General Question

dalepetrie's avatar

Will you handicap the election for me?

Asked by dalepetrie (17913 points ) October 6th, 2008

I’m looking for your opinion, not just as to who will win, but by how much? I want you to tell me which states you think each candidate will win and why a candidate will win that particular state if it’s not a given/no brainer (like I don’t need you to tell me why you think Obama will win California or why McCain will win Utah), and what the final electoral vote count will be. I’ll provide my prections at some point in the next couple days. A lot of work I know, so if you have time, please indulge me, if not, don’t feel bad, just check back to see what people think/expect.

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9 Answers

kevbo's avatar

Multinational corporations and the military will win by a landslide.

robmandu's avatar

tangential, @kevbo

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

Pres. Dwight Eisenhower, from his 1961 farewell radio & TV address

wundayatta's avatar

The numbers used in this analysis come from the Oct. 6, 2008 Poll of Polls

I sorted the states and calculated margin of victory.

I’ll show you the states in play at this moment, if these polls are correct:

…........................Obama..McCain..Obama..McCain
...................Margin ....EV ....EV ....%EV…. %EV
Ohio ................2.3…..344….194…....64%.....36%
Missouri ..........-0.5…355…..183…....66%......34%
Colorado .........-0.7….364…..174…....68%.....32%
Indiana ...........-3…....375…..163…....70%.....30%

sorry about the weird columns—fluther doesn’t make this easy

So, the states in play, right now, in my opinion, are Ohio, Missouri, Colorado and Indiana. Given what is happening in the world today, I think Ohio, Missouri and Colorado will go for Obama. That would give Obama 68% of the Electoral Votes (EV), which counts as a landslide victory.

We are only about four weeks away from the election, so these numbers are probably going to be fairly stable. The trends are towards Obama, and that should continue. People seem to be much more believing of Obama than I expected (being the consumate pessimist). It is beginning to look like the pendulum may be swinging back, and doing so with a vengeance. That which Reagan hath wrought, and with Bush the 2nd was the most eggregious example of, has a good chance of being thrown away, so the forces of progress and caring can take their place.

It’s very exciting. But there’s still a chance for disaster, so no counting of chickens!

Judi's avatar

I wouldn’t put anything past the Rove Machine to tear down Obama’s lead.

Trustinglife's avatar

@daloon, nice work! Hope you’re right!

wundayatta's avatar

Well, we’ll see. I’ve been overly optimistic before, and the polls are often exagerating the Democratic lead. So perhaps I should take that stuff back a bit. Still, all that matters is that Obama gets one more EV than McCain. Although a landslide would give him a mandate.

dalepetrie's avatar

OK, well, I’m hoping I’ll get someone to go out on a limb. Daloon at least gave a safe answer based on polling (though hedged his bets with the “anything can happen” qualifier). I’m going to give my answer and see if anyone else is bold enough to make a prediction including # of EV’s. I used www.fivethirtyeight.com to determine where polling, trends and such are today, and looked at their predictions, and basically I used those along with some speculation to concoct what is I think a wildly optimistic but not too unrealistic picture of what I am predicting will happen. Here goes.

First off, I think that McCain has sewn up Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, 4 of Nebraska’s 5 electoral votes (they split them in Nebraska and Maine), Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming. There are a few of these (AZ, KY, SC, SD, TN) which aren’t theoretically out of Obama’s reach, but I don’t think he’ll be able to swing them (and indeed, I don’t think he’s trying). That represents 81 Electoral Votes that McCain is certain to get, so there will be no 1984 like landslide (512 to 13).

On Obama’s side, I think he has the following states locked in…California, Connecticut, DC, Deleware, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Massachussettes, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington & Wisconsin. Now, there are a few states that McCain seems to think are swing states, let’s go through those. Maine’s 2nd congressional district is within 10 points, and he has dispatched people there…but Obama has a better ground game and a better base of support, McCain won’t take that 1 electoral vote. Michigan is still polling within 10 points, but McCain pulled all of his resources out of there, which means his internals told him it’s not going to happen, and if he’s not competing there, he won’t win it. Minnesota will not go red, I live here, I know what’s happening, no way. New Hampshire has been considered a swing state and did go for Bush, but the trend has been too steep in Obama’s direction for McCain to reverse it and turn it around completely in time. New Mexico, considered a swing state because it’s within the 5 to 10 point range, but it has yet to have any polling showing McCain ahead, no realistic way for him to make inroads anymore. Wisconsin is pretty much in the same boat as New Mexico, within the margins, but consistently for Obama, no reason to start breaking for McCain. That means Obama has 264 safe electoral votes where he’d pretty much have to drop out to lose them.

So, what does that leave? Let’s go one by one:

Arkansas – within 10 points, Obama could take it because of the Clinton connection, but I think that is not all that transferrable and if anything they’re still mad Hillary didn’t win. It’s a very conservative state and I think you pretty much have to be a Clinton to win it if you’re a Democrat. Obama has not ever been ahead here and even though things in general are trending his way, it’s a deep south state, and the kinds of attacks McCain is pursuing (as they are all he has left) are more likely to work in this type of state than anywhere else. As such, I think these 6 electoral votes go to McCain.

Colorado is very close and has been on the brink, up and down, but for a couple weeks or more, Obama has been ahead, he is trending upward, and he has a tremendous ground game here that McCain won’t be able to match. Their 9 EVs go to Obama easily. And right there, my friends, Obama has 273 EVs.

Florida, Obama has moved ahead, though slightly here. And though Florida is notoriously tough for a Democrat and McCain’s older base is strong here, plus Cubans are a strong Republican bloc, but nontheless I’d have to see a game changer to see the momentum shift back to McCain. I’m probalby least confident about this state of any of my picks, but I really think Obama will pull it off. I give Obama an advantage here for two reasons…one I think Obama will have the superior ground game wherever they both compete, and 2, I think people are still on the lookout here for cheating, which will make it impossible to steal it this time. 27 more EVs to Obama.

Georgia – All polling has so far gone to McCain. It has been trending towards Obama slightly, but Obama has the disadvantage of being down 70/30 in the non-black vote (and it’s more like 80/20 in the white vote, which represents 2/3 of the voters in most polls). But I have a couple fundamental doubts here. One is that African Americans have been voting 95/5 for Obama, and polling shows them as 25% of the voters based on 27% of registered voters being African American and a lower than overall average turnout among African Americans. But I think 2 things are at play here. One is that this year, I suspect African American turnout to be HIGHER than average because of the opportunity to vote for a black man. Second, I know that because of get out the vote efforts, African Americans no longer represent 27% of the voting public, but more like 30%. So, I suspect that rather than seeing 25% of voters be African American, you will actually see more like 32% of voters be African American, and when 95% of them vote for Obama, and 30% of everyone else does, it points to a narrow Obama win. 15 more EVs for Obama in what will be the big surprise of the evening.

Indiana is a traditionally red state where McCain has been up in the polls all along and is slightly up on average, but the most recent polls show Obama ahead, and the trend is in his direction. With their unemployment rates, and their proximity to Obama’s home state, I think this will be another squeaker which Obama will ultimately take. 11 MORE EV’s for Obama.

Louisiana – it’s actually within 10 points and may be trending slightly towards Obama, but he’s been behind here all year, and I don’t think he can catch McCain, even if there is a bump in registration and turnout for African Americans…too deep in the south, 9 EVs for McCain.

Missouri is essentially the same as Indiana in my analyis…red state was for McCain all along, recent polls have Obama ahead, trending towards him, high unemployment, and one additional bump for Obama, high African American population in St. Louis. 11 more for Obama.

Mississippi is a tough one. I tend to think that Mississippi is like Georgia. McCain is and has been ahead all along, but I suspect stronger than expected youth vote and African American vote, which combined with the trend his direction will put Obama slightly over the top. I wouldn’t bet money on this one however…I am less confident about Mississippi than I am Florida, but I’m going out on a limb and giving 6 more EVs to Obama.

Montana has been considered a possible swing state and Obama was putting money there until recently. I think he could flip it, but he’s essentially pulled out of the state, meaning his internals tell him that it’s just too immobile. I have to give those 3 EVs to McCain, and I suppose chalk it up to a cost/benefit thing for Obama.

North Carolina was seeming to be in McCain’s column, but Obama is actually slightly favored there now, the trend is in his direction, and with the surge in African American voters and the ground game, I’m confident in an Obama win here. 15 more EVs for Obama.

North Dakota – Begrudgingly I have to give the same explanation as I did for Montana. Obama was competing and could win, but he’s pulled out for all intents and purposes, and even though McCain’s lead is small enough to overtake, it’s not going to happen if Obama just lets momentum decide this one. 3 more EVs for McCain.

Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional district (essentially Omaha), has one electoral vote, and both are competing for it. Palin is even going to speak in Omaha (and no one EVER sends candidates to Omaha). It indicates that McCain is running scared, and I think with Obama’s superior ground game, he’s likely to win this one…score 1 EV for Obama and give us a small blue dot in a sea of red in the west on election night.

Nevada has been VERY close the whole time, but Obama is up in the polls now, has the momentum, and again, he’s competing there and has the better ground game, Obama wins Nevada’s 5 EVs.

Ohio, the traditional swing state, has been up and down like a yo-yo. Right now it’s a dead heat, but I think with the economic crisis and again, Obama’s superior ground game, I think Ohio will turn blue and most people will call the election over when that happens. 20 more EVs for Obama.

Texas…a red state that has been deep red for a while, yet is within 10 points in polling. Obama has some momentum here and the Bush backlash does exist in some circles. If Obama dedicated a host of resourses here, he could win, but I think the distance is just too great with 4 weeks left, and we have to give McCain a whopping 34 EVs here.

Virginia was the first state this election where people thought no way, and now they think, well, probably. Obama has been moving up steadily here and has been in the lead for some time. I don’t see anything reversing that momentum. 13 more EVs to Obama.

And West Virginia, where Obama had such trouble with “working class, white rednecks voters. Current polling however shows Obama within 5 points, it’s a gap he’s never been ahead of, but which he has been closing all the time. I think with a ground game advantage, and many of these voters just not having their heart in it for McCain, I think Obama will close this gap. This ranks up there with Mississippi and Florida as one I’m not very sure about, but I’m going to give its 5 electoral votes to Obama.

Final tally, Obama 402, McCain 136. As I was not sure about Florida, Mississippi and West Virginia however, I would say it’s possible Obama loses those 38 EVs and it ends up 364 to 174. Best case scenario however, Obama manages to flip Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, North Dakota and Texas, in which case we’re looking at 457 to 81. And if I wanted to make a safe bet, I’d take my 402/136 number and subtract out Mississippi, West Virginia, Georgia, and Nebraska’s 2nd district, but keep Florida in Obama’s column (which effectively splits the difference…I’m keeping 27 of the votes I’m not sure about and giving away 27 I’m not sure about), in which case I’d end up with Obama 375 to McCain 163. And of course, I’m 100% confident of everything in that number except Florida, so I’m going to give a minimum of 348 to 190.

So bottom line, here is my prediction:

Worst case – Obama 348, McCain 190
Slightly pessimistic – Obama 364, McCain 174
Most Likely – Obama 375, McCain 163
Slightly optimistic – Obama 402, McCain 136
Best Case – Obama 457, McCain 81

All this holds unless there is a terrorist attack, one of the candidates dies, our economy makes a stunning overnight recovery, or one of the candidates is caught with a dead girl or a live boy.

Anyone care to match me tit for tat with the way THEY see the election playing out?

Bri_L's avatar

Obama 457, McCain 75, Palin as a write in 6

dalepetrie's avatar

Oh and let’s not forget the batshit crazy possibilities.

1) Obama only wins where he’s currently up 15 points or more on average – Obama LOSES 153 to 385,

or what I’m hoping will happen

2) McCain only wins where he’s currently up 15 points or more on average – Obama WINS 507 to 31

But just to put it into perspective for whose shoes you might rather be in….

If Obama only wins in the states where he’s currently ahead in average polls, he wins 375 to 163 (the exact scenario I have as most likely)

If Obama only wins in the states where he’s currently ahead by more than 1%, he wins 353 to 185

If Obama only wins in the states where he’s currently ahead by more than 2%, he wins 338 to 200

If Obama only wins in the states where he’s currently ahead by more than 3%, he wins 313 to 225

If Obama only wins in the states where he’s currently ahead by more than 4%, he wins 286 to 252

If Obama only wins in the states where he’s currently ahead by more than 5%, he STILL wins 286 to 252

If Obama only wins in the states where he’s currently ahead by more than 6%, he wins 273 to 265.

If Obama only wins in the states where he’s currently ahead by 6.3% or more, he ties 269 to 269 and wins because Democrats control Congress.

For Obama to lose, he would have to lose every state that he’s ahead in by less than 7.5%

With the momentum heading in his direction, I’m going with 402/136.

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