What A Landslide In The Making Looks Like

by: Paul Rosenberg

Sat Oct 04, 2008 at 21:00

This is one view of what a coalescing landslide election looks like.  It's from the Princeton Election Consortium, and it's a distribution map of all possible election outcomes in the Electoral College.  On the left is the distribution bssed on polling through Septbember 30.  There is just the tiniest tail of the distribution across the red line where McCain wins.  The highest peak of blue lines is close to 7% for one specific distribution giving Obama a vivtyory with over 320 votes.  On the right is the distribution based on polling just two days later, on October 2.  There is no longer any part of the distrubtion across the red line, giving McCain a victory.  What's more, the highest peak of blue lines now reaches 14% and it is for more than 350 electoral votes.  Of course these are just two snapshots in time.  But they do show how dramatically the race has moved in the direction of an Obama landslide, just as early voting is aobut to begin.

Full size versions on the flip

Paul Rosenberg :: What A Landslide In The Making Looks Like
Here are the full-size versions, Septbember 30 first:

And October 2:

Ovtober 4 is very similar to October 2, so this is a good representation of where the race is right now, through this lens.

Here is an additional angle on the race, from Pollster.com.  Their scoring system has 250 EVs as  "lean Dem" or better, compared to 163 "lean Rep," and the distribution of tossups heavily favors Obama. Indeed, the addition of Colorado and Minnesota bring Obama to 269--a tie--giving him five different ways to win with states he currently leads in:

As Kos notes, McCain has been outspending Obama 10-1 in Minnesota this month, with over $1.25 million in ads, but he still can't flip it.  If McCain did come any closer, Obama could easily dump $100k, no doubt quickly gain back a few points.  McCain faces this same sort of uphill terrain everywhere he looks, as the earliest voters are about to start casting votes.

And with another debate on Tuesday, and the Troopergate Report on Friday, this week doesn't look to be any better for McCain than last week was.

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It's really looking good. (4.00 / 2)
If the Troopergate report is released on schedule, you're right that we could have a real 1964-style landslide on our hands. I had given up on that prospect after the Republicans nominated McCain and we didn't nominate Edwards (before the scandal), but it looks like a real possibility again now.

And even if they stop the Troopergate report, we can still have a give the Republicans a good ol' reverse 1980-style drubbing.

I always thought Obama had the best shot at a landslide (4.00 / 4)
But I agree that I assumed those chances were shot when McCain got the nomination. Now the only way we can pull off a landslide is if McCain completely destroys his own campaign... oh wait, that's what he's been doing!

"Don't hate the media, become the media" -Jello Biafra

[ Parent ]
Are you calling this one? (4.00 / 1)
Is the game in the refrigerator?

one difference (0.00 / 0)
The jello hasn't been jiggling for that long.

The truth about Saxby Chambliss

[ Parent ]
Who knows... (4.00 / 2)

 ...it is possible that things have just gotten SO bad, accentuated by the economic crisis, that the public is breaking for Obama just because it wants a clean rupture from Republican rule. They've sized up Obama's and McCain's behaviors during the debacle and concluded that Obama's the far better leader. If that's close to why these numbers are moving, then Obama is in very good shape indeed -- McCain's negative ad blitz will be largely regarded as the desperate final salvos of a candidate the public has rejected.

 But if the reason behind McCain's polling slide is more due to short-term factors -- such as the media talking about the economy more -- then he still has a chance to turn things back around. Tom Brokaw will throw McCain a lifeline a minute on Tuesday night. We'll see how voters respond.

"We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn

Town hall format? (0.00 / 0)
Shouldn't the questions come from voters?  Or does Brokaw still select which questions the voters ask?

[ Parent ]
I'll feel more confident after Tuesday's debate. (0.00 / 0)
The one area McCain does well in is in a town-hall setting, and he'll have his buddy Tom Brokaw moderating.

Granted, he'll need to be in top form to make this a game changer, which is unlikely being that it's nearly impossible to unravel Obama.


I think it's a myth (4.00 / 5)
that McCain is strong in a Town Hall format. Most of his big gaffes were made in a town hall event (bomb-bomb-bomb Iran, IIRC, among others).

Should do wonders for raising his expectations though.

[ Parent ]
McCain Painted Himself Into a Corner (4.00 / 1)
McCain painted himself into a corner with his disdainful body language in the first debate (like Gore in 2000). If he repeats it, it reinforces the perception of him as a jerk. If he's overly friendly, he'll change his personality to win and he's erratic.

[ Parent ]
It's not quite that easy to call (4.00 / 4)
Obama's never been by his side before, and some of McCain's worst moments have also occurred at town halls. $50/hr lettuce picking comes to mind. Do you think Obama would let him get away with that sort of gaffe?

Given McCain's body language at the first debate, Obama's mere presence may unnerve him.

Does anyone care? How many minds are still not made up? Obama and Biden have already cleared the "seems presidential" hurdle. That's what the truly changeable minds wanted to see.

[ Parent ]
Oh, and who can forget the John McCain classic town hall moment (4.00 / 2)
Questioner: "How do we beat the bitch?"

The proper reaction for a man of McCain's supposed honor: disgust. Bill Clinton, who does not have McCain's reputation, would not have tolerated description of his opponents in such terms. McCain, instead agreed with the question.

[ Parent ]
McCain's been panned (0.00 / 0)
for his guttural "How'd you like Sarah Palin last night?" and that was in a Town Hall melee. Wonder what he's up to this weekend, squirreled away in Arizona this weekend, this long weekend, as he's not going out in public on Monday.

[ Parent ]
I Think You've Nailed It Perfectly (4.00 / 3)
McCain can't control himself.  He demonizes those who don't worship him, not just in talking to others, but inside his own head.  And now that's coming back to bite him, "big time," as America's #2 war criminal would say.

A Town Hall format gives him the perfect opportunity to hang himself, given how he's acted in them in the past.  And Obama has already established his "nice guy" credentials.  He can affored to pounce when McCain really screws up.

I still think he should have done so more in the first debate.  But since he didn't, he's got all the more lattitude to do so now.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
I temporarily forgot who said 'Big Time' and so (4.00 / 1)
had to run through the mental list of war criminals to see who was #2. Was it Gonzales? No, no he was only number 4! Rumsfeld? No, no, somehow he only made it to number 3! Yoo? Nope, barely made the Top 10! Oh, yeah, Cheney!

[ Parent ]
So Many War Criminals, So Little Time! (0.00 / 0)
That's why we number them!

They're all such good little authoritarians, we simly take their rank in the hierarchy, unless, of course, they show exceptional zeal.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
X factor: Bradley effect (0.00 / 0)
Yes the polls look great right now. But polls can't register the whole picture. Not just in terms of what kind of "October surprise" the Republicans might spring but also the unprecedented nature of the Obama candidacy. We're not out of the woods yet.

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Probably not (0.00 / 0)
There is still doubt as to whether the Bradley effect actually exists, but polls are known to be undercounting or not counting cellphone-only households, which, being younger, will break for Obama. A "reverse Bradley effect" has also been observed by some observers in states with high African-American population, so if it did exist, it might be nullified.

If it does exist, the electoral college system also makes it unlikely to matter except in swing states. I don't know the relative racial population breakdown of the states, so I can't say if that's a potential issue.

It's not clear if there's anything McCain can do to reverse the slide against him at this point. Bradley effect would be utterly, utterly irrelevant if the trend continues. It will be a blowout like we have not seen since 1984, when Mondale got precisely one state, his home state. Here's hoping.

[ Parent ]
I'm actually not sure that's even possible for a Democrat... (0.00 / 0)
There seems to be a structural advantage in the electoral college that favors Republicans in that there are probably no states that could never flip to Republicans, but I have a hard time seeing a state like Utah or Oklahoma flipping to a Democrat.

Something REALLY bad would have to happen to McCain that would make him completely unelectable.  If someone found tape of him murdering a child, maybe... not sure about Utah though. =)

[ Parent ]
It's all about GOTV (4.00 / 1)
If the polls start looking too good for Obama for too long, that makes me nervous about a complacency factor.

Dems (and people voting Dem this time) are going to have to turn out in full force to overcome the Rethug's voter suppression drive, which is absolutely in full force. I don't think I need to detail it for anybody here, but here's a link to
Steal Back Your Vote to share with others.

Not sure... (0.00 / 0)
Early voting and overall democratic enthusiasm should counter this.

[ Parent ]
we should be ok on that front (0.00 / 0)
This should ease your mind a bit.

The truth about Saxby Chambliss

[ Parent ]
Not this election (4.00 / 1)
I tend to fall towards complacency and whenever I do I just feel like I couldn't deal with 4 more years of Republicans and that this country can't.

Besides voting for Obama is going to be a historic event.  It isn't one you are going to wan to miss out on.

My expectation is more the opposite.  With McCain backing the bankruptcy bill the Republicans fell into a "the two parties are the same" mode and wont vote.

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[ Parent ]
One caveat (4.00 / 2)

 I don't know who else remembers this, but in the week or two preceding the 2000 election George W. Bush had opened up a significant national lead, to the point where he was doing a "victory lap" around the states, even stopping in California. I had coworkers buzzing about a Bush landslide, utterly confident that he had it won. That was the media chatter as well.

 And as we know, Gore wound up getting more votes than Bush, and actually won Florida, only to have Scalia take it away.

 We can't take ANYTHING for granted.  

"We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn

What my track coach told me (4.00 / 1)
More than thirty years ago still stands. You run through the finish line and for ten yards beyond it. You don't cruise to the finish line no matter how far you are ahead of the other runners.

[ Parent ]
It's really better than this Paul (0.00 / 0)
You have them at a tie when CO and MN are included -- with NH the next candidate to go blue of the five remaining toss ups.

Under a worse case scenario for the remaining toss ups going to McCain, FL, OH, VA, NV could all go red and even 3 of the 4 NH electoral votes and Obama still wins.  NH splits those votes so all we need is one of them, or the second district in Nebraska where Obama is opening up yet another office.

As the primaries showed, Team Obama knows how to count votes where the rules are different state to state.

Okay, my bad, it's Maine Not NH (0.00 / 0)
Wishful thinking I guess.  Ignore my rambling above.

[ Parent ]
only sampling error included (0.00 / 0)
AFAIK, the graph at Princeton only accounts for the uncertainty due to sampling error.  But of course, there are many more potential errors in polling, and ignoring those errors leads to an incorrect graph.  The electoral vote distribution would be much wider if you estimated all potential sources of error.  See for instance http://election-projection.net

It's A Trade-Off (0.00 / 0)
There certainly is more undertainty out there than is due to sampling error, but we're not really certain what it is.  (Those pesky "unknown unknowns.")

So while it's more realistic to take them into account, it's also less accurate.

Call it Heisenberg's Vice Principle for unrully student affairs.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
the known wrong (0.00 / 0)
Ah yes, you would rather have the answer you know is wrong, as long as it is simpler.  Are you sure you're not a closet Republican?

[ Parent ]
It wasn't that long ago that (0.00 / 0)
the working assumption was that this would go down to the wire no matter what. Now it's hard to find a prognosticator predicting less than 300 EVs for Obama.

It could change, of course, back to the down-to-the-wire model but I strongly doubt it.

Well, Not MY Working Assumption (0.00 / 0)
Realigning election has been my working assumption since Katrina, though I didn't start writing about it openly, beyond stray comments, until a little more than a year later.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
No question (0.00 / 0)
You've been writing about the possibility of a mandate/landslide for quite a while.

[ Parent ]
I'm curious about Obama's approach to MN (0.00 / 0)
I mean, it's not like he's short of money, and running ads takes no effort whatsoever -- you pay the t.v. stations, they run the ads.

It makes me wonder if Obama is trying to make MN look "swingier" than it really is in order to encourage McCain to sink lots of (limited, Federal) money into it.  The rationale would be that OH, MI, maybe even WI are actually more vulnerable to being swung by McCain -- so that the McCain campaign sees MN as low-hanging fruit, but they won't be able to get it in the long run.

McCain's campaign has a forward vision of about 48 hours, it seems.  That is typical of losing, factionalized campaigns, which have no capacity for patience.  So I really do wonder if Obama has set MN up as a money-pit for McCain.

I think it's a strategic trap (0.00 / 0)
as you suggest. And, if it turns out that it's going to be close in the end, it wouldn't take that much money to jump back in and shore it up.

[ Parent ]
combinations calculator (0.00 / 0)
not sure how useful this is, but I built an electoral combinations calculator (back in 2004, actually) one can play with.  By default (on initial load), the locked (constrained) states are locked according to today's polls (Obama has all of Kerry's states plus Iowa). Each state can be constrained or released into the toss-up group, and the calculator will show the possible combinations.


Polls are not factored in here, in any way (suggestions?)

(Also, the main page on the above site is under construction -- I will try to raise awareness about Obama's neighbor-to-neighbor program, and how it can work across state boundaries.)

suggestions about anything are welcomed.



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