Contrary to the general notion that we will know who won by the end of the evening; the fact is that what we will know is nothing more than best guess estimates based on incomplete data. What the news reports to you is polling data, including exit polls and Electoral College trends over the years. It won’t be until the states certify the election votes that the outcome will be truly known. Even then, if a contested race arises, it might not be until next year when the winner will be legally proclaimed. About the only thing that might make the results as close to official is if either candidate concedes. However, Donald Trump wants to keep you all in “suspense.”
Contrary to the conspiracy theories, Barack Obama will not remain the president past January 20 even on a worst-case scenario for the election. There are mechanisms in place to break electoral college ties that increase through a tiered system from the courts to the House of Representatives on up to the Senate, if necessary. At the extreme worst case scenario, the next president would be one of the vice-presidential nominees until either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump can be declared the winner. It is all part of the Electoral College system.
I am still surprised how many US voters do not understand that the election of the president is based on representation by congressional districts rather than by the popular vote. Each state is assigned a number of electoral votes based on their representatives (House and Senate) in Congress. The district of Columbia has three votes. There is a total of 538 votes. Except for Maine and Nebraska, each state has a “winner-takes-all” process that awards the state’s electoral votes to the winner of the votes cast in that state. That is why El Paso, a strong Democrat town still casts a vote for the Republican candidate because the State of Texas generally votes Republican. Maine (4) and Nebraska (5) assign their votes based on a combination of popular votes and congressional seat assignments. It is possible that the electoral votes of these states can be split between candidates.
If you are curios as to how the Electoral College map has looked over the last 13 elections then take a look at the short video. I think some of you might be surprised.
The news media makes lack of understanding how the US president is elected worse by quoting polling data based on popular votes, likely voters who may or may not actually vote or data of Democrats vs. Republicans voters showing up the polls. The fact is that the next president is selected by each state based on their own voting data. Although the popular vote has generally mirrored the Electoral College, except for 2000 when Al Gore won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College vote, the president wins by winning the Electoral College.
Election results predictors have been predicting the results based on the historical trends. They have created electoral maps showing the trends and from there selecting states that will generally vote one party over the other and designating so-called battleground states. It is the battleground states, like Florida, that they argue could put one candidate over the other.
However, this election is not like the past elections because of the anomaly of Donald Trump. That he is a major contender has probably made the past trends irrelevant. Add to that the various “October surprises” from Wikileaks, video of Trump insulting women and the on again-off again FBI investigation of Clinton has made the historical trends obsolete. However, that has not stopped the pundits from predicting the results.
Today, there will be many predicting the winner. This gives me an opportunity to see how accurate the pundits and the trends are. Here are a select group of Electoral Map predictions from the various news outlets:
When the final state is tallied and the votes are certified I’ll follow up with the final Electoral College map and compare it to what the pundits predicted.
In the end, it will be interesting to see what, if any, impact the Latino vote has on the election especially since the pundits have been predicting a Latino vote arising in the US.
A Little Blog Housekeeping
Obviously, the presidential election is going to consume the news cycle today, tomorrow and possibly for some time to come. I do not think anyone is sure what the outcome will be. I believe it will be very fluid.
Because of the fluidity and my interest in the outcome I am going to do things a little differently today, tomorrow and possibly on Thursday.
I’ll start tweeting the latest Electoral College map, as I see it, on my personal Twitter feed at @martinparedes as the day goes on. I’ll also tweet election data that I come across that I believe is interesting throughout the day.
Although I normally post my blog at midnight, I will not be posting Wednesday’s blog post until around 10:30am eastern time. This will give me an opportunity to include as much data as I can.
Obviously and depending on the election outcome I expect to have much commentary in the following days. I expect many of you will also have some comments to make. I will consider publishing any essays you wish to submit to me on my blog. Send them my way.
Stay tuned, I think things are about to get real interesting!