Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Final Round of Electoral Politics

I'm pleased that Obama won, and more importantly that Sarah Palin will not be president in the near future. On the other hand, I'll miss the horse race. Before we step into the desert, a final dump of analysis:
  • Read Andrew Gelman's post and his regressions. To summarize: the polls were mostly spot on. (No Bradley effect.) Obama did a few points better than Kerry across the board; in many states, that was enough to push him over the 50% mark.
  • Obama won the popular vote by roughly 5%. What happens if we subtract 5% from his statewide margins? He won all the Kerry states by at least five points, and most of them by about ten; they'd still have been in his column. He won Colorado by 7% so that stays; on the other hand he narrowly loses both Virginia and Ohio, and somewhat less narrowly, Florida, North Carolina, and Indiana. He also wins New Mexico, Iowa, and Nevada. Kerry + IA + NM + CO + NV = 278, which is a win.
  • Obama won states worth 269 electoral votes by at least 9.6%. (The 9.6% is Iowa.) This is substantially bigger than his popular vote margin.
  • I had Jay Cost's swing state review in mind when I was watching the countywise returns. He did pretty well at figuring out what an Obama win would look like. His bellwethers (Obama's margin in Hampton County, VA; whether he flipped Cincinnati) were both useful early indicators that Obama was going to do well in those states.
  • Interestingly, while Obama won PA by a lot, he did pretty atrociously in the west of the state -- i.e. Pittsburgh and its suburbs. He made up for this with enormous margins in Philadelphia and with a very strong performance in the Scranton area. (Did Biden help or was it just the economy?) Compare these maps -- if you don't look at the margins it appears as if Obama did worse than Kerry or Gore.
  • Ohio, on the other hand, was an across-the-board improvement, and not a huge one. Obama did anomalously well in Cincinnati, and held McCain's margins down in the suburbs somewhat. Unlike Clinton, he was pretty weak in Appalachia.
  • In Colorado, Obama won the same counties as Kerry, Gore, and Clinton II, who all lost the state. The difference was that Obama ran 10-15 points better in the entire metro Denver area.
  • The same pattern holds elsewhere. Obama held the line -- relative to Kerry -- in the "real America," and ran up huge margins in big cities and their inner suburbs.
  • Obama won Hampshire county (where Amherst is) by 70 to 28. This is about the same as Kerry, though somewhat better than Gore.

I guess there's always the Ted Stevens saga...

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