Sunday, October 05, 2008

Electoral College Calculator

I have started paying attention to politics so I can vote responsibly in the upcoming election.

Voting for who will be president is not much of a concern for me. Oregon is almost always Democratic. The only recent exception to this typical trend was ballot measure 36, and in that issue the only surprise was that even in Lane Country the majority supported the measure.

Since my own vote about president has so little chance of mattering I am free to watch the national scene with the calm of a mathematician whose tea cup has recently been refilled.

The WSJ website provides a nice electoral college calculator, and fiddling with it appears to reveal that the McCain-Palin ticket needs only to win one of Minnesota, Wisconsin, or Ohio: an outcome at least as probable as not. My fiddling is of course based upon incomplete information but it seems likely that this presidential election will be quite similar to the last one.

My brother-in-law once described the 2004 election by saying "The Republicans had a well-oiled machine; the Democrats had a contraption." This year it appears the Republicans have a worn but serviceable machine and the Democrats are riding a mainstream-media contraption. Voters are thus even more starkly divided rural versus urban: a scenario which in 2004 resulted in a close popular vote with a Republican electoral college advantage.

Tangentially, if the McCain-Palin ticket does win it will be a mixed blessing for me and many other Oregonians. This state hates the Republican corruption and machinery almost as much as it yearns for small government. The only currently visible hope for a future pro-small-government presidential candidate is Palin. But can Oregon endure four or eight more years of anti-Republican-president vitrol until McCain retires, and could Palin remain distant from the Republican corruption machinery if in Washington?

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