The electoral math does not lie, but trying to get your head around it may involve one hell of a hang over the morning after election day. Put simply, the figures I have just quoted assumes that states with less than 3.1% lead for a candidate go that way come polling day.
All the states have a certain weight (therefore not equal) in the electoral college that decides who becomes President. As Al Gore showed the percentage of the popular vote nationwide is not the deciding factor but how a few key states, known as bell weather states, fall come polling day.
These battleground states are the key to who will win. In the past my prediction is that Obama will loose ground come polling day. I base that on people deciding nearer to polling day that McCain is more experienced for Commander in Chief, and also that people may underplay their intention to vote Republican (undecideds will unevenly break for McCain).
That analysis suggest that any state with up to a 3% lead for Obama now could turn against him come polling day. My prediction is that Colorado (9 votes) will not stay in Obama’s grasp. He has a 2.5% lead in a state that voted for George W. Bush twice (8.4% lead in 2000, 4.7% in 2004).
All other things remaining equal, that would give McCain the White House. In terms of the popular vote I have stated that Obama needs 5% come mid October, which would by polling day drop to 3% – to be sure of winning the White House. In short I am saying that he will drop 2% points in that time frame. If he is less than 5% come mid October then McCain has every reason to hope that his key states are safe and that a state like Colorado would be his.
Depending on what poll you use, Obama has up to 5% or McCain a 1% lead. Obama seems to have taken the lead back from McCain with an average of 2.7%. Even if we go for the four percent it still means a photo finish come Polling day. The question is whether McCain can pull in front. Hopefully for his campaign the brief moment he was leading Obama will return, and that he has not peaked too early.
The televised debates will give us more to go on. McCain needs to improve the vote – at the moment he is polling worse than George W Bush did last time (save for Louisiana, Arizona and Arkansas). If he can have a good showing against Obama then he could put New Hampshire (4) back into play which currently is Obama’s by only 1.7% (voted Kerry in 2004, George W Bush 2000 each time a 1.3% lead). All other things being equal a state like New Hampshire with only 4 votes could in that situation make it a dead heat.
Obama will be favoured for his more media friendly presentation then McCain’s more town hall approach. Because of how many seats are only just leaning to the candidates (take those seats out of the race and it is 219 -189 for Obama) means that slip ups and gaffes really could tip states over as candidates trip up. With the result this close expect more spinning, mud throwing and general hysteria about the General Election.