Fun with electoral maps
NOTE: This post is from October 13th, 2008 — check the actual pollster sites I link to below for the most up-to-date numbers.
I’m getting excited for the election … mostly because it is dominating my idle thoughts and I’m starting to feel some fatigue!
If you’re not from the States and don’t know what the electoral college is or why we do it this way, check out this site (or the Wikipedia page is pretty good too). Essentially, instead of a direct popular vote, each state has a number of electors equal to the number of Senators and Representatives in Congress. The larger the state’s population, the more Representatives it has, and the more electoral votes it has. For example, California, New York, Texas, and Florida have between 27 and 55 whereas Montana, Wyoming, and South Dakota have only three. I don’t really want to get into a debate of whether this is good or bad … at least not right now … certainly for the election in three weeks, this is the system. UPDATE: From a commenter – check out this site for discussion of why we should have and how to achieve a national popular vote system.
There are a total of 538 total electoral votes, a candidate needs 270 to win the election.
There are several pollster sites out there that update the national map based on daily polling*. Some go into excruciating detail about their methodology. This post is really about defending or criticizing specific pollsters or whether or not this is valid … blah blah blah … this is mainly just for fun.
So, today is October 13th, 2008 – the election is three weeks from today.
Here’s the map from Pollster.com.
In this version, the deep red are strong McCain, pink are weak McCain, deep blue stong Obama, and light blue weak Obama. The yellow states are considered by this pollster to be a “tossup” at this point (sometimes called a “swing state”). If you go to their site you can hover over each state and get the internal numbers just for that state. The total number of electoral votes for each candidate come from adding the strong and weak states. In this case, Obama has already surpassed 270 by a long shot. But remember, this isn’t necessarily a prediction of November 4th, but a prediction if the election were held today based on polling numbers. If you check these day to day, they can change … although they tend to become more solidified as the election draws near. As an aside, it’s quite astonishing that North Dakota, Indiana, West Virginia, and Missouri are “tossup” states on this map!
The next map is from RealClearPolitics.com.
Theirs is essentially the same as Pollster.com’s – the only differences that they give North Dakota to McCain and give Virginia to Obama.
Finally, is a map is from a site called Electoral-Vote.com.
This screenshot was taken on the same day as the other sites above (Oct. 13th, 2008). This site is a bit less hesitant about calling a state. They only show one state (Missouri) as exactly tied and attribute all the other electoral votes to a candidate even if it’s close. As a result, they have Obama and McCain with 346 and 181 electoral votes, respectively. There are some differences between theirs and the above maps in the swing states. Again, please visit these sites for all the details about their methodology.
One of the cool features of electoral-vote.com is that they have a button to see “this day in 2004″ so you can see what the race looked like on the same day for that election. Below is the electoral map for the 2004 election (Bush vs. Kerry) for October 13th based on polling data.
Although they didn’t exactly predict the actual outcome (Bush ended up with 286) the point here is that it was a very close race with three weeks to go. I remember following it and the numbers bounced around a bit but it was always pretty close. If you go back up to the electoral-vote.com map for 2008, note the line on the bottom that says “Dem pickups (vs 2004)” – there are nine states there that Obama is currently polling better than McCain that Bush won four years ago.
Another cool thing about electoral-vote.com is that they have a cartogram option such that the states are sized proportional to their electoral votes (population).
Kinda puts things in perspective.
On many of these sites you can play around with the map and make your own. So here it is — this is my prediction!
Although Obama is polling extraordinarily well for a Democrat in states like North Carolina, West Virginia, Missouri, Nevada, Indiana, and North Dakota I think those will stay red. I’m even going to give Florida to McCain … Florida is fickle … difficult to predict. But I will go ahead and turn Virginia blue. Ohio is very close right now, but I think it’ll also go Obama.
I could be wrong, but this is what I’m gonna go with (barring some super-duper October surprise that fundamentally changes the race). Also, this prediction assumes no voting “irregularities”.
If anyone else wants to make a prediction, link to it in the comments … could be fun.
* The major news networks have electoral maps on their websites but none of them show Obama with more than 270 electoral votes even though polling shows otherwise. This is most likely due to the fact that they want it to be close, they want a horse race … what else would they talk about? If it weren’t a “dead heat” all the time, then you wouldn’t tune in to their idiotic commentary 24/7. If Obama’s lead opens up even more, watch the major networks drive the narrative that it is “very close”.