Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Simplied Model and The Bellwether States

It indeed appears that the gaggle of polls sucking up internet bandwidth are (as a whole) somewhat biased towards Barack Obama. Eliminating the gaggling horde from the model and tuning the model just a bit to better blend the remaining national and state level polls, Obama's national popular vote lead over John McCain dropped by about 1.5 percentage points. Unless the professional pollsters are missing something big going on out there, I suspect that the results below represent an accurate assessment of were we are now with just over 11 days left to go.

My new model gives Obama a 6 percentage point lead over McCain, an increase of about 0.4 percentage points since yesterday (that is, with this revised model):

The model adjustment actually gives McCain a small lead for Florida's 27 electoral votes and giving him 216 votes in the Electoral College:

The revised national electoral map gives McCain a narrow lead in Florida and a dark red tone for North Carolina:

If you compare this map with the presidential market map found on Intrade, you will notice that the market is currently pricing Obama ahead in Florida, North Carolina and Indiana. Polls from the Rasmussen, SurveyUSA and Research 2000 organizations suggest that these states are currently tossups. Evidence from the national polls and from polls in other states correlated with these three states suggests that McCain has slender to slight leads in all three. So why is the market on the Obama side of the trade in all three states? I think its confusion from the (apparently) biased gaggle of polls.

The swing state club is presently quite exclusive:

Florida is truly a toss-up state and may well stay that way until election day. Montana, South Dakota, Indiana and North Carolina all remain a touch or two over the swing state 52% line on the McCain side. On the Obama side, Virginia and Colorado are both just on the dark blue side of the swing state 52% line. Any movement one direction or another will put these states in close play.

Our regional series continues with an overview of the Bellwether States of Missouri and Ohio (running west to east in the map below):

These two states have an astonishing track record of being on the winning side of presidential elections. In the 26 presidential elections since Teddy Roosevelt won a full term in the White House by blowing out Alton Parker in 1904, Missouri has voted with the winner 25 times (missing only in 1956) while Ohio has voted with the winner 24 times (slipping up in 1960 and 1944). Since the pivotal election of 1964, Ohio's two-party vote share has differed from the national share by an average of only 1.1%. Missouri's difference from the national share has averaged only 1.6% during the same period. In other words, if you have a good handle on the state of the race in Ohio and Missouri, you have an excellent idea regarding the state of the race in the rest of the country. As the table below shows, Obama has a clear lead in both states:

Note how the percentage total for the two states differs by only 0.2 percentage points from the estimated national average. John McCain has his work cut out for him. If he does not close the gap in these two states, he will not win the election. Period.

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