As Rolandz notes, Nate Silver has had some steadily encouraging numbers for Obama: his current forecast for Nov. 6, up even from yesterday, is a 73.1% chance of winning, and a healthy 305.5 estimated Electoral Vote total. I decided to drill down a bit to the state level, and discovered a really interesting fact: using the probabilities given for winning each state (or district, in Maine and Nebraska), Obama has 193 ways to get to 270 electoral votes by winning states for which his chances are at least 50%. The number of such routes to 270 for Romney? Zero.

To see why, follow me over the squiggley speed bump.

Along with the overall chances of winning the election, Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight Blog also computes probabilities for winning each state/district (a combination of polling info, trends, underlying facts relevant to the given state, etc.) One fairly simple thing you can do to get a sense of the race is to assume that, starting with states that each candidate is guarranteed to win, work your way down the probabilities adding electoral votes as you go. So for example, Obama currently is given a 100% chance of winning nine states (go Vermont!) and Maine, district 1, followed by 11 states between 90 and 100%, ending at Pennsylvania with 91%. Assuming Obama will win all of these, we proceed through the next four states, all between 70 and 80%, ending with Ohio at 71% for a total of 275 electoral votes.

Notice that to get to 270, using only Obama's highest probability states, we never had to use a state with lower than 70%. On the other hand, doing the same process for Romney, using only his highest probability states, he has to use states for which he has a less than 50% chance of winning-- in some cases, much less.  Put another way, the easiest path to 270 for Romney-- in terms of current probabilities-- runs through three states between 30 and 40%, ending with Ohio, at only a 29% chance of winning. That's gotta hurt.

But wait! There's more...

While Romney has no path to victory using states where his chance of winning is greater than 50%, Obama has not just one but many such paths. I've summarized all of them in the chart below.

The chart is organized like this: Along the top we have the eight states that Obama currently has between 50 and 90% chance of winning. (I assumed Obama wins all states with above 90% probability.) Next I assumed he wins Florida, currently given a 56% chance (up 2 points from yesterday, by the way.) On the top row you can see that Obama then needs only one more state to get to 270. In the next four rows I assume Obama loses Florida but wins Ohio and various other arrangements of states. In the last four rows, I assume he loses both Florida and Ohio.

The final column gives the the number of ways that each path category (along a row) could occur. No surprise: winning Florida nearly guarantees a victory, with so many ways to get to 270 electoral votes. But even without Florida, there are still 66 paths that use states that are above a 50% probability-- in fact, most are above 70%.

To summarize: while Romney's easiest path to 270 electoral votes forces him to slog through several low-probability states, Obama has a whopping 193 ways to get there using only states above a 50% probability!

Naturally, there are caveats. First, who knows how accurate the probabilities are. Second, not all the paths are equally likely. Winning Florida may provide many paths to victory, but it is also considerably less likely than some other options (today, anyway.) And then there's the next two months of mayhem, mischief, and lies from the other side.

But it's helped me to dig into the numbers a bit and come up with this chart. I hope you enjoy it.

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#### Comment Preferences

• ##### This is a fascinating diary,(63+ / 0-)

not to mention a good meta-analysis. The problem with models like Silver's (I was promoting him back when he was poblano, on here) work awesomely until they one day don't.

What your data seem to show is that, however a model may overstate a candidate's chances (tens of millions of dollars in negative advertising wait like a wall of water behind a breaching dam) there is something real behind the picture that is too real to lazily discard.

Thank you to jayden, Dr Erich Bloodaxe RN, Aji and everyone in the Daily Kos community involved in gifting my subscription and gifting others!

• ##### 1st time I've hotlisted and rec'd a diary---(11+ / 0-)

So VT, as long as I'm on KOS, you're the first (kiss) so to speak. Thanks for a great diary.

• ##### and for a diary about numbers no less(1+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
blueoasis

• ##### Just wondering, does Rove read and weep?(2+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
Alice Olson, Old Lefty

Or are you alerting him to mobilize, mechanize, materialize?
Do their number-guys see what you see and do they bring out bigger guns? Or do they disregard this study of yours entirely, either honestly or because they're paid and don't give a rat's ass? [Not asking you to speak for them]

Otherwise... thanks! This is like feeling good about something that truly IS good. God, I'm arguing on all sides nowadays, finally felt like revealing my heart no matter what to everyone everywhere in my world, and I just want to thank you for, well, I'll call it nutrition. √ Great diary.

Willard! Are you better off now than you were four years ago?

[ Parent ]

• ##### The billionare's ads will make for (25+ / 0-)

terrific Obama ads. The 1% conning the 99% is one hell of a narrative.

Romney/Lyin' - 2012

[ Parent ]

• ##### Nate's model(25+ / 0-)

can't predict from polls that haven't been taken yet (i.e., after the dam is breached). We should be starting to see those events and the reaction to them pretty soon, though, and when we do, he'll include that in the algorithm.

He has already gone so far as to factor in vote suppression efforts, though, and his analysis confirms what the wiser heads around here say: it makes a difference, but not a big difference. IOW, they can only steal it if it was close to begin with. Therefore, we can't let it be close.

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

[ Parent ]

• ##### Frankly, I'm wondering whether it's reasonable to (9+ / 0-)

assume that "they" know what we (statistically) know, and thus they may decide NOT to waste all those zillions on a guaranteed loser. Remember, Adelson has only pledged a range of millions..he yet as NOT handed them over to Willard Mitt-Our-Money. Don't forget, Adelson was already humbled significantly by having wasted \$10 (?) MM on Gingrich and bupkis to show for it!

• ##### I'm not sure whether(9+ / 0-)

Adelson has the capacity to be humbled. He may like his money as much as Rmoney likes his, and decide that enough is enough.

I'm not counting a single chicken until after the conventions are over and we get to see what kind of barrage the "independent" groups unleash. If it's effective, those millions will be right back on the table. I admit to being concerned about that.

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

[ Parent ]

• ##### It's not just the presidency(15+ / 0-)

Those hundreds of millions of semoleans are going to races for everything from Senator and Representative to governor to dogcatcher. The Presidency is an important office, but if the Republicans can capture the Senate and/or hold on to the House, it makes Obama's job that much harder (assuming he wins, of course). And to the extent that legislatures and governorships are in GOP hands, that lines us up for more Scott Walkers, more Rick Scotts, more ALEC-inspired legislation.

So I'm hoping that Romneyryaneastwoodemptychair turns out to be such a disaster for the GOP that a large lineup of Republicans will ride out of town on Romney's coattails, money be damned. But ir remains to be seen.

You and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children's children what it was once like in America when 25% of the population was batshit insane.

[ Parent ]

• ##### strongly agree(2+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
Xapulin, Omir the Storyteller

It's not just the presidency. So we have two extremely compelling reasons to try to make Obama's victory as decisive as possible: one, so they can't steal the election, and two, so his coattails are as long as possible.

I can't do a lot of work on the presidential this time because of health issues (in the past I've traveled to a swing state to volunteer), so I expect to be putting my energies into just those local congressional races.

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

[ Parent ]

• ##### That's what terrifies me more than Romney winning(1+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
Omir the Storyteller

At his point, barring an economic calamity before the election, a terrorist attack, or some horrible scandal, I don't think Rmoney has a snowball's chance in Hades of winning this election.  Having said that, the billionaires pulling the strings for the GOP are going to pour a hell of a lot of money into these down-ticket races, where the power of incumbency is much less pronounced in aiding the Democratic candidates.

• ##### At some point I would expect them to shift their (2+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
just another vortex, sidnora

spending down-ballot. It would be useful to be ready to foil such a shift, I think.

• ##### They will spend it.(1+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
blueoasis

Just take one Republican proposal: Privatizing Social Security.

Washington collects about \$819 billion in Social Security taxes each year. If that was invested on Wall Street, the i-bankers, brokers, traders, and salesmen would get about 5% of that in fees.

\$819 x 5% = \$41 billion...EVERY YEAR, FOREVER.

Even if there is only a 1-in-100 chance of success, it is worth it for Wall Street to drop several billion on the race.

• ##### I'd Add A Couple Of Points(13+ / 0-)

-  the right has already unleashed a totally unprecedented onslaught of negative advertising on those of us in swing states .  The flood has been raging all summer and during that time Obama's odds have been going up.

-  And, on the other hand Nate's forecasts also don't factor in the fact that we have a supremely gifted politician running against a political klutz.    There's two months of direct contrast in the public eye there that hasn't been captured by the polling yet.

• ##### Point one(6+ / 0-)

makes me really, really happy! I'm in a 100% blue state (by Nate's calculations). We see almost no presidential campaign ads, and the few we do see are all for Obama.

Point two, Nate's forecasts are based on polls, and those polls definitely reflect Obama's superior political skills. That they will be more directly contrasted in the next 2 months can only help, but it's already in there.

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

[ Parent ]

• ##### Good Point! (2+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
cotterperson, sidnora

But I don't think it's  fully baked in yet.  It's a cliche, but there's truth to the idea that a lot of people don't tune in until after Labor Day.  And the contrast hasn't really been drawn explicitly like it will be say, during, the debates.
And finally the fact that Mitt is an incompetent politician increases the chances that he makes gaffes and errors that can't be baked in yet.

The current polling reflects the difference in skill to some degree...but only to the extent it's already influenced the race, not to the full extent that it can and will.

At least I think that's what I believe.   :)

• ##### Right. What this analysis guarantees(11+ / 0-)

is super-activation backed by massive megabucks of every trick in the Republican playbook of lies, divisiveness including race-baiting, supreme negativity, and vote-rigging.  We'll need massive turnout to combat all this, as we've presumably learned from the last 3 presidential elections.

• ##### Yep - we CANNOT afford to get complacent.(4+ / 0-)

We need the Presidency AND Congress, not to mention a bunch more Governorships and statehouses, to make any real difference.

We're ALL better off when we're ALL better off!

[ Parent ]

• ##### A nice hopeful intellectual argument... but..(6+ / 0-)

But the only thing that matters is turnout at the polls and the GOP has a well financed ground game to back up all those negative ads and despite recent victories with turning back some voter suppression laws... a lot of them are still in place.

Make no mistake about it... the baggers on the right are organized, motivated, and over confidence is our biggest enemy!

• ##### needs front-paged(0+ / 0-)

if accurate (still checking it out).

"A squid eating dough in a polyethylene bag is fast and bulbous..........got me?" - Don Van Vliet

[ Parent ]

• ##### I also enjoyed the post and agree with your (7+ / 0-)

analysis as far as it represents the "probabilities" of certain combinations suggested in the current data-set. suggested by the current state of Nate Silver's database, and modeling.

And, not referring to this author, or the use of "probability" here, which is defined as contingent upon the existing dataset, and not a forecast, I think I share what I think are some of Nulwee concerns with what appears to be a misunderstanding by some here, and other places, of what Nate Silver's means by a "73%" chance of an Obama victory.  Buried in Nate's explanation are important caveats he mentions, but seems to be widely misunderstood, one of which is "given the data, and model assumptions as represented, in these polling datasets, today."

I don't believe Nate claims he has any way of forecasting, what the future economic reports will be in coming months, nor how polls could change in response to changes in polls due to the 2-1 advantage the GOP has in expected advertising budgets, debate performance, an economic collapse in Europe, a war in the Middle East or a unpredictable gaffe.

Anyone claiming to forecast what the "actual" probability of a victory for either side, would have a lot of mathematical explaining to do.

So, I'm delighted that Nate gives an aggregate forecast, and find them very useful, especially in communicating in a quick, simple and easy to think about way, the directions of trends in data analysis, but they can make no valid mathematical claim of being able to predict the real probabilities, of the component assumptions, such as the stock market, or what the polls will be like a two months from now, things that are inherently unpredictable.

So, the word probability, as Nate, and others use it here, are not the same kind of meaning the word has when a mathematician tells you the probability you have of winning the lottery, or even "developing cancer" if you smoke, (which is already crossing of into "issues.""

I thought the "NowCast" nomenclature was an innovative way to explain this difference, but it appears Nate uses that terminology for a slightly different purpose, I haven't had an opportunity to study the model, and assumptions in detail.

My understanding is that there is some emerging academic evidence that betting markets, such as Intrade, do a better jobs than experts, or expert models at forecasting some kinds of events that experts, or expert based modeling such as Nate's, despite the fact that they lack the analytic sophistication, subject to a lot of qualifications.

Intrade's markets, which have their own "unique way" of calculating "probability" suggest Obama has about a 56% probability at this stage.

But, we have no way of forecasting what the probability that the devastating drought in the agricultural sector may lead to a devastating plunge in fall economic reports, or that a \$100 million advertising blitz might moving public sentiment 5% in Romney's direction, in the next month.  If this happens, Nate's mid September models could end up "predicting" Romney has a 55% change of winning, and we have no valid mathematical way of figuring out what the probability that that will occur.  And, I strongly suspect Nate would agree to this, because he does not make this kind of claim.

BTW, I'm no criticizing the author in any way, for saying "given the current state of the underlying state by state poll averages, in this database, and the given assumptions, that they will not be changed by turnout dynamics, here how many paths that exist that mean these combinatorial probabilities.  This is again a different use of what the word means.

We need to be on guard that we do not become either complacent, make faulty judgement on how we allocate our resources  based on misunderstanding of what some of these concepts mean.

The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

[ Parent ]

• ##### This is a very well-reasoned post.(2+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
HoundDog, Shakludanto

But I'd point out that there is a flaw in combining probabilities that are not independent. Consider this:

Suppose a poll in Indiana unexpectedly showed that the state was closer to a tossup? Would you not think that whatever factors caused this shift would also affect the likely outcome of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio? IOW, a slight drop in the probability that Indiana would Vote for Romney be cause for grave concern in the Romney camp, even though they might still consider Indiana a safe red state.

I do recognize that you understand this, but many people don't understand how tricky it can be to combine probabilities.

Occupy is the symptom. Fundamental reform is the cure.

[ Parent ]

• ##### Excellent point. Also, the multiple regression (2+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
Tim DeLaney, Jerry J

mathematics apparently used for some of Silver's, and most other economic modeling, are only valid if, as you point out, the variable are independent, and the structure of the system doesn't change across the time period of the empirical data used, and the period of the forecast.  In this case, the only things we can say with nearly 100% certainty is that neither one of these assumptions is true.

This is a problem with vast numbers of regression based studies, used in corporate marketing, strategy applications, etc, and we do it anyway, because it sometimes it helps discuss and understand data, especially the directions of trends, or changes, as done here, and what else can we do, but we need to remember we are violating the foundation assumptions of our own mathematics, and not overdraw conclusions.

The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

[ Parent ]

Recommended by:
HoundDog, blueoasis

I agree that Silver's use of the word "probability" is unfortunate, primarily because people will naturally assume that it has a meaning they are familiar with-- say in poker, or even weather predictions.

The purpose of this diary was to take Silver's numbers-- that I assume are generally reasonable estimates of Obama's chances-- and see where they lead.

But even if it is "193 to 0" today, we've still got a lot of work to do from now until Nov. 6. And not just in the Presidential race, but also, critically, in electing a bluer, better House and Senate.

• ##### Exactly, I do the same thing and Nate Silver's (0+ / 0-)

model, database, and columns are among my favorite.

And, noted that I learned much from you post, and you acknowledge these points.

But, elsewhere on this site, you can find near celebrations, and trash talking about out 73% changes, by people who clearly do not understand the most basic issues with regard to the lack of underlying validity of the nature of the conclusions they are drawing.  Nate, correct notes many of these issues, but even he seems comfortable applying multiple regression techniques  across four decades of elections, when every basic mathematical textbook I've ever seen on regression note the techniques are only valid if the variable in the system are independent and the structure of the system does not change.

Both, things we know for certain are happening in political systems and polling.  Nate Silver knows, this, and even notes that cell phones, demographic stranger caller avoidance, and other issues, have made "a mess" of polling statistics.

I've gone ahead and presented simulations in professional work, with even vastly less valid data, and methodology than here, so I'm not being a purist.  But, I do this under the conceptual umbrella or "scenario analysis, models for learning, parameter insensitivity in well constructed dynamics simulation models with internal feedback loops."  But, explicitly warn against using these kinds of models for forecasting, or describe the output scenarios as predictive probabilities.

The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

[ Parent ]

• ##### Yes.. And, it is still too early to forecast(0+ / 0-)

given the closeness of the polls.

You are completely correct that most people ignore Nate's warning about probabilities.

Romney can easily win this by winning the following states:
Florida
No Carolina
Wisconsin

Those are fairly good possibilities

If he then adds Michigan and Virginia, that's it.  He doesn't need Ohio or Pennsylvania... or Colorado.. or Nevada..

Add to that.. I don't believe Nate can predict voter turnout.  I predict high voter turnout for GOP candidates, and good turnout for Dems, but nowhere near the record numbers of 2008.  Youth vote will be much diminished.  I have no scientific basis for that though.

• ##### Even if a model get the prediction "wrong" it..(1+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
chloris creator

might still be right. If, for the sake of simplicity, Nate gave Obama a 66% chance of win and Romney won it doesn't mean the model was wrong. The model would expect there to be one underdog win out of three similar contests.
I'm not freaking out right now, but I'd be a lot more relaxed if we were at 80-90% by mid October.

• ##### Yes, let's make each of these high probabilities(21+ / 0-)

100% by getting out the vote.

• ##### I don't see nine 100% states on Nate's blog(11+ / 0-)

According to my reading of the map there are only five such states:
Vermont
New York
Maryland
Illinois
Hawaii

Are you perhaps rounding the states at greater than 99%? That would indeed add four more:
Massachusetts
Rhode Island
Delaware
California

"The smartest man in the room is not always right." -Richard Holbrooke

• ##### I used the list of states down the right side(12+ / 0-)

not the map. There, the figures are already rounded, I see. Also, one of the nine is DC, which I should have been clearer about. Thanks!

• ##### Sorry I don't see a list of states(1+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
elwior

... anywhere on the page at this link.

"The smartest man in the room is not always right." -Richard Holbrooke

[ Parent ]

• ##### keep scrolling down(2+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
Demi Moaned, elwior

past the "tipping point states" and "return and investment" maps (right side.)

• ##### Ah, I see now: "State-by-State Projections"(3+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
MRA NY, DRo, elwior

The default filter is 'Competitive States' so I didn't notice it. But you can change it to 'All States' or just select a single state.

"The smartest man in the room is not always right." -Richard Holbrooke

[ Parent ]

• ##### Connecticut?????(7+ / 0-)

In what universe does Romney have a more than 1 percent chance of getting connecticut

fact does not require fiction for balance (proudly a DFH)

[ Parent ]

• ##### Nate gives Obama 97.4%(6+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
elmo, Matt Z, litho, Derfel, elwior, pademocrat

I'm not even sure what these probabilities mean in real world terms.

"The smartest man in the room is not always right." -Richard Holbrooke

[ Parent ]

• ##### isn't the probability = number of simulations won(6+ / 0-)

Nate runs the whole election with different assumptions thousands of time and I think the probability of winning is the number of times the candidate wins divided by the total number of election scenarios run. I could easily be misunderstanding his meaning and method but that is what I think he is doing and meaning.

Love = Awareness of mutually beneficial exchange across semi-permeable boundaries. Political and economic systems either amplify or inhibit Love.

[ Parent ]

• ##### That's Mr Silver's model(1+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
Demi Moaned

I respect the hell out of Nate Silver / Pablano but in the end all these numbers are , are output from his personal model.

In real world terms that number means, in Nate Silver's judgement the available data indicates President Obama has a dominant lead in CT.

It is sort of like the NFL's quarterback rating. It's one way of looking at the overall numbers. But it is not a hard number like pi. You can rely on pi.

Don't panic

[ Parent ]

• ##### Pi is not hard; it's easy as ... pi!(1+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
Ginny in CO

Now iota - THAT one keeps me up nights!

Am I right, or am I right? - The Singing Detective

[ Parent ]

• ##### There have been some recent polls ...(2+ / 0-)
Recommended by:

showing Connecticut within single digits.

May you live in Interesting Times

[ Parent ]

• ##### And McMahon(1+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
NWTerriD

suddenly competitive as well.

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

[ Parent ]

• ##### Downticket is trending badly(2+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
NWTerriD, Old Lefty

or was.  There may have been some reversal in the last couple of weeks.  McMahon was looking like Scott Brown, or better with this much time left in regulation, a couple of weeks ago based on trending, based on two polls, one of them Quinnipiac.

To continue the analogy, had 2010 been a presidential election year, the sudden and overwhelming appearance of the Brown army would have put Obama's chances at carrying the state in great peril.

Take nothing for granted (although I can attest I'm pretty damned confident about Obama carrying Massachusetts in 2012).

• ##### I think it's fair to round...(0+ / 0-)

considering Nate gives Romney a 99.7% chance of winning Mississippi.

• ##### True, even with the .3%, Obama won't win Miss(0+ / 0-)

I wouldn't quibble about any states where the odds are 95% as opposed to 100%. I'd love Obama to win a deep red state, but it's just not going to happen, even if, technically, he has a .3% chance. I'd love a landslide, but hey, I'll take a win with just 270 EV's at this point, too.

• ##### I've been looking at this for a while too, (18+ / 0-)

but have a much less impressive spreadsheet. I have consistently had a hard time finding a way for Romney to keep Obama under 290 votes, and almost all scenarios make 300+ look extremely realistic. Even stealing Florida has little effect if things hold as they are now.

• ##### And it reiterates the danger of stealing elections(10+ / 0-)

It's not a Conspiracy Theory to suspect people inside the GOP wanting to steal the election for the electoral votes of key states. However, they're not going to try to do it if it fails to win the overall election: I'd be quite shocked if Obama didn't prosecute clear cases of this, which would be a career-ending move. (There just aren't that many cushy jobs in think tanks & on the lecture circuit for all of the disgraced elections officials in, say, Florida &/or Ohio.)

We just need to remind them not to try anything hinky like that because it won't work this time. Unless they are eager to spend a few years in a Federal penitentiary for voting fraud.

• ##### More than career ending(5+ / 0-)
Recommended by:

If you get caught, you can go to jail for a long time. I'm not sure there are that many even hard core Republicans out there willing to risk something like that for Mitt Romney.

• ##### It isn't for Mitt.(11+ / 0-)

It is for the Supreme Court, the 1%, global economical domination, war profiteering, and many other power grabs.

And she's good at appearing sane, I just want you to know. Winwood/Capaldi

[ Parent ]

• ##### Elimination of(1+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
tobendaro

job-killing safety & environmental regulations.

"These are not candidates. These are the empty stand-ins for lobbyists' policies to be legislated later." - Chimpy, 9/24/10

[ Parent ]

• ##### Well, true(3+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
tobendaro, llywrch, Zack from the SFV

but in order to believe that's what's really on the table, you would have to trust Mitt.

Trust Mitt? Other than Ann, I don't know of anyone who really does.

And I'm actually not that sure about Ann trusting him, either.

• ##### It's For The Fetuses(3+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
tobendaro, Woody, Zack from the SFV
• ##### It's for the Senate and House at this point (3+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
Zack from the SFV, NYLefty, tobendaro

I don't think most of the state Republican types have much love for the Mittbot.  That's why Nate's minimizing of voter suppression is disturbing.  The effects of suppression in Congressional districts will be much more extreme.

In capitalist America, bank robs you!

[ Parent ]

• ##### Thanks, this is great! n/t(4+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
Nulwee, Matt Z, spooks51, elwior

-5.88, -7.23

Clearer.

• ##### On the other hand(20+ / 0-)

the media's attempt to make this look like a really close horse race actually helps us make sure we can turn out our voters to win down ballot races.

Winning the White House isn't enough. We need to take back the House and hang on to the Senate, too. And there are plenty of state and local races around this country that need a boost, also.

• ##### The media always do that(6+ / 0-)

And something like this points up that national polls are pretty much junk.

Our presidential elections aren't won at the national level. They're won state by state. As was shown in 2000, winning the popular vote nationwide isn't what's important. It's how many states you win.

If all that was important was the national overall totals, presidential candidates would concentrate on winning huge majorities in California, Texas, the mid atlantic states, and maybe Illinois and the surrounding states.

Win huge majorities there, and nothing else matters.

The way it is now, you have to win a majority of the STATES, not the popular vote.

I think that's better.

• ##### A majority of the states(4+ / 0-)
Recommended by:

doesn't necessarily even translate into a majority of the electoral votes, either.

• ##### True. I forgot about that(1+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
elmo

Though requiring a president to win a majority of the states might really change things.

• ##### For the worse(2+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
Just Bob, Zack from the SFV

Those sparsely populated states that have more cows than people trend Republican!

• ##### Also, the way it is now is worse:(0+ / 0-)

The notion that a candidate could focus on a handful of populous states is not realistic.  Simple reason:  Most states don't have large majorities.

Ironically, what you describe is possible in the electoral college system, where you can win 11 states by one vote and take home the prize (CA, TX, NY, FL, IL, PA, OH, GA, MI, NC, and NJ).

The way things are now, candidates ignore states like Texas and California.  Not because they're out to win Delaware's three votes, but because the outcome is predetermined.  If you win by one vote, you get 55 electoral votes in CA, and 38 in TX.  If you lose by one vote, you get zero.  If you lose by a million votes, you also get zero.  One reliably votes Dem, the other Rep, so there's no point wasting your time or money.

The same goes for smaller states--- those where it's close get attention, the others are ignored.

I can tell you from experience:  I've lived in Oklahoma (7 EV), Massachusetts (11), Texas (38) and now in Kansas (6).   Presidential candidates ignore all these states because the outcome is decided in all of them.  I can count the number of Presidential campaign ads I've seen on my hands, apart from the Republican primaries in Texas.

In none of these states did my vote for presidential electors have a chance of making a difference, and in none of these states did a presidential candidate bother to make an effort.  That's the cost, and the benefit, if such exists, does not go to the smaller states.  It goes to the undecided ones.

Conservatives need to realize that their Silent Moral Majority is neither silent, nor moral, nor a majority.

[ Parent ]

• ##### Nate's overall simulations give Romney a 27%(7+ / 0-)

chance of winning, which is the more relevant number.  A 1 in 4 chance of Mitt Romney is too high for comfort, IMHO.

• ##### Yes, but "one in four" is not quite exactly(0+ / 0-)

like rolling dice. There are probabilities and then there are probabilities, IMO. Seems to me that the electorate do not vote like dice, i.e., completely randomly. They vote (if they vote) in very predictable patterns, and only very infrequently cross over. I really think more needs to be said about "probabilities of winning" when persons with history and political persuasion are concerned. Dice have no memory.

• ##### Nate's model doesn't assume people are(2+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
scottsvine, docmidwest

quite as random as dice.  They're weighted dice, dependent on conditions in the US that have effects on other dice.

The fact is that if the unemployment rate starts to rise drastically, or Romney manages to Swift Boat Obama, or there's some other upset for some reason (Like the dead rising again - I'm sure Nate's model accounts for this), people's votes may change in large enough numbers to affect the election.

Also, there are still some people, shockingly, who may not have decided who to vote for, or who may change their mind based on the most recent events, or who may stay home, unhappy about both candidates.

All it takes is a 2 or 3% shift of the votes of the right voters in the right states, and Romney could very well still win - while the aggregate polling has been remarkably stable for the last 3 month, there's no guarantee it will continue to be so in the next two.  Look at how things shifted in the Republican primary - admittedly, shifts are more common when candidates are not as well known, and have more similar positions, but polling in the presidential race has been unusually stable this year.  There's no guarantee that won't change.

• ##### I'm thinking that undecided and likely voters(2+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
scottsvine, Juliann

are mutually exclusive categories at this time.

Others have simply gotten old. I prefer to think I've been tempered by time.

[ Parent ]

• ##### Nice job(5+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
VTGenie, Derfel, elwior, Just Bob, Juliann

This is much more interesting than my diary! :)

• ##### thanks! n/t(2+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
elwior, Juliann
• ##### one easy way to investigate(2+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
Zack from the SFV, Old Lefty

the quality of the state probabilities, would be to look at Nate's 2008 numbers on the morning of the election, and compare to actual.

IF he did this kind of analysis that year, of course.

"A squid eating dough in a polyethylene bag is fast and bulbous..........got me?" - Don Van Vliet

[ Parent ]

• ##### Bulbous also tapered(1+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
Old Lefty

recced for the comment and also the signature.

Also a tin teardrop...

Diehard Swingnut, disgruntled Democrat, age 54, new CA-30

[ Parent ]

• ##### I love these kinds of diaries(11+ / 0-)

Electoral vote math has always fascinated me.  From the beginning I have believed that Romney would have an incredibly difficult task to get to 270.  Not impossible, but close.

Kiss my ass--this a holy site

• ##### You could be alliterative(8+ / 0-)

The other side is always : malicious, mendacious and prone to mayhem!

American Television is a vast sea of stupid. -xxdr zombiexx

• ##### According to Silver(11+ / 0-)

If Obama wins Florida, which he lists as a "tossup" with 56%-44% Obama "lean," then the odds that Romney wins by taking all of the other states is:

(pOH * pWI * pNV * pVA * pCO * pNH * pIA) =
(0.29 * 0.23 * 0.22 * 0.31 * 0.34 * 0.21 * 0.33) =
0.000107 = 0.0107%,

or about 1 in 9345. That's along the lines of holding a pair of kings in Texas Hold 'Em, and facing someone who drew a pair of aces.

• ##### Mitt Romneys response:(6+ / 0-)

"How come when it’s us, it’s an abortion, and when it’s a chicken, it’s an omelette?" - George Carlin

[ Parent ]

• ##### Events not independent, though(10+ / 0-)

That calculation assumes that everything happens in a vacuum—results from one state don't influence the others. This, of course, isn't really realistic. If Romney loses FL, he's almost assuredly toast.

• ##### Very good point(2+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
NWTerriD, elwior

I wonder if Mr Silver's model tries to build in this sort of feedback loop.

At any rate the polls will start being more interesting after the DNC and especially after the first debate. Then the numbers will start hardening up I reckon.

Don't panic

[ Parent ]

• ##### It does.(3+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
elwior, Quicklund, docmidwest

He's talked before about how he assumes there's a high degree of correlation in how votes shift from one candidate to the other.  If things were completely independent of each other, the state-by-state numbers would give Obama a better chance of winning.

• ##### It's That High Degree Of Correlation(3+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
Flying Goat, Quicklund, docmidwest

....and lack of independence that keeps Mitt's chances as high as around 1 in 4 right now.

• ##### This makes sense(0+ / 0-)

Going strictly on a hunch level, it "feels" right.

Don't panic

[ Parent ]

• ##### If I have wired Cowboys(2+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
Quicklund, Khun David

we can assume two still in the deck.

My opponent drew the ace pair.

The flop is 3 cards.  4 cards out.

52-7 = 45.

2/45 on on turn to catch the 3rd K.

2/44 on the river to catch it.

I'd rather have the Cowboys than be Romney should he lose FL.

"The attack on the truth by war begins long before war starts and continues long after a war ends." -Julian Assange

[ Parent ]

• ##### Not talking about the odds of winning(0+ / 0-)

Just the odds of you being in the situation of having a pair of Kings while an opponent has a pair of Aces.

• ##### Or, in stud poker(1+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
NWTerriD

It's worse odds than trying to draw four of a kind.

• ##### romney is on the ropes(8+ / 0-)

let's finish it. donate, knock on doors!  we can seal the deal in the next few weeks!

On DailyKos nothing is significant unless Obama doesn't do it.

• ##### Nobody told Mitt there would be math involved.(20+ / 0-)

And his 'wonky' VP candidate is too busy trying to figure out the difference between two hours and fifty something minutes and four hours and one minute.

Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right. I'm riding for MS in September. Please donate here if you can.

• ##### Romney has three ways to the WH...(13+ / 0-)

... lie, cheat and steal.

• ##### And the GOP wil try to double down on all three(4+ / 0-)
Recommended by:

strategies.

We've already seen more lies than any modern Presidential campaign/ convention and the biggest resurgence of attempted voter suppression techniques since the 1964 Civil Rights/ Voting Rights Act.
There's a reason why Romney is polling 0% with African Americans.

The GOP is a wounded animal right now and their response seems to be to double down on the lies, sleaze, ideological purity and fanaticism and craziness.

• ##### How do I save the diary to my list???(5+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
MRA NY, NWTerriD, DRo, elwior, AlyoshaKaramazov

I've never saved a diary before, and with this one, I want to start. Thanks for your assistance!

• ##### Click on the + sign next to the diary title n/t(1+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
NWTerriD

¡Boycott Arizona!

[ Parent ]

• ##### i think you just hit the + button next to the(0+ / 0-)

rec star at the top.

• ##### Excellent analysis(2+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
DRo, elwior
• ##### Mr Silver's 73.1% figure is the bigger picture(12+ / 0-)

That 73.1% boils down all those state/district probabilities into the implied final probability: 73.1% That reflects all the possible paths to victory, above and below 50% ... everything.

I bring this up because the perspective of "193 paths to zero" paints a pretty absolute picture. The true probability is nowhere near this absolute. It is probably worth pointing that out explicitly to avoid misleading conclusions.

You went to a lot of work arriving at the same basic point: As things stand now, Mitt Romney has a poor chance of winning this election. And I am sure many many people grok this sort of explanation better than the graphs Mr Silver uses. So thank you very much and kudos for a lot of hard work.

Don't panic

• ##### exactly(1+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
Quicklund

Michael Weissman UID 197542

[ Parent ]

• ##### Yes, I think that's right.(7+ / 0-)

And 73.1% (and climbing) ain't too shabby, neither!

I found it especially useful to see directly that so many of Obama's paths to 270 do use fairly high probability states, while Romney has no such options. I'm glad it appears to be helpful to others, too.

And Thanks!

• ##### High probability and put on your tinfoil hate(0+ / 0-)

Obama's path to victory does use several fairly high probability states.

And if you if you will please put on your tinfoil hat, only FL, OH, and WI (well, maybe PA) seem good places for the worst of the other side to try to snatch away the election.

Even in other close states with Repub governors, like NH, VA, IA, and NV (much less CO with a Democratic governor), I don't foresee any mess where the Supremes step in to stop the counting of the votes.

• ##### great work!(1+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
DRo

I love statistical analysis diaries. If I didn't work in GIS I'd be doing this for a living :)

"It's almost as if we're watching Mitt Romney on Safari in his own country." -- Jonathan Capeheart

• ##### wow: the rec list!(8+ / 0-)

Thanks for all the words of encouragement!

Now let's make sure Romney has no paths to 270, period.

• ##### This is a thoughtful analysis, and a snapshot (1+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
Woody

of things only as they are right now. As you implied in your closing thoughts, there's a big "if" out there.

I could see the president closing with the slight leads he's had all along pretty consistently (as Silver has shown), or
Romney could pull slightly ahead in the next couple of months. No one will get a landslide.

I was seeing what Adam had seen on the morning of his creation - the miracle, moment by moment, of naked existence. --The Doors of Perception, Aldous Huxley

• ##### On the contrary, a landslide(0+ / 0-)

Events could go badly for Obama, economic or foreign affairs, where he would catch the blame and sink.

More likely, Rmoney's decline could accelerate. After all, folks have known all year that the economy remains a mess (the kind of mess that usually leads to defeat for the incumbent), and they have not yet indicated in any big way that they think it is time for a change.

And meanwhile, week after week, everything, from Mitt's undisclosed taxes to his foot-in-mouth episodes in London and Israel and apparently even to his choice of Ryan for Veep, has gone our way.

To the extent that downballot races may indicate trends in this election, again, everything in the Senate races has gone our way, from Olympia Snowe's decision not to run again right up to McCaskill helping Todd Akin to win the Repub nomination in Missouri, everything. Now the House races are just beginning to look better for our side.

Now if or when the American people decide that it is time for a change, they may want that change to be about the opposition party, not about Obama and the Democrats. That presumes a lot of smarts on the part of the voters, and alas, they often let us down. But if this year the voters vote smart, and try to cleanse Washington of the Party of No, we could see a Democratic wave.

I have no statistics to offer, tho. Just going by the seat of my pants and the experience of 50 years of following elections.

• ##### wow.(0+ / 0-)

just...................wow.

"A squid eating dough in a polyethylene bag is fast and bulbous..........got me?" - Don Van Vliet

• ##### The statistic of Nate's which I like to watch is(5+ / 0-)

Electoral Vote Distribution, i.e., the probability that President Obama receives a given number of Electoral College votes.

The top probabilities there now are 347 and 332 E.V.s. The next most likely is 303, and then 358 and 357, which would require the president to win a state he didn't carry in 2008, a chance Nate now puts at 21%.

These are very good numbers. Victory isn't assured, but it's starting to look better, and the trend lines are good.
Also, there's a scenario unfolding where this could end up being a BIG victory, which is precisely what this Nation actually needs to move forward.

"We the People of the United States...." -U.S. Constitution

• ##### The BIG Victory . . .(5+ / 0-)

needs to translate down-ticket in order for the next four years to be a complete win for the middle class and thinking people everywhere. Check out Act Blue for Dem candidates who need help bringing home the win.

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing."

[ Parent ]

• ##### No overconfidence - GOTV! n/t(1+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
Juliann

Others have simply gotten old. I prefer to think I've been tempered by time.

• ##### GOTV ! GOTV ! GOTV ! GOTV ! GOTV ! GOTV ! /NT(1+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
Juliann
• ##### A couple of points(0+ / 0-)

About Nate's model.  It is smart enough that it knows the conditional probabilities beween different states.  (The "probabilities" for each state are the number of times that state came up positive in one of his runs.

The bottom line of Nate's model is that, based on everything he stuffed into his model prior to hitting "run" last night, there is a 73% probability of Obama winning, e.g 270 or more EVs.

The thing to take away is: (a) we can absolutely win this thing, and (b) it is ours to lose if we take "Nate gives us 73% odds" as an excuse to take it as given, rather than act as if it had come up with "Nate gives us 27% odds."

The value of his Monte Carlo wheel is that it gives us fairly rapid feedback about how well we're doing.

• ##### Romney got little if any bump from the(0+ / 0-)

convention.

That tells me he is at his peak.  He will only go down from here.

Tie all the GOP candidates to his "coat tails" and we should do very well in the blue states - and some red states as well.

We won't get to 60 in the Senate, but taking the house and a decent majority in the senate is possible.

Knock on wood.

Watching Mitt's strategy is what it looks like when you try to put an etch a sketch in a centrifuge.

• ##### No offense,(0+ / 0-)

but this diary is just playing with numbers, which themselves are drawn from Nate's overcomplicated model.

A much clearer and statistically sound model can be found at the Princton Election Consortium, which is run by Sam Wang, a professor of neuroscience at Princeton.

The good news here is that Wang's simpler, more robust model gives Obama a predicted win probability of 87%, or nearly 9 to 1.