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Electoral College: Maine 2nd in Play? Oh, and South Dakota.

Two category changes today. Frankly, neither are significantly impactful to the overall state of the race, but let’s take a look anyway.

I am showing a whole year on the chart since polling has been extremely parse in Maine’s 2nd congressional district.  Like Nebraska, Maine gives two electoral votes to the statewide winner, then one each for winning each congressional district.  Last weekend I talked about Nebraska’s 2nd dropping into “Lean Romney” territory.  This weekend we have Maine’s 2nd dropping into “Lean Obama” territory.

ME-2 has been very sparsely polled.  Prior to today, I was still using the 2008 general election results to “pre-fill” the five poll average.  Obama won ME-2 by 11.3% in 2008, so that helped push his numbers upward.  With that rolling off the five poll average, plus an October poll showing Romney ahead by 5%, the five poll average drops to 4.9% and so I reclassify ME-2 as “Lean Obama” and I now consider Romney to have a chance there.

4.9% seems pretty substantial though, so Obama is still pretty safe here, right?  Well, maybe.  Bottom line is that ME-2 now joins NE-2 to produce the two “closest” electoral votes without a substantial amount of polling.  Sure, the five poll average gives Obama a 4.8% lead.  But if you only take polls from the last month, it is a tie.  Now, there is reason to be suspicious of that poll showing Romney ahead, but it is what it is and I include it.  The reality though is that like Nebraska’s 2nd, Maine’s 2nd is just an area where we’re somewhat blind.

From the few polls we DO have, it seems the best we can say is that NE-2 is close, but still more likely to go for Romney, and ME-2 is close, but still more likely to go to Obama.

Showing a year of history here as well, since South Dakota is also sparsely polled.  Unlike ME-2 and NE-2 though, which are closer than some states that are polled much more frequently than they are, South Dakota is sparsely polled because it isn’t even close to being in contention.  With the latest poll Romney’s lead in the five poll margin drops to just under 10%.  So I now classify it as “Weak Romney” instead of “Strong Romney”.  But South Dakota is a long way from being in contention.  Romney will win South Dakota.

With that, it is time for the new map and summary:

Romney Obama
Romney Best Case 299 239
Current Status 206 332
Obama Best Case 190 348

Romney’s best case is one electoral vote better than yesterday since I consider the possibility of him winning ME-2.

Basically though we’re exactly the same place that we have been.  Obama ahead, but Romney can win if he steals a bunch of the states where Obama is ahead, but only by a small margin.

Looking at the tipping point margin again:

The outlier in Virginia I mentioned yesterday and the day before still hasn’t rolled off, but the other states have moved in such a way that it barely makes a difference now.  At the moment the tipping point state is New Hampshire, where the margin is a 3.02% Obama lead.  If you “fixed” the outlier in Virginia, the tipping point state would be Ohio, where Obama’s lead is now 3.0%.  Pretty much the same.

So we remain where we have been.  Unless the polls are all wrong and biased toward Obama, Romney has to make up about 3% in the key states in order to pull ahead and win this.

Three days left until the first polls close and we start getting actual election results.

Will anything change in the last three days?  Probably not.  But I suppose there is always that chance.

Note: Chart and map from the Abulsme.com 2012 Electoral College Prediction page. Both assume Obama vs Romney with no strong third party candidate and show polling as it currently exists. Things will change before election day. On the map red is Romney, blue is Obama, gold states are too close to call. Lines on the chart represent how many more electoral votes a candidate would have than is needed to tie under several different scenarios. Up is good for Obama, Down is good for Romney.

@abulsme tweets from 2012-11-02 (UTC)