Posted by WLS:
What I’m about to say will, if it works out to be true, cause Lawrence O’Donnell to have a coronary on Nov. 5. In the immediate aftermath of Kerry’s loss to Bush in 2004, O’Donnell called for blue states to secede from the Union. So, we will need a volunteer in the blogosphere to stay with O’Donnell on election night with a portable defibrillator in order to zap him back to life.
ASSUMING that the pre-election polling is close to accurate, if Obama is leading in the national polls coming out of the final weekend by 52% or less, he’s going to lose. If he’s at 53% it’ll probably be very close, but he may still lose. If its 54% or above, he will win. And it’s not the “Bradley Effect.”
Why does he have to be that high? It’s the revenge of the small states on steroids in the electoral college. The math is actually pretty simple, although some assumptions have to be made about turnout and victory margin in specific states (i.e., that current polls in those states are close to being accurate).
Let’s start with turnout: In 2000, there were 101.5 million votes cast for the two major party candidates. In 2005, there were 121 million votes cast for the two major party candidates.
I think it would be unlikely to have another 20% increase in voter turnout, but let’s assume that there will be for now given all the crowing the Democrats have done about their voter registration efforts. That would put the gross vote total around 145 million votes.
At 52-48%, the breakdown in votes would be 75.4 million to 69.6 million — a total vote differential of 5.8 million more votes for Obama than for McCain.
But Obama is certain to carry 6 out of the 9 largest electoral vote states won by Kerry, and in most instances by wider margins than Kerry won over Bush. Those winning margins are going to eat up most if not all of the 5.8 million vote differential, meaning McCain will win several smaller states by smaller margins than Bush did but still win the majority of electoral votes. Here is the math:
2004: Kerry beats Bush in the following states by the listed amounts:
CA: 55-45 (differential of 1.25 million votes)
NY: 59-41 (differential of 1.35 million votes)
IL: 55-45 (differential of 540,000 votes)
MI: 52-48 (differential of 170,000 votes)
NJ: 53-47 (differential of 240,000 votes)
MA: 63-37 (differential of 730,000 votes)
Total vote differential in those 6 states — 4.28 million more votes for Kerry than Bush.
In the other 44 states and DC, Bush beat Kerry by a total of 7+ million votes because he won the overall total by 3 million.
2008: We can safely put those same 6 states, with a combined total of 151 electoral votes, in Obama’s column. But if Obama wins the total nationwide vote by 5.8 million votes (52-48), how much of that 5.8 million will come out of those 6 states?
If you assume a 20% increase in turnout in each and you use the current polling for each of those states (splitting the undecideds), you get the following vote differentials in each:
CA: 14.7 million votes — 58-42% (differential of 2.36 million votes)
NY: 8.7 million votes — 66-34% (differential of 2.79 million votes)
IL: 6.3 million votes — 57-43% (differential of 880,000 votes)
MI: 5.75 million votes — 58-42% (differential of 910,000 votes)
NJ: 4.4 million votes — 56-44% (differential of 540,000 votes)
MA: 3.4 million votes — 58-42% (differential of 550,000 votes)
Total Differential from these 6 states: 8.03 million votes.
Here are the percentages of what Kerry actually won vs. what Obama is currently polling in these 6 states:
CA — 55 v. 58
NY — 59 v. 66
IL — 55 v. 57
MI — 52 v. 58
NJ — 53 v. 56
MA — 63 v. 58
Nothing terribly dramatic here. Given the state of the war and the economy, you would expect Obama to do better in very liberal states like California and New York given BDS. And you would expect the reversal of Illinois and Massachusetts since they are the home states of the nominees.
If Obama wins only 52-48 nationwide — a total of 5.8 million votes — then he loses the other 44 states and DC by a total of 2.2 million votes (8.0 – 5.8 = 2.2). McCain is going to have several small state victories by modest margins and several medium states wins by small margins, but he is going to pile up electoral votes from those states.
If Obama wins 53-47 nationwide, his margin overall would increase to 8.6 million votes. Yet about 8 million votes of that margin will come in 6 states listed above with 151 electoral votes. He would need to use his other 500,000 vote margin to win another 119 electoral votes – a very small window. He needs that margin to work out to narrow victories in PA, MN, CO, NV, and NH.
If Obama wins 54-46, he has a vote differential of 11.6 million votes and he wins the electoral college easily since he has nearly 6 million votes to find his other 119 electoral votes. That means he will win also win by close margins in places like OH, VA, WI, and FL.
The easiest way to understand this is that if Obama wins by only 4-6 points (52-53%) nationwide but he wins 4-6 large states by margins of 8-20%, then McCain is going to win a lot of states by less than 4%, and he’s going to win the electoral college as a result. Put another way, McCain is going to win 53 electoral votes from MT, ID, WY, UT, ND, SD, NE(4-5), KS, OK, AK, AR, MS, and his total margin of victory will probably be about 1/2 of Obama’s margin of victory in either CA or NY. Obama will have a lot more votes, but they won’t mean anything in the electoral college.
And O’Donnell’s head will explode right on MSNBC.