Monday, October 20, 2008

How close- or far- is this thing?

There's a bit of chatter this week about how the presidential race is tightening. It's a fair question, but what I've really been wondering is whether Obama was ever as far ahead as he seemed. Last week I remember reading about how some people at the networks were already thinking about an early election night, one in which it would be almost immediately apparent that Obama had won. It's easy to see why. Obama is way ahead nationally and leads in pretty much every swing state. He's even threatening McCain in traditionally Red territory like North Carolina and Indiana. Seems like this thing is over and done with.

The problem with this view is that electoral votes are, generally, an all or nothing affair. Obama might do unbelievably well in North Carolina, Indiana, West Virginia and Colorado, but that doesn't he'll actually beat McCain in any of these places. If he doesn't, that will bring the race back to traditonal swing states like Ohio and Florida, where things look more like a normal election. For instance, McCain has respectable, if not necessarily winning, support in Ohio. In other words, Obama's unprecedented strength in Red states could be great as fodder for political discussions and yet still be totally ineffective in terms of actually winning the election. Anyway, what do you all think? Just paranoia?

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