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You probably wouldn’t be surprised to learn that political science departments often run sweepstakes around elections.What might surprise you is that the election specialists or national politics gurus rarely win. In my experience – admittedly not a huge sample – the winners are more likely to be (a) the secretaries and (b) the political theorists. Probably because those are the people paying less attention to the models and surveys and more attention to everyday talk. And it’s not the models that vote; it’s the people.

I’m also weary of “told you so” analysis, especially when there is no evidence that the teller actually did say so. I will give some analysis after the fact, but for now think there’s some value in putting on record my “pre-factual” (like it?) view, with which you can beat me later, if you see fit.

So, in light of that commitment to prefactual views, and in the belief that my view of US national politics is certainly no better than the average US political science department administrator or theorist, here’s my confident prediction about the winner of the election tonight.

Barack Obama. By less than he managed last time, but not by a whisker. Possibly with a few legal battles, but many fewer than some pundits are predicting.

What’s that based on? I could cite some interesting research on this — and following tomorrow’s result, I will — but tonight I’m deliberately dismissing all the psephological stuff and going with my gut. Talking with other know-nothings, sucking my finger and sticking it in the air to see which way the wind is blowing.

I look forward to seeing how well that pans out.