August 13, 2004

Do The (Electoral) Math 

posted by Paul Smith @ 12:32 PM
I hope Polis readers are already familiar with the Electoral Vote Predictor; if not, it should be part of your daily reading. It's updated every morning with the latest available polling from each state. The recent numbers should be soothing to hand-wringing Democrats worried about tight but meaningless nation-wide popular vote polls. Be sure to read the "News from the Votemaster" that accompanies each update; from today's:
Consider the significance of the map today. Kerry is leading by 116 votes in the electoral college. Suppose Bush loses Ohio and Florida? What can he do to catch up? He might win West Virginia, Missouri, Iowa, and Wisconsin. Minnesota, Oregon, and Maine are currently barely Kerry, but it is likely Kerry will carry them in the end. Michigan and Pennsylvania are increasingly solid for Kerry. Bush has little hope there unless the September and October jobs reports are unexpectedly stellar.

So if Bush wins West Virginia, Missouri, Iowa, and Wisconsin, the electoral college score is Kerry 294, Bush 244. If Bush wins Florida as well, he wins 271 to 267 like last time unless the Colorado referendum passes, in which case Kerry will get 4 votes in the electoral college from Colorado and still win the election. All this goes to show that without Ohio, Bush has to win all the Midwestern states still within his grasp and pray the Colorado referendum either fails or is shot down by the Supreme Court, which is probably not keen on deciding another election. Conclusion: a few tens of thousands of undecided voters in Ohio may swing the election. And remember, historically undecideds break 2 to 1 for the challenger against the incumbent.
No surprise there on the conclusion, but the number of possible paths this election could take is being reduced every day. There are still so many uncertainties with 80 days to go, and it promises to become very unpredictable as Bush et al. realize it's slipping away from them and start pulling out Plan Bs. But unthinkables aside, numbers like these let Kerry reach out to moderate Republicans and keep Bush near his base, throwing red meat (i.e. Kerry-hatin').

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