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Wargaming the Electoral College

October 8th, 2012 - 11:55 am

Polls are are starting to reflect the results of last week’s debate, so it must be time for another exciting edition of WtEC. That’s pronounced “We-Tech,” which couldn’t be further from the truth.

I’ll get the controversial bit out of the way first, and go with my gut that Colorado is most likely out of reach for Team Obama. What I’m seeing on the ground and hearing from locals just doesn’t mesh with Empty Chair taking the Centennial State again. Just a few months ago, it looked like Colorado might prove to be the most difficult purple-state pickup for Mitt Romney, but it sure doesn’t look that way from here — and that was before the Denver debate. What I’m seeing of the ground game makes Romney 2012 look like Obama 2008. Well, not that amped, but close enough to secure my state.

That leaves us with Obama’s best-case scenario looking like so.

Even if that’s something of a comedown from 2008, it’s still a convincing win. But what’s Romney’s potential upside?

A few days ago, Breitbart’s Mike Flynn received two leaked polls from inside the Romney campaign, where they believe their man to be up slightly in VA and pretty solidly in OH. Taking in other recent polls and applying some Kentucky Windage, we get a map that looks like this one:

285 to 253? I think we’ve seen this map before. Note also that now I’m applying colors to show relative strength in each state. Pink could easily turn light blue, and light blue could easily turn pink. Minnesota should probably be dark blue, but there’s plenty of wiggle room when you have three gradients for each candidate.

Of course, another word for “leak” is “spin.” So what’s the real state of the race?

I’m reluctantly forced to call this one “2004 Redux: Blame Ohio!” Or is that “Oiho?” Anyway, behold ye mighty and despair.

All I need to say to this one is two words: Poll watchers. And lots of them.

But what about those University of Colorado guys and their computer models showing a big Romney win?

They use economic figures plugged into a computer model to give Romney winning 330 to 208. I couldn’t find their map, so I played around with mine and came up with at least one way to get Romney to 330.

There are other ways to get there, but this one seemed the most likely — or “least unlikely” if you’re still certain Empty Chair has it in the can.

The two shockers on there might be ME and PA, but they’re winnable if we do end up with an unprecedented fourth consecutive wave election. ME already has one district which could break for Romney even in a closer matchup. (ME and NE split their EC votes by the popular-vote winner in each congressional district, with the two “Senate” EC votes going to the overall popular-vote winner. In 2008, Obama picked up one vote in NE that way.) There are indicators that Team Obama might see the potential for a wave, with two polls out now showing Obama with serious weakness in the Chicago ‘burbs, and them running ads on local Oregon TV. These anecdata are supported even by lefties like Politico, when they’re forced to admit that Romney leads independents by 16 points. There’s a case to be made that our friends at UC may have underestimated Romney’s best-case.

An awful lot would have to break Romney’s way to get to 330. But then an awful lot would have to break the other way for Obama to get to 323. For the past week or so, most of the breaks have been going Romney’s way.

If Romney’s upside potential really is bigger than Obama’s, even if just by 7 points, that’s one comforting indicator for the GOP as we enter the home stretch.

UPDATE: Reader Brian was able to locate UC’s map, and it looks like this.

This makes more sense to me. Even with upstate Mormon enthusiasm, it’s difficult to see Romney overcoming NV’s imploded state GOP and Harry Reid’s casino union machine.

Also read: Pew Poll: Romney Now Leads By Four

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