*6:15: Those just joining this election might be asking, “So who is going to win?” There are a gazillion prognosticators, but I’ll try to summarize very briefly. The vast majority of in-depth pollsters and aggregate magicians suggest that President Obama holds a slight, but clear, lead in the states needed for him to reach 270 EC votes and beyond. However, a few dissenters–and many conservatives–argue that the polls are underestimating Romney strength. Specifically, they point to a somewhat skewed result between individual state polls and the overall national polls. The national polls are much closer, with Romney leading in some and Obama leading in some. The polls of most individual swing states that matter, however, have Obama leading.
It is possible for the national popular vote to go one way and the swing states to go another. But, in the end, many don’t think that will happen. Instead, some suggest that the states polls are wrong for one of two reasons: (1) They are overestimating Obama’s support in early voting, and/or (2) They are overestimating Democratic turnout in their models. Both are plausible.
The bottom line: Most betting suggests anywhere from a 55-80% chance of Obama winning. The king bee of all political statisticians, Nate Silver, currently argues that Obama has an 86.3% chance of winning. He’s come under attack recently for the confidence his model has in the Obama win, but who knows. Silver, who made his name in sports stats, previously suggested that Obama’s chances right now are like being ahead by a field goal in a football game with 2 minutes left–the odds are in your favor, but you could certainly still lose.
Alternatively, Drudge currently suggests that Romney’s internal polls have him ahead or tied in all the key states. Someone will be right and someone will be wrong tomorrow. For those of us who get anxious easily, this reality is no comfort.
* 4:40 – You will see many complex analyses and maps in these last few hours. Tomorrow will be a flurry of discussion regarding winning certain states, losing others, and the 538 different paths to victory. However, the map below is likely the best, simple explanation for what really matters.
You’ll notice the bottom line: Romney has to win all swing states early to stand a chance, particularly Virginia, Florida, or Ohio. If he loses any of them, it is basically over. If he wins them all AND wins Pennsylvania, then Romney will win. Otherwise, the closes scenario is Romney wins all three of the big ones, loses PA and then we wait to see if he wins enough of the five smaller swing states.
*3:55 – FYI: There are two counties in NH that will be bringing in the first results–Dixville Notch (about 10 voters) and Hart’s Location (about 36 voters) will take their tally, per tradition, at exactly midnight. The two tiny towns actually race each other to see who can announce publicly first. Dixville Notch usually wins, but Hart’s Location townsfolk plan on lining up alphabetically at midnight to save time. Last year Obama swept Dixville with 100% of the vote. However, Republican registration is up this year, so it could go either way. See here
*3:53 – And so it begins.