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Pundits and Pollsters Asked To Predict Election Day Surprises.

November 2, 2008

The Washington Post polled some high-profile pundits and pollsters about potential November 4th scenarios.

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” :

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.

James Carville:

Manager of Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign; CNN political contributor

The combination of Ralph Nader and Bob Barr’s votes will affect the outcome of the presidential election in one or more states.

Heather Wilson:

Republican representative from New Mexico

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.

Douglas Schoen:

Democratic pollster and author

Overall turnout will be so high on Tuesday that the share of the vote from younger voters and African Americans will not differ that substantially from what we have seen in recent elections. In other words, the election will ultimately be decided by voters in the middle. I suspect that analysts will conclude that neither Joe the Plumber nor Sarah Palin was able to bring the always-critical voters in the center back to the Republican ticket.

Ed Rogers:

White House staffer to Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush; group chairman of BGR Holding

Three ingredients could be mixing to create an explosive comeback for McCain. No. 1: buyer’s remorse and resentment of the media forecast. Voters are being lectured that the election is over. This might cause them to have regrets about Obama and resent being told what they had already decided. No. 2: presumptuousness by the Obama camp. More than once they have shown a tendency to act like they have won, to assume that the Oval Office is already theirs. Voters resent this and may be itching to show their independence. No. 3: Obama fatigue and classic American support for the underdog. Voters notice the number of ads, phone calls and gushing accounts of the giant Obama machine. Maybe the good old US of A instinct to support the underdog is working to McCain’s benefit.

Mary Beth Cahill:

Manager of Sen. John Kerry‘s presidential campaign and former chief of staff to Sen. Edward Kennedy

Tuesday night may well bring the defeat of long-serving politicians from heretofore safe districts and states. And it may be very late before we know the leadership and chairmen of the House and Senate.

Linda Chavez:

Chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity; member of the Reagan administration

I’d be surprised if John McCain wins even 30 percent of the Hispanic vote, through no fault of his own. What a difference four years makes. In 2004, President Bush won 4 in 10 Hispanic votes, and Democrats worried that their long-time dominance among Hispanics was slipping away. But thanks to harsh Republican rhetoric on immigration, Hispanics have since cooled to Republicans, badly damaging McCain’s chances to win Colorado, Florida, Nevada and New Mexico.

Robert Shrum:

Senior adviser to the Gore and Kerry presidential campaigns; fellow at NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service

The surprise is no surprise — no hanging chads, no reversal of the preelection polls or the exit polls. Why? First, the presidential race isn’t close.

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