November 3, 2008


Eight Is Enough: Your election night guide to the swing states McCain needs to win. (Jeffrey H. Anderson, 11/03/08, Weekly Standard)

As you settle in with your bowl of popcorn and drink to watch the quadrennial competition for America's highest office, you need a scorecard. You are eagerly anticipating seeing the national map light up in red and blue--a welcome reminder of our federalist design--but what should you be watching for? How will you know whether John McCain is doing well enough to have any shot of pulling off the upset?

There are only ten states that were decided by 5 percent or less in each of the last two presidential elections: Ohio, Nevada, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Oregon (yes, Oregon), Pennsylvania, Iowa, New Mexico, and Florida (which was decided by 5.01 percent in 2004 if you're nitpicking). Not surprisingly, these states will be important in 2008. [...]

[I]t seems rather unlikely that Obama will fail to win any states that either Gore or Kerry succeeded in winning--let alone any that both men won. So where does that leave McCain? The good news for the Republican is that he doesn't need to win any states that Bush didn't win. The bad news is that he probably won't, and so he needs to win all of the states that Bush swept in the last two elections.

McCain needs to take Florida, Missouri, Colorado, Nevada, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and, most dauntingly, Ohio. He needs to go 8-0 in these states--in addition to winning all of the other states that Bush swept (which he should). If one of those eight lights up for Obama on election night, it's lights out for McCain.

It'll be lights out, that is, unless McCain can somehow win a state that Bush didn't sweep in 2000 and 2004. This is a tall order. The most likely possibility would seem to be New Mexico, New Hampshire, or Wisconsin. [...]

If McCain wins these eight states, along with the others he's expected to win more easily, but without pulling off any upsets in likely Obama territory--then that will give him 274 electoral votes, four more than needed. But there's no margin for error; each of these states is worth at least five electoral votes.

Posted by Matt Murphy at November 3, 2008 7:33 PM
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