Friday, November 16, 2012

Five Thirty Eight


As Nation and Parties Change, Republicans Are at an Electoral College Disadvantage

Two more presidential elections, 2016 and 2020, will be contested under the current Electoral College configuration, which gave Barack Obama a second term on Tuesday. This year’s results suggest that this could put Republicans at a structural disadvantage.

Based on a preliminary analysis of the returns, Mitt Romney may have had to win the national popular vote by three percentage points on Tuesday to be assured of winning the Electoral College. The last Republican to accomplish that was George H.W. Bush, in 1988. In the table below, I have arranged the 50 states and the District of Columbia from the most Democratic to the most Republican, based on their preliminary results from Tuesday. Along the way, I have counted up the number of electoral votes for the Democratic candidate, starting at zero and going up to 538 as he wins progressively more difficult states.

This process resembles how the FiveThirtyEight tipping-point analysis was calculated. In the simulations we ran each day, we accounted for the range of possible outcomes in each state and then saw which states provided Mr. Obama with his easiest route to 270 electoral votes, the minimum winning number. The state that put Mr. Obama over the top to 270 electoral votes was the tipping-point state in that simulation.

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