In order to have a majority in the electoral college, a presidential candidate must win 270 electoral votes. Every Electoral College prediction begins with a base for each candidate, the solid reds (R) and the solid blues (D). These are AL, AK, AR, ID, KS, LA, MS, NE, OK, UT, WV, and WY (76 total votes) for Romney and CA, DE, DC, HI, IL, MD, MA, NY, RI, and VT (142 total votes) for Obama. Now we add the likely states onto these--those that aren't quite 100% guaranteed but have very little change of changing colors. These are AZ, GA, IN, MO, MT, ND, SC, SD, TN, and TX (115 total) for Romney and CT, ME, MI, MN, NJ, NM, NY, OR, and WA (75 total) for Obama. In addition, there is the chance that Obama could get one of Nebraska's electoral votes from its second congressional district because Nebraska likes to be special and has its own rules. Obama pulled this off in 2008 and won a single vote from Nebraska. However, since then, the Republican-controlled legislature has done some gerrymandering and redrew district lines to decrease Obama's chances there. So, for now, we'll leave that one vote with Romney. This starts us off with the following score:
Score: Romney (191), Obama (217), Remaining (112)
The Democrats' Plan
No Republican has won Pennsylvania (20) or Wisconsin (10) since the 80s, and while they did look like potential battleground states a few months ago, most major news groups have put them back in Obama's column. Democrats are also assuming that Nevada (6) is in the bag. They won the state by 12.5% in 2008 and major polls from this month show Obama leading by an average of 4.2%. In fact, Romney has only led Obama in 1 out of the 20 major polls conducted this year, and that poll was in April. So with NV, PA, and WI under the belt, Obama's campaign knows that there is one state leaning blue with enough electoral votes to secure them victory: Ohio (18). If he wins Ohio, Obama can afford to lose Florida, Virginia, Colorado, Iowa, and New Hampshire and still be reelected. So my prediction centers on the fact that the Obama campaign will spend a significant portion of its time resources solely in Ohio, while reducing ad spending and campaign visits in North Carolina and Nevada. Sure they'll continue campaigning in the other swing states just in case they lose Ohio, providing themselves a safety buffer, but my guess is that Ohio will receive a disproportionally larger investment.
Score: Romney (191), Obama (271)✓, Remaining (76)
Why Romney will do Better than Expected
In light of recent polling, many projections currently show Obama winning almost every swing state, severely diminishing Romney's chances. However, there are two key factors why Romney is being underestimated:
- Skewed Polls. Many people are starting to point out that major polling companies are actually over-sampling Democrats, causing polls to be skewed in Obama's favor. After correcting for these skews, a majority of polls actually show that Romney has a significant lead (e.g. unskewedpolls.com).
- The Presidential Debates. While President Obama is an eloquent speaker, he is a little unprepared to answer the tough questions because the media hasn't been.
Score: Romney (254), Obama (271)✓, Remaining (13)
Last Minute (or "Last Week") Reaction from Obama's Team
Despite doing so well in the polls, the Obama team doesn't want to take any chances. After Obama does poorly in the debates and the Romney campaign regains their footing in key swing states, they'll begin to reconsider other options to victory, just in case Ohio, too, slips out of their hands. Ohio has 18 electoral votes, and if he loses them in addition to the three large prizes of NC, FL, and VA, Obama will need to secure at least 17 more votes to win, which means he'll turn to New Hampshire, Iowa, and Colorado, which have a combined total of 19 electoral votes. During the last few weeks, Obama will focus on these three small states, blasting them with ads. His efforts will be enough to secure New Hampshire (4) (which he probably wouldn't have lost anyway), but will fall just short in Iowa, which will stay with Romney. In spite of all this, however, I believe that Obama will win Ohio anyway because of his concentrated efforts.
Score: Romney (254), Obama (275)✓, Remaining (9)
What Obama isn't Counting On
You'll notice that the only state I haven't assigned yet is Colorado with its 9 votes. As of now, Colorado is polling in Obama's favor. I believe, however, that this is largely due to the over-sampling factor and that more accurate polling would show a close tie in Colorado as of now. My prediction is that Obama's last minute efforts in Colorado will cancel out Romney's post-debate momentum, ending up at about a tie again. However, there is one factor that Obama hasn't been counting on that I believe will just barely tilt Colorado (9) to Romney. This same factor will also surprisingly provide an upset in Nevada (6), pulling it red by just enough to flip sides. I'm talking about Mormons.
Final Score: Romney (269), Obama (269), Remaining (0)
|Map Generated at 270toWin.com|
Why do Mormons matter? Statistics. First of all, 6.5% of Nevada's population are Latter-day Saints (nicknamed "Mormons"). Colorado is 2.8% Mormon. Most, but not all, Mormons tend to vote Republican. But, wait, you say, doesn't polling information already take this into account? I mean, Mormons are included in the polls, too, right? True. However, what isn't included in the polls is that fact that according to a Gallup study (here), Mormons are significantly more likely to vote than non-Mormons. In fact, in 2008 they found that while Mormons made up only 10% of the number of Republicans in the Nevada, they made up 26% of the voters in the state GOP caucus. I believe that the Mormon vote will be just enough to push both Nevada and Colorado into Romney's column, leaving us with an tie! (Quick disclaimer: while a vast majority of Mormons vote Republican, there are many who do not. In fact, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is a Mormon and a high-ranking Democrat. I myself am Mormon and a Republican, but my religion does not dictate my political affiliation. Our church is politically neutral.)
So, What Does a Tie Mean? Who Wins?
In order to win the presidency, a candidate must secure a majority of the electoral votes. If no candidate receives a majority, then the decision actually goes to the House of Representatives, and the Senate picks the Vice President. This has happened twice before in 1800 and 1824, but it hasn't ever happened with the modern 2-party system. If this were to happen, the Republican-controlled House would vote for president, each representative being able to vote for one of the top 3 winners according to the popular vote, which actually means that Gary Johnson could have his day in the spotlight. My prediction is that a tie will result in a lot of controversy, but ultimately will end with Romney being selected as our 45th President. That's my prediction*, take it or leave it.
*Subject to change anytime I want it too.