Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Electoral College Map (11/4/08)

NOTE: In the interest of time, I'm going to keep this short. [I'll also add in the polls a little later on, but I wanted to get this up.]

On the last full day of campaigning before election day on Monday, we were treated to a mountain of new polling. In all, there were 52 new polls from 20 states and they gave us a relatively clear picture of what to expect today. Now, we shouldn't get wrapped up in one day's worth of polling on Election Eve anymore than we should after, say, the conventions, but once those polls are factored in to FHQ's graduated weighted average of all the polls in a state since Super Tuesday, we get a pretty good idea of where the candidates are relative to each other in each of the states.

On Election Day, that idea looks a lot like an Obama victory. There is actually no movement on Obama's side of the partisan line today, but Georgia slips out of the strong McCain category and into the McCain lean area. Will the Peach state move even more toward Obama once the votes are cast today and tabulated this evening? Possibly. The Pollster trend line is very instructive. McCain is moving down and Obama is moving up. The only question is whether Obama is actually able to pass McCain today or whether, if that trend line continued on its current course, that would happen if the election were next Tuesday instead of today. Well, that's why we cast our votes. We'll see soon enough.

Changes (Nov. 3)
GeorgiaStrong McCainMcCain lean

Still, centering in on just those strong Obama states provides some insight. As we've said, the Illinois senator is just six electoral votes shy of 270 with those strong states alone. All he has to do is pick up Colorado or Virginia or Nevada or Ohio or Florida. Obama could even lose Pennsylvania and add Colorado and Virginia to win.

...or Ohio.

...or Florida.
[Click Map to Enlarge]

In other words, Obama is poised to become the 44th President of the United States. There was no November surprise. [Well, this coal thing could prove consequential at the margins, but that hardly qualifies as a surprise.] And the only things left unknown are turnout and the Bradley effect.

Will turnout be as high or higher than expected? Well, as I went past our polling station to catch the bus this morning, the line was out the door, around the building and into the fire truck garage at Athens Firehouse #7. But it was like that on a misty morning four years ago as well.

Will there be an above average Bradley effect? As we've shown, an average Bradley effect just won't do it for McCain. It would be closer, but Obama would likely emerge victorious.

The Electoral College Spectrum* -- (11/4/08)
*Follow the link for a detailed explanation on how to read the Electoral College Spectrum.
**The numbers in the parentheses refer to the number of electoral votes a candidate would have if he won all the states ranked prior to that state. If, for example, McCain won all the states up to and including Colorado (all Obama's toss up states plus Colorado), he would have 274 electoral votes. Both candidates numbers are only totaled through their rival's toss up states. In those cases, Obama's number is on the left and McCain's is on the right in italics.

Colorado is the state where Obama crosses (or McCain would cross) the 270 electoral vote threshold to win the presidential election. That line is referred to as the victory line. It is currently favoring Obama, thus the blue text in that cell.

That said, the junior senator from Illinois stands to gain 338 electoral votes when all the votes are counted if our map is correct. However, as we've discussed in light of recent polling, Obama can extend that number if this turns into a wave election. It wouldn't be unexpected if Obama swept the toss up states on both sides of the partisan line and stretched into the McCain lean states. Is that likely? Well, not as likely as Obama winning those states up to the partisan line (where light blue turns to pink), but it is certainly possible. Missouri is as close to a tie as it can get right now -- by our measure and in recent polling. Both the Show-Me state and North Carolina are within where Florida is on the opposite side of the line and with the way the momentum is heading, seem more likely candidates to change sides than the Sunshine state. Essentially the further you go into the red or blue the less likely it is that Obama or McCain, respectively, are able to peel off those states from their opponent.

The Watch List*
Arizonafrom Strong McCainto McCain lean
Floridafrom Toss Up Obamato Toss Up McCain
Georgiafrom McCain leanto Strong McCain
Michiganfrom Strong Obamato Obama lean
Missourifrom Toss Up McCainto Toss Up Obama
Nevadafrom Toss Up Obamato Obama lean
Montanafrom McCain leanto Toss Up McCain
New Hampshirefrom Strong Obamato Obama lean
New Mexicofrom Strong Obamato Obama lean
North Carolinafrom Toss Up McCainto Toss Up Obama
Ohiofrom Toss Up Obamato Obama lean
Virginiafrom Obama leanto Toss Up Obama
West Virginiafrom McCain leanto Strong McCain
*Weighted Average within a fraction of a point of changing categories.

Today's Watch List is, well, superfluous. It appears that some last-minute Zogby polls will be the last ones to incorporate into FHQ's averages. However, what the list does now is provide an idea of where these states are in relation to the various lines of demarcation.

What's on tap for today at FHQ?
1) We've got an update from Scott on his 50% Rule Electoral College Map.
2) I'll have the final map update up mid-afternoon.
3) FHQ is lucky enough to be married to a photographer. I may talk her into bringing the camera with us to vote today. If so, I'll post the pictures.
4) I will also tweak the Election Night Scenario Analysis.
5) Last but not least, I'll be liveblogging election night. And yeah, I'll have some nice chronological maps to look at for years to come, so that we have a record of the evening's progression. One thing we lack from the networks is what that looks like. To them, once a state is colored in that's it.

I hope to see everyone here this evening and if you haven't already, go on out and vote. It's election day! Or as someone told me in a surprised voice on the bus this morning, "Oh, it's president day!"

It sure is.

Recent Posts:
Open Thread: Election Day! AM Edition

An Election Night Scenario Analysis

The Electoral College Map (11/3/08)

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