October 2008

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McCain's Miserable Map

To appreciate the dominant position Obama currently holds in the Electoral College, consider the following map. I've taken the 2004 Electoral College results, and colored "gray" all the red states that are in play this year.


Obama has locked up every Kerry state from 2004, which gives him a starting point of 252 Electoral votes.

So of the 12 states currently in play which total 129 electoral votes, Obama needs to pick up only an additional 18 electoral votes to get to 270. He can do that by winning Ohio, Florida, or any combination of the other states. Even more to the point: Obama leads in the polls in 10 out of 12 of these states, Montana and North Dakota being the only exceptions.

Obama's leads in the RCP Averages in these ten states rank as follows: Iowa +12.2, New Mexico +8.4, Virginia +7.0, Colorado +6.5, Ohio +6.1, Nevada +3.3, Missouri +2.7, Florida +2.2, North Carolina +1.0, and Indiana +0.5.

As has been noted, McCain's most likely route to 270 is an inside straight that wins every one of these states but Iowa and New Mexico for a 274-264 win:


McCain's chances of flipping one of the Kerry states from 2004 to offset his red state losses this year are exceedingly slim. McCain has abandoned Michigan and pulled back from the Upper Midwest, leaving Pennsylvania as the only option. (McCain and Palin have spent time in New Hampshire, though they would also need to win two out of the three states of IA, CO, and NM to have the Granite State's 4 EV's make a difference getting to 270). Thus a second, but even more unlikely, scenario for McCain to get to 270 looks like this:


The McCain campaign's hope - and that's basically what they are down to at this point: hope - is that the national polls close from the current 7.7% lead for Obama down to into the 3-5% range over the next week and that the corresponding move in these traditionally red states put them back into McCain's column.