Tuesday, November 02, 2004

US Election Prediction

Having spent so much effort on describing the candidates, I might as well turn to the campaign. Kerry has run a poor campaign. He criticizes Bush for the Iraq War yet is unclear about what he would have done. Being long-winded and unable to concisely articulate any positive message at gunpoint, the poor campaign is only a reflection of his own personal inadequacies. Kerry did a great favour to himself in performing well on style in the debates but he still has a major credibility gap.

A number of media outlets here and overseas report that the two candidates are tied in the opinion polls. This is nonsense. If Bush and Kerry were actually tied, we should be seeing a number of tied polls with the rest being split an equal amount of Bush and Kerry. What is being reported is that Bush leads in most of the polls with a minority of ties and even smaller Kerry leads. But because Bush's lead in the polls is estimated at 2% which is within the normal marginal error of 3%, too many journalists have reported the race as too close to call. If it was only one poll and no other, then their caution is warranted but when many polls report the same thing, the actual conclusion is that Bush's lead is small but real. The 2% margin is the same margin as Carter beat Ford with in 1976.

I went over the state polls for the battleground states last night, trying to see who would win. However the picture is confused by the Gallup poll which reports many states as being the opposite of what other polls has been reporting. An accurate prediction is impossible and so I present my best guesses using Slate as a baseline and apportioning what they call the iffy votes.

Bush: Florida, Wisconsin, Iowa, New Mexico
Kerry: Ohio, Minnesota, New Hampshire.

Based on what Slate was calling the states last night, Bush would win with 276 Electoral Votes and 51% of the popular vote (49% Kerry, 1% Nader). However Slate has reinterpreted its own guesses since then and I lack the time and patience to recalculate the guesses according to the RealClear baseline. I will instead point out that I expect these to be a minimum of what Bush is likely to get. Given that Kerry only has a slight lead in Pennsylvania and Ohio, either of those could fall into Bush's hands due to the weakness of support for Kerry.