You may recall last week’s proviso: These are only one guy’s predictions. They are free to you, and with anything free, you get what you pay for (nada, in this case).
I have not yet seen the campaign season’s final public opinion polls, coming out this weekend.
When I was the political editor at the Deseret News, I would get a peak at Dan Jones’ final poll numbers before I wrote my prediction column – and thus had the insight of Utah’s long-time premier surveyor.
Lacking that information, I have to place some provisions on the following picks. Please don’t think me too cowardly as I say several of the picks could well turn out to be wrong.
In any case, I believe:
-- President Barack Obama will win a second term.
In a very real way – at least as Utah and the LDS Church are concerned -- Mitt Romney just getting the Republican Party’s presidential nomination is a big win all by itself.
It shows that America can accept a Mormon in the top post of the federal government, even if he falls short at the ballot box.
Of course I don’t know if Romney will run again – historically both in the Republican and Democratic parties you get one shot at the presidential nomination.
But I would not be surprised if Romney runs for some other top office – like for the U.S. Senate – or serves in a cabinet post of some future Republican president.
Why to I think Romney won’t win? It appears that he isn’t going to take Ohio or several other smaller states. And Romney’s path to 270 Electoral College votes doesn’t seem possible without those critical states.
There is the possibility that Romney could win the popular vote, but lose the Electoral College. Maybe then Republicans – who love the Constitution – will see the wisdom of either doing away with the college or individual states will join up via legislation to split their Electoral College votes according to the popular vote in their states – in effect providing one-man, one-vote fairness in presidential elections.
-- Sen. Orrin Hatch will win a history-making seventh term. Hatch, with Dave Hansen as his campaign manager, ran a brilliant tactical race this year – organizing the GOP party caucuses in March, getting moderate-to-conservative Hatch-backers elected as state delegates, running a good primary campaign to win the nomination, and then staying out of trouble in the general election race.
We probably haven’t heard the last of Democrat Scott Howell, who challenged Hatch. Look for him to run for governor some day, or to take on a congressional race.
-- Gov. Gary Herbert wins a four-year term all for himself.
Herbert isn’t saying whether he’ll run again in 2016. But if he does, count on several good Republicans to challenge him.
-- John Swallow will be the new attorney general; John Dougall the new state auditor; and Richard Ellis will win another term as state treasurer – all Republicans.
While two Democrats won the AG’s office in the 1990s, that trend is over. Republicans rule on Capitol Hill.
-- Incumbent U.S. Reps. Jason Chaffetz and Rob Bishop coast to victory. Newcomer Chris Stewart wins the newly-drawn 2nd Congressional District.
I think Salt Lake City Democrats will get their act together in 2014 and beyond to give Stewart a run for his money in future elections. But former state Rep. Jay Seegmiller just wasn’t up to the task this election.
-- In what is kind of a personal disappointment for me, I see U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson losing in the 4th Congressional District race.
This is not because I’m a partisan Democrat. It’s because I think Utah functions better with at least one Democrat in the Congressional delegation – and Matheson has proven himself a moderate-to-conservative Democrat who can work across the aisle.
I wouldn’t want to see 100 percent of the Utah Legislature Republican, and I think Utah is better off with at least one Democrat in our federal delegation as well.
Since the World Series just crowned a new professional baseball champ, let me use a baseball comparison for Matheson’s demise.
He had three strikes against him before he even came to the plate.
1) He decided to run in the new 4th District, jumping from his old 2nd District. That took away his 2002 argument that legislative Republicans unfairly and meanly redrew his district just to defeat him.
Matheson thought he would be facing arch-conservative Carl Wimmer, who, on Election Day, finds himself a police officer in Gunnison.
Wimmer’s far out political ideas and aggressive style would likely have been too much even for GOP voters in Salt Lake and Utah counties. But Wimmer surprisingly lost to Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love in the state GOP convention.
2) Matheson faced the Romney Tsunami. So many Republican voters turned out in 2012 that Matheson was swept away. It didn’t really matter what he said or did. Matheson would have done better if Romney had not won the GOP nomination.
3) Republican Love was not only a good candidate, she was well-funded, a fresh face, and a chance for 4th District voters to send to Congress the first female Black GOP representative in the nation’s history.
All this was too much – three strikes and Matheson is out.
Now, I hedge my bet here.
If the weekend polls show Matheson 2 percentage points or 3 percentage points or more ahead, then I believe he has a chance to squeak it out. But if he’s equal to or behind Love, it’s not happening for him. Watch your local news this weekend to see where the pollsters put him.
I don’t see Matheson fading from the political scene. He could well run for governor in some future election, although he’d have some fence-mending to do with the liberal wing of the Utah Democratic Party.
For Utah, the 2012 elections have been ground-breaking – mainly because of Romney.
There will be a GOP wave across the state on Tuesday, much like there was in 1980 and 1984 when Ronald Reagan headed the Utah Republican ticket. Reagan was always popular here.
State Democrats will just have to reorganize and look for opportunities in 2014 and beyond.