Still Counting & Counting & Counting & …

by: Chris Bowers

Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 15:15


Although it is hard to believe, votes are still being counted for the 2008 presidential election. Obama's lead has reached 7.01% according to wikipedia, 52.81%--45.80%. However, both fivethirtyeight.com and the United States Election Project indicate that wikipedia is currently behind on their count by several hundred thousand votes. In fact, the United States Election Project shows wikipedia behind by over 1.3 million votes, fully 1% of the total, so Obama's margin of victory will continue to increase.

Here are some fun facts and figures:

  • Large Obama mandate: Obama received votes from the second highest percentage of the American population ever. With another million or so votes to count, currently 22.62% of the population voted for Obama. The all-time leader was Reagan in 1984, when he received the vote of 23.09% of the population. With up to another million votes to be added, Obama might still pass that total.

  • Huge turnout: Despite losing by over 7.00%, McCain actually didn't perform that badly. For example, he actually received more votes than John Kerry, and will probably pass the 60,000,000 threshold. In this light, Obama succeeded by pulling off the holy grail of Democratic election strategies: turning out huge numbers of unlikely voters. When the final totals are made, there will have been 26 million more votes in 2008 than 2000. That increase is in excess of 100% of the nation's population increase during the last eight years. Overall, more than 131 million people voted, or 61.6% of the voting eligible population. All in all, probably about 63% of the voting eligible population attempted to vote, considering spoiled ballots. That is the highest voter turnout since the voting age was lowered to 18.

  • National polls were pretty darn accurate: Assuming that Obama will win by 7.1%, the Pollster.com regression line of all national polls was only off by only 0.5%. The same can be said for the simple mean of national polls performed by Real Clear Politics. The lesson here is that when there are a high number of public polls, election forecasters are not very useful. Even a schmo like me can just conduct a simple mean of all the polls, and come pretty close to the final result. That old myth that combining different polls will not produce accurate results--because different polls have different methodologies--is just wrong. Clearly, you can combine polls to produce more accurate results.

  • A look a remaining House campaigns: With the result in CA-04 starting to clarify a bit, the current partisan breakdown of the House is D 255-178 R, with LA-04 and OH-15 undecided. LA-04 will be decided on Saturday, and it is a true toss-up. The last three polls are R+1, R+2, and D+11. Also, OH-15 is still in court. Even though the Republican leads by 594 votes, over 13,000 provisional ballots from Democratic-friendly territory remain to be counted. So, again, we have a true toss-up.

  • Repudiation of 1994 "revolution": If Democrats win both of the outstanding House seats, and squeak out one of the remaining Senate seats, then there will be exactly the same number of Democrats in the House and Senate combined--316--as there were in 1993-1994 (note: this number includes Sanders as a Democrat on both occasions, and Lieberman as a Democrat on this occasion).So, this is effectively a repudiation of the 1994 Republican "revolution," although the location of Democrats did shift away from the south and toward the rest of the country.

Cool stuff. Although, given how long it takes to count these votes, it is a relief that the election wasn't closer. Given what a mess our election system is, I can only imagine what a disaster it would be if two candidates were separated by less than 1%.

Oh wait...

Chris Bowers :: Still Counting & Counting & Counting & …

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yes (4.00 / 1)
it's very important to set the record state on Obama's mandate. Bush governed as if he had a mandate in 2000 even though he lost the popular vote by a half million votes. And he bragged about the political capital he won in 2004 by edging out Kerry.

From the righty blogs you still hear that Obama won 52-48....close "despite all his advantages." It wasn't close. He won by more than 9 million votes and a margin over 7%.


52-48? (4.00 / 3)
Really? They just make up a number? They're farther gone than I thought.

[ Parent ]
yeah (0.00 / 0)
on election night it was 52% Obama and 48 for McCain and others....so they just go with that. For example:

http://www.redstate.com/diarie...



[ Parent ]
Yup (0.00 / 0)
The meme that "it was a close election 52%-48%" is showing up in letters to the editor in Montana newspapers. It must be a wingnut talk radio/RNC talking point that's been distributed widely.

Also, repubs letter writers are saying that even though liberals were mean to President Bush by calling him all sorts of names for the last eight years, they will refrain from calling Obama any names (yet). That's very white of them, don't ya think?


[ Parent ]
The percentage of voting eligible population... (0.00 / 0)
How does this take into account felons and others whose rights to vote have been stripped? I am guessing that once you take into account those people, and deduct those ineligible adults from the pile, Obama's numbers will beat Reagan's.  

Wait a sec... (0.00 / 0)
what you're saying seems to be somewhat contradicted by Bloomberg.  They're saying the projection was 140 million people voting, so the 131 million that actually voted is far below that mark.  And they note that in Ohio, turnout actually dropped by 4%.

That particularly may have helped Obama in Ohio. McCain received 275,000 fewer votes than President George W. Bush did in 2004, while Obama topped Kerry's total by 43,000 votes.

A chart compiled by Curtis Gans, director of the Center for the Study of the American Electorate, shows that Ohio's turnout fell by more than 4 percent from 2004. In Republican precincts across Franklin County, which includes Columbus, there was a fairly uniform 6-to-7 percent decline in turnout.

Except the latest numbers have 5,453,227 total votes for President in Ohio, while there were 5,627,744 in 2004.  So right now it's a 3% decline.  It'll get closer, but enough to surpass the 2004 turnout?  Perhaps not.

In which case, we may have a major cause for concern, that in a midterm election where Obama isn't there to supercharge the turnout, and Republicans don't all stay home en masse, then we may end up losing a lot of House seats we thought we were going to win.  I mean, I still cannot understand how the hell Dan Seals lost.

BTW, Bloomberg's California numbers are simply wrong.

In contrast, there was a 3 percent decline from 2004 in California and a 6 percent drop-off in New York. There also were declines in heavily Republican states such as Utah.

Per the DailyKos scoreboard, 12,421,262 Californians voted in 2004.  Right now, before the vote is even finalized due to the absentees and early ballots still being counted, the number (per the California Secretary of State website) is already at 13,213,832.  That's a 6.38% increase in turnout in California, and it's only going to increase even more as more ballots are finally counted.


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