19 October 2008

Can McCain Catch Up and Win?

I take part in the guessing game so many others in the world also take part in nowadays, "Who will win the U.S. Presidential Election?" We can tell from the media, both international and local, that Obama is ahead of McCain. The impression I get, and I would think many others get, is that McCain still have a chance.

The latest poll shown on BBC News tonight shows the Obama has 50% and McCain 43% of the votes. It's a lead, but it's only 7%, with a +/- 2% margin of error, and there's still 16 days left till the election. It seems to early to conclude, at least from what the big media tells me.

So what does these numbers really say? Well, they tell how many of the registered voters nationwide will vote for Obama, McCain or haven't decided. Here's the thing though, the nationwide numbers is not important, it's the electoral votes that matter.

As you might know, the electoral votes are handed out by the states. For most of them, the candidate that gets more than 50% of the votes from the citizens, gets all the electoral votes for that state. In theory this means that a candidate with much less than 50% of the nationwide votes can get the majority of the electoral votes (if he wins small in many states, but loses big in other states).

So who has the most electoral votes, based on the polls? Here is an electoral map from RealClearPolitics.

Obama is 131 electoral votes ahead. And this is actually quite a cautious prediction, other sites give Obama even a bigger lead.

Just to confirm that Obama really is as far ahead of McCain as the electoral vote numbers say, I checked the betting odds for the election from a U.S. betting company. Betting companies' whole business is dependent on giving precise odds, so the odds tend to be a good indicator. McCain gave an odds of +350 and Obama -600 . That means that if you bet $100 on McCain, and he wins, you get paid $350. If you bet $600 on Obama, and he wins, you get paid $100. Obviously the betting companies are certain Obama will win.

So, I think we can conclude that Obama is winning. What's going to be exciting to see is how big the win will be. Maybe we'll see a landslide? That would be the final slap in the face for George W. Bush :)

Edit: It seems like some media is acknowledging this, judging from this headline: "Obama aiming for chocking victory" (as of this writing, the top story in the biggest Norwegian newspaper).

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