# Pollster.com

## Articles and Analysis

### Getting to 270 for McCain

(Click chart to see full size)

It takes 270 to win this game. McCain is behind in national polls, down 7.5 in our Pollster.com Trend Estimate. But as you know, this is a game won in the states. So what does it now take for McCain to eek out a 270-268 electoral vote win?

The chart above shows the states allocated to candidates based on my Political Arithmetik trend estimate. The classification of states is the same as Pollsters, but differ slightly in the order.

The states are ordered left to right according to the Obama minus McCain margin. Yellow states are classed as tossups but are allocated to candidates based on who is ahead in the trend, no matter how small that margin may be. The width of each state's block is proportional to the state's electoral vote.

With this classification, Obama has 364 electoral votes to McCain's 174.

So what would it take for McCain to come back at this point? Ohio and Florida, above all else.

Ohio and Florida are the largest states that are in Obama's row but still close. McCain led in both states in August and the first half of September. Without them, it is hopeless. With them, he still needs more, but they are the necessary conditions for a win.

Can he do it?  The trends in Ohio and Florida offer a small glimmer of hope. While most states have continued to move in Obama's direction (see PA, MI and WI), these two have leveled off, and in Ohio moved back in McCain's direction.

No matter what, McCain has a long shot to get to 270. But The road has to go through Ohio and Florida and both states are looking better for him than any others he must win. What he is doing in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin is a mystery to me.

jme:

"What he is doing in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin is a mystery to me."

Amen. (Not that I'm complaining.)

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douglasfactors:

eke, not eek

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The idea of McCain reaching 270 makes me go eek.

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m913:

I think McCain might go "eek" when he sees a chart like this.

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ericsp28:

To get there he needs to wil ALL of the yellow states and to flip at least 3 of the light blue states on the current map.
I just don't see what 3 light blue states he can realistically expect to flip based on the current trends. Florida is the only one that shows any sign of turning in his favor.
The trend in some of the yellow states isn't favorable for McCain right now either. Recent polls seem to indicate that Missouri and Nevada are pulling away from him.
So even if he does pull out wins in Ohio and Florida, he still has a large hill to climb to get to 270.

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Allen:

The first exit poll results are in:

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tieguy:

It looks to me that an across the board drop of... hrm, around 6% would be enough for McCain to win? (That would drop Minnesota into his column.) It'd be interesting to know what that exact number is- the slightly different ordering between Prof. Franklin and Pollster's maps are confusing me about that.

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political_junki:

"What he is doing in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin is a mystery to me."
I think McCains internal polls for FL are worse than PA for some reason.

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mac_1103:

tieguy -- check out this site:

http://election.princeton.edu/

the "meta-margin" is what you're looking for.

"A key measure of the current closeness of the race is the Popular Meta-Margin (a.k.a. Swing Index). This is the across-the-board percentage shift in opinion (or poll bias) that would be needed to make the electoral college an exact toss-up."

Professor Wang's current estimate is very close to your 6% guess.

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tieguy:

mac_1103: oh- *that* is what the meta-margin is. I visit Prof. Wang's site fairly regularly but never had found a good definition of meta-margin. :) Thanks for pointing it out/defining it.

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Sean:

Not only does he HAVE to win Ohio and Florida, he also MUST win: Colorado, Virginia, Missouri, Indiana, North Carolina, and Nevada. Without Nevada it would be a 269 tie and Dems are majority in the house so Obama would win. So its not just Ohio/Florida. He has to win ALL 8 listed states, 3 of which pollster has leaning Obama, 4 of of the 6 tossups that Obama is ahead in the polls as well as the other 2 tossups that mccain is leading in.

The only tossup state that doesnt really matter is North Dakota. Otherwise McCain has to win all other tossups and 3 of the leaning obama's.

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wagthedog1001:

Ohio and Florida are irrelevant. Obama wins if one of these two scenarios occurs:

Kerry states + IA + NM + CO ... or....

Kerry states + IA + VA

Anything beyond that for Obama is frosting.

Work for PEACE. Work for Obama. Don't stop now.

Bush is still in office and anything can happen.

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CTPonix4BHObama:

So is the reason McCain campaigned in Maine today because he doesn't think he can get Nevada and he needs to pick off 1 EV in Maine (equal distribution) in case of the 269-269 tie?

Because if thats not the reason...WHY IS HE IN MAINE?!

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todji:

Anyone up for a laugh she could go to Ann Coulter's website. Her new article consists of poll "analysis" of past elections.

With such a brazen attempt to cherry-pick facts and leave out important bits of information, I can't help but wonder what's really going on in her head. Does she really believe this stuff?

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RS:

@Sean:
A tie may not necessarily result in an Obama Presidency - see this:
http://3bluedudes.com/?p=576
[Not sure where I picked it up - here? Or off Ben Smith.]

No wonder Obama is pouring resources into Florida - without FL, McCain's sunk. Here's a great article:
www.nationaljournal.com/njmagazine/pi_20081011_4073.php

A perennial indicator of the statewide result is the Tampa Bay region, whose tallies typically are almost finished by the time the polls close in the western Panhandle, an hour after those in the peninsula. If Barack Obama is ahead in Tampa Bay, chances are good that he will carry the state.
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McCain can only win the election if this happens :

Extraordinary fear of an enemy : Terrorists or a Big Foreign Power Invading or Attacking a little defenseless country ( or Israel ). If Voters are afraid of a Military Situation and extremely pessimistic about their own security.

And even this possibility is very far away and removed from reality. Americans are not so coward or invaded by Pessimism about the Military Strenght and Political Diplomatic Resources of the USA.

Racism has very often been cited as a cause for defeat of Obama. But Americans are more educated, cultured and cultivated now. The Press and TV are more civilized.

Even Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs try to be conciliatory and invite Many Black Friends to their shows. They constantly promote themselves as non racists and constantly condemn racism.

So the low culture people are exposed to lots of "good will propaganda" among races and ethnics.

Vicente Duque

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There are so many scenarios, it's somewhat hard to quickly play them out. I made Votetastic, an iphone application that does electoral college math for just this purpose.

http://tinyurl.com/4bwq48 (itunes) or just search votetastic.

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ruyen:

Great article and graph Charles. Do you have the chart in a form that is updated, perhaps automatically with the latest polling?

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