Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Battlegrounds

Yesterday’s article explored the way state polls can verify the accuracy (or its lack) in national polls. But the reverse is also true; once we have a reasonable idea of how the national race looks, we can address where the states really stand in terms of the race. With just three weeks to go, it’s no surprise that a number of races have been decided, but what’s interesting are the number still to be decided. Now, I’m an accountant not a psychic, and I have been frustrated by the obvious fact that the campaigns’ inner circles have some delicious statistical information that nobodies like me are not allowed to glimpse, but here’s how I see the states playing out at this time.

Let’s start with the states which Senator Obama has locked up, that is, states which are extremely unlikely to be anything but blue come November 5:

District of Columbia (3 EV)
Hawaii (4 EV)
Illinois (21 EV)
Maryland (10 EV)
Massachusetts (12 EV)
New York (31 EV)
Rhode Island (4 EV)
Vermont (3 EV)
Sub-tally: seven states plus DC, 88 EV


Now, let’s look at the states which McCain has locked up by the same definition:

Alabama (9 EV)
Alaska (3 EV)
Arizona (10 EV)
Georgia (15 EV)
Idaho (4 EV)
Indiana (11 EV) [it may be close but it will be red]
Kansas (6 EV)
Kentucky (8 EV)
Mississippi (6 EV)
Montana (3 EV)
Nebraska (5 EV)
North Dakota (3 EV)
Oklahoma (7 EV)
South Carolina (8 EV)
South Dakota (3 EV)
Tennessee (11 EV)
Texas (34 EV)
Utah (5 EV)
Wyoming (3 EV)
Sub-tally: nineteen states, 154 EV

If we stopped there, that would indicate McCain was in much stronger shape than Obama, but that image would be misleading. To see why, let’s look next at states where the state is not locked up, but the odds are at least 7 to 1 in favor of one candidate.

Obama heavy advantage states:
California (55 EV) [32 to 1 odds]
Connecticut (7 EV) [49 to 1 odds]
Delaware (3 EV) [11 to 1 odds]
Iowa (7 EV) [7 to 1 odds]
Maine (4 EV) [7 to 1 odds]
Minnesota (10 EV) [24 to 1 odds]
New Jersey (15 EV) [7 to 1 odds]
Oregon (7 EV) [7 to 1 odds]
Washington (11 EV) [11 to 1 odds]

Sub-tally: nine states, 119 EV
Running total: sixteen states plus DC, 207 EV


McCain heavy advantage states:
Arkansas (6 EV) [7 to 1 odds]
Louisiana (9 EV) [19 to 1 odds]
North Carolina (15 EV) [7 to 1 odds]
West Virginia (5 EV) [7 to 1 odds]

Sub-tally: four states, 35 EV
Running total: twenty-three states, 189 EV

Do the math, and this leaves us with eleven states for our battleground. Here are those twelve states, and where they appear to stand with the state polls reweighted to match historical norms:

Colorado (9 EV) : Range is Obama +5 to McCain +7, probability is 55% Obama at this time
Florida (27 EV): Range is Obama +5 to McCain +8, probability is 65% McCain at this time [turnout especially crucial here]
Michigan (17 EV): Range is Obama +9 to McCain +3, probability is 82% Obama at this time
Missouri (11 EV): Range is Obama +3 to McCain +5, probability is 65% McCain at this time
Nevada (5 EV): Range is Obama +4 to McCain +8, probability is 70% McCain at this time
New Hampshire (4 EV): Range is Obama +11 to McCain +7, probability is 61% Obama at this time
New Mexico (5 EV): Range is Obama +8 to McCain +4, probability is 71% Obama at this time
Ohio (20 EV): Range is Obama +4 to McCain +6, probability is 57% McCain at this time [I keep hearing how McCain is much, much stronger here, but I have no hard data]
Pennsylvania (21 EV): Range is Obama +15 to McCain +3, probability is 80% Obama at this time [however, both campaigns are spending a lot of resources and time here, indicating things are very tight here]
Virginia (13 EV): Range is Obama +8 to McCain +10, probability is 67% McCain at this time
Wisconsin (10 EV): Range is Obama +10 to McCain +4, probability is 78% Obama at this time

If all eleven states fall in according to present probabilities, Obama collects six states and 66 EV, to reach twenty-two states plus DC and 273 electoral votes, while McCain collects five states and 76 EV, to reach twenty-eight states and 265 electoral votes. That’s good news for Obama, except for a few details.

[] First, all of the eleven battleground states are in play and could go to either candidate. Present conditions are very likely to change.

[] Second, in all of these states turnout will be very important, and in Florida, Colorado, and Pennsylvania, turnout will be the most important factor.

[] And last, there is a significant representation of independent voters in all of the eleven battleground states. And at last check, just about one-third of the independent voters have not yet decided if they will vote, and for whom they would cast their ballot.

2 comments:

Sleepy Old Bear said...

Well, thanks for taking my mind of the Canadian election and for giving me some hope about Leviathan to the south.

Chase said...

DJ - Question on the following:

I saw the CBS news poll and though what is going on and then my next thought was wow I need to hit a bar. However, a serious question: are partisans so enthused to answer and as a result biasing the results? The reason I ask is that you are more likely to respond to a poll if you are interested in politics and up to date on current events or passionate for one side or the other. Take the CBS poll for example.

On question 78 - 76% of respondents had an opionion on who won the last debate. Only 19% said they did not watch.

On question 79 - 85 % said they are very likely / somewhat likely to watch the last debate.

According to the debate ratings 62 million people watched the last debate. Assuming these are all registered voters in those ratings (no children counted) that is still only 30% of the voting age population.