The national polls have shown a presidential horse race that is stagnant or maybe slightly moving toward John McCain. But national polls are useless in a presidential election.
It’s all about the state polls, and Electoral College delegates. John McCain might be a great closer (although a lousy candidate the other 90 percent of the time) and Barack Obama might be a lousy closer (remember New Hampshire, Indiana, et al), but the map and the numbers are not kind to McCain right now.
Sure, McCain might be able to turn the slow-moving national numbers into a steady stream in the next five days, get state polls going his way, and pull off the upset, but I wouldn’t count on it.
First, the Save Fitchburg theory on polls. Yes, they can be wrong. But over time, with multiple pollsters using multiple methods, it creates a good snapshot on what’s going on. Might polls be wrong? Yes. The 2000 exit polls were a disaster. But these aren’t exit polls. In battleground states, there are so many polls that over the course of the last few months they should be considered pretty reliable.
Let’s break it down. The projections below are from fivethirtyeight.com
, a fantastic, scientifically solid site. It’s run by one of those baseball sabermetrics/Moneyball guys. Check it out for all the details. But the theory here is they have a formula that goes over poll results and spits out percentages on probable results. It’s a step beyond poll numbers and looks at probability. Great stuff.
At the bottom of the post is a state-by-state rundown to go digging around the numbers.
Obama has 214 Electoral College votes that are considered 100 percent in the bag. Something crazy would have to happen there. We’re talking California, New York, and yes, Massachusetts here. They aren’t going anywhere.
At the next level, Obama can count on 50 EC votes with 95 percent confidence. The biggie in this group includes Pennsylvania. This gets him to 264. McCain is in trouble. Obama has 22 more EC votes with 90 percent probability. That’s 284, and we’ve got a winner. He’s got 25 more at 80-plus probability, for 319 Electoral College votes.
For McCain, he’s got 118 votes in the 100 percent column, and another 24 at 95 percent. He’s got 18 at 90 percent probability or better, and 3 at 80 percent or better. That’s 163, 107 votes short of the presidency.
The rest are the close battlegrounds. It’s four states, 64 Electoral College votes, including the 27 in Florida. If McCain were to win all of those, he’s at 227, still 43 away from the White House. He’d have to win all of the Obama states at 80-95 percent probability to get 47 votes. Those are Colorado, Virginia, Nevada and Ohio. Obama wins his 95 percent probabilities, and one of those at 80 percent or better, and he wins the presidency. That doesn’t include the 64 EC votes in the close battlegrounds.
The options are very few for McCain. He pretty much has to with both Florida and Ohio if he wants to pull this out, and then do more. Even if he loses both Florida and Ohio, fivethirtyeight projects Obama having a 73 percent chance of winning if he loses them both.
Florida and Ohio would pump another 47 into the McCain column. That gets him to 210, based on the above 163 for McCain lead-pipe cinches. Now he needs to find 60 more. The other closes races – North Carolina, Indiana and Missouri are 37 votes. He needs 23 more. Virginia and Colorado are 22. Now he needs one more state. Any state. Nevada and New Mexico would be likely targets, but we’re dipping into states that are 90 percent probable for Obama.
So, to summarize, McCain needs to figure a way to win Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Indiana, Missouri, Virginia, Colorado and Small State X. If he loses either of the first two, he’ll need to find two states to cover for that loss (unless he absolutely steals Pennsylvania).
It’s been interesting the last week or so. You go to some of the big general-interest Websites (I’m thinking Yahoo! in particular here, although Comcast.net isn’t too far behind), and they’ve been headlining the little changes in the national polls in McCain’s favor. The media has loved the Good Story above all else, and a last-minute comeback by McCain would be the ultimate Good Story. Why not keep it alive until the end?
There are a number of variables that can change between now and Tuesday – about 50 to be exact – but there appear to be too many “ifs” and “got tos” for McCain to pull this off. It should probably be a relatively late night, at least until 11 p.m. California’s 55 delegates are a big chunk of the Obama tally, so he might need those to get to 270. If it’s called earlier than that, wow, is it going to be a blow out.
Here’s the list. The number after the state is the Electoral College delegates for that state.
Obama, 100 percent projections: 214
California 55, Obama 100 percent
Connecticut 7, Obama 100 percent
DC 3, Obama 100 percent
Delaware 3, Obama 100 percent
Hawaii 4, Obama 100 percent
Iowa 7, Obama 100 percent
Illinois 21, Obama 100 percent
Massachusetts 12, Obama 100 percent
Maryland 10, Obama 100 percent
Maine 4, Obama 100 percent
Michigan 17, Obama 100 percent
New Jersey 15, Obama 100 percent
New York 31, Obama 100 percent
Oregon 7, Obama 100 percent
Rhode Island 4, Obama 100 percent
Vermont 3, Obama 100 percent
Washington 11, Obama 100 percent
Obama, 95-plus projections: 50
Minnesota 10, Obama 99 percent
New Hampshire 4, Obama 97 percent
New Mexico 5, Obama 98 percent
Pennsylvania 21, Obama, 99 percent
Wisconsin 10, Obama 99 percent
Obama, 90-plus projections: 22
Colorado 9, Obama, 93 percent
Virginia 13, Obama 94 percent
Obama, 80-plus projections: 25
Nevada 5, Obama 83 percent
Ohio 20, Obama 80 percent
McCain, 100 percent projections: 118
Alaska 3, McCain 100 percent
Alabama 9, McCain 100 percent
Arkansas 6, McCain 100 percent
Idaho 4, McCain 100 percent
Kansas 6, McCain 100 percent
Kentucky 8, McCain 100 percent
Louisiana 9, McCain 100 percent
Nebraska 5, McCain 100 percent
Oklahoma 7, McCain 100 percent
South Carolina 8, McCain 100 percent
Tennessee 11, McCain 100 percent
Texas 34, McCain 100 percent
Utah 5, McCain 100 percent
Wyoming 3, McCain 100 percent
McCain, 95-plus projections: 24
Arizona 10, McCain 97 percent
Mississippi 6, McCain 99 percent
South Dakota 3, McCain 99 percent
West Virginia 5, McCain 98 percent
McCain, 90-plus projections: 18
Georgia 15, McCain 92 percent
North Dakota 3, McCain 90 percent
McCain, 80-plus projections: 3
Montana 3, McCain 89 percent
The rest: 64
Florida 27, Obama 70 percent
North Carolina 15, Obama 57 percent
Indiana 11, McCain 56 percent
Missouri 11, Obama 53 percent
Labels: Presidential politics