IT'S A SQUEAKER! IT'S A LANDSLIDE!
I've been puzzling over the fact that every poll showing Obama and McCain in a tight national race seems to be followed by another poll, sometimes from the same polling outfit, in which Obama greatly exceeds expectations for a Democrat in an individual state. Does it make sense that he's doing better than expected in state after state, but the national race is still close?
Steve Kornacki of The New York Observer, says yes, it does:
...if we take the average result from recent polls in each state and weight each state according to its share of the national population, we get an overall national result that's entirely consistent with current national polling: Obama 46.2 percent, McCain 42.7 -- a 3½-point race. So there really is no inconsistency between the close national horse race and Obama's clearly superior position in individual state polls....
Kornacki doesn't really offer a good explanation for the paradox, but it might have to do with the fact that the red states where Obama is doing surprisingly well are so damn small in terms of population.
What this means is that Obama might just win decisively in the Electoral College -- based on current polls, Electoral-vote.com has him up 325-199 -- but the popular vote will be a squeaker.
And you know what that means, if it happens: The same people who, eight years ago, brandished the Bush electoral map as if we pick presidents by the square mile will suddenly be declaring that Obama is an illegitimate president-elect because he beat McCain by only a couple of percentage points in the popular vote.
That's no big deal, but we have to be prepared to tell these people to take a flying leap.
(By the way, I guarantee that, if the numbers turn out this way, at least one right-winger will declare that, yes, Obama won the popular vote, but, given Bush's unpopularity, he won it by so much less than he should have that, in effect, he actually lost. I'm serious -- someone will say that, and mean it.)