Election Prediction Winners

I’ve been waiting to hand out recognition for correctly predicting the Electoral map until all states have been decided.  Missouri still hasn’t been called, although it’s likely to fall into McCain’s camp.  North Carolina has been called for Obama, who also picked up one elector in Nebraska, the first time either Maine or Nebraska has actually split its delegation despite  rules allowing it for decades.   The final tally, then, should be Obama 365, McCain 173.

Nate Silver is drawing praise from all corners for his prediction that Obama would get 349 electors and McCain 189 but several others did better than that.

Congrats to Steven Taylor, who was the closest:  Obama 364, McCain 174.  In addition to not forecasting the Nebraska split, he incorrectly gave Missouri to Obama and Indiana to McCain; since both have 11 Electors, though, it was a wash.

Among the OTB gang, Alex Knapp came closest:  350 – 188.   He correctly called the Nebraska 2nd going to Obama but thought (as I did) that McCain would edge him in North Carolina and Indiana while Obama would take Missouri.  He also got Virginia right.

My own prediction of  Obama 325, McCain 213 wasn’t great.  Percentagewise, calling 48 out of 51 contests correctly isn’t bad.  But I missed on 3 of 8 Battlegrounds, which were the real calls. (No, I don’t count Pennylvania as a battleground; it’s a blue state that Obama was leading by 9 points going into election day. So no extra credit to me for getting it right.)

I correctly gave Obama Ohio and Florida and predicted McCain would hold onto Montana, North Dakota, and Missouri.   I was wrong, though, on North Carolina and Indiana, both of which went very narrowly to Obama.  That’s not so bad, really; they were the closest of tossups in the aggregate polls and I both picked in the direction the polls pointed me to and went with history.

Most spectacularly, I made a reach in my home state of Virginia, predicting it would stay Red and confound the polls.  Instead, Obama won by 200,000 votes out of over 3.6 million cast — almost exactly what the RealClearPolitics average said would happen.  The Commonwealth has now elected, in consecutive elections, a Democratic governor, two new Democratic Senators, and a Democratic president.   Virginia is no longer a Red state.  It is, at best, a swing state, and probably a Blue state.   I’ve been predicting that would happen for years but thought it would take a wee bit longer to happen.

FILED UNDER: 2008 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Anderson says:

    I think you transposed Silver’s prediction — 349, not 394. He didn’t trust his own model that Obama would win NC, it seems.

  2. James Joyner says:

    Fixed. I got it right in my prediction roundup post.

  3. rodney dill says:

    Obama 365, McCain 173.

    How close is this, historically?

    The popular vote difference seems like it was pretty big by modern standards, but usually that would result in an even more lopsided electoral vote.

  4. rodney dill says:

    This site has results from all the elections.

  5. I actually gave Obama that Nebraska seat in my National Journal pick on a whim, and then though better of it when I did my official map on PoliBlog.