Tuesday, November 4, 2008

What I'm Going to Watch Tonight

Today, I think, most eyes are going to turn to Pennsylvania. It's the biggest battleground state on the list and, potentially, McCain's last stand. He's made a big push there over the last few weeks even though it still looks helpless. If Obama wins in PA then the election is effectively over and there's no way that McCain can win.

But, as far as I'm concerned, the part of the race to closely scrutinize is Virginia. It has a few advantages. Its polls close early, allowing for some actual results (I do not and will not trust exit polls. In fact, I'm not even going to turn on the news until later tonight. The exit polls are as unscientific and biased as samples come. It's not until the actual hard data starts rolling in that you can start making predictions). And it's a former Bush state and, more than that, a southern Bush state, so depending on how the vote goes there, it just might be a predictor for plenty of other races. If Obama wins in Virginia then the needle McCain has to thread becomes vanishingly small. Obama will just have to pick up a few more electoral votes. It could be Florida. It could be Pennsylvania. It could even be Ohio. But, more likely, if those don't turn blue then it's going to be out West.

That's why the second part of the race I'm going to be watching is Nevada. It's another battleground that 's leaning towards the Obama side of the ledger, just like, really, all of them. And the combination of the Virginia, Nevada, and Colorado vote which should already have gone Obama's way thanks to early voting will result in a Democratic win.

If things turns out badly in the East then Nevada just might become the firebreak. And, by bad, I mean Obama dropping some combination of PA, FL, or OH and maybe even all three. It might happen if the turnout models are wrong and have been overestimating rather than underestimating the strength of the Democratic vote. Nevada starts to check in around 10PM so if the evening is tense before then, that just might be the time to breathe a sigh of relief.

Personally, though, I don't think it's going to be in much doubt. I think the polling models have been undershooting the likely vote thanks to things like the cellphone effect, increased registration and likely turnout and, especially, the feeling that I get that most people are determined to vote this year. Not because they want to vote for their candidate, not because they want their candidate to win, but because they want to be a part of their candidate winning. Those are the people who are going to stand in line for hours, if that's what it takes, just so that years from now they can say they voted for their man. There are, I think, a lot of people this year and that's going to help overcome any sort of temporal poll tax effect.

I predict, in so many words, that the predictions are all going to be wrong. And that the only thing we can count on is a record turnout.

No comments: