TheDC predicts the winner of the presidential election

With all due apologies to Nate Silver, predicting the outcome of a presidential election is always something of a fool’s errand. Regardless of whether you’re a statistician, a campaign strategist, a revered pundit or just some lowly political reporter, your chances of precisely picking the final outcome is dependent on too many last-minute variables to be considered anything more than a somewhat-informed guess.

But if the smartest minds in the business — your Michael Barones, George Wills and, yes, Nate Silvers — can have a little fun every four years with their predictions, why can’t we?

Caveats aside, here’s how some of The Daily Caller’s best and brightest see Tuesday’s election working out. And if you think you’ve a better guess, please leave it in the comments below for your shot at bragging rights.

Obama wins, 271 – 267

Perhaps a lifetime spent voting for Republicans in Massachusetts, and for Ron Paul and Alan Keyes, has made me unduly pessimistic, but I suspect this election will be John Kerry’s revenge. This time the unpopular, unsuccessful blue-state incumbent just barely squeaks by, with Ohio making the difference. I wouldn’t be surprised if Al Gore got his revenge too, with Mitt Romney winning the popular vote.

Even if you believe, as I do, that many battleground state pollsters are being overly generous in their Democratic turnout assumptions, it just feels like hoping for too much for that to tip the balance in Romney’s favor in every single swing state where he now trails. This is especially true in the states where Barack Obama isn’t that far below 50 percent.

Caveat #1: If Romney does indeed carry all the states predicted in this scenario — no small feat since I give him Virginia, Colorado, and New Hampshire with Gary Johnson on the ballot — he only needs one additional “leaning Obama” state, not necessarily Ohio, to win.

Caveat #2: This prediction violates the Redskins rule, but there is something fundamentally unjust about a world in which Cam Newton prevails over RG3.

Romney wins, 276 – 262

Throughout October, many polls showed that the majority of Americans think Governor Romney will handle economic issues better than President Obama. The economy is the number one issue on the minds of voters mostly due to the nation’s 7.9 percent unemployment rate  — slightly higher than when President Obama took office. The economic factor will likely tip key swing states in Gov. Romney’s favor.

The outcome of the race will be determined by the voter turnout in the battleground states of Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Ohio, New Hampshire, Virginia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

I predict Governor Romney will take Ohio due to the state of the nation’s economy and his support among social conservatives, which delivered the state for George W. Bush in 2004. Romney has been polling higher than Obama in Virginia and Florida so I have added them to his column in my Electoral College prediction. President Obama’s support remains strong in Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Nevada, which he carried in 2008, so I think the president will win these states again. Wisconsin, GOP Vice Presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan’s home state, voted for Obama by a wide margin in 2008 but the race is a tie this time around.  The state voted for Republican Scott Walker in June’s recall election despite strong union opposition so I think it can be added to the Romney column as well.

Romney wins, 296 – 242

I think Romney will take Ohio. The differential between his massive early- and absentee-vote advantage in 2008 and this year’s ground truth is already enough to wipe out his previous margin of victory in the Buckeye State. Colorado, Iowa and Nevada are probably lost causes for the GOP, but Pennsylvania will flip into the red column — partially because Hurricane Sandy will depress some turnout in Obama-friendly Philadelphia, and because the new Black Panthers have been warned this time.

The Southeast all goes for Romney, including Florida, both Carolinas and Virginia. I’m basing that last pick on an unscientific yard-sign and bumper-sticker survey in Northern Virginia, which is usually an overwhelming Obama stronghold but now looks no better for Obama than 55-45. (Romney has also done well in the Norfolk area, running ads about military spending where there’s a massive Navy Yard.)

Finally, I give New Hampshire to Obama, owing to Gary Johnson splitting off enough libertarians in the North country to turn the tide. Romney will pick up either Michigan or Wisconsin but not both. I arbitrarily chose to give him Wisconsin because of the Ryan factor.