November 3, 2008

Four Paths to Victory

Hatched by Dafydd

Looking at the current Real Clear Politics electoral map, it seems clear that John S. McCain has four possible paths to victory. Realistically, however, each begins with winning all the states that are currently considered toss-ups. It's still possible to win if, for example, he loses Ohio but wins Pennsylvania -- but that's an unlikely outcome. (Not impossible, but less likely.)

If McCain can pick up the so-called toss-ups states, the ones that are colored neither red nor blue on the map, then the four paths to victory are these. If McCain...

  • Wins Pennsylvania (Mason-Dixon says Obama by 4, Zogby says by 14), or --
  • Wins Colorado (Mason-Dixon says Obama by 5, ARG says 7), or --
  • Wins Minnesota (Survey USA says Obama by 3, Maxon-Dixon says 8, Rasmussen 12), or --
  • Wins both Nevada (Mason-Dixon and Rasmussen say Obama by 4, Zogby says 8) and New Mexico (Survey USA says Obama by 7, Rasmussen says 10) --

Then he wins the election and becomes President-elect John McCain. Otherwise, say hello to President-elect Barack H. Obama.

We'll have a pretty good idea early in the election how things are going, because Virginia (polls range from Mason-Dixon, Obama up by 3, to Zogby, 6), North Carolina (Mason-Dixon and Zogby say it leans McCain), Georgia (all polls say McCain leads), and Florida (Mason-Dixon, Quinnipiac, and Zogby say Obama leads by only 2, ARG says 4) are all must-win states, all but the last being entirely in the Eastern time zone. If any of these is called for Obama -- after the polls close in the Pacific time zone, of course -- it's almost certain that Obama will win. But if McCain can hold them all, that's a very good sign.

(Again, beware of states that are narrowly called based upon exit polling; it's generally not representative of the entire vote.)

If they're still not being called late into the night, that too is a good indicator; in an Obama blowout, at least one of those would clearly resolve into a Democratic pickup (probably Virginia).

It's also essential that McCain win either Ohio (Mason-Dixon says McCain leads by 2; others range from Survey USA, Obama by 2, to Quinnipiac, Obama by 7) or Pennsylvania (see above), both in the Eastern time zone. If both go to Obama (again, after the polls close here in California, so we're sure the call is not a voter-suppression tactic), then that's the unmistakable sound of the fat lady's last aria.

Ergo, we ought to have a good idea by, say, eleven o'clock Eastern, as soon as the polls close in the West, whether we'll be popping champagne or sobbing into our beer.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 3, 2008, at the time of 11:05 AM

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