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August 2008
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538’s Simulations Flip to McCain

The highly detailed analysis at fivethirtyeight.com is always worth paying attention to. They posted a note yesterday saying that their simulations were now showing McCain winning more often than Obama by a slight margin. At this moment in time, pre-Veeps and pre-Conventions, we are pretty much in a flat even race.

Today’s Polls, 8/20
(Nate Silver, fivethirtyeight.com, 20 Aug 2008)

Our popular vote projection shows a literal tie, with each of Barack Obama and John McCain projected to earn 48.5 percent of the vote, and third-party candidates receiving a collective 3 percent.

Things get confusing, however, when looking at the electoral college. We project Obama to earn slightly more electoral votes on average. However, we also project John McCain to win the election slightly more often. What accounts for the discrepancy? Obama’s wins tend to be larger, and McCain’s tend to be smaller. If Obama wins this election by between 7 or 10 points, there are very few high-EV states that he won’t be able to put into play; even something like Texas is probably winnable. If McCain were to win by that margin, on the other hand, he would still almost certainly lose New York, he would almost certainly lose Illinois, and he would almost certainly lose California. Those states represent 107 electoral votes that are essentially off-limits to McCain, even on his very best days.

Things only tend to get more volatile as the election approaches and more people start to pay attention. This is going to be an interesting September and October.

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