I’m comfortable on this limb, because out here it’s possible to see the race uncluttered by polling flak. The polls are so close that they don’t yield enough information no matter how cleverly we massage the data, examine the internals, or parse the turnout projections.
Let’s instead look back at how actual voters have behaved since 2009. In the first year of the Obama presidency, blue New Jersey and purple Virginia (which had gone for Obama in 2008 by 15.5 and 6.3 percent, respectively) held gubernatorial elections. A New Jersey newspaper described a Corzine rally Obama addressed on November 2, 2009: “‘I’m going to need you to knock on doors. I’m going to need you to make phone calls. I’m going to need you to do the same thing you did last year.’ The crowd, which Corzine’s staff estimated at 6,500 people, was on its feet for Obama’s entire speech, cheering and occasionally interrupting him with shouts of adoration.”
The Obama fans’ adoration notwithstanding, Republican Chris Christie defeated Corzine. Republican Bob McDonnell was successful in Virginia as well. Two months later, in indigo Massachusetts, an unfamiliar species called a Republican won a special election for the Senate seat formerly known as “Ted Kennedy’s seat.”