The Pajamas Media Election Guide for Dummies

Do you want to be the first one at your election night party to declare the winner of the presidential race? Would you like to see a look of awe and admiration on the faces of your friends as you confidently tick off the reasons why Obama just won or why McCain is still in it?

Or perhaps you'd prefer to stuff yourself with burritos and swig tequila all night while keeping your opinions to yourself, secretly aware that the amateurish attempts by your friends to pontificate on what is happening can't touch your vast and superior knowledge of the electoral landscape.

Either way, you can't go wrong with this Official Pajamas Media Election Guide For Dummies.

First, we should lay out a couple of the more likely scenarios that will take place tonight so that you can dazzle your partymates with some brilliant reportage.

A rule of thumb in these scenarios is the candidate who needs a lot of "ifs" and "buts" in their scenario is probably toast. So when I say "If McCain can win OH, FL, and PA but lose VA and CO, he can win the presidency," you know that the Republican is in a world of hurt.

Conversely, if I were to say "Obama only needs to hold on to the states he's leading in the polls now to win in a landslide," you realize to your horror that the odds are very good that we will probably elect a president who is on a first name basis with 1) an unrepentant terrorist 2) a conspiracy mongering, bigoted preacher and 3) an incredibly corrupt Chicago political fixer convicted of fraud.

That's what I call "hope and change" as in "I sure hope something changes before election night is over."

Realistically, Mr. McCain is extremely limited in the ways he can finagle his way to 270 electoral votes. That is the magic number for the candidates, and for the Republican, the map as it stands now is quite grim.

Even if you discount the accuracy of the polls, a 15-point Obama lead has to be considered solid in states like California, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Massachusetts, New York, and a dozen and a half other states that add up to 260 rock solid electoral votes for the Democrat. The remaining battleground states are -- with the exception of Pennsylvania and perhaps New Hampshire -- all states that George Bush carried in 2004 (some of them quite handily).

The keys to prescient prognostication tonight will be found in the results of a handful of red states. They are: Colorado, Virginia, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Montana, Indiana, Ohio, Florida, and the blue state of Pennsylvania.

Scenario #1: "The dog ate my base vote" scenario.

This is where a dispirited Republican base of evangelicals and social conservatives sits glumly at home munching on Cheetos while Obama takes every state listed above. This is the blowout scenario and is not very likely.

Odds: 1 in 25

Scenario #2: The "Dewey Wins" scenario

This particular scenario is a favorite of Republican Kool-Aid drinkers and people who are paid to fantasize. We discover to our surprise that the polls are actually full of it and McCain wins every state listed above. Result, a narrow win for the Republican.

Odds: 1 in 50

(The following 3 scenarios assume McCain wins Ohio and Florida)

Scenario #3: The "Nothing could be finah than to be in Carolina" scenario

If John McCain can hold on to North Carolina, Indiana, Missouri, Colorado, Montana, and Nevada while losing Virginia and Indiana he can still win by carrying Pennsylvania.

Odds: 1 in 20