Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Things To Watch In The US Election

Tonight's US election has people on the edge of their seats both in the US and outside. Lot's of people have suggested their thoughts on what to watch for tonight as the results come in. Polls are tight in most of the swing states, almost all within the margin of error. That means simply being ahead in the polls may not be enough tonight once the ballots are counted. It really will come down to voter turn out.

CNN has a good election map which allows you to look at polling data and count electoral college votes (don't know what the electoral college is? You can read about it online and find out why - as Al Gore found out in 2000 - winning the popular vote isn't enough).

So the first thing to know that there are reliably Democrat and Republican states (in presidential terms anyhow). If you start seeing states like New York, New Jersey, California, or Vermont vote for Mitt Romney you can probably turn the TV off and assume its all over for Obama. Likewise if states such as Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas, or Utah vote for Obama then you can go to sleep knowing that you'll wake up to an Obama presidency.

If you look at the toss up states, mathematically there are more ways for Obama to win than Romney. But both could pull it off.

A lot has been made of Ohio. Its important. 18 Electoral College votes. Romney needs it more than Obama. If Obama wins Florida (29 votes) and Ohio, it won't much matter what happens elsewhere, Romney simply won't be able to win. If Romney wins both Ohio and Florida, Obama will have to win pretty well all the toss up states except Colorado or Virginia.

Romney pretty well needs Florida or Ohio to win this. If he wins Florida but not Ohio, he'll become the first Republican to win the presidency without winning Ohio. To do that he'll need to pick up Pennsylvania, Virgina, New Hampshire, and Colorado. (you wondered why he was spending so much time in some of those smaller states didn't you?)

If Romney does not win Florida, it would be unlikely for him to succeed even with Ohio. To do so he'd need to pick up pretty well all the smaller Obama-leaning states such as Pennsylvania, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and Wisconsin. This would likely only happen in the case of a broader sweep.

So tonight, like everyone else, I'll be watching Ohio and Florida. But I'll also be watching for smaller states such as Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Iowa, and Nevada. Without capturing a lot of those states, its all over for the Republicans unless they pick up both Ohio and Florida.

My prediction? I suspect Obama will take the night. I am predicting Obama will win between 281 and 294 electoral college votes. Just over the 270 needed.