Only two days to go… so let it all out

Look, I get it. It feels like we’ve been in the middle of this election for more than two years. These past few months have been brutal. It was going to start breaking people down eventually…

Poor Abby. I doubt this will make you feel better, but I bet a big chunk of America is with you on this. We’d all be crying too, except we are mostly grown-ups. We wait to cry until after the election has been called. They might be tears of joy or anger, but there will be tears nonetheless.

Now, the purpose of this post. I’ve had a few people asking me how I think things will shake out come Tuesday, November 6th. My honest response: I have no idea.

In 2008, I had no doubt Barack Obama would win once he won the nomination. You could have asked many Republicans and they would (or should) have told you it would be an uphill battle to see a President McCain. As a smaller example, three GOP candidates ran for Governor of  Tennessee in 2010 (Gov. Haslam, Lt. Gov. Ramsey and Congressman Wamp). At no point during the general election did anyone expect Democrat Mike McWherter to compete. I personally don’t think he expected to win himself.

But this is not that kind of election. To be fair, it hasn’t been all that long ago that the race for the White House was very, very close leading into the final days (see 2000 and 2004). So, how can we make any predictions about the outcome?

We poll. For months and weeks and days and hours leading up the the final voting locations closing, we poll. Not me, but organizations who have a stake in the outcome. Political parties, PACs, campaigns, unions, and tons of other interested groups poll to see where the candidates stand. But it’s hardly an exact science.

How do they do it? Simple. They sample. If a country has a few hundred million people,  it doesn’t make sense to call them all and ask how they plan to vote, which party they identify with, or which issues are most important to them. Instead, we make assumptions based on how people answer, how many answer for which party, and then make more assumptions about how people will vote or how the voting populous will be made up based on prior elections, trends, and others metrics.

So, depending on who you want to believe, here are some possible outcomes based on polling and assumptions:

These are the polls and maps I’ll be watching. Clearly, it would seem that Obama has a lead heading into election day. Whether or not that remains the case will be known in three days. So keep your chin up, Abby. Soon you’ll be learning a ton of new names… Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Chris Christie, Rand Paul, and a few others.

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