There's a great scene in The Godfather II when Michael Corleone is
weighing the odds of killing his archrival Hyman Roth. The assessment
from his caporegimes, Rocco Lampone, was pretty simple: "Difficult,
That's about the same assessment most of the elite on Wall Street have
regarding the possibility that Gov. Mitt Romney will defeat President Barack Obama
tonight. Yes, it might happen, but all the odds that they put together
in their databases have Obama winning and, at least according to the
Electoral College, winning pretty big.
And if you're a betting man (or woman), you've got to like those odds no
matter how much you think, like I do, that Obama has been a lousy
president for the past four years, and doesn't deserve four more. Suck
it up, he's going to win.
Why do I think this? Start with what key Romney advisers are telling
their biggest supporters on Wall Street. They're not ready to concede
defeat because they believe the following scenario will play out,
particularly in the all-important battleground state of Ohio:
Democratic voter turnout will be low. Republicans will be buoyed by
very intense turnout particularly from Evangelical Christians. In a tight race, that will push Ohio in the Romney camp, and the same
trend can be seen in other battleground states where Evangelicals hold
First off, weren't Evangelicals supposed to hate Romney because he was
a Mormon? Yes, they concede, but they dislike the president even more
and pollsters do a lousy job measuring the Evangelical vote, who
generally don't answer telephones or their doors when strangers knock.
Put it all together and -- presto, Romney wins Ohio and wins the election.
All of which might happen but if you're into odds-making, you would
say relying solely on the Evangelical vote isn't what Romney had in
mind going into this thing. How about Independents, women and how
about peeling away some of the president's support in the Hispanic
That doesn't seem to be happening, particularly among women and
Hispanics, at least the way some of my friends on Wall Street are
reading the numbers. Even worse, Obama seems to have recently gained
momentum more broadly, a mini surge in the aftermath of Superstorm
Sandy, where instead of looking dumbfounded debating Romney, the
president looked presidential when touring areas of the east coast
most damaged by the storm.
And yes, it didn't hurt that he received a big, wet kiss from New Jersey
Governor Chris Christie, who was supposed to one of the biggest Romney
supporters on the planet.
Okay, the Romney people are shooting back, their candidate is getting a
surge of his own since the president's Sandy surge wore off on Sunday.
(I love how precise they are about surges.) As proof, they point to the
fact that Team Obama recently dispatched Bill Clinton to campaign in
Pennsylvania because the polls tightened there.
Yet if a real Romney surge has begun in this late hour, wouldn't we see
it in some polling? That's what the Wall Street numbers crunchers are
saying, and it's hard to disagree with that analysis.
It is a little fishy that Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod is
relaying a message to Wall Streeters who have asked for 100 percent
certitude that the president will win, and win easy. He's predicting a
sweep of all the battleground states and easy popular vote win. It
sounds like a ploy to get talking heads talking about an Obama rout
(which they have) and to dampen Republican enthusiasm when Romney needs
Or he could be reading the same polls everyone on Wall Street is
reading. In other words, Romney might pull this out because the
polling is so bad, Evangelicals will turn out in record numbers and
Democratic enthusiasm will be really, really low.
That might happen, but the odds are fairly significant it won't.
That's why I plan to hang out at my favorite bar tonight and prepare
for four more years.