Election Prediction: Obama 325, McCain 213 (Updated)
After nearly four years of watching this campaign unfold, it’s about to wrap up. There are another thirty-six hours of so of campaigning left and probably no more significant polls to be released. So, it’s time to go on the record and predict the outcome.
Others’ Projections: An Obama Rout
- RealClearPolitics: Obama 353, McCain 185 (with Tossups)
- Dave Leip‘s Atlas: Obama 318, McCain 160, Tossup 60
- Slate‘s Election Scorecard: Obama 311, McCain 141, Tossup 85
- Electoral-Vote.com: Obama 364 McCain 171 Ties 3
- Rasmussen: Obama 313 McCain 160, Tossups 65 (with leaners added to candidates)
- George Will, “This Week” ABC television: Obama 378, McCain 160
Obama’s Best Case Scenario: 417-121
McCain’s supporters are glum, having heard for weeks that their guy’s losing. Obama supporters, by contrast, are energized. Add to that what appears to be a better funded and organized get-out-the-vote (GOTV) effort, the wandwagon effect, and record turnout from blacks and under -35 voters, it could be a landslide. The most wildly optimistic case, then, would look like this:
That has Obama holding on not only to the strong Democratic states but taking every state that’s not strong Republican. It’s a ridiculous scenario, of course, but one that’s more likely than . . .
McCain’s Best Case Scenario: 335-203
There are signs that the race has been tightening in the closing days. Maybe, just maybe, Obama hasn’t closed the deal. What if all the states that are leaning McCain stay that way and all the tossups and close Obama states go Red? Well, it would look something like this:
While that map looks a lot more familiar than the first, it’s much less likely. Not only do we have dozens of reputable polls showing that Obama has been ahead since the financial crisis came to a head, but we’ve seen the debates, we know the political climate, and otherwise know that this just doesn’t seem like 2000 or 2004.
Prediction: McCain Comes Close But Not Close Enough: 325 Obama, McCain 213
On Election Eve 2004, I predicted that Bush would win 286 Electors to Kerry’s 252. Not only was that right but I went 51-for-51 on how the States and the District of Columbia would go. As noted in the post, I wasn’t at all confident in the outcome. I’m not confident in this prediction, either.
I am, however, going to apply the same methodology: Look at all the reputable publicly available polls and aggregators, throw out the outliers, and give the close ones to the party that carried the state in the previous cycle. Doing that in 2004, it meant throwing out historic outcomes like a Republican carrying Hawaii or Minnesota. In 2008, that means dismissing the likelihood that Georgia, North Carolina — let alone McCain’s home state of Arizona — go Obama’s way.
Unfortunately for those of us hoping for a McCain miracle, that’s not going to be enough. We’re going to need to dramatically outperform the polls in 2 of 3 of the following: Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. I really, really wanted to give the first two to McCain but simply couldn’t justify it. Obama’s leading both states by 4.2 points in the RealClearPolitics average and virtually every poll in both states has been blue for weeks. And, as much as I hope Bill McInturff is right about McCain’s chances in Pennsylvania, McCain last led in a public poll there in April.
So, it’s looking like this is the most likely scenario:
I should note, though, that the national head-to-head race was much tighter four years ago. Now, every single poll tracked by RealClearPolitics has Obama winning by at least three, with some showing double digit leads, and an average of 6.7. So it may be less likely that my conservative strategy winds up being prescient this go-around.
It’s more likely, I’m afraid, that I’ll be wrong in a Blue direction than a Red one.
UPDATE (Dave Schuler)
I’m not prepared to make an exact electoral vote prediction but here are my predictions for the election outcomes:
- Obama wins but not by as many electoral votes as many of his supporters seem to think he will.
- Obama will achieve an objective that eluded both Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton: he’ll get a majority of the popular vote. I’ll predict 52%.
- The Senate Democratic caucus will fall short of 60 votes. I’ll say 59.
- 15 to 20 new House Democrats.
- Congressional Democrats will nearly immediately interpret the election results as a mandate for their entire program rather than a mandate for change which includes them, too.
- Reports of bipartisanship in the new Administration have been greatly exaggerated.
- The hand of the Blue Dog Democrats will have been strengthened by the election. This is not necessarily a Good Thing: they’re generally deficit hawks.
Bumped to top from 13:03 2 November.
UPDATE (Dodd Harris)
One rightward blogger is willing to predict a McCain win: Ed Morrissey is ‘guardedly optimistic’ in predicting that “John McCain will win a squeaker over Barack Obama, 273-265, by holding Florida, Nevada, and adding Pennsylvania as a trade for Virginia.” He also predicts a 57-43 split in the Senate and a slight improvement for the Dems in the House to 237-198. His Congress numbers seem reasonable enough, +/-1, but, since I’m more inclined to Mr. Leip’s numbers above (Obama 318, McCain 160, Tossup 60), I’d have to call ‘guarded optimism’ something of an understatement.
UPDATE (James Joyner – 1918 3 Nov.)
RealClearPolitics has updated their totals with conflicting results. First, Obama has slightly widened his national head-to-head lead. Second, Florida has tightened to a true tossup (Obama +1.8) and Ohio has tightened somewhat (to +3.2). Given that all the polls save one Fox survey for Florida have Obama ahead in both states, I’m sticking with yesterday morning’s predictions. But it’s getting slightly more interesting.
UPDATE (Alex Knapp)
Having become recently more familiar with Obama’s GOTV efforts, I currently find myself less conservative about Obama’s chances. The advantage of Obama’s ground game over McCain’s is simply staggering. Plus given the fact that we expect to see record turnout, my guess is that the enthusiasm of Obama supporters is going to cause them to be willing to take longer lines than McCain’s. Given those two factors, I’m predicting a 350 – 188 victory, with Obama taking all the states on James’ map, plus Missouri, Virginia, and Nebraska’s Second Congressional District (the latter being the biggest longshot). Popular vote wise, I expect it to be 52 – 46 Obama.