This year was the year traditional polling collided with modern statistics. Most people I know watched FiveThirtyEight.com, but I preferred the math at the Princeton Election Consortium. These sites both took every poll they could find, analyzed the data, and presented a better picture of the race than any single poll could. (Pollster.com and, the site we all watched in 2004, electoral-vote.com also had some good data.) Right now all those sites are predicting an Obama victory, although they differ in some of the details.
Here’s how to quickly assess the electoral vote count. In 2004, Kerry won the northeast through PA and MD, the midwest states of MI, IL, WI, and MN, the west coast, and HI. He lost the EV count by 286 to 252, basically by losing OH.
For Obama to win, he needs to win all the 2004 Kerry states plus another big one. That big one could be OH, it could be VA, it could be FL. He only needs one. His firewall is IA + CO + NM; if he wins those three he doesn’t need to win a non-Kerry biggie. This is why his prospects look so good, he has many ways reach 269 EV.
For McCain to win, he has to basically run the table. He has put a lot of effort into winning PA, which is 1) large, 2) a Kerry state that could upset Obama’s math, 3) seems susceptible to racist attacks, and 4) has no early voting. But, of course, he has to win a lot more states that are polling for Obama in order to win.
I think we’ll have some idea what will happen early. The first polls close at 7:00 PM EST in GA, IN, KY, SC, VT, and VA. Pay close attention to IN, GA, VA, and SC. How these states come in compared to their polls will be indictave of the night. VA, GA, and SC will tell us a lot about how the South will go. In will tell us a lot about how PA and OH will go.
I predict an Obama blowout. His ground game is easily worth a couple of points, and the pollsters’ demographics are underestimating Obama support. Early voting seems to validate these points. Nationwide: +8.
He’ll win all the Kerry states plus FL, VA, NV, OH, IA, NM, CO, MO, NC, IN, MT, ND, GA. He’ll win GA by the smallest margin, and lose either AZ or WV by the smallest margin.
I also expect some serious Obama coattails, and that down ballot races will also do better. In the senate, Dem pickups in NM, CO, NH, OR, AK, MN, NC, and GA. No KY or MS.
In the house, 260 seats for the Dems.
For governorships, wins in OR, MO, NE, WV, HN, DE, and NC. NC will be the closest, but between Obama’s and Hagen’s coattails I expect Perdue to eke it out.
And California Prop 8 will lose, barely. Again, Obama’s coattails.
This isn’t enough. What I really want to lose is the Republican all-slime-all-the-time campaign strategy. I want McCain, Dole, Coleman and the rest to be so discredited that no one will try to run a campaign that way again. I want campaigns to be about ideas. Maybe that’s too much to ask.