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September 2008

Electoral College: McMentum Continues

The pollsters are ramping up their activities. Since my update yesterday, there were new polls in 14 states. In several of those states there were multiple polls. I may have to reevaluate what time of day I usually do these updates to be sure I actually have time to do them each day. In any case…

Of those 14 states, only 2 states actually changed categories, and both showed movement toward McCain.

North Carolina (15 ev): North Carolina had been one of those states where Obama had been hoping to break into traditional “red” territory. Obama had never taken the lead in North Carolina, but at one point he had narrowed McCain’s lead to less than 1%. No more. Recent polls have shown large McCain leads. With three new polls today, and two earlier in the week, the five poll average now shows McCain leading by more than 5% (in fact, almost 10%). This takes North Carolina out of “Lean McCain” and into “Weak McCain” with momentum toward going even further. This takes North Carolina out of play for Obama and yet again diminishes his hopes for “expanding the Democratic map” and moves him more toward trying to hold Kerry states and battling in the “traditional” swing states like Ohio.

Georgia (15 ev): Georgia is another state that at one point Obama had hoped to flip, or at least force McCain into needing to expend resources there to hold it. Despite putting in a lot of resources here, he never really got very far. My five point average never showed McCain ahead by less than 5%. So Georgia has always been a “red state” and never slipped into being a swing state. But now McCain’s position has been consolidated. In today’s update, McCain’s lead in Georgia moves over 10%, moving Georgia from “Weak McCain” to “Strong McCain”. This is far enough away from being a swing state, that Obama probably shouldn’t even waste any more effort here.

New Summary:

McCain Best Case – McCain 324, Obama 214
Obama Best Case – Obama 366, McCain 172

If everybody gets their leans (and Obama gets DC) – Obama 273, McCain 265

So for now, McCain’s momentum continues.

Popular Vote vs Electoral College

If this happens, do you think it will be the same people complaining that complained in 2000 when it happened, or will everybody suddenly and magically have exactly the opposite positions that they had in 2000? Huh? I think you know the answer.

Today’s Polls: Palin’s A Hit Everywhere — But The Electoral College
(Nate Silver, The Plank, 11 Sep 2008)

An avalanche of polling today, but a consistent theme emerges:

And what is that theme? Well, it’s that the popular vote and the Electoral College are significantly diverging. Although the Republicans seem to be polling stronger than they were in the pre-convention period almost everywhere, the differences are much larger in traditionally red states, particularly in the South and the rural West (Colorado and Nevada, by the way, are not rural states). Basically, I think the Republicans are getting the evangelical vote, and a significant fraction of the Perot vote.

Unfortunately, these are not particularly useful votes for them to have in terms of the electoral math.

McCain’s gain in our popular vote projection has been 2.1 points. Note, however, that his gains have been less than that in essentially all of the most important swing states, including Ohio, Michigan, Florida, Colorado, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. Only Virginia is on the other side of the line, and then only barely so.

As a result of all this, the Electoral College remains too close to call, even though McCain has a 1-2 point advantage in the popular vote. Obama now has an 8.4 percent chance of winning the Electoral College while losing the popular vote, which is far and away the highest that this number has been all year. And that number may get larger rather than smaller, once polling filters in from other red states like Texas, Nebraska and South Carolina. Palin may have been a brilliant VP selection — I think even Palinophobes like me have to concede that right now McCain’s looking pretty savvy — but some of that sheen is taken off by her somewhat lackluster effect on the Electoral College.

As for me, I am a strong supporter of the electoral college concept, think it is far superior for a popular vote based system, and will not bitch about about how the electoral college is bad if the candidate I support wins the popular vote and loses the electoral college. Because it is not about the popular vote, it has never been about the popular vote, and even more so, it SHOULD NOT be about the popular vote. And every candidate knows the rules going in.

I note that despite the above, my analysis does show a decent bounce for McCain, even in the state by state view. At least so far. But Silver’s analysis, which is presented in full at is considerably more detailed and involved than my own. I’m not entirely sure about some of the adjustments he makes in his models, and I think there is much to say for the simplicty of the way I map the race, but there is no question the 528 analysis is much more detailed and there is a lot more to dig into. And the section where he lays out odds for this sort of scenario are one of those benefits.

Another scary one of his stats… the odds of at least one decisive state being close enough that a recount would be required that would have the potential of changing the results of the election… 8%.

Two KiloPosts

This is my two thousandth post on this blog. The first post was just an automated test post that was created when the blog was, but it was first damn it, so it counts. That post was at 00:23 UTC on 12 Jul 2003. I started this post at 03:37 UTC on 12 Sep 2008. The time between the two posts was 1889 days, 3 hours and 14 minutes. So my average time between posts has been… 22 hours, 40 minutes and 51 seconds.

When I reached 1000 Posts on 13 Jan 2007 my average had been one post every 30 hours, 46 minutes and 37 seconds. So, in addition to the fact that it took 1281 days for my first 1000 posts and only 608 for my second thousand, it looks pretty clear that I’ve sped up a bit. For this second thousand I’ve averaged more like a post every 14 hours and 36 minutes.

Go me!

Hello Ike

I’ve been mostly ignoring Ike, but now that there is about a 40% chance of Hurricane force winds in Houston, and an over 90% chance of tropical storm force winds, guess it is time to pay a little more attention. It is due to come ashore in just about 24 hours.