Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Election Math

In the 2000 presidential election, everything came down to the results of the Florida vote—the winner of Florida won the presidency. In 2004, the key state was Ohio—had George Bush gotten just 150,000 less votes in Ohio, John Kerry would be running for reelection. 2008 will be the same way—a handful of swing states will decide the election. Realistically, it doesn’t much matter how you vote if you live in states such as Texas or California—barring a landslide, those states will go Republican and Democrat, respectively. The all important toss-up states will choose the next President of the United States.

These states are: Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Virginia. Florida is the most important of these states for McCain—if he loses Florida, it is nearly impossible to see a realistic path to victory for him. It’s tempting to assume McCain will run away with Florida—all those retirees should be his biggest fans. But the RealClearPolitics average puts him tied with Obama there; the most recent Rasmussen poll puts Obama ahead by two points. In fairness, Obama may be riding a bounce from his foreign tour (the most amazing thing ever, according to the media), but his rise in Florida polls is still a bad sign for McCain.

Pennsylvania isn’t really much of a swing state. Obama leads in the RCP poll average by nearly eight points, although the most recent polling in that state was done in June (meaning that opinions may have shifted). Pennsylvania voted for Hillary in the primaries, and has a lot of Second Amendment-supporting hunters, and…that’s about it, really. Pennsylvania went for Kerry in 2004 and Gore in 2000, and it is difficult to imagine McCain really being competitive there. (Spark of hope for McCain: the latest Rasmussen poll—completed on June 22nd—put Obama in front by only four points, within the margin of error).

Michigan is another swing state that probably won’t swing very far—the RCP poll average there has Obama up by 6.3 points. Granted, a Detroit News poll finished on July 16th put Obama up by a mere two points, but a Rasmussen poll done on July 10th put Obama up by a more sizable eight. Michigan is governed by Democrats who haven’t done a very good job; and if McCain picks Mitt Romney (whose father was governor of Michigan) as his running mate, Michigan might conceivably be in play, though realistically, it probably won’t be. But Michigan, like Pennsylvania, is a must-win for Obama. If he loses either of these states, his campaign will be in serious trouble.

Speaking of must-win states, McCain has to win Virginia. Virginia’s electoral votes are indispensable. Fortunately, he is in fairly good position to win them—the RCP average puts Obama up by one point, but a recent Rasmussen poll puts McCain up one. Add in the Dinkins effect (the phenomenon of white voters telling pollster that they support a minority candidate when they really do not)—which could be significant in a Southern state like Virginia—and McCain should (and must) win there.

This brings us to the most important swing state: Ohio. Ohio is crucial since it is not really a must-win for either candidate, it has a sizable number of electoral votes, and has been close in recent elections. (In addition, I live here, so I’m biased). The RCP poll average puts Obama up by 1.5 points (a virtual tie). However, a recent Rasmussen poll puts McCain up by ten points[!]; an equally recent PPP (Public Policy Polling, an outfit I’d never heard of before now) puts Obama up by eight. (So much for polls). I would think that Rasmussen is generally more accurate than PPP, but it is undeniable that Ohio could very easily go either way.

If we give Obama Michigan and Pennsylvania, as well as the other states where he leads (there isn’t much doubt about New York or California), Obama ends up with 268 electoral votes. If we give McCain Florida and Virginia, as well as the all the states where he leads (I also gave him New Mexico, which I couldn’t find any polling for, but its proximity to Arizona means it could easily go McCain, and Nevada, where Obama leads, but barely, and being a Western state will probably also go McCain), McCain gets 250 votes. Ohio’s twenty electoral votes, in this scenario, would make the difference in the election.


At July 24, 2008 at 5:32 AM , Blogger WomanHonorThyself said...

what a horror if Obama actually wins..what then?

At July 24, 2008 at 8:14 AM , Blogger Beth said...

Oh good Lord, if Obama wins we will survive.

I am one Ohioan who will not vote for McCain.

At July 24, 2008 at 9:52 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The real issue is not how well Obama or McCain might do in the closely divided swing states, but that we shouldn't have swing states and spectator states in the first place. Every vote in every state should be politically relevant in a presidential election. And, every vote should be equal. We should have a national popular vote for President in which the White House goes to the candidate who gets the most popular votes in all 50 states.

The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC). The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral vote -- that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

Because of state-by-state enacted rules for winner-take-all awarding of their electoral votes, recent candidates with limited funds have concentrated their attention on a handful of closely divided swing states. Two-thirds of the visits and money were focused in just six states; 88% on 9 states, and 99% of the money went to just 16 states. Two-thirds of the states and people have been merely spectators to the presidential election.

Another shortcoming of the current system is that a candidate can win the Presidency without winning the most popular votes nationwide.

The National Popular Vote bill has been approved by 20 legislative chambers (one house in Colorado, Arkansas, Maine, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Washington, and two houses in Maryland, Illinois, Hawaii, California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Vermont). It has been enacted into law in Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, and Maryland. These states have 50 (19%) of the 270 electoral votes needed to bring this legislation into effect.



At July 24, 2008 at 10:34 AM , Anonymous Ph.D. CAPT/ US Navy (retired) Viet-Nam Vet (1966) said...

I would boo Obama and Hillary until I exhausted every molecule of glucose in my body. In fact, I am booing them now. McCain I would boo a little just to remind him that he prevented GWB to push his agenda helping LIBS then I would politely listen.
McCain has the best shot to beat Obama. Do these idiots want a dem for prez.? Anyone else would get killed in the general election but Mac. He can bring in enough independents to win. And that's what it's all about.
We've already heard the conservative BS about McCain loud and clear - he's NOT a conservative, yeah, yeah, yeah!!

But I have news for people like Beth here....NEITHER is Obama!
Oh, BTW, I've been a staunch conservative all my life, and I will proudly vote for John McCain

At July 24, 2008 at 10:57 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fellow Conservatives! There IS NO CONSERVATIVE in this race. On voting record alone, McCain IS the most conservative and the fact is that he is the Republican candidate. Nobody is going to change that.
This is a CHANGE election, if we lose because we are stupid and petty we are going to deserve the years of darkness that will make our Great Society look small.
McCain is a good man, one with whom you may differ, but where is the man that is 100 percent? I respect and graditude for his courage and service to this great nation, and I will be proud to have him as our President.

At July 24, 2008 at 11:12 AM , Anonymous A.J.W. said...

Hello Danial, I saw your link on Marie's blog today.
I would like to put my 2 cents into this subject, if I may.

It's clear that the "core" of self-centered conservatives within the Republican Party is bent on destroying it by violating Reagan's First Commandment: "Though shalt not speak ill of another Republican." Romney came out the door with a slew of attack adds aimed at Huckabee in Iowa, then trained his sights on McCain...Now he's out of the race: becauce people are sick of Romney-esque politics of attack. I was proud to be a Republican back when this was the party of Big Ideas and Idealism. Now these self centered "conservatives" want to turn us into the party of hate ("Hitlery"? Not liking someone, or their politics does not make them Nazis...we're all Americans last I checked). McCain is NOT a liberal or a democrat...he NEVER considered switching parties (that was just speculation from LIBERAL PUNDITS) and was one of the few Republicans never to abandon Bush on Iraq. Moreover, McCain was pro-life, pro-military, and pro-tax cuts back when Romney was pro-choice, didn't know ANYTHING about the military, and had only one concern when it came to taxes: "How much can I duduct this year?" If you listen to Limbaugh (who's never been brave enough to serve his country in ANY capacity, not even as a politician) and believe his crap, then you are a fool. I hope McCain wins, I hope these radicals don't blow it for our country, but if they do, THEY will be destroying conservatism as a movement, not McCain.

At July 24, 2008 at 12:08 PM , Anonymous Napqueen said...

Let the republican's attack Obama, Lord knows, there ain't been much red meat to be had from Obama's pitch perfect tour. That said, I think the notion that somehow Obama doesn't "support the troops" or whatever rope-a-dope the Conservatives and Republican's are spewing this week doesn't hold any water. We already have images of Obama sinking a three pointer in front of cheering throngs of U.S. service members in Kuwait. Do the Republican's want some cheese with their sour grapes?
Conservatives and Republicans complaining about the media's fascination with Obama is ironic given their inability to talk about anything else. Kind of like their claim to support the troops is ironic given their willingness to send them to die in unnecessary wars sold on lies.

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