Election Day By The Numbers

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With Election Day (finally) only a day away, here is a list of four key numbers worth keeping in mind.

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270
This, of course, is the number of electoral votes needed to win the presidency. With 24 hours to go, Obama holds a solid lead in the national tracking polls and what appears to be a near-lock on the Electoral College. Senator McCain is pouring vast resources into a last-minute play for Pennsylvania because it is the only Kerry state that McCain feels he can pick off this year. Without it, his odds of winning are very long.
The math is daunting for McCain: Kerry won 252 electoral votes in the close 2004 presidential race. At least three states that went for Bush in 2004 appear to be solidly in the Obama column: Colorado (with nine electoral votes), Iowa (7) and New Mexico (5).

Add those three states to Kerry’s 252, and Obama is already at 273, regardless of what happens in Ohio, Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Missouri, Indiana or any other swing state. Hence, it’s of vital importance to McCain to put Pennsylvania’s 21 electoral votes into play. Polls there close at eight, though the race will probably be too close to call for some time, but that will be one of the key races to watch all evening.

7:00 pm to 7:30 pm
The earliest poll closings of significance will be in Indiana, Virginia and Georgia at 7:00 pm EST and Ohio and North Carolina at 7:30. All five states voted for George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004 and all five are competitive this year.

The most likely Obama pick-up in this normally Republican group of states is Virginia, where Obama has maintained a lead in the polls for most of the last month. An Obama win in any one of these would put a nearly mortal lock on an Electoral College victory. If Obama wins any two of these five states, he achieves an Electoral College majority even in the unlikely event he loses Pennsylvania.
Ohio’s 20 electoral votes are the biggest prize in this group and Obama has held a lead there for the past few weeks. However, whereas John McCain must win Ohio to have any realistic shot at the White House, Obama can relatively easily chart a course to 270 even without the Buckeye State.

0
This is the number of African Americans who would be in the United States Senate if Obama were to become President, since he’d have to give up his seat. Jesse Jackson, Jr. is on the short list of likely replacements for Obama (Democratic governor Rod Blagojevich makes the pick).

One Million
This is the approximate number of references to the so-called “Bradley effect” during this election cycle. This phenomenon is named after former Los Angeles Mayor and failed California Gubernatorial candidate Tom Bradley, an African American. The effect asserts that Black candidates are likely to do worse than their poll numbers suggest, because a substantial number of white voters lie to pollsters when they say they will vote for the Black candidate. Bradley appeared to have a big lead in the polls against George Deukmejian, but lost the 1982 election. Similarly, Doug Wilder, who became the first African American governor in the United States, barely eked his 1989 victory in Virginia, despite polls showing him with a substantial lead.

The evidence suggests that, since the 1990s, no such effect has existed in high-profile elections involving one Black and one White candidate. In fact, Obama clearly out-performed the polls in numerous (though not all) primary states against Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

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