Sunday, November 02, 2008

YEPP: Yellojkt's Election Prediction Pool

I follow elections for all the wrong reasons. I like obsessing over the tactics, strategy and gamesmanship. Give me the wonky stuff. For many years I used to run office pools during presidential elections. This usually included having to explain all the intricacies of Electoral College to coworkers who barely knew who the candidates were. Nowadays with the web and umpteen news channels with time to fill, that seems less of a problem.

There are dozens of websites that meticulously track the polling numbers and give day by day updates on the likely results. The most famous is that has made a wonk celebrity out of Nate Silver, who I hope has a day job to fall back onto for Wednesday. It seems everybody in the blogosphere has a guess of who will win and how big.

So rather than an office pool, I’m taking it to the internet. It’s real easy. Just post in the comments who the winner will be and how many electoral votes they will win. For a tiebreaker, predict the total number of votes that will be cast (there were about 125 million in 2004).

Just in case you don’t know the electoral college rules, each state has electors equal to the number of Representatives and Senators the state has and DC gets three for the purpose of the electoral college. Every state except Nebraska and Maine is winner-take-all. There are a total of 538 and it takes 270 to win. I made my electoral prediction map at the CNN Electoral Map Calculator.

And to give you some feeling for how the pros are predicting them, here is a compilation of predictions gathered from the Washington Post Crystal Ball Contest and This Week With George Snuffleupagus. I’ve mixed and sorted them is ascending order of victory margin by Obama (and two did predict McCain). I’ve also colored a few of them by party-hackness so you can see that it’s not just Obamamaniacs that are predicting a landslide.

Fred Barnes McCain 286
Ed Morissey McCain 273
Erick Erickson Obama 311
Charles Mahtesian Obama 311
Arianna Huffington Obama 318
Chris Cillizza Obama 312
Juan Williams Obama 326
Chris Matthews Obama 338
Matthew Dowd Obama 338
Donna Brazille Obama 343
Nate Silver Obama 347
Eleanor Clift Obama 349
Mark Halperin Obama 349
George Stephanopoulis Obama 353
Ed Rollins Obama 353
Bill Maher Obama 375
George Will Obama 378
Morton Kondracke Obama 379
Markos Moulitsas Obama 390
A few interesting notes:
  • Using Nate Silver as the seeding bracket, the polls are pretty close to the median pick of Donna Brazille.
  • Barnes and Kos win the Biggest Cheerleader prizes for betting their hearts.
  • The Biggest Pessimist award goes to Kondracke who just edges out George Will.
The contest closes at 6 PM EST on November 4 (just before the polls close) and is open to anybody regardless of affiliation or nationality. If I get twenty or more entries I will pony up for some sort of prize, probably a politically related DVD or something.

My pick: Obama with 333. The dead trees edition of the Washington Post today has a giant two-page map with the heading PoliticalGeography (which, oddly, is slightly different from their online 2008 Political Landscape Map) with all the states colored. I gave Obama all the states WaPo claims are solid or leaning Democratic. Those include Virginia and Pennsylvania that both went for Dubya in 2004. Of the toss-up states, I gave Obama North Carolina and Florida and assumed the Republicans would hold Ohio.

Tiebreaker: 137 million votes.

BlatantCommentWhoring™:Your pick and any accompanying explanation. Be sure to include the tiebreaker.


Anonymous said...

I'll go out on a limb and say 347, with the same reasoning yello uses plus North Dakota (3) and Missouri (11). Tie breaker-141 million votes. (I had written North Dakota off, but University of North Dakota alums who have stayed in the state, or returned after long absences, are volunteering to the point it's hard to tell Obama pulled his paid staff back in Sept. Fargo and Grand Forks will go for Obama by at least 15, all he has to do in Bismarck is break even.)

Dave2 said...

I hit 344 when I played... the only difference is that I gave Missouri to Obama. I really wanted to give Arizona to Obama as well, because the idea of McCain not being able to carry his own state is funny to me... but I think he'll do so, regardless of how the polls are showing it a close race.

Mooselet said...

I just finished reading the Sunday paper here (I know it's Monday - shush) and the number they batted around was 311 to Obama. So I'll go with that. I have no idea how they came up with it in terms of states, so I won't even delve into it. I would like to see Obama pick up some states that are unexpected, just for giggles.

I am so wise said...

I agree with everything but Ohio which will go blue.

TBG said...

I gave Obama Missouri and Florida, but gave North Carolina to McCain.

I give Obama 349 and McCain 189.

I also notice that there are at least three Greeks on your list of pundits. Good job.

tatierp: An overstuffed couch from Ikea.

yellojkt said...

So I'll put you down at 353.

I guess they would be Arianna, L'il Georgie and Kos. There's a Greek column joke in there somewhere, but I can't find it.

trusty getto said...

Obama 322. Call me conservative. In my estimation, that is, not in my politics.

Sue T. said...

A friend of mine guessed Obama 298, saying that the "real" Virginia will eke out a McCain victory in that state. I think Obama will take VA, simply based on the amazing enthusiasm of an Obama volunteer (who lives in the red part of VA) a few years ago, but Mooselet already picked 311 so I guess I'll be a pessimist and say 298. But I would be happy to be proven wrong and that Obama gets a mandate level, landslide victory. Tiebreaker: 149 million.

Sue T. said...

oops, I meant, "simply based on the amazing enthusiasm of an Obama volunteer (who lives in the red part of VA) I met a few weeks ago." Obama hasn't been actively campaigning in VA for years, though it probably seems that way by now.

Jeff and Charli Lee said...

I'll go Obama with a 357, because I think he'll blow McCain away.

Anonymous said...

I'm playing it relatively pessimistic with most of the toss-up states, which puts me at Obama with 314. As it happens, it puts me close to's current 311, assuming Obama loses ALL of the toss-up states they identified.

Tiebreaker: 161 million. I forget how I arrived at that number but I'll stick with it even if it sounds high.

Mooselet said...

I just checked the betting odds here in Oz for the election (you can bet on anything here) and Obama is at $1.06, McCain is at $8.50.

Oh, and a tiebreaker number. 150 million.

Anonymous said...

I don't think many people believe deep in their hearts that McCain is going to win.

And it does not matter to me if the difference is one electoral vote or 100.


The Mistress of the Dark said...

Hold on...PA didn't go to Dubya in 04 it went to Kerry.


yellojkt said...

Right you are, MOTD. So why didn't that guy win? Now I remember, crooked voting machines in Ohio.

trusty getto said...

Hmmmm. Look like I was off by a mile.