Projected Electoral College Vote: Swing States, 10/06/04


Here’s a surprise: The WSJ/Zogby Swing State Polls has Kerry significantly ahead in electoral votes. A new projection of the Electoral College map, based on online polling done in 16 battleground states by Zogby Interactive, shows that under the survey’s current trends, and assuming Mr. Kerry wins states where he has razor-thin leads now, he would have 322 electoral votes and the president would have 216:

Click for larger graphic

Here’s an excerpt from the Journal:

A strong performance in the first of three presidential debates appears to have helped Sen. John Kerry among likely voters in 16 battleground states, according to the latest Zogby Interactive poll. Mr. Kerry now holds leads, albeit some of them razor-thin, in 13 states, an improvement from the 11 he held three weeks ago.

Notably, Mr. Kerry overtook President Bush in Ohio, a critical swing state where he had been trailing since mid-July. However, the senator’s position there is tenuous — the lead, by 0.3 percentage point, falls well within the margin of error and is one of the closest in the latest poll. Mr. Bush, meanwhile, also dropped Nevada but continued to lead in Missouri, Tennessee and West Virginia — though the spread narrowed in all three.

In total, Mr. Kerry holds leads outside the margin of error in six states, including Michigan and Pennsylvania; none of Mr. Bush’s leads are outside the margin. The margin of error varies between +/- 2.2 and +/- 4.3 percentage points for each candidate.

The WSJ does note, however, the dynamic and unsettled this race is: “The race remains volatile, and reading conditions across battleground states can be more art than science, given wide variations in polls from state to state, and the sometimes-conflicting opinions of party strategists. The exercise is made all the more difficult this year by higher levels of voter registration and intense partisan feelings in both political camps.”

Makes for an interesting compare and contrast with the recent Gallup numbers . . . Its worth recalling that Zogby was the most accurate pollster in the 2000 presidential election, while Gallup had then Governor Bush with a double digit popular vote lead right before the actual election (Bush lost the popular vote by at least 540,000 votes).

Final thoughts: The table at the site (here) shows five of the states credited to the Dems — Arkanasas, Tennessee, Ohio, Nevada, Florida — with a Kerry lead of less than the margin of error (MOE) suggests the race is tighter than this study makes it appear . . .

Back out the states within the MOE, and we pull out 68 electoral votes for Kerry (AK, FL, NV, OH, WI) and 22 electoral votes for Bush (MO, TN), for a total 254 to 194, in Kerry’s favor.

Battlegrounds States Poll – August 23, 2004

Electoral College Analysis

Battlegrounds Contract as Race Tightens
Bush and Kerry Give Up Hope On Handful of States and Slug It Out More Intensely in Others
By Greg Hitt
The Wall Street Journal, October 7, 2004; Page A4,,SB109710396352238596,00.html

Category: Politics

Presidential Futures Markets: Spurious Predictive Powers

Last Thursday’s presidential debates surprised many of the 63 million Americans who tuned in by offering substantive policy discussions. The candidates were relatively light on rhetoric and theatrics. That represents an improvement over the style-heavy focus so common most election years. What was also interesting is how the outcome of the debates diverged from the political futures exchanges, which have become the darlings of the economic and political punditocracy.

These exchanges have a host of inherent weaknesses:. They have a very small number of active participants; The dollar amount wagered is tiny; and, and upon closer inspection, these markets have what can only be called a mixed track record. That should be of little surprise to students of the capital markets, as the liquid, cash-rich exchanges offer no better utility in predicting the future. Investors who make financial decisions based on what these “prediction markets” suggest are engaging in risky financial behavior – despite the fact they have become de rigeur among the talking heads.

Prediction Mechanisms

What are the reasons for relying on markets as predictors of the future? I consider the following concepts as key to the belief that futures markets can be used as predictors:

· Price contains all the information one needs.
· Human beings are rational economic players.
· Information distribution is highly efficient.
· Market participants capitalize on that information.
· Markets are free from manipulation.

It should be apparent to most market observers that each of the above items is, at best, only partially true: Investors are hardly unemotional; The markets may be efficient – eventually – but often contain pockets of false or poorly disseminated information; and. And, while it may be difficult to manipulate the giant U.S. equities markets, the diminutive futures exchanges are much more easily influenced.

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