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The 7-10's Electoral College Predictions

2008 is shaping up to be another wave election similar to 2006. Barack Obama has expanded the electoral map, Republicans are on defense in red states and in red congressional districts, Republicans only have one realistic Democratic target in the Senate, there is an enthusiasm gap between the parties, and the Democrats have a distinct registration advantage. Early voting totals already show increased turnout among Democrats.

Taking all of this into consideration, it seems more plausible for Barack Obama to win 370 electoral votes than it does for John McCain to win 270 electoral votes. To accomplish either of these, both candidates would have to run the table in the toss-up states. But again, in a wave election, close elections tend to consistently break for one candidate over another. This is why I believe an Obama blowout is more likely than a McCain victory of any sort.

For John McCain to win the election, he will have to win all the remaining toss-up states and overcome Obama's consistent leads in the lone blue state he is targeting. This means he has to win Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. This would get him to exactly 270 electoral votes. And again, he would have to do all of this in spite of the Democrats' advantages in battleground state polling, enthusiasm, fundraising, right track/wrong track numbers, Bush fatigue, early voting totals, and increased registration advantages. This is why it seems easier for Barack Obama to win the remaining toss-up states than John McCain.

In addition to running the table, this scenario would require McCain to defend the 2nd Congressional District in Nebraska, which encompasses Omaha. Nebraska is one of two states that allocates its electoral votes by congressional district. (Maine is the other state that does this.) Omaha is the largest city in the state and is the most Democratic of the state's three districts. It's also next door to Iowa, where Obama invested a lot of time before winning the state caucuses. This probably explains why John McCain has been campaigning in Maine. While he has little chance of carrying the state, he might be able to win the state's rural 2nd Congressional District and offset a potential loss in Omaha.

Obama's magic number is not 270, but rather 269. In the event of a 269-269 tie, the election would be decided by the House of Representatives in the next congress. Each state delegation, regardless of size, gets one vote. If a state's delegation is deadlocked, that state's vote will not count. The majority of state congressional delegations currently have Democratic majorities, and Democrats are projected to add seats after Tuesday's election. This would almost certainly mean Obama would win in a House vote.

The vice president will be determined by the Senate. As a longtime member of the Senate and a member of the majority party there, it is hard to see how the Senate would vote for Governor Sarah Palin instead of Joe Biden. So in short, the Obama-Biden ticket could win the election with 269 electoral votes. The McCain-Palin ticket cannot and needs an outright majority of 270.

Final predictions:

If the Democratic wave is real and Obama's turnout machine performs as advertised: 378 Obama, 160 McCain

In this scenario, Obama will win all of the Kerry states plus Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, and Virginia. The surprise state will be Montana (yes, Montana) because popular Democratic Governor Brian Schweitzer and Democratic Senator Max Baucus are on the ballot. A strong Libertarian presence in the state may also hamper McCain.

If Obama peaked too soon: 333 Obama, 205 McCain

If this happens, Obama will win all the states listed above except Indiana, Missouri, Montana, and Ohio.

Other predictions:

1. Based on national polling, it seems that McCain has a better chance of winning the electoral vote than winning the popular vote. In the event that McCain wins the election, but loses the popular vote, it will be interesting to see if McCain concedes defeat anyway. His "Country First" slogan may come back to haunt him in this regard.

2. The three closest states will be Missouri, Indiana, and North Carolina.

3. Elizabeth Dole's negative campaign in North Carolina may drag John McCain down too by either causing Republicans to stay home or leading to an increased Democratic turnout.

4. If the presidential race is called for Obama early in the evening, there is a very real risk that McCain can lose Arizona. Arizona is more similar to Nevada and Colorado than Utah and Idaho.

5. Turnout among Black voters may reach 70%.

8 comment(s):

S said...

The real issue is not how well Obama or McCain might do state-by-state, but that we shouldn't have battleground states and spectator states in the first place. Every vote in every state should be politically relevant in a presidential election. And, every vote should be equal. We should have a national popular vote for President in which the White House goes to the candidate who gets the most popular votes in all 50 states.

The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC). The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral vote -- that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

Because of state-by-state enacted rules for winner-take-all awarding of their electoral votes, recent candidates with limited funds have concentrated their attention on a handful of closely divided "battleground" states. In 2004 two-thirds of the visits and money were focused in just six states; 88% on 9 states, and 99% of the money went to just 16 states. Two-thirds of the states and people have been merely spectators to the presidential election.

Another shortcoming of the current system is that a candidate can win the Presidency without winning the most popular votes nationwide.

The National Popular Vote bill has passed 21 state legislative chambers, including one house in Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, North Carolina, and Washington, and both houses in California, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The bill has been enacted by Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, and Maryland. These four states possess 50 electoral votes-- 19% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.

See http://www.NationalPopularVote.com

Phillip said...

S, if we adopted a strictly national popular vote model, you would see a great rise in third parties at the presidential-politics level. Whether this is a good thing or not is debatable, sometimes I wish we did have more options. But there would often be national run-offs, with much kowtowing to the (presumably more extreme) views of the party in question in order to capture its adherents.

Also the current closely divided state of the states has caused the concentration which you mention, s. Obama's probable victory tomorrow is already going to shake up our assumptions about what are blue and what are red states, considerably. Demographic changes ahead will do more of the same. And the likely reinvention of the conservative movement, GOP in general, in the wake of its likely spanking tomorrow, is going to result in a party and movement that may once again have more diverse national appeal, rather than mostly heartland and South.

In any case, because of the desire of the two major parties to retain their grip on power, I don't think you'll ever see a Constitutional change in this regard unless something really outrageous happens.

Anthony, I like your predictions, especially the Montana one. Nice call, I think there is for sure going to be a state Obama takes unexpectedly. Georgia is my call. As for AZ, an early call for Obama could just as easily depress his turnout in there as Mac's. And you must be kidding about McCain conceding if he wins electoral but not popular. First of all, can he even do that legally? (You can be sure Palin and pals would never let it happen). Sure wish Bush would have done that in 2000, anyway.

Robin Green said...

It is looking to be a very close race and one that will be worth watching unfold.

With that said, I am very upset that nothing has changed in the whole election process. We still do not see any real coverage of the other candidates in this election. Not to mention the stories and biased bull that you have to wade through to get to the real deal.

I am glad it is soon to be over and in hopes that things will change for the next election.

S.W. Anderson said...

I'm very skeptical about Obama winning Missouri, Ohio and North Carolina. I sure hope he will win them, but won't be surprised if he doesn't.

And while I don't want to be, or be thought of as, a conspiracy theory type, I look on Ohio and Florida with great suspicion.

That said, the projections are good and strong for Obama across the board. Even after the bitter experiences of 2000 and 2004, I dare to hope — and will be sure to pray.

King Politics said...

I'm going with 322-216 for Obama.

Anthony Palmer said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone.


I do not think that switching to a national popular vote is a good idea because politicians would have no incentive to campaign in rural areas. If you campaign in the megalopolis from Boston to DC and the major population centers of the Midwest and Pacific Coast, you could ignore the Great Plains, the rural South, and the Mountain West. That would also seem to unfairly advantage Democrats.

Instead of a national popular vote, I'd support apportioning electoral votes by the percentage of the popular vote received in each state. The winner-take-all system we have now doesn't sit well with me. But if you switch to apportioning EVs, that would give Democrats in Texas and Republicans in New York an incentive to vote and would incent all voters to turn out and run up the score, even in "safe states."

I wrote a post about recommendations for future elections. It's called Rethinking 2012. I recommend checking it out.

Thanks for the comment.



I definitely agree with you and Georgia. Regardless of what happens, Republicans in particular are going to have to really think about how to make inroads with the Black and Latino communities because they comprise about 25% of the electorate and overwhelmingly vote Democratic. That may be enough to pull Obama across the finish line in Georgia and North Carolina. As for the potential of an unpopular McCain presidency, I think if the popular vote is skewed enough (as in Obama winning the popular vote by 4 million votes or so), the outrage might be too severe for McCain to ignore, especially after Bush's win in 2000.



I agree that it's sad that media coverage has treated this race like a soap opera, we still can't get voting machines that work, and voters are content with hearing generalities from politicians. I, for one, will be glad when this election is over.



Somehow, I think Obama has a better chance of winning Missouri than Indiana. The weather wasn't so good in North Carolina today, but I think Black voters in particular will stand in line because for a lot of them, this is personal. It is for this reason that I think Missouri is a better bet than Indiana. Think Kansas City and St. Louis.


Dr. King,

I put two projections in this post--a high one and a low one. I think Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida are going for Obama for sure. But Missouri, Indiana, and Ohio are a bit dicier. We'll see what happens.

As for a McCain victory, he hasn't led any national polls in weeks. Yes, I know state polls are the ones that matter, but they usually match. So if Big Mac wins, I won't be able to explain it in light of all the evidence to the contrary. Maybe the Palin turnout will be what puts him over the top. Otherwise, I just can't see it.

Brett said...

I do not think that switching to a national popular vote is a good idea because politicians would have no incentive to campaign in rural areas. If you campaign in the megalopolis from Boston to DC and the major population centers of the Midwest and Pacific Coast, you could ignore the Great Plains, the rural South, and the Mountain West. That would also seem to unfairly advantage Democrats.

I'm not so sure about that, Anthony. Mobility is usually pretty high for all but the most rural of voters, and even in the megalopolises there is considerable partisan diversity.

More importantly, going to a popular vote would eliminate the frankly bad over-focus on a small number of divided states. Is it fair, for example, that New York, Texas, and California, which combined represent 26% of the US's population and 28% of its GDP, get almost no presidential attention during the general campaign?

S.W. Anderson said...

Obama won Ohio election night and today picked up North Carolina's 15 votes. Missouri seems to still be uncertain, but I'll eat my serving of humble pie with good grace. I'm just so glad he won.

Re: popular vote vs. Electoral College. AP, I like your idea of winning EC votes proportionately to the popular vote within sates.

As for candidates ignoring the hinterland, that could easily be fixed. Divide the country into six regions. For six weeks ahead of the general-election, candidates would be required to do their campaigning only within the region assigned for that week. The candidates should also have two weeks ahead of the six-region requirement, and two weeks after, to campaign wherever they want.

Naturally, during an assigned week, a candidate short on funds or already strong there could choose to skip a region, or go lightly within it.

I think that approach would go even farther toward ensuring fewer states are ignored during presidential campaigns.

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