12 September 2008


Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com, one of the great election data blogs, has done a comparison of the polls from before the election and after, and reports that while McCain has made gains in the popular vote polling (about 2 points), he hasn't received any boost in terms of beating Obama in the Electoral College:

McCain's gain in our popular vote projection has been 2.1 points. Note, however, that his gains have been less than that in essentially all of the most important swing states, including Ohio, Michigan, Florida, Colorado, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. Only Virginia is on the other side of the line, and then only barely so.

As a result of all this, the Electoral College remains too close to call, even though McCain has a 1-2 point advantage in the popular vote. Obama now has an 8.4 percent chance of winning the Electoral College while losing the popular vote, which is far and away the highest that this number has been all year.

This merits a quick blurb about the Electoral College from Wikipedia:

Candidates can fail to get the most votes in the nationwide popular vote in a Presidential election and still win that election. This occurred in 1876, 1888 and 2000. Critics argue the Electoral College is inherently undemocratic and gives certain swing states disproportionate clout in selecting the President and Vice President. Adherents argue that the Electoral College is an important and distinguishing feature of the federal system, and protects the rights of smaller states. Numerous constitutional amendments have been submitted seeking a replacement of the Electoral College with a direct popular vote. However, no submission has ever successfully passed both Houses of Congress.

I have no idea how many undecided voters are out there, but in this polarized political landscape, I wonder how much ground there really is to gain. FiveThirtyEight's projection has McCain taking 272 of the 538 electoral votes in November, more than the required 270 needed to win the presidency...barely.

More from FiveThirtyEight next week. I guess we're doing some posts over here again.

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