Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: Predictions: Who will come out on top this Election Day?

Published: Sunday, Nov. 4 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, right, and President Barack Obama, left, greet members of the audience at the end of the final debate at Lynn University, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, in Boca Raton, Fla. (Associated Press) Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, right, and President Barack Obama, left, greet members of the audience at the end of the final debate at Lynn University, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, in Boca Raton, Fla. (Associated Press)

Breathe a sigh of relief. It's almost over. Some final pre-election thoughts:

What will a Mitt Romney win or loss mean for the worldwide LDS Church?

Pignanelli: "Nowadays it's not as important for voters to know what a politician has done as what he or she hasn't done." — Edward Blakeman. The Delta Airline hub in Salt Lake City. The 2002 Olympics. The Romney candidacy. In the last half-century these three significant events fostered opportunities for the world to learn LDS adherents are a distinctive and wonderful people.

In 2012, billions observed on their television screen "a Mormon" who is a successful, articulate leader devoted to his family and faith. I cannot overemphasize this impact. Anti-Romney Super PACs organized earlier this year to fund disparaging media hits on LDS doctrine failed to secure support — evidence that opinions of Mormons have changed. The Romney family destroyed misperceptions and established respect in behalf of fellow congregants. Regardless of Tuesday's results, there will be 14 million winners on Wednesday.

Webb: Whether Romney wins or loses, the whole election experience will be a big net plus for the LDS Church, especially over the long term. Nothing has generated so much worldwide attention and visibility for the church like Romney's presidential bid. Some of the focus has been negative, and some has been positive. But on balance it will be good for the church.

If Romney loses, the Mormon-haters and Romney-haters will attempt to spin it as some sort of repudiation of Romney's religion. And certainly a small number of voters will never vote for a Mormon. But the much bigger story is the fact that a Mormon candidate became acceptable to most Americans. The religion issue was pushed mostly to the background once people got to know Romney.

If Romney wins, the spotlight shines even brighter on the church. But, again, the impact is mixed. A President Romney would have to make very tough decisions. Presidential popularity can fade very quickly. Whatever happens, millions of people no doubt see Mormons and the LDS Church in a different, more positive way than they did previously. That's progress for the LDS Church.

What should Utah voters remember this Election Day?

Pignanelli: I get it. I've lived here my whole life —- so I really get it. Thus, I will not encourage any reader not to support Romney. However, I beseech all Utahns to remember on Election Day and beyond the important contribution Barack Obama made to this country. There is no serious dispute that President Obama is an intelligent, hard-working, well-intentioned American dedicated to his family and community (similar to Romney). He occupies the White House with a dignity and depth nonexistent with many of his predecessors. Yes, I can fill volumes with the mistakes and missed opportunities committed by his administration. Yet, Obama's detractors resort to bizarre charges (i.e., missing birth certificates and college records, etc.) because they have nothing else for personal attacks. The president is an ethical and honest politician. Finally, Obama delivered the valuable gift we awaited for so long: absolute evidence this country allows for success regardless of creed and color.

Webb: Remember to vote. Remember that voting is a sacred privilege. Remember to give thanks for the opportunity. Remember to be good sports and to respect whoever wins the various offices at stake.

In Utah, will there be any major upsets? What can we expect in the 4th Congressional District and Salt Lake County mayor races?

Pignanelli: Look for upsets in state legislative races where incumbents from either party could suffer from the hard work and shrewd strategies of a plucky challenger. Rep. Jim Matheson and state Sen. Ben McAdams have fielded the best ground organizations in the state's political history. Their creative messaging and solid effort will provide the necessary fortress against a Romney tsunami. Expect both races to be close and not called until early Wednesday morning.

Webb: Mia Love upsets Matheson on the strength of Romney's coattails. The only significant Democratic win is McAdams in the Salt Lake County mayoral race. He wins narrowly because of a superior air war with positive and humorous ads, and a feeling among some moderate Republicans that they ought to vote for at least one Democrat.

Who will win the presidency and why?

Pignanelli: Millions of "Reagan Democrats" delivered a landslide to the Republican challenger in 1980. "Romney Democrats" are a limited species, so Obama wins Ohio and the Electoral College. Obama wins the popular vote with less than 1 percent margin.

Webb: As I've written previously, I'm probably like a lot of older-generation Mormons, who still harbor a bit of persecution complex in the way we expect the world to view us and treat us. We're a peculiar people and proud of it, and we expect to take some abuse. So it's been a bit hard to bring myself to believe that a committed Mormon could actually be elected to the most powerful position on earth. But Romney has done remarkably well. I questioned whether he could even win the Republican nomination. So I, for one, am extremely proud of him. And I'll put my insecurities aside and predict he's going to win on Tuesday because a majority of voters want a fresh start.

Republican LaVarr Webb is a political consultant and lobbyist. Previously he was policy deputy to Gov. Mike Leavitt and Deseret News managing editor. Email: lwebb@exoro.com. Democrat Frank Pignanelli is a Salt Lake attorney, lobbyist and political adviser. Pignanelli served 10 years in the Utah House of Representatives, six years as minority leader. His spouse, D'Arcy Dixon Pignanelli, is a state tax commissioner. Email: frankp@xmission.com.

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