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2008 Election: Electoral Anaylsis


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I know that there is already a thread devoted to a discussion of the 2008 presidential election. However, because that thread solely deals with people's opinions on the issues and the candidates, I wanted to start a new thread that is simply devoted to an objective analysis of how McCain and Obama will do in the Electoral College. (If the moderators choose to lock this thread and ship this post over to the existing thread, I completely understand. However, I strongly feel this new thread is necessary because I don't want discussion regarding the Electoral College to get lost in the shuffle of the very large thread that currently exists.)

Most of you are familiar with the Electoral College: Presidents are not elected on the basis as to which candidates win the most total votes. (And, if you believe the rules should be changed to reflect this, this thread is the place to discuss you opinions on this matter.) Rather, electoral votes are awarded for each state where a candidate gets the most votes. Currently, the winning candidate must accumulate at least 270 electoral votes (out of a possible total of 538).

Below is a list of how many electoral votes each state has. However, rather than just provide an alphabetical listing of the states, I have sorted them into five categories: Safe Obama, Lean Obama, True Toss-Up, Lean McCain, and Safe McCain. Note that the number of electoral votes a particular state has is in parentheses next to that state's name.

Safe Obama (186 electoral votes in total):

California (55)

Connecticut (7)

Delaware (3)

District of Columbia (3)

Hawaii (4)

Illinois (21)

Maryland (10)

Massachusetts (12)

New Jersey (15)

New York (31)

Oregon (7)

Rhode Island (4)

Vermont (3)

Washington (11)

Lean Obama (62 electoral votes in total):

Maine (4)

Michigan (17)

Minnesota (10)

Pennsylvania (21)

Wisconsin (10)

True Toss-Up (74 electoral votes in total):

Colorado (9)

Iowa (7)

Missouri (11)

Nevada (5)

New Hampshire (4)

New Mexico (5)

Ohio (20)

Virginia (13)

Lean McCain (81 electoral votes in total):

Arizona (10)

Florida (27)

Georgia (15)

Indiana (11)

Montana (3)

North Carolina (15)

Safe McCain (135 electoral votes in total):

Alabama (9)

Alaska (3)

Arkansas (6)

Idaho (4)

Kansas (6)

Kentucky (8)

Louisiana (9)

Mississippi (6)

Nebraska (5)

North Dakota (3)

Oklahoma (7)

South Carolina (8)

South Dakota (3)

Tennessee (11)

Texas (34)

Utah (5)

West Virginia (5)

Wyoming (3)

For most of these states, the categories in which they belong are obvious. I had a tough time whether to place Georgia, Indiana, & North Carolina in the Safe McCain or Lean McCain categories; while I am 90% sure that McCain will carry these states, many experts (and polls) have suggested a somewhat close race in these states. Also, while many people condiser Florida as a toss-up, I put it in the Lean McCain category since (1) the state has been trending Republican in recent years and (2) Obama is doing considerably worse than most other Democrats when it comes to appealing to Jewish and Hispanic voters. Finally, most pundits would probably rate Michigan and Pennsylvania as toss-ups. However, I could not disagree more with this assessment, since recent statewide elections show both states to be considerably Democratic.

If you add up the Safe and Lean Obama states, it totals 248 electoral votes; meanwhile the Safe and Lean McCain states total 216 electoral votes. (It should be noted that the Democrats carried all of the Safe & Lean Obama states in the past two elections, while the Republicans carried all of the Safe & Lean McCain states.) This, of course, means that the burden is on McCain to carry the lion's share of toss-up states.

Currently, I am not ready to make an exact prediction as to how many electoral votes each candidate will get on election day. However, this thread is the place for both me and you to make these predictions as the election nears. Also, free free to discuss how the presidential election is shaping up in every one of these states, and whether you agree with my assessment over which states are Safe Obama, Lean Obama, toss-ups, Lean McCain, or Safe McCain.

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This is so embarassing; however I just realized that I spelled the word "Analysis" incorrectly in the thread's title as "Anaylsis." While I sincerely apologize for my rudeness, could one of the moderators please fix the thread's title so that the correct spelling is used? It would be very much appreciated.

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I love this thread! Great topic, Max!

If all goes as in 2004, McCain would win all the toss-up states except NH and the total would be 286 to 252. Advantage McCain.

This is definitely my hope! Oddly enough this would be the exact electoral count between Bush and Kerry.

Ohio is the big one! Ohio is the one to watch. This toss up state's 20 elec. votes will make or break either campaign. If Obama wins Ohio and NH out of the toss ups the total would be 266 to 270 advantage Obama! ..only a 4 vote win..

Wow this race is probably going to be very close!


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Casey, you are right that Ohio is so very critical in this election. Simply put, McCain must win Ohio in order to win the election. (In fact, no Republican has ever been elected president without winning that state.) However, Obama still has several ways he can win without carrying Ohio. (For example, he can win if he carries both Virginia and Colorado, or if he wins Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico.)

Also, my hope is very close to yours! Personally, what I am hoping for--and actually believe could happen--is that McCain carries all of the toss-up states except for Iowa (along with the Safe and Lean Republican states). This would result in McCain winning 283 electoral votes to Obama's 255.

Below are my opinions regarding the eight toss-up states I identified earlier:

COLORADO: This is a state that I am very worried about, since it has trended so Democratic in the last couple of years. However, as of this moment, I predict that McCain will pull out a narrow victory here because (1) Obama is far more liberal than the Democrats who actually do win statewide elections here, and (2) McCain is not an advocate of religious conservatism, which happens to be unpopular with this state's swing voters.

IOWA: Out of all of the toss-up states, Iowa is the state that is most likely to vote for Obama. That's because this state has a history of voting Democratic in recent elections (despite the fact that Bush narrowly won Iowa in 2004, Dukakis actually carried the state in 1988), and because Obama did so well in this state's caucuses.

MISSOURI: I consider this the toss-up state most likely to vote for McCain, given the fact that the state is home to so many social conservatives (who could never vote for Obama). However, if the black turnout in St. Louis happens to be at an all-time high on election day, then Obama could very well score a narrow victory here.

NEVADA: While Nevada is truly split down the middle between McCain and Obama, I actually think that--out of the three southwestern battleground states--this is the one that is most favorable to McCain. Certainly, the Democratic trend in this state is not as strong as it is in Colorado (or Virginia, for that matter).

NEW HAMPSHIRE: Although this is the only one of the eight toss-up states that voted for Kerry in 2004, I actually think that McCain will pull out a narrow win here (despite the fact that Democrats have made so many gains in the state over the last decade). I feel this way because (1) McCain himself has proven that he is well-liked in this state, and (2) the Clintons are extremely popular in New Hampshire (which could result in a backlash against Obama).

NEW MEXICO: While New Mexico has traditionally been one of the least Republican states in the western United States (apart from the Pacific Coast states), I actually feel McCain has the edge here because Obama is still having trouble with Hispanic voters (which I believe comprise over a third of all voters in this state).

OHIO: There's no doubt about the fact that Ohio has been trending Democratic in recent years. (The poor economy in this state certainly does not help the Republicans.) Yet, Ohio is packed with the white, blue-collar voters who are turned off to Obama. While this also holds true for Michigan and Pennsylvania, Ohio has more Republican strongholds than either of those other states. And, social conservatism plays considerably better in Ohio than it does in either Michigan or Pennsylvania. As a result of these factors, I actually think that McCain will carry this state by a razor thin margin (while meanwhile, I simply cannot rate either Michigan or Pennsylvania as a toss-up state).

VIRGINIA: Truth be told, no state worries me more than Virginia. (While, as I earlier stated, Iowa is the toss-up state most likely to vote for Obama, it is the state of Virginia that has considerably more electoral votes.) Until the last several years, Virginia was one of the most Republican states in the country. However, what has happened is that so many liberals from Maryland and DC have moved to northern Virginia, turning that area into an absolute Democratic stronghold in the process. In fact, because of the heavy concentration of Democrats in the northern part of the state, Virginia now has a Democratic governor and a Democratic senator (and will soon have another Democratic senator as well, since the party is easily expected to win the senate seat being vacated by John Warner). Nevertheless, I am still holding out some hope for McCain in this state, simply because Obama is far more liberal than any of the Democrats who have won a statewide election in the recent past.

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About Ohio, it may not play that big of a role. Obama is leading in NM, and if he can get NV and CO, which are definite possibilties, he's in. Virginia is also pretty close. Virginia and NM would give Obama the win. I really don't think the traiditional battle ground states are as important this year because of the western states that have come in to play. Look at a place like Montana. In 2004, there was pretty much always a 15-20 point spread between K and B. This year that number is down to 10, and has even gotten lower than that. And Florida really hasn't been talked about, although the polls are very close there.

I recommended this before, but electoral-vote.com is great for polls. (Although as many in the media have pointed out, there are always problems with polls).

Also, just some rambling from me. I think that a lot of people have left out the race factor. No, race really shouldn't be a factor. But I guarantee you, African Americans in the south (MS, AR, AL, LA, GA) are going to come out in DROVES to vote for Obama. And while that may not enough to turn the states blue, that will definitely raise the numbers for Obama. Think about it this way, what if Gore had had several more millions votes than he did, but Bush still won the electoral vote. It would've made the case for the elec college even smaller. Where is the line drawn for majority vs. electoral college? Do you need 2, 5, or 10 million more votes than the other candidate to over rule the elec college? And why should the supreme court decide an election in such a case? The supreme court is NOT elected by the people, even though it is supposedly for the people. Shouldn't congress decide? (Which is the case for a 269-269 tie, which is a possibility this year). (And granted I don't think that would've changed who won in 2000 because I think congress was majority republican).

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The electoral college was set up for the very reason that it serves. The founders did not intend for the people to actually select the president. I'm not saying that just because it benefited the republicans in 2000, I'm just basing it on historical fact.

IA that race will serve a major role. IA that it shouldn't but it is unavoidable IMO. I think it could hurt Obama just as well as it could help. There has been research done which is known as the Bradley Effect. Tom Bradley, the mayor of LA (who was black) was leading all of the polls in the CA race for governor in 1982 up to the day of the election. He eventually lost by quite a large margin.

The Bradley Effect is a way to describe now how white voters misrepresent their intentions in polling. It has been said that many are too embarassed to admit they are not voting for the black candidate when asked simply because race is their only reason for not voting for the non-white candidate. It has been documented that whites have strayed from their party lines to vote for the white candidate.

Some experts are saying that on the national level the Bradley Effect will be even more wide spread and come into play in this election more than ever. These experts are saying that Obama's numbers are very much inflated and that his slight lead in the polls spells doom for him.

Just food for thought.

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The fact that the race has remained so tight definitely bodes better for McCain. You would think after 8 years of failed Bush Republican policies and approval ratings in the 20's Americans would be racing to elect a Democrat.....

Well that isn't happening strangely enough. Aside from his stance on the war and a few of his social views, McCain is far far different than Bush and I think alot of Americans are overlooking his similarities to Bush and supporting him. Simply because they refuse to support Obama for whatever reason.

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Ehhh, historical fact is a big grey area. People also thought the world was flat and that blacks were beneath whites. I know that's an extreme example, but things change. And honestly, that was in 1982, things have only improved since then.

And are you saying that if McCain won by 5 million votes but Obama won the electoral map, it'd be okay that Obama was president?

I definitely agree that racism is alive in our country. However, I still don't believe the polls either way if it's within 10%. Everybody doesn't have landlines anymore, especially the young voters who tend to go for Obama. (I have two 30ish year olds in my immediate family that only have cell phones.) Think of the millions of college students that wouldn't get polled because they aren't in a phonebook. A spin on polls will work in both candidates' favor.

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It's pretty cut and dry. The founders set up the electoral college as a safety measure to ensure the states had more of a say than the majority of people. This was because of the tensions between the north and the south even back then. The south and the smaller states argued that they would never be able to produce a president because they didn't have the numbers. The population of the state still weighs in, but smaller states at least have an impact. They set up the electoral college to balance things out a bit.

I personally believe that we should stick with it because it has worked for 200+ years. And if McCain won by 5,000,000 votes and lost in the electoral college, Democrats would be the college's biggest advocates.

I would be upset if Obama won reguardless, but I would not change my opinion of the electoral college.

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How relevant is that today? When, in modern times, does it matter where somebody is from? We have a VP candidate from Alaska and a P candidate born in Hawaii. Those are the most out of the way places in the country, yet people love both of them. People say, oh well if we use a popular vote, candidates won't pay attention to small states. DO YOU THINK THEY DO TODAY?!?! No, they don't care about states with 3 or 4 electoral votes.

And it HASN'T been flawless in the past 200 years. There's the 2000 election, and then way back in 1876 and 1888.

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Its pretty relevant. Without the electoral college states like Rhode Island, Alaska, and Hawaii would have virtually no say as to who the president would be. The electoral system allows them to participate and have an impact. The electoral system puts power in the hands of the states rather than the people.

Yeah your right. The popular vote did not match the electorates when Harrison and Bush were elected but it still served its purpose. These were the only times in history that the system worked the best IMO. The states had more of an impact than the individual.

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