Election 08: Prediction Time

Update: Addressed reader criticism below.

Ah, well here were are on a nice Saturday in September: fall television is to start soon, and the debates as well.

It’s also about time I place my prediction for the outcome of this election for President.  I know I talked about the possibility of the two major candidates garnering prime numbers of electoral votes, but I don’t think we can make it happen unless South Carolina or Kentucky (or else some exotic exchange) occurs.

For that reason I am stating now, for the record, that my prediction of the upcoming election is: 273 to 265 Barack Obama will win.

My swing on this is actually pretty wide. On the outside for Obama winning would be 338 to 200 with the big differences being if Obama pulled off Florida and Ohio (in my prediction he loses both). On the inside, McCain could win at 278 to 260 but this is assuming he gets Colorado and New Hampshire.  And still grabs Ohio and Florida.

It will probably stay pretty close, though.  I expect Barack Obama to be our next president.

Update: Some readers have noticed that my prediction happens to align with the current numbers from electoral-vote.com.  That is just coincidence.

While I do use that site to get a view of the polls, my methodology is actually to look at the long-term trend while electoral-vote happens to look at the best, most recent consensus of the polls.  I’m disposed to believe that if a given state thinks one way for the majority of the time, they will continue to think that way until some major event causes them to change their minds.  And don’t say “Like 9/11?” because as far as I can tell the only thing that changed on 9/11 was the the level of reckless abandon the government had to spend our money on security theater.

No, try instead looking at some of the concepts addressed in philosophy of science and the psychology books dealing with modifying behavior.  Or maybe even that pop-psych book The Tipping Point (which I have not read, so don’t blame me if that suggestion is way off).  Until enough evidence has amassed to lead one to face an alternative conclusion, one will generally stay on the same track.

A body in motion will stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force.  A body at rest will stay at rest unless acted upon by an outside force. A republican-leaning state will tend to vote republican unless acted upon by a sufficient event.  A democratically-inclined state will tend to vote democratically unless acted upon by a sufficient event. That is, if nothing major happens between now and Guy Fawkes Day Eve, then with a small margin of error for battleground states (which I’ve already erred on the side of caution in tallying) my prediction will hold.

Whether the current situation on Wall Street will be that event that could cause some changes, we will see.  Whether other things will happen between now and then that will push things around and shake things up, we will see.