State of the Race: May 15
The Boston Phoenix‘s Steven Stark says that if the presidential election were held today, Barack Obama and John McCain would each get 269 electoral votes, throwing the election into the House of Representatives. Stark arrives at this conclusion by replicating the 2000 election map and shifting just one state, moving Colorado to the Democrats.The website FiveThirtyEight.com also shows a virtually tied race at this point. They give McCain an impossible 269.3 electoral votes through some formula too complicated to describe here. But their state-by-state predictions differ from Stark’s only by giving Nevada to Obama.
In the chart below (download here), I took FiveThirtyEight.com’s predicted breakdown of the two-candidate vote (based on both recent polls and on the past accuracy of polls in each state) and applied it to the vote turnout of 2004 to see how the popular tally might end up. Right now, it shows Obama narrowly losing the popular vote even while narrowly winning the Electoral College. This situation probably won’t hold in November: Turnout will almost certainly be up, and I think Obama will win heavily Democratic states such as Massachusetts and New York by a bigger margin than polls now indicate. But the possibility of another split in the popular vote and Electoral College remains a real possibility.