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Playing With The Electoral Vote Numbers
Posted by: MichaelW on Friday, July 18, 2008

I've been playing around some with the Electoral Vote Counter that Dale created (found over in the side bar under "Resources") and, by my count, it appears to me that the decisive states will be Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Virginia. The least important state of these four is West Virginia because winning there still requires winning at least two of the others to take the race. If we assume that it stays on the Republican Party trend, then the winner of the election will take two of Pennsylvania, Virginia and Ohio. These will be the most significant swing states in my opinion, and I think that Obama will manage to win tight races in both Virginia and Pennsylvania. My prediction, therefore, is that the Democratic candidate will win the election in November.

In arriving at my conclusion, I started out with the same electoral map as the results of the 2000 election between George Bush and Al Gore. Cross referencing that to the 1996 and 2004 elections, we can be reasonably certain about which camp most states will fall into.

Safe Republican States:

North Carolina
South Carolina
North Dakota
South Dakota

Electoral Votes: 178

Safe Democratic States:

Rhode Island
New York
New Jersey
District of Columbia

Electoral Votes: 227

Right off the bat you can see the advantage that Democrats have by having a solid base in the big electoral states of New York and California, as well as the North East. This leaves 133 votes up for grabs. Again, looking at the Election 2000 map, here's how I think the following states sort out:

Likely Republican:

New Hampshire
West Virginia

Electoral Votes: 67
Total Republican: 245

Likely Democratic:

New Mexico

Electoral Votes: 12
Total Democratic: 239

The remaining states have 54 electoral votes between them:

Pennsylvania = 21
Virginia = 13
Ohio = 20

Based on my map, the Democrat needs 32 votes to hit the magic number, and the Republican needs 26. Either way, the eventual victor must win at least two of these states.

Pennsylvania: Obama hurt himself in the Keystone State during the primaries with his "clinging" remark, and Hillary ended up winning the state by a handy margin. Significantly, Obama never polled over the 50% mark during the race, mostly bouncing around in the low to mid forties, which is where he eventually ended up (45.4%). For John McCain, the race was basically over by the time PA voters went to the polls, so he won handily with 73% of the vote, but capturing only 586,904 voters compared to the 1,260,060 that Hillary received and 1,045,148 that went to Obama. That spells trouble for McCain, no matter how much Western PA may dislike Obama. Plus, judging by the current RCP Average, Obama seems poised to take PA, although it will probably be closer in November than the almost 8-point edge he enjoys now. So my prediction is PA for Obama making the electoral tally Dem. - 260, Rep. - 245.

Ohio: The swing states of swing states, Ohio really is anyone's guess. McCain did surprising well there (60%) in the primaries against a much deeper field than the Democrats faced. Obama lost to Hillary by about the same margin as he lost Pennsylvania. As for the current race, the polls are bouncing around all over, and although Obama currently enjoys a 4.5-point lead, the electorate is probably tighter than that. George Bush took Ohio in the last two elections, and Bill Clinton in the two before that. There is no real clear trend line, but judging by McCain's greater popularity in the primaries, and the fact that Obama lost his race there, I think that Ohio may go to McCain. If so, that would make the race Rep. - 265, Dem. - 260.

Virginia: Over the past several years, as the population of Northern Virginia has grown, Virginia has become an increasingly purple state. It's still pretty red, especially in the Shenandoah Valley and Southern Virginia, but the large population centers in the D.C. suburbs and the Virginia Beach area have the state trending blue. The last two Governors have been Democrats, one of the current Senators (Jim Webb) is a Democrat, and the other will likely be come November (taking over RINO John Warner's seat). Obama did quite well in the Old Dominion, winning 64% of the primary ballots. McCain did enough, winning by nine points over his next closest rival, Mike Huckabee, but only managed to get 50% of the total. Right now the race between the presumptive nominees is neck-and-neck, although it's been trending slightly towards Obama over the past few weeks. I don't expect the race to open up for either candidate as we get down to the wire, and I think it's exceedingly likely that the winner of Virginia has a margin of only a few thousand, if not hundred, votes. If Obama wins here, then its over (based on my map). If McCain wins, then he still needs Ohio to take the race. My gut feeling right now is that Obama emerges victorious in Virginia, but that there will be a series of recounts (a la Bush v. Gore) that eventually decides the race. In other words, for at least several days after election Tuesday, the entire country will be watching Virginia to see who the next President will be.

In the end, Barack Obama will be inaugurated On January 20, 2009 as the 44th President of the United States.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Just as a note, the VA primary was right after Romney dropped out. I almost didn’t bother going to vote, figuring it was sewn up by then. In the end, I did, but there are probably a lot of people who didn’t, so I’m not sure the R primary numbers here mean a whole lot.

I think Obama has a better shot in OH and PA than in VA, even with Webb and Warner and Kaine. We’ll see, I guess.

(Also, should I be the nitpicker that points out that DC isn’t a state? :) )
Written By: kevin r
URL: http://
Spot on.
I agree... which probably means you’ll reconsider. :)

I Don’t live in any of the states you cite as swingers, but knowing you live in VA, and from what I’ve been observing, I think your prediction about VA is very credible.

I think that if Obama wins VA, he wins the White House. Which is why I thought that Webb would’ve been a good veep choice for Obama, despite the ticket having two junior senators on one ticket.
I mean, Webb reminds one of the all American gingertop boy. You know the one. The one that secretly bullied the other kids but was overly polite to their parents. (What??? You didn’t have one of those? F*cking Tommy Barrister... Taking my Mongoose bicycle... I heard he’s serving a ten year stint now. Wanker!)

Eddie Haskell if you will.

But I understand that Webb has taken himself out of the race. I guess one of the others might do for Obama nicely.

Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
Gosh how I wish there was some way to make a wager...
I’ve said before, I live in a VERY blue State, and the Bradley effect will be in play, HUGE. By the time a couple debates are complete, I don’t think it’ll even be close.
Written By: Greybeard
Gosh how I wish there was some way to make a wager...
What did you have in mind? Surely two gentlemen can work something out.
I’ve said before, I live in a VERY blue State, and the Bradley effect will be in play, HUGE.
Maybe. I can’t really say. Even if you’re right though, I just don’t see it having the same effect as it did in the primaries. It’s one thing to vote for one of two "friendlies" and quite another to choose an enemy over a natural ally.
By the time a couple debates are complete, I don’t think it’ll even be close.
Really? You think the debates will help McCain? If people followed them solely on the actual policies promoted and positions taken I could see your point. But the fact is that people tune in for sound bytes (if they tune in at all), and don’t seem to care one way or another about the substance of debates. Whether a candidate sounds confident and appears poised seems to carry more weight than the words coming out of his mouth. In such circumstances I think Obama holds a serious edge.

Add to that the fact that no amount of bad news or worse associations seems to stick to the guy. Regardless of who he throws under the bus, or which position he flip-flops on, it doesn’t really impact his support. So he can take every position, commit to none, and manage to come out smelling like a rose.

Written By: MichaelW

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