The Campaign Spot

Those First 252 Electoral Votes Are Easy. It’s Those Last 18 That Are The Toughies…

Obi Wan’s final pre-election update is coming later tonight. In the meantime, here’s how I see tomorrow playing out…

The Popular Vote: I think Obama will get his current share of the vote reflected in the non-outlier polls, and about one percentage point’s worth of the undecideds. As of this weekend, he was rather consistently getting 51, 50, 48 in the tracking polls. I’m going to put it in the neighborhood of a 52-48, 51-48-1,  52-47-1 popular vote victory for Obama.

Going down the list, state by state, I come up with a 286-252 electoral vote victory for Obama. If Pennsylvania flips to red, it would actually be a 273-265 McCain victory. How I score ‘em:

New Hampshire:  Obama. Much like the with the national polls, I suggest that in the states, “undecided” is code for “I’m not voting for the cool guy, but I don’t want to get any grief about it, so I’m not saying so.” Throw out the ARG poll and Obama’s running between 51 and 53 percent pretty consistently, suggesting a win in the range from 53-47 to 51-49 range. Strange, considering how Obama drastically underperformed in the Democratic primary here, and McCain won the GOP primary here twice, but McCain slipped after the economic crisis hit and never recovered.

Pennsylvania:  I think McCain-Palin campaign will be somewhat vindicated in their interest in this state, over-perform their current standing in the polls pretty dramatically, and I could see it being 51-49 or even tighter. The ingredients are there for a McCain win, but I think this will be the Ohio for Republicans, the one where they say, “if only X,000 voters had changed their minds here, we would have a different president.” Obama wins, by an uncomfortably close margin.

Ohio: McCain. I know some of the polling has looked bad for McCain lately, but folks on the ground are saying that they see McCain outperforming Bush’s share of the 2004 vote in key counties, quite a few Democrats who refuse to vote for Obama, and are declaring with take-it-to-the-bank confidence McCain will win by a margin wider than Bush’s in 2004. Mason-Dixon puts McCain ahead by 2.

Indiana: I’m giving this to McCain, even though it wouldn’t shock me to see Obama win it. But while McCain’s lead in the RCP average is modest, Obama’s polling at 47, 46, 46, 47, 44, 45. I think he doesn’t get much beyond that, and loses in the neighborhood of 52-48.

Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota: Obama, Obama, Obama.  Obama is over 50 percent in most polls in these states by a healthy margin. If another poll besides Survey USA had made Minnesota look like a toss-up, I might feel differently, but this just doesn’t feel like the year that a blue state flips without a major push by the GOP ticket.

Iowa: Obama. I think the late push will be enough to tighten it a bit, but it was always a hard sell for a lot of reasons. Not quite sure why Team McCain put so much effort into this one.

Missouri: I’m strangely not worried about this state. For a while in late October, Obama was hitting 48 percent in almost every recent poll The last few have him at 49, 47, 46. McCain wins narrowly.

Virginia: Obama, by a hair. A few factors have me a little hesitant – the first is the interesting fact that way more new voters were registered in counties where Bush won more than 60 percent in 2004; also, the Washington Post had an intriguing story on Friday about Mark Warner, near-certain to win the Senate race by a wide margin, having a great get-out-the-vote effort in those deep red districts. It’s very easy to picture McCain-Warner voters (and near impossible to imagine Obama-Gilmore voters), so Warner may actually help get out the vote among McCain voters. The last few non-Zogby, non-PPP polls show McCain within 3 or 4 percent, so I think it’s very close. But not every close state can break for McCain, and so I’m picking Virginia to be the one that slips away.

North Carolina: I know this is going to sound weird, but at times recently I have been more worried McCain carrying Georgia than North Carolina. Mason-Dixon is the state pollster I trust most, and they put it at 47-47; most, but not all, polls put Obama at 47 or 48 percent and McCain at 49 or 50. Obama is obviously going to dramatically improve on Kerry-Edwards’ numbers, but I think this is one of those states that slips away because of the undecideds being anti-Obama and not wanting to admit it. Early voting demographics have been steadily sliding away from Obama’s favor. McCain.

Georgia: While the early-voting demographics look better for Obama in Georgia than they do in North Carolina, we have a strange phenomenon in which a state is gray (toss-up) in the RCP map as of Monday night, yet Obama has led in one poll in the state all year long. McCain has had a modest lead in the most recent ones, hitting above 50 a lot lately and Obama’s never hit higher than 48 in a poll here. McCain wins.

Florida: Maybe I should be putting this in the Obama pile, but I look at Obama leading by 2 in a lot of polls, failing to hit 50 percent in most, the turnout at those Palin events, and McCain leading the heavily-Democrat early voting, and I put it in the red pile. I also note that we were told that Kerry was going to win Florida for much of 2004, and Bush won by 5 percent because the GOP learned well how to get out the vote in that state. In fact I went back and checked – in their final polls, ARG had Kerry by 2, Zogby had a tie, Fox News had Kerry by 5, Insider Advantage had a tie, and Gallup had Kerry by 3. The only ones who were in the ballpark were Quinnipiac (Bush by 8) Rasmussen (Bush by 3) and Mason-Dixon (Bush by 4). Maybe the state GOP has forgotten how to get out the vote since Charlie Crist won the governor’s race in 2006, but I doubt it.

Colorado: Obama.  Having the Democratic convention helps, a strong Democratic Senate candidate helps, and Obama’s polling at or just above 50 percent in most recent polls. McCain keeps the score respectable, but we’re looking at a 52.5-47.5 win for Team O.

New Mexico: Obama. The McCain campaign stopped contesting this one fairly early; Bush’s 2004 win may look like a fluke in retrospect.

Nevada: McCain. Here’s where I’m defying the trend, my upset pick, if you will. But it’s based on what in-state pollster Steve Nathan has determined from a massive sample of those who voted early, and that answer is Obama running behind where he should in among a voter pool that is wildly disproportionately Democrat. That suggests a lot of Democrats for McCain. Obama fans can point to state polls that put their guy up from 4 to 10 percent, but those polls have samples of 450 to 700 respondents; the early voter poll had more than 16,000 respondents as of Thursday afternoon. That poll put Obama up 6 in a voter pool that was, by my calculations, 13 percent more Democrat than Republican. As long as Nevada Republicans show up, McCain wins. (Note that Nathan thinks Obama holds on to win narrowly.)

I don’t buy into Montana being seriously in play, or North Dakota, or Arizona.

If readers want a happier ending for McCain, they must get out and vote, get out their like-minded friends and if they know anybody in Pennsylvania who owes them a favor, now’s the time to collect.

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