Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Polls, projections, and predictions

By Michael J.W. Stickings

A useful reminder: Nate Silver advises us to ignore the exit polls.

I have quoted, cited, and referred to Nate extensively over the course of this long campaign. He is one of the most thoughtful commentators around, not least when it comes to the nebulous world of public opinion polling, and his blogging at FiveThirtyEight (some of it cross-posted to TNR's The Plank) has been essential reading. I don't even hold it against him that he's a Cubs fan.

Anyway, Nate's final projection is "a decisive electoral victory" for Obama:

  • Obama 349
  • McCain 189
With Obama winning the popular vote by 6.1 points.

I'm still going with Obama 375, McCain 163 -- which is Rove's map plus Indiana, Missouri, and North Carolina. I'm being overly optimistic, perhaps, but, well, so be it. As I've been arguing here, I think high turnout will put him over the top in some of the closer races. (Nate has Indiana and Missouri going to McCain.)

I think the Democrats will end up with 59 seats in the Senate. In the House, they'll pick up 28 seats. Once more, I'm being optimistic. But why not?

We'll know a lot very early this evening: Virginia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana. It usually takes a while for Florida to report its results, but we might not have to wait long there either. One state I'll be watching is Georgia, where Obama could pull off a huge upset -- I doubt it, but high black turnout and solid early voting for Obama could be the difference. Louisiana may also be fairly close, though it should go to McCain. Later, watch for North Dakota and Montana, two generally red states where Obama was polling extremely well. An upset in North Dakota is possible. Colorado and New Mexico should go to Obama, perhaps quite easily, though they're both considered to be swing states.

Keep checking back. We'll have a lot more for you the rest of the day and into tomorrow.

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