Currently, the two best statistically based electoral projection sites out there right now, Pollster.com and fivethirtyeight.com, are showing the electoral college is two very different states of competitiveness. While Pollster.com shows Obama with a very comfortable lead, fivethirtyeight shows Obama with only a narrow lead and a 59.5% chance of winning.
Both websites project the current statistical likelihood of one candidate winning a state. Almost across the board, Pollster.com projects Obama with a higher chance of victory:
Comparative Chances Of Obama Victory, Pollster and 538
There are only two states, Nevada and West Virginia, where 538 projects Obama's win percentage higher than Pollster. By contrast, the above table lists 21 states worth over 200 electoral votes.
Who's right, and who is wrong? I look into this in the extended entry.
Unlike 538, Pollster.com does not have a chance to win projection of the electoral college as a whole. However, I have to think that if 21 states, most of them swing states, shifted significantly in Obama's favor, then 538's overall win percentage calculation would put Obama way past the 59.5% it currently projects. In fact, even though their specific win percentages for each state are unavailable, I'm pretty sure that Pollster.com's percentages currently give Obama over a 90% chance of victory in the Electoral College.
So, according to current polling, is Obama only narrowly ahead, as 538 projects, or is Obama a virtual lock in the Electoral College? I can see an argument for both websites. In favor of Pollster.com, they only include polling data rather than outside demographic assumptions, and appear to give a more realistic account of base states like Massachusetts (McCain does not have a 6% chance to win the state if the election were held tomorrow). In favor of 538, they don't assign equal weight to the largely absurd Zogby Internet polls.
There probably isn't a way to know for certain which website is more accurate. Also, an individual's projection preference will probably be based on their intuitive sense of how close the election is right now. Personally, my gut tells me that the campaign is only lean Obama, but there is still a large part of my brain that can't make sense of why that is. It feels like it is close, but it also feels like Obama should be able to dominate McCain. From what I can tell in conversations with family, friends and colleagues, that is a widespread sentiment right now.