And the winner is…

If you’ve had enough of political polls and you don’t want to stay up until the wee small hours of Wednesday morning to (possibly) find out who the next president of the United States will be, there are other options.

It turns out there are surefire predictors of presidential elections. The problem is, there are several of them, and — as with so much other information regarding this year’s election — they don’t all agree.

Begin with, the online prediction market trading site that allows people to invest their money based on what they believe will be the outcome of a particular event. As of Monday, Intrade’s estimate of President Barack Obama’s chances of winning re-election was 67 percent, compared to only 33 percent for Mitt Romney winning.

Intrade has only been around through a few election cycles, but it successfully predicted the outcomes in 2004 and 2008.

However, an economics-based forecasting model put together by two University of Colorado political science professors can point to a longer track record with equally accurate results. And this year, it predicts Mitt Romney will win handily.

The CU model uses economic data from all 50 states, such as unemployment rates and changes in per capita income, to predict each state’s Electoral College vote.

The data from the CU model has been applied to every election back to 1980, and it has correctly predicted the outcome of each race, including 2000, when Al Gore won the popular vote but lost to George W. Bush in the Electoral College.

For 2012, the CU model projects Romney will win 330 Electoral College votes to 208 for Obama.

Then there is football. If Americans can’t depend on our most popular sport to determine the outcome of our important political battles, what can we believe in?

The gridiron’s primary predictor of presidential elections is the Washington Redskins’ final home game prior to an election. A win for the Redskins in that game means the incumbent party is all but certain to retain control of the White House. The Redskins’ effect has been correct in 17 of the 18 presidential elections held since 1940, after the Redskins moved to Washington, D.C. It missed only in 2004.

On Sunday, the Redskins lost at home to the Carolina Panthers. Conclusion: Obama is out.

But wait. A 2010 analysis looked at college football scores over 42 years and compared them with county-level voting data. The analysts concluded that a win by the home team in the 10 days before an election gave a boost of more than 1 percent to the incumbent party in the surrounding counties.

That may be enough to put Obama over the top in Ohio today because the Ohio State Buckeyes won resoundingly Saturday. But it doesn’t bode well for his chances in Colorado, as any CU Buffs’ fan is painfully aware.

So there you have it. Based on all of the above forecasting models, there should be no doubt who will win today.


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