obama and Romney, with Obama receiving 49.7 percent of the votes in the Sunshine State and 50.3 percent of the votes in the Buckeye State.

Other states Klarner predicts will be close include Indiana, Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina and Virginia. He has forecast that Obama will lose Indiana with 48.3 percent of the vote but will win Colorado with 51.6 percent of the vote.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.

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