Here, in short, is what to expect tomorrow:
Who will win?
The outcome of the election is not in doubt. Barack Obama will be the next president of the USA.
When will we know the results in each state?
Check out this article by Nate Silver for a nice time-line of when polls close in each state and when one can expect the networks to call them.
How low can Obama’s tally possibly go?
A variety of factors can go against BHO tomorrow. It may turn out that the pollsters were overestimating the youth and black votes. Obama may suffer heavily from Coal-gate, especially in some of the midwestern and Appalachian states. There may be a unexpected emergence of some kind of Bradley effect.
Several states, including biggies like FL, MO and NC, remain too close to call. On a bad day, Obama could lose them all. However, some things are not in doubt. Obama will win all Kerry states. He will win IA and NM easily. And even if he has a very bad day, he will still carry CO and NV, albeit by a small margin.
Taking these into account, the lowest Obama can go is 278. And he needs only 269 EVs to be the next president. Obama getting 278 EVs corresponds to a scenario like below:
How high can Obama’s tally go?
A very good day tomorrow, fuelled by massive youth and black turnout, will mean that Obama not only carries all the swing states, but also states like GA, ND and MT. And if he ends up winning these deep red states, he will probably also triumph in AZ, McCain’s home state. However, I do not see him winning WV or AR, notwithstanding some old polls suggesting he was close there.
If you do the math, you will see that the highest Obama can go is 406 . That would be a massive blowout. See the map below for the scenario that leads to this number:
So, what’s the likely range?
A variety of factors make this election rather hard to call. However, let’s face it, the scnearios that lead to Obama geting over 400 EV’s, or keep him under 280, are unlikely. Obama will probably lose GA and AZ . And most likely, he will win VA. So with a fairly high probability, Obama’s final EV count will lie between 291 and 381. My personal hunch is that he will get towards the high end of this range.
And finally, this is just an election. It is useful to remember the following points, articulated by Michael Totten before the 2004 election:
People who vote for the other guy aren’t stupid, brainwashed, or evil. They are your friends and family. Someone you love will almost certainly cancel your vote. (My wife cancels out mine.)
If, by some chance, everyone you know votes for the loser it won’t mean the election was stolen. It will only show that you live in a bubble.
If this thing is close (the victor could easily win by 0.1 percent) try not to read too much into it. We’ll still be closely divided.
If the election doesn’t go your way, don’t pop off as though America were Guatemala under the generals. You’ll get lots of attention, but it won’t be the kind you want. People will laugh, not near you but at you.
To which, let me add: both Obama and McCain are big government statists. Nothing that happens tomorrow will prevent tragedies like this, this or this. Both Obama and McCain will use your money to stop you from enjoying pot, driving without a seatbelt or eating bacon dogs. So chill out and enjoy.