The Bright Coast

Progressive Thoughts from San Diego Alums on Law, Politics, and Culture

The 2008 Map

Posted by demkid on September 24, 2008

I’ve always been poll junkie, fascinated by trends, margins of error, sample sizes, and pretty colors.  Toward the end of the last 2 presidential election cycles, I even made my own electoral maps, in an attempt to show the state of the races and forecast what might happen on Election Day.  Fortunately for me (since I have limited time these days) there are good sites around the internet that gather poll data and average everything up to show what’s happening on a daily basis. 

As we all know from 2000, American presidential elections aren’t decided by who gets the most overall votes, but by who wins the most electors.  I’ve read a lot of articles over the past couple of months about how the current electoral map might be significantly different this time around.  Frankly, I tend to disagree with this analysis, and think that if things stay more or less where they are now, the map will be mainly unchanged from 2004 and extremely close on 11-4.  I’ve paid close attention to state by state polling since the conventions, and this only reinforces my opinion.

A cool site where you can play with the electoral map can be found here.  After some careful thought, there are two very likely scenarios in my mind that both come out the same way: 269-269.  Assuming that one candidate doesn’t get some huge boost in the last 6 weeks, either of these possibilities is clearly on the table.  First, take the 2004 electoral map.  The way I see it, Obama should pick up Iowa and New Mexico (he leads by 9 and 6 points).  If he were to pick up one more state, one of the next likeliest would be Nevada (McCain leads by 1.7% in the latest polls).  If nothing else changes, look at the numbers: 269-269.  Second, again start with the 2004 map, and give Obama Iowa and New Mexico.  Another Western state in which Obama is doing well, is Colorado (he’s up by 4 points).  Giving him Colorado, and taking away Nevada, gives him 273, enough to win the election.  However, maverick McCain is doing well in the one Northeastern state where he has any chance…New Hampshire.  President Bush won NH in 2000, and Obama currently has a 1.7% lead there.  Taking away their 4 electoral votes, leaves us again with 269-269. 

Of course, lots of other states are close, and could be game-enders if they fall one way or the other.  But, I just have a slight feeling that Obama, who basically won a tie in the primary, might just win another tie in the general.  Remember, an electoral college tie goes to the state congressional delegations, currently controlled by Democrats.  I think it’s also more likely that Obama would win more popular votes in a scenario like this, so that would legitimize his tie/win.  However, wouldn’t it just be great if the Democrats could take some payback for 2000, if McCain winds up winning the popular vote and is denied the presidency? 

Probably way too early for all of this right now, but something to follow in the upcoming weeks if there are no major shifts in public opinion.  Of course, I hope things shift to Senator Obama so we don’t have either of the above scenarios as possibilities, but it’ll be a fun Tuesday night/Wednesday morning (or longer?) if something like this happens!

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