<p><p><b>><a href='http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/interactives/campaign08/electoral-college/'>Electoral College Prediction Map</a></b> - Predict the winner of the general election. Use the map to experiment with winning combinations of states. Save your prediction and send it to friends.</p></p>
Here's my prediction: McCain can very well win—on election day tomorrow. Especially in states like New Mexico and Ohio and Georgia and North Carolina and Florida. What these states have in common is large early voting turn-out. Obama has that nailed; no doubt about it. In fact, nationwide, he's leading early voters by nineteen points.
There was never any doubt that Obama supporters would vote early, nor that they're highly enthusiastic.
But what I always struggle to remember is that enthusiastic voters only get one vote, the exact same as unenthusiastic voters.
As these early voters become likely voters by definition, polls reflect Obama winning by margins that might not hold on election day.
This doesn't mean he's going to lose. Not by a long shot. Polls that estimate the percentage of early voters—CBS/NYT has them as one in five—are based on best guesses of what the final turnout will be. I've seen estimates that turnout will be 64%. But no one has any idea how many people will actually leave their home and vote on election day.
Here's where it gets nail-bitingly interesting: There are a couple of states that don't have early voting, and those are states Obama is counting on to win: Pennsylvania and Virginia. Obama's numbers have tightened in both states recently. And during the primaries, Obama's ground game in Pennsylvania fell flat.
Will his too-close-for-comfort leads in both states evaporate on election day? I doubt it. But there's been a barrage of negative advertisements in both states, including the Rev. Wright ads. That will undoubtedly peel off Obama's soft support. Fortunately, Obama doesn't have too much soft support. He is, pardon the expression, the Cialis candidate. McCain, on the other hand, needs to worry. His support is like jello. Lime green jello. No wonder he put the pretty Palin on the ticket to try to juice up his base.
In 2000, it was Florida, Florida, Florida. In 2004, Ohio, Ohio, Ohio was the mantra. This year, it's turnout, turnout, turnout. And I think it's very likely we'll see record turnout, which means Obama wins.
If not—if long lines scare off new voters who've lived this long without voting just fine, thank you—a hoped-for Obama landslide may end up being a squeaker. Colorado and New Mexico and Iowa and the Kerry blue states will put him over 270, but just barely.
My best-guess, hope-filled prediction? Obama ends up with those states, plus Nevada, Virginia, Florida, North Carolina, and Indiana. And we'll throw in Montana and North Dakota for good measure—ND has same day registration, and a good ground game could pay off.
That gets us to—350. Nice, round number.
Oh, but I forgot that one CD in Nebraska—let's give that to Obama, because I love stealing red votes.
If things go really well, Obama will pick up Missouri—a state that always votes with the winner, so I'm saving room for dessert. As for Ohio, well, I hold little hope they will revert from Purgatory any time soon.
So there you have it. My champagne, a bottle of Moët & Chandon we've held onto since Christmas, is chilled.