August Arithmetic
By: Mark W Adams


(As usual, the size of the state reflects it's votes in the Electoral College)

More than a couple of folks have pointed out to me that (gloated, actually) that my map of the electoral college needs tweaked again -- and it ain't as rosy as it has been for Senator Obama even though there's no news from the race that captured my imagination in Alaska. It's still a toss-up as far as the data I have right now, but soon to change. Soon.

Most of the pollsters show significant movement in key states, cutting into Obama's electoral lead enough now that he either is winning but no longer has the magic number 270 in his pocket, or is still winning but just barely has over 270, his comfort margin evaporated.

Everything will change as the polls start reflecting his VP choice.

Everything will change as the polls reflect the public's reaction to the Democratic Convention.

Everything will change when McCain announces his VP and after their convention.

Everything always changes in August.

Four years ago at Electoral Vote Predictor, Kerry was winning 317-202 on August 18th, slipping to 286-233 by August 22nd, and losing 242-280 by August 31st. By the time it was all over, it was Bush 286 - Kerry 252.

What's different? The Democrat's August slide took place well after the convention last time around. Edwards was picked on July 6th and the convention took place at the end of the month. Kerry enjoyed a month-long bounce, which started to wane just as the GOP Convention took place from August 30 to September 2. Kerry couldn't catch another wave.

The dynamics of the calendar couldn't be different this time around. Obama will be in full bounce mode and on the upswing with the attention on his team overshadowing the GOP's festivities in Minneapolis. This time there will be competing bounces -- possibly canceling each other out. But McCain won't be able to surge alone like Bush did after his convention sucked the air out of the media.

Momentum means a lot in these things, since so very often perception is reality in politics.

So where are we today? RCP has (predictably) the map drawn in the worst possible light for Obama, 228 to McCain's 174 with 136 toss-ups. With leaners pushed over the edge, their map gives the edge to McCain, 274 to Obama's 264, but they still have Obama up by 1.4% nationwide which is less than even FOX that shows Obama +3.

Rasmussen Reports Obama +2, and despite what seems to be ominous tiding from CNN, Rasmussen is impressed by the "amazing stability" of the contest with Obama still up 264 to 247 with a 58% chance of winning according to their market data.

The current Electoral Vote Predictor has Obama just under the magic number, polling in at 269 electoral votes (tie territory) and M.cCain an improving 256. Pollster.com puts 87 votes in the toss-up column, but still gives Obama 260 to McCain's at a dismal 191, but better than last week when Obama dominated.

FiveThirtyEight.com colors the map bluer than the others and still shows Obama winning outright, 273.7 to 264.3 even with Ohio an ugly shade of red instead of the toss-up color on the other site's maps (and where I put it since as I explained in previous posts, the Ohio numbers are skewed by an outlier poll). BTW, Nate's take on the VP choice is spot on. The clock favors Biden and Clinton, and ticks more her way with every minute.

So what changed? North Dakota is now a toss-up instead of leaning McCain, which in my opinion is horrible news for the GOP. Obama-mentum is moving west. McCain is barely up by 3 points in a state Republicans have won overwhelmingly since the 80s. No excuse, not even the usual non-sequitur that McCain is a POW explains this.

Inexplicably, Arizona is also moving away from McCain, but he's still safe enough in his home state not to worry too much just yet. Arkansas has also moved from deep red to merely leaning McCain, and could become a true battleground state if a certain New York Senator and favorite daughter is on the Dem ticket.

Moving in the wrong direction are New Hampshire and Minnesota, now true toss-ups at Pollster with Obama leading by just a point or two on the heels of new numbers from ARG and Rasmussen in New Hampshire and doing just slightly better in Minnesota unless you count the MPR poll, which was in the field for two weeks which makes the value of it's Obama +10 conclusion a bit suspect.

Finally, Indiana is shoring up for McCain who went from a one-point dog a month ago to a 6 point winner according to Survey USA. But since Evan Bayh couldn't deliver Indiana for Clinton, I don't expect him to be counted on to deliver it for Obama. I don't think Biden helps Obama there, but Hillary helps Obama everywhere -- and maybe then the damn PUMAs will get over themselves.

The big winner this week: Toss-Up +20! McCain is +19 from last week and Obama is -14 after two full weeks campaigning in Europe and vacationing in Hawaii. This thing is about to get real dynamic in the next couple of weeks.


S said...

The real issue is not how well Obama or McCain might do in the closely divided battleground states, 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


Pedro Morgado said...

Never forget God is Republican!!!