Like I’ve said before, I enjoy predicting elections, and usually do fairly well at it. This one though? The variables involved and combinations of possibilities are nearly too mind boggling to nail it down one way or the other. I may tweak a few numbers here and there right up to Election Day, but for now I see more combinations of Electoral College Votes (ECV’s) for Obama to reach the magic number of 270 than for McCain. My initial guess is for Obama to end up with either worst case 273 or best case 311 ECV’s.
But how and when will we know? The networks are already saying they won’t be in any great rush to declare a winner. They are also gun-shy over relying too much on their exit polls, which in 2004 gave John Kerry false hopes during the afternoon on Election Day. The networks also don’t want people tuning out too early, so they’ll likely drag this out as long as possible. In
I put together a scoresheet of when each state’s polls close, how many ECV’s they are worth, and indicated in bold the important ones to watch. Some states straddle more than one time zone, but the times given (all Mountain Standard Time) are usually when each given state concludes the majority of its voting. So, here they are.
VT(3) / VA (13) / SC (8) / GA (15) / KY (8) / IN (11)
NC (15) / WV (5) / OH (20)
ME (4) / MA (12) / NH (4) / CT (7) / NJ (15) / PA (21) / DE (3) / MD (10) / DC (3) / FL (27) / TN (11) /
KS (6) / MI (17) / NY (31) / RI (4) / WI (10) / LA (9) / MN (10) / TX (34) / NE (5) / SD (3) / NM (5) / CO (9) / WY (3) / AZ (10)
ND (3) / IA (7) / MT (3) / UT (5) / NV (5)
CA (55) / ID (4) / WA (11) / OR (7) / HI (4) / AK (3)
How crucial states go between and will pretty much decide who the winner is, that is IF the networks show the tallies in a timely manner. If Obama wins VA and OH, it’s pretty much over for McCain. If these are split or if McCain wins both, it’s going to be a long night, and the next two important states to watch will be NH and PA. Considering the idea of a split (or else why even go any further in this discussion?), if McCain were to win OH, then that might point to strength in PA, especially western and central PA. If McCain were to win NH, that would indicate weakness for Obama in some of the supposedly locked up blue states down the line. I tend to think McCain would win neither of these states.
So if it’s still a race by the time CO’s polls close, it then all comes down to three states: CO, NM, and NV. There’s little doubt that Obama will win the west coast and HI, equaling 77 Electoral votes. In just about any scenario, these will be the states that put Obama up over 270 EV’s. If Obama hasn’t reached 192 ECV’s before the west coast polls close, he won’t reach 269 (a 269-269 tie would go to Obama through the House of Representatives).
And here is where the dreaded slow counting expected for
So, I hope that helps you in weaving through the multimedia nightmare that might be awaiting us on Election Night. The eventual winner may not appear that way (based on ECV’s) for quite a while, but the keys to watch for above should give you a clue of how it’s going along the way.