Jeff Benjamin

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Jeff Benjamin breaks down the game for advisers and clients.

Presidential election definitely a dead heat — or a landslide

Political pundits all over the map with their predictions; red states, blue states but at least no plaid states

Nov 5, 2012 @ 3:05 pm

By Jeff Benjamin

Romney, Obama
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((Photo: Bloomberg News))

In the category of scary possibilities, some of the more creative political analysts have begun floating the notion of an electoral-college vote deadlock that leaves us with Republican Mitt Romney as president and Democrat Joe Biden as his No. 2

Rest assured that it is a low-percentage scenario, but it could happen should the electoral votes end up split at 269 each.

More likely, according to Mad Money host Jim Cramer, is that President Obama will win in a landslide, taking 440 of the 538 electoral votes.

Of course, Mr. Cramer is really just a financial guy, and a former hedge fund manager, who makes funny noises on his cable show. For something as important as a presidential election we should look to a veteran political pundit like George Will. He has Mr. Romney winning with 312 electoral votes.

This line of thinking is supported by the likes of Dick Morris, who brings forth the mixed pedigree of being both a Fox News contributor and former political adviser to Bill Clinton.

Mr. Morris has Mr. Romney winning with 325 electoral votes.

Starting to see a pattern emerge here.

But, wait. Let's not forget about New York Times blogger Nate Silver, who seems to get more confident by the day that there will be a big win by Mr. Obama.

Mr. Silver might not be as bullish as Mr. Cramer, but he is a lot more precise.

Like a true pro, Mr. Silver seems to calculate this stuff all day long, but in his latest analysis, he has Mr. Obama capturing a somewhat mind-bending 307.2 electoral votes.

That's certainly enough to win, but really, Nate, where are you expecting to get those two-tenths of an electoral vote?

Mr. Silver earned his forecasting cred by correctly predicting the outcomes of 49 states in 2008. This time around, he is giving Mr. Obama an 86% chance of being re-elected, up from 73% two weeks ago.

You can't fake that kind of precision when it comes to political punditry.

Then, of course, there is Intrade, a kind of political futures market that allows people to pick winners and losers by investing actual money.

As of mid-day Monday, the price of Mr. Obama's shares were at $6.66, while Mr. Romney was stuck at $3.33, suggesting a 66% chance of victory for the president.

Meanwhile, this is all happening against the backdrop of an endless string of polls and surveys, which average out to a statistical dead heat.

And that brings us to a few serious and straightforward points to ponder on this day before the election: How can so many professional pundits be so boldly out of sync with each other on a topic this thoroughly dissected?

And, of course, how awkward would that first cabinet meeting be if Mr. Biden wound up being Mr. Romney's vice president?


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