Okay, so, if you live in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wyoming, or the District of Columbia, well, I hope you have a competitive senate race or a gay marriage initiative to vote for (or against) because your electoral votes have already been allotted to one candidate or another for
Barring some electoral miracle or sudden adult-onset racism, Barack Obama will "Likely" gain an additional 55 electoral votes by winning Oregon, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan and New Hampshire, bringing his "Likely" baseline all the way up to 238/270. Thank you, upper midwest sensibilities. John McCain doesn't have states that can be called "Likely"; hence, his "Likely" baseline is still 152/270. If he was still the same John McCain beloved by the press and campaigning cleanly, he could have won New Hampshire. But he'd probably have a huge electoral deficit elsewhere.
The next tier of states ("Probable") break down as such: Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia for McCain (163/270); New Mexico and Pennsylvania for Obama (264/270). Montana and North Dakota continue flirting with the Democrats, and polls show anywhere from a 1 point Obama lead to a 5 point McCain lead, but in two states dominated by ranchers and without large urban areas, I don't see them turning blue just yet (ranchers = libertarian tendencies = Ron Paul voters = begrudging John McCain voters). As for West Virginia, I expect the Republican base to show up and the Democratic base to, I don't know, die of black lung. Bush beat the poll predictions by 5% in 2004.
Pennsylvania is a blue state. Pennsylvania has been a blue state for awhile. It was one of the few states where Kerry finished stronger in 2004 than polls would have indicated. John McCain is practically hanging his campaign on Pennsylvania, a state that last voted for the Republican candidate in 1988 (when only 11 states voted for Dukakis). This is not a winning strategy. If Philadelphians turn out to vote in large numbers, McCain's presidential run will be practically over.
New Mexico is bananas. It always has been. It's just that the nation is only now realizing it. The national exposure New Mexico has received from having Bill Richardson as governor has elevated my stomping grounds to the national consciousness, and I see PBS specials and candidates making frequent trips to Albuquerque and NPR hosts walking around wondering what makes these people tick. Polls show a 10+ point lead for Obama, but I don't believe them. Here's my prediction: Obama will win by 2 or 3 percent, long lines will form at polling places, election officials will be unprepared, and my dad will call me on election night to bitch about voting irregularities from Doña Ana County.
So, the "Probable" baseline for each candidate is Obama - 264/270 and McCain - 163/270. I think eight states are truly "Questionable" or "Toss-ups" or "Swing States" or "Undecided" or "Unswayed by two frickin' years of non-stop election coverage": Nevada, Colorado, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, and (of course) Florida. McCain must win all eight of these states to win the presidency. This is unlikely. I think it's a 0.4% chance assuming a random distribution of these states. Each state has a nuanced electorate with different voting patterns, any and all of which can affect the outcome of the election, but it's way more fun to describe states as dichotomies. In Nevada, it's Californian emigrants versus the military; in Missouri it's rural versus urban; in North Carolina it's black versus white; in Indiana it's Chicagoland versus farmland; in Virginia it's sweet tea versus unsweet tea; in Ohio it's racists versus white guilt; in Florida it's old people from the northeast versus old people from the midwest; and in Colorado its young ski bums and a developing liberally-minded Denver versus ranchers and military and Focus on the Family.
My predictions are that McCain will be able to hold onto both Florida and Ohio, as well as states that should never have been in question like North Carolina and Indiana. I predict that the perpetual bellwether Missouri will get it wrong for the first time since 1956, because they will go for McCain. I predict perpetual bellwether Nevada (which voted for Ford in 1976 and before that William Jennings Bryan in 1908) will get it right and elect Obama. I predict Obama will also carry Virginia and Colorado by at least 5%. Obama will win 291-247.
Of course, I also thought Kerry and Gore were going to win.
P.S. I think I'll live-blog on November 4th. Should be fun! For only me!