Real Clear Politics Election Map Favors McCain

Real Clear Politics takes an interesting approach with its Electoral Vote map by creating a “no-tossups” version — giving every state to one of the candidates regardless of how excruciatingly close the polls may be. So RCP calls Virginia for McCain (on the no-tossup map, giving him 274 electoral votes and the presidency), while Virginia is the only “tie” reported on the map (which has tightened since Monday, dropping Obama below the all-important 270 level by switching Indiana from blue to red). The fine print on RCP shows that they calculate McCain’s lead in Virginia as only 0.6%, which certainly makes it a tossup in my mind.

RCP also has a more realistic (but less fun) “RealClear Electoral Count” map, which shows Obama leading McCain by 228 to 178 — with “Toss Up” coming in third at 132. Looks like anything less than about a 5-point margin is rated as a tossup.

Just for giggles I looked up the margin of victory in Florida in 2000 (and then I double-checked Wikipedia’s math against the official FEC results, to forestall any tedious “you can’t trust Wikipedia” arguments.) Bush’s official margin of victory was 0.009%. That’s not just close, that’s bizarrely, freakishly close. It’s too small a margin to be measured accurately by a system based on dimpled chads. In contrast, Bush’s 2004 margin over Kerry in Ohio — where Kerry admirably resisted calls by some supporters to seek a recount — was a comparatively massive 2.11%. Ohio was the closest state that could have swung the election, but only the fifth-closest state overall.

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