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September 2008
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Begun, This Election Has

Virginia Sounds the Starting Gun for Early Voting
(Amy Sullivan, Time, 19 Sep 2008)

Even though bags of candy corn and other Halloween treats have barely hit drugstore shelves, Virginia voters will start casting their ballots on Friday at early-voting sites around the commonwealth. Another half-dozen states will open up early voting next week, before the candidates even meet for their first debate of the campaign. In all, 36 of the 50 states will allow early voting this year, including many key battleground states like Ohio and Colorado. As many as one-third of all voters are expected to make their selection before Election Day.

(via Slog)

Ties, Ties, Wonderful Ties

My own electoral college model has us at an exact tie again today. Given that, it seems like a good time to highlight what 538 is saying about this right now as well:

12th Amendment Update: Tie Probability Continues to Increase
(Nate Silver, fivethirtyeight.com, 19 Sep 2008)

The latest in our occasional series informing you about the country’s worst nightmare: a 269-269 Electoral College tie…

As you may have noticed from our scenario chart, the probability of a tie has increased dramatically in recent days and now stands at 3.2 percent. This is partly because, as we draw closer to election day with the race remaining tight, the probability of any one candidate running away with the election diminishes — meaning that all “close” electoral permutations, including ties, become more likely.

However, there is one specific scenario that is driving this outcome. That is the scenario wherein Barack Obama wins the Kerry states plus Iowa, New Mexico and Colorado, but loses New Hampshire. Of the 320 times that our simulation ended in a tie, this particular scenario was responsible 294 times. Indeed, we presently have Obama winning precisely the Kerry states plus Iowa, New Mexico and Colorado, so all that would be needed to make a tie occur is to flip New Hampshire back to McCain, and entirely reasonable possibility.

By the way — the way that the tipping point math works out, about 80 percent of the tie outcomes involve McCain winning the popular vote. This is by far the messier of the two scenarios. Since the Democrats will almost certainly control a plurality or a majority of House delegations in the incoming Congress, a tie accompanied by an Obama win in the popular vote will lead to a lot of fanfare but ultimately little drama — Obama will become the next President. But if McCain wins the popular vote, there will be far more pressure on Democratic Representatives to vote against their party.

Nightmare? Come on, it would be even more fun than 2000. I couldn’t possibly be so lucky as to see two such cases in a lifetime, could I? It would be a blast!

Electoral College: That Didn’t Last Long, Tied Race Again

Lots of polls since the last update, but only two category changes today.

Colorado (9 ev): Yesterday the five poll average moved Colorado from “Lean Obama” to “Lean McCain”. Today it moves back. As I mentioned yesterday, with these “Lean” states flipping back and forth, it may or may not really mean anything. Really, regardless of what side of the line we’re at at a given moment, the reality is that it is too close to call. But it does once again mean that after only one day of being in the lead in the count where everybody gets their leans, we are now back at an even 269/269 electoral college tie.

New Mexico (5 ev): This is another state that is right on a line. This time right on the line between “Lean Obama” and “Weak Obama”. It has been bouncing back and forth a few times lately. And now it bounces back to “Lean Obama”. Which means that New Mexico is once again a swing state. But really, since the end of August, New Mexico has just been hovering right around the 5% Obama lead line, thus going in and out of this category.

New Summary:

McCain Best Case – McCain 331, Obama 207
Obama Best Case – Obama 355, McCain 183

If everybody gets their leans – 269/269 ELECTORAL COLLEGE TIE

So, is this a peak for McCain yet? It may be coming, but the state by state polls still don’t show it yet. Yes, the “everybody gets their leans” count goes back in Obama’s direction today. But that really is a tied state moving from just barely on one side of the line to just barely on the other. Meanwhile, New Mexico weakens for Obama and becomes a swing state again. (Although that could also be random fluctuation.) So there is still mixed news overall today.

So, definitely hints of a beginning of a reversal in momentum, but nothing definitive yet.