3 Days Out. (Calm Down Everybody.)

A lot of people seem pretty nervous that Obama could lose the campaign (the news about Obama’s aunt seems too minor to make a big enough dent in his huge leads in three days).  But the math here is pretty straightforward, I think: if Obama wins all the Kerry states, + NM + CO+ IA, he’s the president. (If Obama just straight out wins all the states where he’s ahead right now, which is not a given, and lost ALL the toss-ups, he’d still win by a healthy margin.)

Nate is trying to assuage the neurotics.

Suppose that Barack Obama were to concede Pennsylvania’s electoral votes. Literally, concede them.

Throw ’em back, like a Chase Utley home run at a Cubs’ game. How often would he still win the election?

…89.0% of the time, according to our most recent run of simulations, along with another 2.4% of outcomes that ended in ties. This is because in the vast majority of our simulations, Obama either:

a) was winning at least 291 electoral votes, meaning that he could drop Pennsylvania’s 21 and still be over 270, and/or

b) was winning at least 270 electoral votes, while already being projected to lose Pennsylvania in the first place.

(a) was much, much more common than (b), obviously.

In order to win the election, all Barack Obama needs are the Kerry states, plus Colorado, Iowa and New Mexico. That adds up to 273 electoral votes.

Obama leads by at least 9.5% in every Kerry state and Iowa, according to both Pollster.com and Real Clear Politics. Also, my own numbers concur with those calculations.

This means that in order to win the election, all Obama has to do is hold onto states where he leads by 9.5% or more, and win both Colorado and New Mexico. These are both states where more than half of all voters will cast their ballots before Election Day (source). In other words, the elections in Colorado and New Mexico are already almost over, not just beginning. And these are the only two states he needs to win, other than the ones where he leads by double-digits.

In Colorado, about 60% of the vote is already in. According to the crosstabs of the three most recent polls in the state, Obama leads early voters by 15% (Rasmussen), 18% (Marist) and 17% (PPP). Even in the best case scenario for McCain, where he only trails by 15% among those who have already voted and only 55% of the vote is in, he still needs to win the remaining voters by 18.4% in order to eek out the state. And that is the best-case scenario. The worst case scenario for McCain–65% of the vote in and an 18% deficit among early voters–is that he needs to win the remaining voters by 33.5% in order to win the election.

That leaves New Mexico. In 2004, New Mexico had an even higher rate of early voting than Colorado (50.6% to 47.9%). Further, all polling aggregation sites show Obama’s lead to be larger in New Mexico than in Colorado. While the recent dearth of polling in the Land of Enchantment means there are no early voting crosstabs, those two facts suggest the situation is even worse for McCain in New Mexico than in Colorado. At the very least, it isn’t much better. Update: A new poll from PPP in New Mexico indicates that 56% of the vote is in, and Obama leads 64%-36% among those voters. If that is accurate, McCain would have to win the remaining voters by 35.7%.
So, unless Obama one of the following occurs:

Obama blows a double-digit lead in either Iowa or one Kerry state
McCain wins the minority of remaining voters in either Colorado or New Mexico by at least 20%
Then the election is over and Obama has won no matter what happens anywhere else.

Given the huge gap in the strength of the candidates’ GOTV efforts, it’s safe to say that the chances of McCain making up that gap is pretty small.

So, folks. The rest is easy. Be like shani: go vote.

9 thoughts on “3 Days Out. (Calm Down Everybody.)

  1. Andrea November 1, 2008 at 3:31 pm Reply

    This is somewhat heartening; thank you for posting it. But one of those Kerry states is PA, and I’m getting nervous about that. Any reason to worry? And yes, I completely identified with that article in the NYT today about nervous libs.

  2. GVG November 1, 2008 at 3:54 pm Reply


    Sorry for the caps, it’s just really getting to me, and those reports don’t help.

  3. G.D. November 1, 2008 at 7:01 pm Reply

    Andrea: A couple things about PA. It’s battleground status is a bit overblown; it’s pretty blue, and hasn’t gone Republican since 1988. He leads in every poll there, and registered Democrats now outnumber Republicans in the Keystone State by 1.2 million. I was just home in Philly for a few days, and Obama ads were blanketing the airwaves, to say nothing of their GOTV efforts. (I just got finish harassing my mother to go phone bank for Obama; she said the place was packed when she got there.)

    And like Nate said, even if he lost Pennsylvania, he’d still have several paths to 270.

    Watch PA on Tuesday; the numbers for that state will be in pretty early. If PA and VA go blue, the race will be effectively over for McCain.

    GVG: Sorry, homie. Have you tried not reading them?

  4. bitchphd November 1, 2008 at 8:47 pm Reply

    I’m starting to feel that nervous giddiness.

    Or maybe it’s just all the goddamn candy I’ve eaten.

  5. Steve November 2, 2008 at 5:17 pm Reply

    I just looked this up to like give myself an idea of “what time the race might be called”

    Who wants to take bets? lol


  6. Steve November 2, 2008 at 5:54 pm Reply
  7. simplyscott November 3, 2008 at 9:43 am Reply

    I’m a bit worried, too, but honestly I’m more worried about the aftermath of an Obama loss and what it could mean. (Will we have to have international observers at our elections? haha) Nevertheless, even more disturbing is the extremes to which the GOP is going to cast a home-grown kid from Hawaii and Illinois as the Anti-Christ, a Communist, a Muslim (as if that’s a bad thing), or a Socialist. I just don’t get it. I mean, I do totally get it, but it’s retarded. And it’s equally disturbing that there are so many people out there who can’t think for themselves and actually believe all this bullshit.

    A co-worker told me the other day that he couldn’t believe I was voting for a “socialist”, and I just laughed and asked him if he really thought I was that dumb and would vote for a socialist. I asked him if he really thought anyone in America could run as a socialist and win. I asked him if he really thought Obama would be dumb enough to get elected and then go pal around with Pelosi, who seems to be an idiot, and decide to raise everyone’s taxes and build govenment bigger. That would result in the Second American Revolution, one that would see the GOP take over Congress in two years, probably get Obama shot, and ensure a solid third party from here on out. I think he gets it, but he’s writing in his vote.

    I, on the other hand, see lots of opportunities here for a smart, elegant, and multi-racial President (a good respresentative of our multi-racial nation), and I’m just hoping we’re picking someone who is actually as good as his word.

  8. ladyfresshh November 3, 2008 at 9:54 am Reply

    I went to philly this weekend and did not realize until i was getting on the bus to come back that on the way down like 40 people on the bus were obama campaigners, the bus seats 51. There was one woman coming back who told me this and said most were spending the night if not the week in penn while a complete strange offered her their couch to spend the night if she wanted to stay.

    that movement was strong this weekend


  9. GVG November 3, 2008 at 9:08 pm Reply

    G.D. That’s like telling someone not to look down. OF COURSE I’M GOING TO LOOK!

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