Democratic pollster Doug Schoen tells Newsmax.TV that the 2012 presidential race is still too close to call but he’d give a slight edge to President Barack Obama winning re-election “with a heavy heart” if he had to pick now.
“I’d say right now it’s a 50/50 proposition but if you ask me to make a pick right now, I’d have to say President Obama,” declared Schoen in an exclusive interview on Monday. “I do that with a heavy heart, not a lot of conviction, and a sense that neither candidate has really begun to speak to the issues facing the country.”
According to Schoen, author of the new book, “Hopelessly Divided: The New Crisis in American Politics and What it Means for 2012 and Beyond,”
the race will be decided in eight or nine key battleground states — including Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
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“I think there’s going to be hundreds of millions of dollars spent focusing on those . . . states. That’s where the election is going to be decided,” said Schoen, a Newsmax contributor, whose political clients have included President Bill Clinton, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Indiana Governor Evan Bayh, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, and three Israeli Prime Ministers.
Schoen, who is also a Fox News contributor, said that he picked Obama based on an analysis of likely electoral votes by the Associated Press, as well as his own assessment at this early stage. “It would get the president pretty darn close to 270 but that being said, that’s a prediction on my part — not anything close to certain,” Schoen emphasized.
He said that former Gov. Mitt Romney, as the presumptive nominee for the Republican Party, has yet to outline his vision for the country. “He has to outline a vision of what he wants to do rather than let either Paul Ryan and the House Republicans — or the conservative wing of the Republican Party — drive the campaign and the message,” according to Schoen.
“We need to know what he stands for, what he’s going to do, how he’s going to address the problems facing the country. And if he can do that, I think he’ll generate a good measure of enthusiasm,” he said.
While a recent poll from the Gallup organization finds that six out of 10 Americans favor the president’s proposed Buffett Rule — named after billionaire Warren Buffett — Schoen believes that the president’s willingness to single out wealthy Americans will only be successful for the short term.
“It doesn’t address the real problems facing the country, but it plays into resentment, class envy and the like, so I think it’s short-term good politics, but it’s really the equivalent of cotton candy,” Schoen explained. “It tastes good when you eat it, but it doesn’t really translate into real policy or anything serious for addressing our endemic fiscal problems, relating to the debt or the deficit.”
He suspects that Romney will have a difficult time overcoming the so-called gender gap with women voters, but that President Obama will face a challenge with men.
“I think that Democrats will win if they win based on a huge gender gap — which in some polls before last week were as high as 20 to 23 points,” Schoen said. “I don’t think Obama has a realistic chance of closing the gender gap too far with men, so ultimately he’s got to drive the issues surrounding contraception, and the so-called Republican war on women if he’s going to have a chance of getting re-elected.”
Romney may be winning the argument on the economy, but losing the electoral war against Obama — at least in the early going. “Again it’s very close. I think he needs to outline . . . a clear vision of what a Romney presidency would be,” said Schoen. “It isn’t enough for him to just go negative on Obama. I think he needs a clear vision so that he not only wins the argument over the economy, but he reassures people about his own leadership.”
Here’s how Schoen sees some of the top battleground contests shaping up:
He gives a “very slight edge” to President Obama in Colorado, but the Centennial State can still go to either candidate. “With the growing importance of the Hispanic vote, I would give a very slight edge — very slight edge to President Obama, but that could go either way,” he insisted.
Obama also has an advantage in the Sunshine State, but Schoen said it too is on the “cusp” at this juncture. “If [Sen.] Marco Rubio becomes the vice presidential candidate, that certainly would be a benefit to Gov. Romney. At this point I would say probably President Obama has an ever so slight advantage in Florida, but even there, it’s impossible to make any firm determination.”
Schoen puts Iowa in the Romney camp. “I think it going to go for the Republicans. They had a long primary campaign before the caucuses. I think that Iowa will be — I wouldn’t say solidly in the GOP’s camp — but probably leans that way,” he said.
Meanwhile, New Hampshire and Nevada are still up for grabs. “I think New Hampshire because it’s in the Northeast is on one hand pulled towards President Obama,” he said, pointing to Romney’s tenure as governor of the neighboring state of Massachusetts. “I’ll give the president a slight advantage there now, but it’s really within the margin of error.”
North Carolina and Ohio are split between the two candidates. “North Carolina I give a slight advantage to Gov. Romney now. I think it’s going to take a level of turnout among African Americans and young people that was evident in 2008, but is unlikely to happen this year for Gov. Romney to lose that state,” said Schoen, giving the nod to Obama in the Buckeye State. “In Ohio, I think again largely because of the overreaching of Gov. Kasich with the collective bargaining, and the unpopularity of the Republican Party there, I give president Obama a slight, slight advantage.”
But Romney might overcome the incumbent’s advantage with his vice presidential pick. “As Ohio goes, so goes the nation, and if Rob Portman is the vice presidential candidate — the senator From Ohio — again that would definitely help Gov. Romney,” according to Schoen.
While Virginia supported president Obama in 2008, it is likely to go for his opponent in the 2012 election. “Again you’d need a huge turnout in northern Virginia to give the president a narrow victory there like he had in 2008,” Schoen added. “I’m betting that Virginia goes with Gov. Romney.”
Editor's Note: Read about America's political crisis in Doug Schoen's new book "Hopelessly Divided: The New Crisis in American Politics and What it Means for 2012 and Beyond."Go here now.
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