Are you watching closely?
We’re less than three weeks away. On November 6th, the American people will finish voting for their preferred candidate for President. The good people of South Dakota have been early voting since September 21. While other states have begun early voting, many others are still waiting to cast the first
stone ballot. 15 states won’t be given the opportunity for early voting at all. That sounds terrible to me.
So, with less than three weeks until the big day, what do you need to know? There are a few things that come to mind….
- When you go to the polls, take a moment to note that you aren’t voting for Barack Obama or Mitt Romney, but the ELECTORS for these two candidates. The electors are the ones who actually cast the votes state by state. You should probably read about how this works. It’s not super complex, but I get the feeling most Americans don’t know that’s how it is done.
- The odds are that your vote won’t make a huge difference in the outcome of the race. More than 30 states are already wrapped up in the minds of either candidate. The southern states generally vote Republican (excluding Florida, which isn’t typically southern in the way most people consider it). The northeast coast and west coasts generally vote Democrat. The flyover states generally vote Republican, and the Rust Belt generally votes Democrat. Because of this historical trend, a large number of states are already solidly in respective columns for either candidate.
- Swing States are where the election is won or lost, depending on your preference. Those states in this election cycle are as follows: Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Colorado, Nevada, Pennsylvania, North Carolina (sort of), Virginia, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, and Michigan. These states are currently rated as too close to call, meaning they have been falling inside the margin of error in polls taken in those states.
- There are many websites working to track how the states are trending, and how things may end up. You can follow simple ones like 270 to Win or Rasmussen. For more in-depth analysis you can check Nate Silver’s NYTimes 538 page, or even Real Clear Politics. Each of these will have different polls depending on which states they’ve polled and how they calculate the number they’re showing.
If you are interested in following along as the race nears its end, these are some good bookmarks to have. The election will be decided in these swing states, with the major prize being Ohio at this point. Though national polls have Romney and Obama in a dead heat, Obama is leading in many of the swing states based on polling.
One final note: there is a poll of out of Colorado comprised by two college professors that have correctly predicted each Presidential race since 1980 (which sounds like a lot but it’s only been eight races). The factors they use are polls as well as economic status and more.
So, there it is. The polls are a good indicator of how the election will shake out, but at the end of the day the only poll that matters is the one on November 6th. Seriously, it’s the only one that counts.