Saturday, November 1, 2008

The 2008 Presidential Election: Prediction

I've fired up the Distressed Reporter Predict-A-Tron 5000 on my Apple II and received the following results for the electoral college:

Obama- 338 votes
McCain- 200 votes

First, the methodology. I used a system nearly as complex as the one employed by Nate Silver over at FiveThirtyEight: I looked at a map of the 2004 results and guessed which way the states would go this year. Very scientific.

Details, details, details. I don't think McCain will win over any of the states that voted for John Kerry in 2004. I say this even though I'm panicking a little over recent polls in Pennsylvania that show McCain closing the gap. I think/hope/pray it'll be too little, too late, though it's worth noting that even with Pennsylvania McCain's not particularly close to the 270 votes he needs. Pulling the Keystone State puts him at 221 votes, while Obama rests comfortably at 317. McCain's also got a deep connection with New Hampshire, Obama quite famously lost the primary there and there aren't a lot of African-Americans in the state. But most recent polling indicates Obama's pretty safe up there.

The election is increasingly being fought in the Bush states; if McCain can hold most of those, he can still pull out a narrow win. I obviously don't have him doing that.

Iowa and New Mexico both seem relatively safe for Obama. Iowa has seven electoral votes, New Mexico five; add those 12 to the 251 Kerry pulled in 2004, and Obama's just seven votes from victory.

I think he gets the decisive states with relative ease. I've got Colorado going for Obama; add those nine votes to our running total, and Obama's at 272 and victory.

The rest of this is pretty much a tired litany of states. I think Obama takes Ohio, Nevada and Virginia in addition to the other states I mentioned. The biggest prize will be Florida; I think Obama gets an unlikely, come-from-behind victory after trailing most of the race in the state of my birth. Florida's been one of the biggest victims of the mortgage crisis, and I think economic anxiety combines with massive African-American turnout in the urban areas to give Obama the state's 27 electoral votes.

(Quick note: there was one "faithless elector" in 2004 who cast a presidential ballot for John Edwards. I'm assuming everyone writes in the correct names this time around)

I'm obviously predicting pretty big things for Obama, though it's worth noting that the FiveThirtyEight projection is even more optimistic, giving Obama 349.7 electoral votes. Their system has Obama taking North Carolina. I'm still skeptical; North Carolina might be a bridge too far this time around. It hasn't experienced quite the same demographic shifts as Virginia, and I can't quite bring myself to predict that huge turnout in the "Research Triangle" and among African-Americans will be enough to carry the state.

I'll believe Obama can win Indiana when I see it. It hasn't voted for a Democrat since 1964, and that was LBJ's landslide year. The Ku Klux Klan also reached the heights of its power in Indiana. That was, to be sure, in the 1920's, but there's an uncomfortable legacy there that will hinder Obama.

I also have McCain holding on to Missouri, meaning the state will lose its status as a presidential bellwether. Missouri's a true toss-up, the closest state on the map. Obama certainly has a great chance to win, but the state's been trending Republican in recent years. McCain wins by the skin of his teeth.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

John Edwards didn't receive an electoral vote in 2004, "John Ewards" did.