Tuesday, October 23, 2012

How the Electoral College works and how the vote might go

Typical Electoral College map
“Each state is assigned a number of electoral votes based on population with the exact number corresponding to the number of senators and House members who represent a given state in Congress,” according to the Voice of America.  Votes range from 3 (Wyoming) to 55 (California).  In two states, Maine and Nebraska, they can split their votes among the two candidates.  In the balance of states, the candidate receiving the popular vote gets all electoral votes.

It's the "swing" states stupid
VOA says the 2012 election will be decided in these states: Ohio, Florida, Virginia, Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, Wisconsin and North Carolina.  In a Huff Post article, we learn it could come down to only 106 counties, the ones won by George W. Bush in 2004 but voted Obama in 2008.  As an example, political ads have been aimed at Cincinnati, Tampa and northern Virginia.  Also Huff-critical are North Carolina and Nevada.

I did a post on the Electoral College Vote on October 18, providing several sites tracking the election with a wide array of results.  In one instance, Real Clear Politics switched on that date from an Obama lead now to Romney leading.  The balance still favor Obama, some like CNN, Time and Huff Post significantly.  I plan to do another post soon on Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog for the New York Times, named appropriately for the number of electoral votes, 538.

Pennsylvania GOP unsuccessfully tries to change Electoral College vote to beat Obama:

Silver has a track record from accurately predicting the 2008 election in every state but Indiana.  It is done through balancing out the polls with comparative demographic data and weighting each poll based on the pollster's historical track record, sample size, and recentness of the poll.  As an example, on Monday the 22nd, he is predicting 288 electoral votes for Obama, 250 for Romney, giving Obama a 67.6% chance of winning, Romney 32.4%. 

According to VOA, without Ohio’s 18 electoral votes, Romney has to win Florida (29 electoral votes), Virginia (13), North Carolina (15), Colorado (9), Iowa (6), Nevada (6) and New Hampshire (4).  With Ohio, Obama would only have to win Iowa.  Right now FiveThirtyEight is predicting Iowa 49.0 Obama, 46.1 Romney; Ohio 48.2 Obama, 45.2 Romney.  A lot depends on the Monday debate, according to some political pundits, so the number could change quickly.

But what happens if there is an Electoral College tie?  Some political analysts are predicting this, with each candidate winning 269 votes.  Many experts don’t expect this to happen, unless the third debate is a complete disaster for Obama, also unlikely.  The President is going to have to address foreign policy questions on Iran, a situation which seems to be in his favor, but the Benghazi, Libya incident could be real trouble if Obama doesn’t have firm answer.

If you are still thoroughly confused about just how the Electoral College Vote works, go to Wikipedia for a good explanation.  In the meantime, there is rebellion going on within the Electoral College with Republicans indicating they may not follow the popular vote.  More on that later.

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