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Obama hangs on , but there may be a secret winner (and it's not Romney)

Commentators from both sides of the Atlantic offer sharp analysis on the US election campaign.

Ed Rombach, former Thomson Reuters analyst and political junkie, reports from Boston, where Romney's victory celebration did not go as planned with Romney delaying a concession to Obama

Romney: Upset ahead?

It’s all over but the shouting, but it’s probably not too late to put in one more election prediction.

Yesterday the online trading exchange website Intrade placed odds of Barack Obama being re-elected President at 68% compared with Romney’s chances of unseating the incumbent President at 32%.

Just prior to the first presidential debate, I wrote in an article for The Drum:

“The election will be won or lost in eleven battleground swing states where recent polls show Romney to be trailing President Obama by an average of around 5% . On average, the votes that Ron Paul received in the primaries and caucuses in these states weigh in at almost 2.5% of the votes that were cast in these battle ground states in the 2008 election. This suggests that even though the polls for these states may tighten in Romney’s favor, there will probably be a gap of about 2% or more remaining that Romney is unable to close.”

Meanwhile, latest polls in the 11 swing states indicate that Obama is ahead by a spread of 2.19% on average, holding the lead in 9 states with 102 electoral votes vs. Romney in the lead in 2 states (Florida & No Carolina) with 44 electoral votes. Since Obama has 201 electoral votes in his safe blue states and Romney has 191 electoral votes in his safe red states, it implies a total of 303 electoral votes for Obama and 235 for Romney.

To the extent that a 2.19% positive spread for Obama’s represents an accurate reflection of voter sentiment in these states today, it also implies that Romney will be hard pressed to make up this deficit. Why? Because it correlates with the 880,000 votes cast for Ron Paul in these same swing states in this year’s primaries and caucuses which represent 2.06% of the total votes cast in these states in the 2008 presidential election.

Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson will obtain a windfall of these votes, but virtually none of them will break for Romney. Shadow polls that include Gary Johnson along with President Obama and Mitt Romney lend support to the view that the Libertarian candidate could be a crucial factor. One recent CNN poll of likely voters taken in Ohio shows President Obama weighing in at 48%, Romney at 44% and Gary Johnson grabbing 4%.

As a point of reference, the Libertarian Party only received a little more than half a million votes in 2008. Given the expectations that Gary Johnson will inherit the lion’s share of the Ron Paul vote, if Romney wins the election and the Libertarian Party turnout is not 2 to 4 times the number of votes it received in 2008 it will raise doubts about whether those votes were either stolen or somehow lost.

So, with Romney delaying his concession because of the tightness of the Ohio race , the big story on election night or maybe the day after will be that the Libertarian Party scored a big win in expanding their vote by 2 to 4 fold and possibly affecting the result..