Mapping Madness


Been awhile since I dropped in on the LAT interactive electoral map. Wanted to test the theory that Bush could still win if he lost both Ohio and Pennsylvania. Pa is a straight toss up by the polls, but has gone Demo the last three elections. Ohio remains an economic basket-case, forcing Bush to answer for that and get off his security theme. Two Kerry wins would not be an utter shock.

So I start playing around, going with a few gut calls, like Arkansas will again respond to the call of Bill Clinton and Florida will again go Dubya by the slimmest of margins. Before I know it I'm stuck on two stumpers, Wisconsin and Hawaii. Bush is parked at 265 electoral votes, Kerry at 259.

The Bushies think Wisconsin is in play because all the dairy farmers who are pissed at Kerry for supporting the evil, evil Northeast Dairy Compact will counteract blue-collar votes in the cities and the roughly one billion students and activists in Madison. Could be, but a reach.

Hawaii I know nothing about except that one poll had an amazing 12 percent coming in as undecided in what is normally a heavily Demo state. That and Michael Barone says "Hawaii is in play" so that's that.

Toss Wisconsin to Kerry and Hawaii to Bush and—boom!—a nice 269-269 deadlock. Extra innings. Get Congress in session and sell tickets. Wonderful.


NEXT: And if He Breaks His Other Arm....

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  1. In regard to ties, an ever-present danger with an even number of electors, I saw somewhere a proposal to expand the number of Representatives to 436 to make the number of electors 539 (# of Reps + # of Senators + 3 for DC = 539 under this idea).

    No significant objection here, but what if we get a close House race? They might not be able to elect their officers and conduct legislative business.

    Oh, wait a minute. OK, I’m all for 436 in the House now! ;->

  2. In the words of Gary Larson:
    “Oh please, Oh please”

  3. Since I strongly believe Arkansas will go for Bush, I don’t see this split as too likely. Also, Bush would win anyway if it goes to the House, as each state delegation gets one vote and Republicans dominate there. The more interesting thing in the case of a tie is that the Senate chooses the VP. Given that Cheney doesn’t even have a majority approval rating from Republicans, combined with the fact that a number of mainstream Republicans have expressed frustration that Bush has done absolutely nothing to cultivate a successor, I think there would be a possibility that Bush would be pressured to name someone other than Cheney for the Senate’s approval.

  4. I’ll repeat what I said on another thread–since Bush lost the popular vote but won the electoral vote the first time around, I think it would be GREAT if Kerry did the same this time around, so that both major parties would have a serious incentive to change the electoral system with direct, by-the-people vote.

    Even an electoral tie might be useful, if Kerry still had significantly more popular votes than Bush.

  5. I hope they scrap the electoral system! I’ve never lived in a state “in play”. Now I’d get a chance to put those absentee ballots I’m forwarded from my old addresses to good use!

    Of course, all my friends who still vote in the swing states where they grew up or went to college will also vote here, and that’ll balance my votes out.

  6. The scenario leading to a tie seems to assume that Colorado will give 9 votes to someone. Isn’t that still up in the air, with their little retroactive proposition (and court challenges if it fails?)

  7. Yes, payback would be rather amusing (especially watching the same people steal each others arguments from 2000), but one would think that Kerry almost couldn’t lose the popular vote. He’s got New York, Illinois and Califonia (wait another few years and Florida will be safely in the Democrat column as well).

    But as a way of getting rid of the electoral college? If completing the transition to a democracy from a federal republic is your goal, why not just say it? Don’t know how the yokels in the “empty” states will like being ruled from NYC, Chicago and LA, though. (insert references to the Social War here)

    Some of us still think it was a bad idea to popularly elect senators. (insert comparison of Athens and Rome here)

    … must stop obsession with classical history

  8. Jennifer-

    As to the merits of the electoral college, many libertarians would observe that the best way to preserve individual liberty is to vote collectively. Instead of you, me, and everybody else exercising our franchise as equal individuals, our votes are collectivized according to which government entity we live under. Then the majority faction in each government entity decides how all of the votes will be cast, rather than also letting the minority be represented.

    This is generally regarded as a very sound method for protecting individual liberty against majority tyranny: Vote as a collective, with the majority in each collective determining how that group’s votes will be cast.

    Irony? What irony?

  9. Oh, in order to protect individual liberty from big government, it’s also important to give disproportionate weight to the states that receive more in federal spending than they pay in taxes. They are the ones who receive the money, so it’s very important to make sure that they have an extra say in the matter.

    The states that contribute more money don’t have as much to worry about, because the money isn’t coming back so they don’t need to concern themselves with how it’s spent.

    I also propose that the best way to make Iraq a free nation is to give disproportionate voting weight to the rural areas where religious fervor and tribal loyalties are strongest. Iraq will sink into decadence if too much voting power is concentrated in the more westernized urban areas.

  10. Thoreau-
    Don’t forget how wonderfully the electoral system protects us from members of parties other than the Republicans and Democrats. It is easily within the realms of mathmatical possibility for a third-party candidate to receive the majority of the popular vote but no electoral votes at all, by coming in second place in all states.

  11. Make that “mathEmatical” possibility.

  12. Jacob-

    The thing is that the EC is hardly a bullwark against the left. If that were the case then Republicans would win the EC but lose the popular vote more frequently.

    Mostly what the EC does is focus the contest on a handful of states that just happen to be tied. If some demographic factors were tweaked a little nobody would give a crap about Florida or Iowa, and everybody would be fighting over some other states. There aren’t even all that many undecided voters in Ohio or Wisconsin or New Mexico, it’s just that the decideds happen to cancel each other out. There’s really nothing special about those states other than a roll of the dice that came up close.

  13. I wouldn’t be surprised if Wisconsin goes Bush. The media, at least in the Milwaukee market, are rabid fascists. Karl Rove himself couldn’t be worse.

  14. There are several scenarios that could produce a tie. Looking at Slate’s forecast, I noted that if Hawaii went for Kerry and Colorado for Bush (contrary to how they’re now shown, but in line wiht my expectations), and nothing else were changed, there’d be an EC tie. Faithless electors, anyone?

  15. Hawaii go Republican?!?! Has something seriously changed there? I’ve been hearing about how Hawaii is uncomfortably close (for the Democrats), which strikes me as unspeakably weird. Hasn’t Hawaii been the state where a Republican can’t get elected dogcatcher? What the hell changed?

  16. A modest proposal: individual citizens who pay the most in taxes and fees, less whatever payout they get from our public treasuries, should have their votes weighted to reflect that. Anybody who is “in the red,” with the Feds, their state, city, county, should have to sit out the election until they are at least square. this isn’t exactly a “poll tax”….

    Red-staters also volunteer for the armed forces in larger proportion than those from the blues, so if lives are as important as fortunes, things might balance out a bit.

    I’d prefer it if we brought back the Constitution’s original prohibition on using the federal taxing power without allocating spending according to revenue collection.


  17. JD,

    What happened was Linda Lingle.

  18. BTW, pete. WI’s biggest paper endorsement came out today:

    The president is a decent man, yes. On the whole, however, he has been so wrong about so much in such a short time that accountability must kick in at some point.

    We’re at that point. John Kerry for president.

    It had been thought that The Journal-Sentinel wasn’t going to endorse anyone.

    Given that the candidates – 4 of them! – were crawling all over Cheeseland this week, Bush and Kerry must be convinced that it isn’t a lock for anyone. Badnarik has been running ads in an attempt to gain enough votes to be seen as the deciding factor.


  19. just pete:

    you mean WTMJ, the pride of 620? listening (from chicago) to some of the call in shows is hilarious. but since i’m related to a huge chunk of dogde county, i’d better not say anything bad about our curdled neighbors to the north.

    plus, in the correlation-vs-causation battle, if the pack beats the skins on sun, doesn’t that correlate with a kerry victory?

    i’d like someone to find the “take a step back to see where the causation is” (incorrect) argument here. grin

    poor cards,

  20. If Kerry wins Ohio, he may lose an electoral vote, according to

    Stupidity news: One of Kerry’s electors in Ohio, Rep. Sherrod Brown, is a congressman. Unfortunately, the constitution forbids federal office holders from being electors. It is possible that if Kerry wins Ohio, Brown’s right to cast an electoral vote will be challenged in court. Whoever picked a constitutionally ineligible elector needs to get his or her mental software upgraded to the latest release.

  21. Do you have a link for this story about the elector? I would think that this would have been picked up when the aspiring elector registered with the state elections office.

  22. Never mind, I just noticed that you have a link at the beginning of your post.

    I guess I’m about as dumb as the people who let him sign up to be an elector.

  23. I have to admit, the Hawaii polls have been confusing the hell out of me. I’m sure Linda Lingle has something to do with the change, but I still feel there’s got to be something else.

    In 2000, Gore took Hawaii by 18 points, with Nader still managing to pick up 5. A couple months ago, Kerry had a double digit lead. Now the last few polls I’ve seen hadn Bush up by a miniscule margin (< 1%), so essentially a tie. I can’t chalk that sort of turn around to a strong Republican Gov with a 65% approval rating, or else we’d be seeing the same with CA. Have more military families been registering there? Are the residents starting to think an Islamic Indonesia and Phillipines are a little too close? I don’t know, but I’m damned curious. Linda Lingle’s a start, anything else? Anyone?

  24. If completing the transition to a democracy from a federal republic is your goal, why not just say it? Don’t know how the yokels in the “empty” states will like being ruled from NYC, Chicago and LA, though. (insert references to the Social War here)

    Some of us still think it was a bad idea to popularly elect senators. (insert comparison of Athens and Rome here)

    … must stop obsession with classical history

    aaahhh… a like mind. 🙂

  25. The more interesting thing in the case of a tie is that the Senate chooses the VP. Given that Cheney doesn’t even have a majority approval rating from Republicans, combined with the fact that a number of mainstream Republicans have expressed frustration that Bush has done absolutely nothing to cultivate a successor, I think there would be a possibility that Bush would be pressured to name someone other than Cheney for the Senate’s approval.
    If there is a tie in the Electoral College and the VP is decided by the Senate, the Republicans cannot drop Cheney and choose Gulianni, McCain, Dr. Rice (insert your favorite scary Republican here). The Constitution requires that the Senate choose between the 2 candidates that received the highest EV totals. (For the President its the top 3, but that won’t come into play in 2004)

    What could be interesting if there is a 269-269 tie that the new look Senate will be 50-49 on November 3rd and Vitter in Louisianna will not have 50% and be forced into a runoff and both parties will pull out all the stops to win the LA Senate runoff race to determine who is the next Vice-President.

  26. Re: Hawaii.

    Could it be that the state’s history, as the target of Japan’s unannounced commencement of war on these United States, might put heavily in sympathy with the “we are at war” meme the Reps are depending on?


  27. There’s a whole lot of japanese people in Hawaii so I don’t know how that angle works.

    (I flew on a 737 from Oahu to the Big Island and I think I was the only White Devil on the plane).

    Hawaii going for Bush would be like Alabama going for Kerry. Theoretically possible but I wouldn’t bet on it.

  28. Vote Michael Badnarik. Read now on Electoral-Vote: ?A Rasmussen poll taken Oct. 26 in Arizona puts Libertarian party candidate Michael Badnarik at 3%. When the pollsters actually ask about him, he does surprisingly well. He might end up canceling out the Nader factor by appealing to disgruntled Republicans who support a balanced budget and small government and are appalled by the current deficit and power the Patriot Act gives the government to snoop on people’s lives.?

  29. Anyone know the deal with New Jersey? I guess I should, living there and all. Supposedly its a dead heat (so says the news headlines), and with a fistful of EC votes on the table, I’m surprised how little ad money is being spent.

    I guess its cause all of our TV here in NJ comes from New York and Philly, and buying New York air time is a money sink for either campaign. Still, in a supposedly battleground state, you would think some effort would be made.


  30. “…Stupidity news: One of Kerry’s electors in Ohio, Rep. Sherrod Brown, is a congressman. Unfortunately, the constitution forbids federal office holders from being electors….”
    Comment by: Steve Kelley at October 28, 2004 08:01 PM

    Brown’s already resigned as an potential elector. There’s a provision for replacing him if Kerry carries Ohio, and the replacement will have to be a Democrat. Details are on the Volokh Conspiracy (

  31. Non-sequitor:

    NEW YORK – Fox News Channel?s Bill O?Reilly said Thursday he and a former producer of his talk show have agreed to settle their legal dispute over her allegations of sexual harassment, and his accusations that she was trying to shake him down.

  32. Re: Hawaii, two words: North Korea.

  33. I just happened to read something by Mark Steyn about Hawaii:

    “What’s up with Hawaii? Two polls in two Honolulu newspapers over the weekend showed George W. Bush with a small lead over John Kerry. That’s not supposed to be happening. Hawaii’s solidly Democrat…

    “Since joining the Union, Hawaii has voted for the Democrat presidential nominee by some of the largest margins in the land every election day except two: in 1972 they went for Nixon and in 1984 for Reagan. So one could argue, as some psephologists are doing, that this is in line with Hawaii’s tendency to vote for Republicans when they’re incumbents (George Bush Sr being the exception to that rule).

    “But I wonder if something else isn’t going on here. Hawaii is, constitutionally, an American state but, geographically, it’s a bunch of remote islands in the middle of the Pacific. The distinction is often noted the other way round: on September 11, we heard a lot about how this was the first attack on ‘the American mainland’ in two centuries — i.e., excluding Pearl Harbor. But perhaps Hawaiians are sensing their distance from the mainland: perhaps events that seem relatively remote from Massachusetts — the Bali bombing, say — resonate more strongly if you’re working at a beach hotel in Maui. According to the Honolulu Star-Bulletin’s poll, while Caucasians split more or less evenly for Bush and Kerry, Filipino-Americans prefer the President by 56 to 36 per cent: could that be connected with the ongoing Islamist subversion of the Philippines?

    “This is all pure speculation on my part …”

  34. Fabius-
    Why don’t I just come right out and say I’d like us to turn into a pure democracy? Because my say-so is not enough to make the two parties want to work to loosen their stranglehold on the electoral college. Observe the following experiment:

    “I, Jennifer, would like us to abandon the electoral college and directly elect our President.”

    There. Notice the huge number of Congresspersons who have no response? Notice how we are no closer to achieving this? But if Kerry lost the popular vote but won the electoral, THEN maybe something will get done.

    As far as the fear that red states will oppose it, all you need to do is run a hate-based advertising campaign. If the residents of West Bubblefuck, Oklahoma, don’t want to give up the electoral college, just say this: “You-all know that there is HUGE numbers of homer-sexuals in (Omaha, OK City, whatever passes for urban in that state). You-all know that homer-sexuals always vote in clusters. You-all know there’s more of them sodomites than there are of us God-fearing Christians. If we don’t get rid of the electoral college, your God-fearing votes won’t even count, because the Sodomite vote will win this state.”

    Hate-mongering: not just for bigots anymore!

  35. Whoopsie. Omaha is in NEBRASKA; Tulsa is in Oklahoma. My bad.

  36. Thanks Stevo. Interesting.

  37. I’ve lived in Hawaii for 15 years so I’ll pipe up.
    I don’t know what the heck is going on re the polls. I do know, however, that party ID here is not the same as in the mainland. The Dems are the party of the public employee unions, the trade unions, and the hotel worker unions. The civil service is dominated by ethnic Japanese. There are pro-growth, pro-development Dem’s and anti-growth ‘green’ Dem’s. The Dem’s are also blatantly and obviously corrupt, in the sense that they steer public money and jobs towards supporters and contributors. The Dem’s here have a strong syndicalist streak, and it’s a major reason the cost of living is so high here (gas $2.52/gallon!)
    The governor, Linda Lingle, is a Repub but she’s what they would call on the mainland a moderate Republican. She’s pro-choice. She’s also ehtnically Jewish and a strong supporter of Israel. There is a rumor that she is a lesbian.
    Although she was elected in 2002, breaking a long string of Dem governors, the Repubs lost seats in the state legislator that year.
    To add to the confusion there is a large population of FOB immigrants from east and southeast asia, and a large number of military voters.
    Oh, and here in Hawaii you can safely assume the Dem’s are the party of whispering campaigns. When Lingle was running against Cayetano in 2002 the Dem’s called a press conference to announce that it was definitely not they who were spreading the rumor about Lingle being gay. Most people outside of Maui had never heard the rumor at that point. And then there was the rumor that because she was Jewish she was going remove Christmas from the calendar of state holidays . . .
    So, to repeat, I don’t know what is going on.

  38. Let’s not forget, Rove put out bogus polls about California being close four years ago to try to distract Gore – or make a landslide seem inevitable, or something, the strategery was way over my head – so there might not really be a close race in Hawaii.

  39. This is definitely the most curious state swing from 2000 (and even from a few months ago). Lingle is likely playing a part, and it seems at least plausible that their Pacific neighbors may play a part as well. But it still seems a huge swing. Rovework may be the missing piece of the puzzle.

    Nonetheless, I think I caught on the radio that Cheney and Gore will both be heading there this weekend. When’s the last time hawaii got even that modest amount of attention this close to a presidential election?

  40. Pseudo,

    I share your wonderment at NJ. I live in Philly, and I don’t know what you all are up to. I can only speculate that proximity-to-Manhattan and Jim McGreevey fatigue are the key parts of the effect. But, c’mon NJ, Christine Whitman got burned out of the EPA job… the national republicans are NOT NJ style republicans.

  41. Jennifer,

    I am always amazed how what is unsaid is interpreted.

    I didn’t say that I agreed with the yokels, just that they wouldn’t want to lose the little, but still disproportionate, power that the electoral college (and Senate) give them.

    Just as the Bill of Rights is supposed to prevent government and the majority from trampling on any minority or individual (race, religion, politics, etc.) the electoral college and the Senate can serve to prevent th big states from trampling on the little.

    I prefer living in a federal republic with the liberty to move to a state or town that I find more congenial. Others can do the same. This way the slack-jawed, bible-bashing yokels can live where and with whom they like and the eclectic cosmopolites can do the same.

    What I don’t like is those who pursue a “the worse for them, the better for us” strategy. Hence I don’t agree with those who wish to achieve the reasonable, but I think wrong-headed, end of democracy through the chaos of an electoral hangfire.

    And, don’t worry about the Omaha mistake. When I was a kid I thought Omaha was a state.

  42. Fabius-
    If I knew of another way to bring about the end of the electoral college, I’d wish fervently for that. But the powers-that-be are too entrenched in this system to want to change it, unless and until it breaks down completely.

  43. Jennifer-

    There’s another advantage to be had from Kerry winning the electoral vote but losing the popular vote: It will deny Kerry a popular mandate, making it even more likely that the GOP Congress will fight tooth and nail against him. Then we can realize all the wonderful fruits of divided government.

    Plus, for all those who think that a Bush defeat will drive the GOP to become even more statist, that fear is much less likely to materialize if Bush wins the popular vote.

  44. “Don’t know how the yokels in the “empty” states will like being ruled from NYC, Chicago and LA, though. (insert references to the Social War here)”

    Only if you assume that EVERY SINGLE voter in those cities will vote the same way. It may sound crazy, but I firmly believe that there are non-democrat voters in all 3 of those cities and their respective “blue” states. The CA plated cars with Bush/Kerry bumper stickers are a dead giveaway.

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