Election Prediction Update

Every six weeks or so I like to go back to Intrade (www.intrade.com) and see how people are placing bets on which way the election is heading. The last time I checked it was back in the first week of August, with the Democratic nominee (Intrade just lists DEM and REP in the state-by-state picks) was up 311-227 (Electoral College Votes – need 270 to win). I personally put it closer than that, putting the Democratic candidate up 279-259. Needless to say, a lot has changed since then.

According to the latest numbers, things have tightened up considerably in the race. They have the Democratic nominee winning 273-265, I have the Republican nominee winning 274-264 (for the sake of simplicity, we’ll just say Obama(Dem) and McCain(Rep) from this point on). The difference? One state. Colorado.

Last time around, “Unaffiliated” had the highest amount of registrations in the state. According to a recent AP article, Republicans now hold that edge, which means the majority of those registered in Colorado are either Republicans or Unaffiliated, which could be important swing voters. But on the Democratic side, it shows their Senate candidate (Mark Udall) with a 73-26 advantage over Republican Bob Schaffer. I think it will boil down to how much early voting there is, and the many ballot initiatives and who they bring out to vote. With a glance at some of these (TABOR-killing initiative, definition of a “person”, and ending race preferences) I give the edge to Republicans showing up more, which should amount to more McCain votes. The polls, which had Obama up by as many as 9 points, have gone back and forth on who is leading, amounting an average of an ever shrinking Obama lead that’s less than most margins of error.

Besides Colorado, which is the closest on Intrade (54-45 Obama), there are a couple other states that are close, a couple are surprises and weren’t in this category 6 weeks ago. New Hampshire is the next closest with it now 56-45 Obama. I left this in the Obama category, but there is something for Democrats to be worried about here: the last time I checked registrations, “Unaffiliated” held the lead at 44%, second place was Republicans with 30% and then Democrats with 26%. This was a surprise, and may have changed some since, but these numbers don’t usually jump up or down more than a few percentage points over the span of a few months.

Next is Nevada at 58-45 McCain, where registrations are nearly identical between the two parties, I expect McCain to carry this state. Then New Mexico at 60-45 Obama, which is a 13 point drop in the last 6 weeks, but many more Democratic registrations, so even though this is right in McCain’s backyard, I still give it to Obama. Then Virginia, which shows 61-42 McCain (registration numbers weren’t available), and while this may get close, I still think McCain will carry it. Lastly, Michigan, which I never guessed would make this list, is showing 62-40 Obama. While it may get some attention, the only way I see McCain winning this state is if there’s some unforeseen landslide. The rest of the states have larger spreads than this, including Ohio and Florida (McCain), and Pennsylvania (Obama).

Lastly, Intrade has a Presidential Election Winner betting option. The last contracts were 52.4 McCain to 47.1 Obama. If there truly is a greater than 5% gap in the popular vote like this, there should be an even greater gap in the Electoral College totals. But it’s not all gloom and doom for Democrats: Intrade shows them keeping control of both houses of Congress, and it’s not even all that close.

Top 10 Convention Moments

I like watching the political conventions, always have. I remember as a little kid watching these, figuring this was where/how they picked the President, which I thought was pretty exciting to watch – only to find out it was just to pick the party’s nominee. By comparison, Election Day was a little boring.

Around this time of year, usually some channel, like CSPAN or The History Channel shows famous speeches from past conventions. We have the luxury of knowing how those races turned out eventually, but it’s still interesting.

RealClearPolitics has a feature called Top 10 Convention Moments worth checking out. Some you’re sure to be aware of, some may surprise you.

Did you know at the 1960 DNC, which was held at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, John F. Kennedy actually made his acceptance speech at the cavernous Los Angeles Memorial Colliseum? Invesco Field at Mile High, where Democratic presumptive nominee Barack Obama will make his acceptance speech – insead of Pepsi Center, could probably fit inside the Colliseum.

Number 3 on this list is the 1968 DNC in Chicago, you know, the one some want to “re-create”?

My favorite kind of convention highlights are the ones where things get a little raucous and rowdy. Like at the 1964 RNC in San Francisco’s Cow Palace, where some factions were booed ( Nelson Rockefeller) and others, while controversial even within their own party ( Barry Goldwater), were cheered on.

Sadly, those days may be gone now that most conventions are just 4 day campaign commercials, highly polished, without much in the way of drama. I’ll still watch them more than the average person, but wonder about their true value or relevance.