Electoral College Map: Obama Will Win Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin

Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight has arguably made obsolete poll-based political prognostication (UnSkewedpolls.com notwithstanding, for hilarity’s sake), but even Silver says that his projections are just that – projections.

Right now though, since all the polls are in, it’s time for those of us who don’t have political models to make predictions – it’s fun! And for predictions, I like to color in the electoral map as the results come in. Literally, to color, using markers and colored pencils.

The blue and red states speak for themselves. The states without an underlined number are not swing states, and I’d bet a good amount of money/respect on that. The states with an underlined number are swing states. I don’t expect to be wrong on any of these, but I will do a shot of Rebel Yell for each of them I do miss.

(I’ll be providing updates and analysis all night, so let’s hope I don’t get too many states wrong.)

Here are my projections for this election. After the map, I’ll explain my thinking.

Nevada and Colorado:

Despite being red states in 2004, these states are likely to go blue this year, as in 2008. Democrats in both of these states over performed at the polls in 2008. In 2010, Democratic Senators Harry Reid and Michael Bennet were behind in all October polls by a few points – but each won by a few points instead.

This suggests the western turnout machine is better than the pollsters have assumed. Given that Latinos are expected to increase their turnout and support their for Democrats, it’s especially problematic that most pollsters haven’t fixed their models or started doing Spanish-language surveys – which suggests that Latinos are being systematically undersampled. This would explain Democrats’ strange upsets in the American West during the Great Teabagging of 2010.

As Nate Silver says, Nevada is more certain for the president, but I’m willing to say it will go to the president. Given that the Romney camp has allegedly admitted it will lose Nevada, it’s especially safe.

Colorado is more competitive, but expect that a high-profile marijuana legalization measure on the ballot will bring young people to the polls – if obvious stereotypes don’t pan out.

Ohio:

Ah, Ohio. You’re blue by a steady margin in 95% of all polling, but the media still calls you even. Well, I won’t. Obama will win here by three or four points – Romney’s blatant, abject, indefensible Jeep lies, debunked by Chrysler really hurt his minimal credibility here in the late game. Rob Portman’s powerful charisma won’t make up the gap.

Important to note, too, that Ohio is one of those states that really hasn’t shifted with the debate-season political winds. Since the airwaves, mailboxes and people’s phone lines are saturated with campaign materials, there was little movement after Mitt Romney’s debate performance in Denver, or even during the conventions.

Also important to note that even Rasmussen has Obama and Romney tied in Ohio. Though Rasmussen generally fixes their polling at the end of the race so they can say they’re not too far off, it’s always best to add a couple of points to their results.

Iowa:

Iowa, the state where it all began. Early voting here is extremely favorable to the president, and the polls have shown he’s got a larger edge than in most other Midwestern states. Would be pretty shocked if that lead, bolstered by the early-vote edge, gets negated by GOP turnout on Election Day.

Michigan:

“Let Detroit go bankrupt.” That’s really all I need to say.

Florida:

When they called Florida for Obama in 2008, I really wasn’t paying attention because I was already running around campus with a cardboard cutout of the president-elect. This time, victory is probably not going to happen, even though Nate Silver projects it by a slight margin. What Silver's model doesn’t account for is the shenanigans Rick Scott is up to. I judge that Republicans will steal Florida through polling place underfunding and too many people getting out of seven-hour lines to go to the bathroom.

New Hampshire:

This is a state that most people seem to think Romney has a shot in because, well, he lives next door. And also there are a lot of Libertarians in the state. While it will be closer than the rest, the primary motivation for New Hampshire to be a “swing state” is because it makes the country look a little more balanced. Still, Obama’s led in most polls here.

Pennsylvania:

Republicans are really excited because the Democrats sent Bill Clinton there today – it must be a close race, right? No. Not if you look at every single poll. (Except those Romney internals!) Democrats also managed to come within .4% of getting this Senate seat in 2010 – over-performing their polls. The bottom line: The Philly machine was strong, and still is.

Virginia:

The capital of the old Confederacy, and the state where, when it was called in 2008, you just knew it was going to be a good night. This time, it’ll go for Obama again, but by a lesser margin. Most ground President Obama’s lost elsewhere has been made up by the demographic shifts caused by the expansion of D.C. suburbs. Also, Virginia’s unemployment rate is ridiculously low.

North Carolina:

This was the state I was most delighted to see President Obama win last time. Though early voting is strongly in the Democrats’ favor this time around – and African American turnout is through the roof – it is highly unlikely to overcome the mobilization of social conservatives after the vote to ban gay civil unions earlier this year. Whatever – Obama doesn’t need North Carolina anyway.

Wisconsin:

I know that Republicans really want to win Paul Ryan’s home state, but vice presidential picks rarely make the difference on the electoral map – especially when that V.P. pick is just a Congressman, not a statewide-elected official; Ryan’s just had to appeal to a gerrymandered district for the last 14 years.

Also, the exit polling from the Walker recall election showed that Obama still had the majority even with 110% turnout and the GOP machine in high gear. That doesn’t bode well for them.