Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sunday electoral college projection

I'm starting a new feature here at The Richmond Democrat: the Sunday electoral college roundup. The American people love to look at poll results, and the mainstream media is only too glad to pander to this interest. More often than not, the poll that big corporate media likes to cite most of all is the national presidential poll, a sample of a trivial number of people that has almost no value. Why? Because the national popular vote won't decide the outcome of the election: the electoral college will.

Unfortunately, the big corporate media outlets will persist in putting out national polls with tiny samples, despite the fact that these polls can be deceiving. For example, what good does it do Obama to blow McCain out in New York, Illinois, and California if he loses everywhere else? What good does it do McCain to blow Obama out in Utah, Idaho or Alaska. A blowout in any given state will not result in a candidate receiving any more electoral votes than a narrow win, but it could distort a national poll. Better then to go state by state and award the electoral votes than to look at a made up national poll figure that means nothing.

So from now through the election, I will be surveying the latest state polls from, adding up the electoral votes, and presenting the totals to you. My methodology will be pretty simple. I will look at the data, make note of which candidate is ahead in each state's polls, and award electoral votes accordingly. All tied states will be awarded to John S. McCain. To the extent I depart from this method for any reason, I will disclose it and explain my reasons for doing so under the heading "Special Assumptions." Now, with my reasoning and general assumptions out of the way, let's look at this week's numbers. The electoral college projection for July 13, 2008 is:

Barack H. Obama - 306 Electoral Votes

John S. McCain - 229 Electoral Votes

If the election was held today, it looks as though Barack H. Obama would win by a healthy margin in the electoral college.

Special Assumptions for July 13, 2008:

(1) The latest polls in North Dakota suggest a tie between Obama and McCain. I have therefore awarded North Dakota's 3 electoral votes to John S. McCain.

(2) The latest poll in South Carolina suggests that Bob Barr will siphon off sufficient support from John McCain to throw the state to Barack Obama. I regard this poll with some skepticism, however, so I am awarding South Carolina's 8 electoral votes to John McCain, even though this latest poll suggests he may lose narrowly to Obama.

1 comment:

S said...

Thank you for your use of alternative polls, but 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. 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 been approved by 20 legislative chambers (one house in Colorado, Arkansas, Maine, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Washington, and two houses in Maryland, Illinois, Hawaii, California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Vermont). It has been enacted into law in Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, and Maryland. These states have 50 (19%) of the 270 electoral votes needed to bring this legislation into effect.