Electoral College: Two Weeks Out

Stephen Green runs his periodic Electoral College wargame and has some bittersweet news for Republicans:  “McCain is more competitive than he was last week — but only enough to turn a blow-out into a drubbing.”

Electoral College Projection: Obama 317, McCain 221

Electoral College Projection: Obama 317, McCain 221

To put this in sporting terms, McCain is down three scores at the two minute warning.

As with a football game, the final score could change radically in the closing minutes.  McCain will be throwing the political equivalent of Hail Mary passes, going no huddle, doing onside kicks, and otherwise doing things that could either help him narrow the gap.

One of two things typically happens:  The trailing team winds up losing by a narrower margin because the opponent went into a prevent defense, willing to concede yards for time, or the blowout turns into a rout because the trailing team throws interceptions.

A third thing very seldom happens, of course: a miraculous comeback.  That tends to happen, though, because the better team finally started clicking on all cylinders and got some breaks.  That’s unlikely here; the Democrats were heavily favored going into the contest and playing before the home crowd.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2008, 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 and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Electoral College: Two Weeks Out: Stephen Green runs his periodic Electoral College wargame and has som.. http://tinyurl.com/6odg99

  2. Electoral College: Two Weeks Out: Stephen Green runs his periodic Electoral College wargame and has som.. http://tinyurl.com/6odg99

  3. Rick Almeida says:

    I hate saying this, because the data say otherwise, but I am hard pressed to see Obama taking MO. I lived there for 9 years (Columbia and Cape Girardeau), and I will be stunned if Obama can pull out even a plurality win in the Show-Me State.

  4. DC Loser says:

    Rick – check out the latest (10/19) Rasmussen poll results on fivethirtyeight.com. The sample size is 1000, within the three sigma standard deviation. It has Obama up by 5 points. That he drew 100,000 in STL and 75,000 in KC this weekend is an indication of the strength of his brand right now.

  5. Moonage says:

    Not so sure I totally go along with the hail mary scenario. In the last two elections, polls had the losing candidate on top. So, it suffices to say the evidence isn’t so clear on what the proper end-of-game scenario should be. In both elections, the winning candidate didn’t throw any hail mary’s. In the last election, I felt the losing candidate went into prevent defense way too early and basically allowed the oppostion about twenty field goals instead of the one hail mary. In 2000, it was a common perception that the losing candidate tried to kick the winning candidate when he was down, twisted his ankle in the process, and drew a personal foul penalty putting the winner in place to score an easy touchdown. Again, no hail mary was needed.

    Now, the bigger question was whether any of the previous teams even felt a hail mary was even necessary. Polls are fickle, and politico knows that. McCain thought Florida was solid, then Obama pulled ahead, the Mahoney story strikes and Obama goes down immediately. Was that a McCain hail mary or a penalty on team Obama for crowd interference?

    I think both camps are experienced enough to know how reliable polls are, even with all the fancy math terms. And, I think both camps are expereinced and mature enough to know what a hail mary looks like in the public eye. That’s the very last image you want to have going into an election. So, I really don’t expect anything out of the usual going into election day. Expect a ramp-up of rhetoric, and in Obama’s case, a massive assault of advertising. But, that’s it.

  6. It seems unlikely that Obama would win VA and NC and yet lose both Ohio and FL.

  7. I have to concur about Missouri. I still live here and think Senator Obama will have a very difficult time winning here.

    But to extend your football analogy a little more, it was always going to be an uphill battle for Senator McCain since the self appointed referees have been something less than neutral all along. And the football Gods are not kind to teams that think they are so good all they have to do is show up to win.

  8. Oh, and Bill Clinton was at the high school four blocks from my house last night. I drove by while it was going on. No big deal really. Looked like a PTO meeting was going on.

  9. Dantheman says:

    “McCain will be throwing the political equivalent of Hail Mary passes”

    He’s been doing that since the summer. The Paris Hilton ad, choosing Palin, “suspending” his campaign (which really meant being interviewed by Katie Couric instead of Letterman), bringing up Bill Ayers (and soon Rev. Wright). That’s how he got from being behind 3 touchdowns with a quarter left to the same deficit with 2 minutes left.

  10. Steve Plunk says:

    Historically the polls have not done a good job predicting the Republican winners over the years. Why should we expect it now?

    Look back at poll results two weeks before the election and then look at the actual votes cast. There is a pattern and it bodes well for McCain.

    Oh, and McCain is closing in Ohio and Florida according to some polls.

  11. Billy says:

    Fact of the matter is that outstate MO is irrelevant. Obama only needs to replicate his primary victory by turning out St. Louis and Kansas City in significant enough numbers to overwhelm the red parts of the state (basically everywhere else).

    There’s a reason McCain campaigned in New Town but avoided the city. The same demographics apply here as they do in PA; the difference is the margin.

  12. DC Loser says:

    Steve – please try to be consistent within the same post. If you say polls aren’t a good predictor of the election, then what difference does it make if they say McCain is closing in Ohio and Florida? I’m sure they’ll be different in a week. Oh, and the latest from Indiana has Obama up by 1, FWIW.

  13. PD Shaw says:

    That he drew 100,000 in STL and 75,000 in KC this weekend is an indication of the strength of his brand right now.

    I don’t think that means anything. Kerry won over 80% of St. Louis in 2004; it has a more solidly Democratic voting record than cities like Boston or NYC. KC is also reliably Democratic. Obama wins MO by keeping it close everywhere else in the state.

  14. DMan says:

    it was always going to be an uphill battle for Senator McCain since the self appointed referees have been something less than neutral all along

    I think it’s clear the McCain campaigns 4th quarter strategy to work the refs is backfiring on them, yet they stubbornly continue to do so.

  15. Anderson says:

    McCain can lose CO NM IA VA if he holds the other Bush states from 2004 and picks up PA.

    The idea presumably is that eastern PA is Obama’s, central is McCain’s, and western PA — bordering OH and WV — is up for grabs if McCain goes all-out with Rev. Wright, “God damn America,” scary black guy, etc.

    It will be brilliant if it works & desperate if it doesn’t.

    It also requires McCain to hold OH FL MO NV NC. I tend to agree that it’s hard to see MO really going Obama, and individually you can say that about all those states — but Obama has a good shot at winning *one* of them, esp. if his national margin stays 4-6 points come 11/4.

  16. Michael says:

    I don’t think that means anything. Kerry won over 80% of St. Louis in 2004;

    Yes, but 80% of what? Like Billy said, turn out matters now, not percentage of the win. If turnout in democratic strongholds doubles this year*, then even if Obama gets only 60% of those votes, he still gets more than Kerry got in 2004.

    (*) Not saying it’s going to double, I went in an order of magnitude higher to illustrate the point more easily.

  17. Steve Plunk says:

    DC,

    Throwin’ a bone to those who do trust the polls, no inconsistency. This thing is too close to call and there a two weeks left.

  18. Bob says:

    ten percent of voters haven’t decided yet. Next weekend they will sit down and decide. For the Democrats the issue for them is last two times it broke against them. And that this is so close this late, given all the advantages they have in this election cycle, means Obama still hasn’t sealed the deal. For republicans, McCain has made this a horse race but Election night looks to be grim.

  19. Anderson says:

    For the Democrats the issue for them is last two times it broke against them.

    This is not 100% true — Gore was several points behind Bush at this time in 2000, but won the popular vote.

    E.g.: Saturday’s CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll of likely voters showed Bush with gaining on Gore with 51 percent support to Gore’s 40 percent.

  20. Billy says:

    Obama wins MO by keeping it close everywhere else in the state.

    I respectfully disagree. As Michael mentioned, turnout is the key in two places: St. Louis City/County and Jackson County. McCain can play this game in the exurbs and Springfield too, but the republican base has always turned out there, so I don’t know how much he can realistically increase it.

    McCain’s best bet is to keep turnout low. See references to Acorn.

  21. Jamie says:

    Count me as skeptical Obama will win Missouri or North Carolina. I understand the banking industry is hurting in Charlotte, but I suspect they fear Obama’s tax policy more than McCain’s lacking in economic acumen.

    It would not shock me for New Mexico to go either way. I also assume the “Focus on the Family” types will come out en masse in Colorado to vote because of Palin.

    I am not certain it will be enough for McCain to win, but I suspect the electoral map is going to look a lot more red than most people think right now.

  22. Web Smith says:

    The problem with both of these guys is that neither one of them is listening. The first one that listens wins. Otherwise, Americans are ready to try a deaf President from the other party.

    Our elected public servants are no longer listening to us. The bank bailout is not the only issue. The vast majority of American citizens have been against our continued presence in Iraq, against amnesty of illegal aliens, against more H-1B visas, against the continued shipment of our jobs offshore, and against more government growth and spending, but the government continues to support these things with legislation and to grow and spend. Almost half of us believe that 9/11 was an inside job, but no one is calling for an independent investigation. We want to wean ourselves from our dependence on foreign oil, but Congress and the Senate play with renewable tax credits like they are a volleyball. Who they are listening to is not clear, but it can only be surmised from looking at their lists of campaign contributions.

    Not Listening

  23. Almost half of us believe that 9/11 was an inside job, but no one is calling for an independent investigation.

    Speaking of tin foil hats…

  24. rodney dill says:

    Almost half of us believe that 9/11 was an inside job

    Who am us anyway?

  25. PD Shaw says:

    I remain unimpressed by 100k in StL. Tell me about 30k in Branson or 15k in Kirksville.

    Clinton won about half of Missouri counties in ’96, with broad support along the Mississippi and the North.

  26. Billy says:

    Clinton won about half of Missouri counties in ’96, with broad support along the Mississippi and the North.

    McCaskill won the state with five counties: Jackson, Boone, St. Louis County, St. Louis City, and Nodaway (which was a little weird). Obama replicates the numbers in 2006 and he wins without anything outside of the cities.