Lombardo: Your 2008 election forecast

The 2008 Presidential Election isn't over and Sen. Barack Obama is wise to caution his supporters with two words: "New Hampshire," the state where Sen. Hillary Clinton upset him in the primaries and where Sen. John McCain was reborn as the Republican nominee.

At the same time, New Hampshire is indicative of why McCain is going to lose. Similar to Minnesota, N.H. is a centrist state, in which McCain was supposed to appeal as a maverick. In the end, however, both states support Obama.

Without adding these states that voted Democratic in 2004, the Republicans will be unable to offset any Democratic gains. As GOP steals seem unlikely, McCain can only afford to lose 16 of the electoral votes that Bush won in 2004.

Unfortunately for McCain, this isn't 2004 and the electoral dynamic has changed so that the Rovian strategy of relying solely on the base won't work. This is evident from the record numbers that registered and voted in the Democratic primaries, creating registration advantages in red states from 2004 like Missouri, Iowa and Nevada.

This shift originated from the impressive ground game the Obama camp has had since day one, which is in sharp contrast to the McCain campaign's lack of cohesion. Their ineffectuality has manifested itself clearly in Florida where Obama has a miniscule lead, in part due to the fact that popular GOP governor, Charlie Crist, has been disconnected from the nominee's campaign to the point where he skips McCain's events in the sunshine state.

Out west, there is a shifting dynamic in favor of the Democrats. Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada represent 19 electoral votes that are poised to go blue based on expected Hispanic voter turnout of over two-to-one for Obama and lengthy coattails from Senate candidates Mark and Tom Udall in Colorado and New Mexico respectively.

If this new electoral math is confusing, I need to let you in on a secret: "It's the economy, stupid." Sorry if that sounds harsh, but James Carville's assessment of the 1992 presidential election is also applicable today. Americans trust Democrats to handle the economy in times of crisis, and now Sen. Barack Obama is poised to win the White House in light of this reality.

But Democrats should remain only cautiously optimistic. While the polls show an overwhelming win for Obama, states within the margin of error could vote for McCain thanks to what's known as the "Bradley effect," which refers to the comfort people feel in the voting booth that allows them to let out the inner racism they hide when being polled.

In the end, this election will serve as a referendum on the Reagan Revolution as America elects Obama. Voters will endorse the need for change, but will break from the policies of deregulation that are championed by the Republicans and McCain.

Obama could have blown this election if he had failed to bring the disillusioned Clinton supporters back into the fold, but after reuniting the party, the election is his to win or to lose.

Once Obama wins Virginia the election is over, as he only needs five more electoral votes from nine other states that are at least leaning blue after voting for Bush in 2004.

His national lead should shrink as the Bradley effect sets in, but I foresee Obama amassing 311 electoral votes while he fails to sway grandparents in Florida, doesn't quite bring out enough votes in North Carolina, but delivers Ohio and its 20 electoral votes thanks to working class voters that want to believe.

Dave Lombardo is a senior political science major, and he is always right.