City of Brass

City of Brass

Obama wins the Presidential Election

Chris Bowers at Open Left does the math, and finds that Obama has already won. His reasoning:

  1. 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.
  2. Obama leads by at least 9.5% in every Kerry state and Iowa, according to both and Real Clear Politics. Also, my own numbers concur with those calculations.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 .. he
    still needs to win the remaining voters by 18.4%
    in order to eek out
    the state.
  5. 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 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.

It should be noted that we knew pretty much as far back as March that Obama had won the primary, based on the same kind of mathematic analysis. Bowers’ analysis is also corroborated by Nate Silver’s latest projections, which give Obama a 96.3% probability of winning, with 338-378 electoral votes:

It’s over, folks. Time to start planning for the transition… oh wait, Obama has that covered.


UPDATE: My purpose here is to emphasize that there’s a certain point at which the cold equations of mathematics take over. This election is governed by specific rules, and polls are scientific and statistically significant samples of popular opinion. The entire system, unlike the stock market or the weather, is fundamentally deterministic. The importance of early voting here cannot be overstated, either, providing a much-needed buffer against all the attempts at voter suppression that are sure to occur, not to mention minimizing the inevitable voting logistical snafus. Thanks to Obama’s strategic emphasis on early voting, these kinds of derailing forces are largely neutralized. As a result, the election is much more predictable according to the data. The math wins.

Comments read comments(4)
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Thomas Nephew

posted October 31, 2008 at 10:44 am

It’s still worth running up the score though. :)

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m goode

posted October 31, 2008 at 12:27 pm

I wonder how many people will be tracking the election using their cell phones? This one phone, the krave ( boast a full HTML browser with java support, so tracking election coverage would be a breeze.

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Mr Moo

posted October 31, 2008 at 1:33 pm

My kind and learned friend… beware those small percentages where McCain wins.

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Jay Dean

posted November 1, 2008 at 1:45 pm

Isn’t there some sort of code, or ethcis, or gentleman’s agreement on election day not to publish/broadcast results in a state before polls close, in order not to deter evening voters from going to the polls by making them think it’s a lost cause? Similarly, don’t they try to hold back on east coast results until west coast polls are closed? I don’t recall exactly, so I’m honestly asking.
If this is the case, where does reporting on early voters fit in? My understanding is that these are not actual counted votes, but counts of how many registered democrats or republicans have turned in early votes. However, it seems reasonable to expect that party affiliation will very closely track with actual voting.
With all of this in mind, is there a problem, or potential problem, with saying, three or four days before an election, “Well there’s no point in voting on election day, because we know who won already?”

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