Other Possible Outcomes

Friday, October 03, 2008

In the last few days, I have posted several articles demonstrating the lead Obama is now enjoying, including some maps that show an overwhelming electoral victory.

The truth is, most of those maps depend on certain states falling into line with polls that are still within the margin of error, which only show a small Obama lead. Some of those states have shown a McCain lead for months, including Florida, where Obama has only recently seen a 2 to 3 point advantage.

It would not take much to change the current dynamics of this race.

Consider one state: New Hampshire. This state has recently been pretty solid ground for Democrats, but has the potential to swing the other way. The rebelliousness of New Hampshire’s electorate is well known, which has been known to unexpectedly kill off more than one leading primary candidate. It also tends to house have a moderate band of Republicans, who were once attracted to the McCain of old.

If Obama only holds onto the states where he is currently showing an above-the-margin-of-error-lead, and McCain wins New Hampshire, the race ends with a 269 to 269 electoral tie.

Worse, - in my eyes - if history repeats itself and McCain has a comeback in Colorado, traditionally a red state, McCain wins 274 to 264, even if Obama hangs on to New Hampshire.

Yesterday McCain pulled his human and financial resources out of Michigan. My bet is, he is going to pound Obama in New Hampshire, Colorado and the remaining swing states in another Hail Mary attempt to pull off a slim victory.

What’s your take?
UPDATE: Mike Allen at Politico discusses the above scenerio and a few others that could lead to a McCain victory.


Smitty 8:44 AM  

It is important for us to know how close this is. We cannot take for granted our GOTV efforts, which republicans are better at.

Statistics show that if it rains or snows, for example, on election day that Democrats tend to stay home. I know it sounds silly, but it's a well-known Democratic foible here, at least in Michigan.

This is still close, and it's a loooong way from over.

B Mac 9:01 AM  

I love doing the electoral math guessing game as much as anyone. But whenever I start getting concerned, I take a look at the national tracker numbers:

R2000 tracker = O+11
Rasmussen tracker = O+7
Battleground tracker = O+7
Gallup tracker = O+5
D/H Tracker = O+5

While a popular vote victory doesn't necessarily equate to a Electoral College victory, you'd be hard-pressed to find a scenario where one candidate won by 6 points and DIDN'T win the election.

McCain is in a position where he has to defend everything. Obama only has to win ONE of FL, OH, VA, NC, MO, CO, or IN. And as Fredrick the Great said, "to defend everything is to defend nothing."

In football terms, think of it like an electoral spread offense. He can get closer to election day, look at the match-ups, and decide which areas of the field he wants to exploit.

(For example, if I was a Michigan fan, I would suggest that they throw it up to Braylon Edwards/Mario Manningham/whoever else is 8 inches taller than the Michigan State corner...)

Bob 9:20 AM  

"While a popular vote victory doesn't necessarily equate to a Electoral College victory, you'd be hard-pressed to find a scenario where one candidate won by 6 points and DIDN'T win the election."

Actually the scenerio in this post showing a McCain victory would likely mean that Obama wins the popular vote, but McCain wins the electoral college.


B Mac 9:55 AM  

Again, it's possible. But when you win by 6 or 7 million votes (which is roughly a 6% win), the votes have to come from somewhere. The odds of those votes coming from the exact places to allow the "loser" to win are very slim; I refer you once again to fivethirtyeight...


Smitty 10:30 AM  

Bob, correct me if I'm wrong, but I think you are trying to very nicely convey the following message about potential electoral outcomes:

This ain't over. Just because Barack is doing well all over the place doesn't mean it's over. Why? Media coverage and lazy voters.

Media: if the winds look like they may change, the media will report a complete switch in the other direction. That makes a difference.

Lazy voters: Democratic voters are, at their core, lazy. If they don't *have* to vote, they won't (see above comment re: rain, snow). They tend, thus, to get overconfident. Democratic candidates start to clean-up. Dem voters stay home thinking all the other Dem voters, since there seem to be so many this time around, will do all the voting. Pretty soon, Dems don't show up.

Taht's why this can still change. The media will fuck it up and overract, and Dem voters will get overconfident and stay home.

Bob 10:53 AM  

Smitty, I think you are partially correct.

While I think you describe the historic laziness of Democratic voters pretty well, I think Democratic voters will be pretty motivated this year. I think this will be especially true among African American voters. I expect long, long, long lines at the polls.

There are other factors though, most notably the Bradley effect. We still don’t know if voters are lying about their vote preference to avoid being branded as a racist. Also, there is still the chance that people will be motivated to vote McCain based on so-called cultural issues. I fully expect McCain’s dollars in Michigan to be replaced by soft-money 527 ads and RNC ads that will knock the crap out of Obama.

Smitty 11:05 AM  

I fully expect McCain’s dollars in Michigan to be replaced by soft-money 527 ads and RNC ads that will knock the crap out of Obama.

Absolutely. He makes it public that he's out, but 527s make it look like with or without the candidate's formal infrastructure here, there is still a "groundswell of support for McCain." And it can get even dirtier than McCain's already-low ads.

Bob 11:11 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
B Mac 12:48 PM  

Those are two distinct possibilities:

a) The polls are wrong, and Obama's support is weaker than is otherwise indicated

b) The GOTV battle goes to the GOP for the 67th consecutive cycle.

I don't think either is very likely, but they are both possible.

My only point is that if the polls are anywhere near accurate, McCain is quickly running out of options.

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