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As every indicator points to a Barack Obama win tomorrow, let’s pause to consider if there’s any reasonable scenario that could lead to a John McCain electoral college win, even if he loses the popular vote. Unless the state-by-state polls are grossly inaccurate, McCain’s chances are not great — but he does have one potential path to victory.

It all begins with McCain winning Pennsylvania and its 21 electoral votes.

After McCain’s intense focus on the state, poll numbers have tightened in Pennsylvania. If there’s a last-minute surge in McCain’s favor, his road to victory becomes much easier.

With a Pennsylvania win, McCain only needs to keep Florida , Missouri, Ohio and North Carolina in the red column, plus one other Bush state that’s now considered leaning blue (Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, New Mexico or Virginia). That sounds like drawing to an inside straight, but polls indicate McCain is ahead in North Carolina and Missouri and is just a few ticks behind in Florida and Ohio. He has little chance in Iowa or New Mexico, but Colorado, Nevada and Virginia are all close enough to conceivably go for McCain.

But what if McCain loses Pennsylvania as expected? At that point, he has to rely on winning Colorado, Florida, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and either Iowa, Nevada or New Mexico. That’s not drawing to an inside straight. That’s drawing dead.

If the networks call Pennsylvania for Obama early in the night, it’s over for McCain. At that point, his only hope would be for all the other polls to have been very, very wrong.

  • http://www.NationalPopularVote.com susan

    The real issue is not how well Obama or McCain might do state-by-state, but that we shouldn’t have battleground states and spectator states in the first place. Every vote in every state should be politically relevant in a presidential election. And, every vote should be equal. We should have a national popular vote for President in which the White House goes to the candidate who gets the most popular votes in all 50 states.

    The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC). The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral vote — that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    Because of state-by-state enacted rules for winner-take-all awarding of their electoral votes, recent candidates with limited funds have concentrated their attention on a handful of closely divided “battleground” states. In 2004 two-thirds of the visits and money were focused in just six states; 88% on 9 states, and 99% of the money went to just 16 states. Two-thirds of the states and people have been merely spectators to the presidential election.

    Another shortcoming of the current system is that a candidate can win the Presidency without winning the most popular votes nationwide.

    The National Popular Vote bill has passed 21 state legislative chambers, including one house in Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, North Carolina, and Washington, and both houses in California, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The bill has been enacted by Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, and Maryland. These four states possess 50 electoral votes– 19% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.

    See http://www.NationalPopularVote.com

  • Avinash_Tyagi

    Even with Pennsylvania, he would still have to win almost every tossup state, and with Obama’s national poll leads now at around 7 point lead, I just don’t see McCain losing the popular vote by that much and still winning the Electoral vote, in fact at a 7% Pop vote victory, Obama shouldn’t have any trouble winning the election.

    McCain’s only hope is that over a hundred polls have been horribly wrong, the chances of that are very small indeed

  • http://leapsecond.wordpress.com leapsecond

    Don’t underestimate the power of the massive GOP voting machine. What about those who didn’t respond to the polls?

    We’ve seen the polls be very wrong before: look at the discrepancies between the exit polling and the actual results in 2004.

  • Joshua

    Don’t underestimate the power of the massive GOP voting machine. What about those who didn’t respond to the polls?

    Indeed, I’ve been reading elsewhere that some recent polls have been getting as high as 80% refusal rates. At that rate of non-response the polls become, for all intents and purposes self-selecting-respondent polls, which aside from the medium used are no different from the polls you see all the time “for entertainment purposes only” on blogs and other Web sites.

    We’ve seen the polls be very wrong before: look at the discrepancies between the exit polling and the actual results in 2004.

    Don’t forget 2000 either. Going into Election Day the polls suggested Bush would win both the popular and electoral votes with room to spare. We all know how that turned out…

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  • Jive Turkey

    Keep dreaming Susan it’ll never happen. The Electoral College is here to stay. It makes them thar swing states relevant. PA could go for McCain! Damn that Electoral College! Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha! We bitter gun totin bible thumpers love the Electoral College.

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