What about the freaking Electoral Vote

Ok so like a lot of people I am eagerly keeping track of all the new polls coming out. It’s really starting to piss me off that every time there’s a new article, usually headlined by “Obama lead widening” or “Newest Poll shows Mccain gaining ground”, or whatever, never once in the god damn article does it ever mention the electoral vote status, or even that there IS an electoral vote. Is this the conservative media at work? Are we being manipulated into believing the race is closer than it is? It can’t be, because even in the articles reporting bigger Obama leads, it is never mentioned. But come on, from what I’ve seen, several important battleground states have swung both ways mulitple times in the last month. Isn’t this more relevant than the popular vote swinging a couple % points? But you never see anything like “Obama’s lead narrows to 6%, but gains Missouri to actually increase his current lead” Could you please at least acknowledge the only thing that actually means anything in the polls?

You’re right, of course, but anything that introduces even the tiniest smidgeon of complexity into any topic is avoided like the plague by the media. They want nice simple soundbites, and black & white stories. If you can’t make it simple, then fagedaboutit. It has nothing to do with “bias” one way or the other, and everything to do with dumbing down of the message.

I mean, here is today’s story, but it’s a bit complicated, so you’ll never see this reported by most of the media:
Today’s electoral vote.com results have just a bit of change - none for the better for McCain.

Colorado moves from Barely Dem to Weak Dem
Wisconsin moves from Weak Dem to Strong Dem


In order to get 270 EV’s, McCain must do ALL of the following:

  1. Retain the 2 “Barely GOP” states - IN and NC

  2. Gain ALL of the “Barely Dem” states - NV, ND, OH, VA, FL

  3. Get a combination of 21 EV’s from the “Weak Dem” states:
    CO- 9
    NM - 5
    MN - 10
    MO - 11
    WV - 5
    ME - 4

MN and MO together would do it, otherwise he’d need a combo of 3 states.

I think you’ve been looking at the wrong sites. CNN’s homepage right now has an electoral calculator and map featured very prominently.

There is no need in this day to sit around waiting to be spoonfed information.


The media is probably (in addition to simplifying things) trying to avoid any show of calling the election early.

I’m a big fan of the six-wiggly-lines graphs this guy produces: http://wiki.abulsme.com/2008_Electoral_College_Prediction

It took me a few minutes to fully grasp how to decode the graphs, but once you get it, they’re a great visualization of the electoral vote status.

Each candidate has a dark line that indicates how many electoral votes they are earning from states where they have a “strong” lead, which is defined as at least a 10% margin. Obama’s dark blue line starts at the top, McCain’s dark red line starts at the bottom. If either one crosses the midpoint, that means they have 270.

Next, each candidate has a lighter line that indicates how many electoral votes they are earning from states where they have a “weak” lead, which is at least 5 but less than 10%. This line builds on the darker line.

The third set of lines is the lightest, and indicates states that are just leaning towards the candidate (under 5% margin).

Yeah I always check out all those graphs and data sites. I’d never rely on the articles for info. But I read them still just so I can get mad I guess.

Very cool.

And wow, that “McCain Best Case” chart is devastating. According to it, if McCain wins all the states where he’s winning or withing 5%, he still loses big.

IMHO the Electoral map gives Obama an even greater lead and there’s no ratings for drama-less news.

So for a non-American, do I understand this to say that McCain’s best case still has him losing to Obama based on the way that the Electoral College would vote?

Now I’ve been looking at the CNN map; there are some fairly big differences between its predictions and those of the wiki map. I note for example that CNN has both Florida and Colorado in the “toss up” category, whereas the wiki site has both of them in the Obama weak category which is even stronger than the Obama Lean category.

Yep, with the caveats that the polls may be inaccurate or that things could change in the next couple of weeks.

Yeah, the guy who does the graphs on Abulsme.com has been talking about this on his blog. Florida has been flickering back and forth between “lean Obama” and “weak Obama” because it’s hovering around 5%. Colorado flipped two days ago and may flip back. CNN’s thresholds might be slightly different, or they might be using slightly different polling data.

If the popular vote margin is greater than two points, it’s all but mathematically certain that the electoral vote result will match the popular vote result. So for the many polls showing Obama with a five or seven or nine point lead, it doesn’t freaking matter how it breaks down by state.

I mean, unless you’re in one of those “guess the electoral vote” pools.

FiveThirtyEight has already been mentioned repeatedly; here are some other websites you can check out for Electoral College vote predictions:


All of these are using slightly different rules and so come up with slightly different maps, but used together with 538 and CNN, they should give you a fairly complete picture of what’s going on. E-V.com is run by a Democrat, and EP by a Republican. I’m not sure of the slant of the others, except that the 538 folks really love their statistics :stuck_out_tongue:

eta: I don’t get a chance to watch much US television, but the few times I’ve seen US election coverage on CNN Int’l, the map with the electoral votes has been a bit part of the coverage.

The 538 guys are Democrats, and they are baseball statisticians turning their geeky skills on the election. I love that site.

The fact that we are even talking about McCain having to hold VA and NC shows what kind of dire situation he is in.

The last election was close, but NC, VA, IN, CO, MO, and NV were all never really in doubt for Bush. McCain is now in a situation where, instead of going to PA or OH to go over the edge, he is desperately trying to hold on to states that he should have already locked up. That is terrible for him…

THAT EXPLAINS EVERYTHING! Absolutely NOBODY is more into, or better with, the minutae of statistics than baseball guys.

I’ve been visiting 538 quite a bit over the past week since I first saw it linked here, loving all the numbers and graphs and suchlike, and certainly the blog posts make the preference of the site operators pretty clear; does that worry any Democrats as to the veracity of their information? Or is their methodology transparent enough to resist tampering?

I know!