Because it's Election Day, I'm not going to give a detailed analysis of the past week's polls, as I normally do here. For those who have been following the progress of my "Electoral Math" columns, I have provided the final charts at the bottom, so you can see where they wound up, if you're interested.
Instead, I'm going to make my picks and call the races. First, some down-ballot calls.
I am predicting Democrats will pick up over 30 seats in the House, for a final makeup of 269 to the Republicans' 166. This, it is easy to see, will give Speaker Nancy Pelosi (who incidentally will destroy Cindy Sheehan at the polls) a lead of over 100 seats to work with.
In the Senate, Democrats will fall short of the filibuster-proof 60 seats they are salivating over. In the close races, Democrats will win in Oregon, Alaska, and North Carolina; but Republicans will win Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi (both seats), and Texas.
But the most exciting news is that Al Franken will win a very tight race in Minnesota. Senator Al Franken will take over from Senator Hillary Clinton as the biggest annoyance to Republican peace of mind across the country. Just the fact that Franken will now be in the United States Senate is going to drive some right-wingers clear around the bend (that's my prediction, anyway).
When all the votes are in, the Democrats will have 57 seats, the Republicans will have 41. Bernie Sanders of Vermont can be counted with the Democrats, but Joe Lieberman will be stripped of his committee assignments and decide to switch parties soon after the election is over. This will mean when the new Senate is sworn in, Democrats will effectively have a 58-42 majority.
For President, there are only three categories this week -- Safe Obama, Safe McCain, and Close Races. Let's get the "Safe" ones out of the way with quickly here, and then I'll give my abbreviated thoughts on each of the close ones. The number in parentheses after each state is the total Electoral Votes (EV) from each of those states.
Safe Obama States -- 19 States -- 234 Electoral Votes
California (55), Connecticut (7), Delaware (3), Hawaii (4), Illinois (21), Iowa (7), Maine (4), Maryland (10), Massachusetts (12), Michigan (17), Minnesota (10), New Jersey (15), New York (31), Oregon (7), Rhode Island (4), Vermont (3), Washington, D.C. (3), Washington (11), Wisconsin (10)
Safe McCain States -- 17 States -- 132 Electoral Votes
Alabama (9), Alaska (3), Arkansas (6), Idaho (4), Kansas (6), Kentucky (8), Louisiana (9), Mississippi (6), Nebraska (5), Oklahoma (7), South Carolina (8), South Dakota (3), Tennessee (11), Texas (34), Utah (5), West Virginia (5), Wyoming (3)
John McCain's home state will be closer than anyone (up until very recently) expected, but although the margin will be small, it will wind up going for McCain in the end.
Obama will take Colorado, and by a decent margin, too.
This one will be extremely close, and we may not know the results until late in the evening (or even the next day), but I'm predicting Obama will snag Florida's huge prize of 27 electoral votes when all the dust settles.
This will be the big surprise of the night. Barack Obama will take Georgia. The polls will be overwhelmed with new voters, many African Americans and young people. John McCain and the rest of the country will be stunned when Georgia puts its 15 electoral votes in Obama's column.
Indiana will also be very close, and since they count the urban areas last (Indiana straddles a time zone), it will be a knuckle-biter long into the night. But in the end, Obama will squeak out a victory here.
Another surprise win for Obama. Missouri has been one of the closest states in the polling for the entire election, meaning it will all depend upon turnout. But last-minute voters who would have gone Republican will be hearing about Obama's strong performance in the East, and will not turn out in the numbers expected at the polls as a result. Sure, this time zone thing is unfair -- but if you really want to hear how unfair it is, just ask someone in Hawai'i. Or Alaska. Anyway, Obama picks up the Show Me State.
While closer than expected, McCain will eke out a victory here. The youth vote and black vote which will form the swell of Obama's tidal wave elsewhere just don't exist in large enough numbers in Montana to make the difference for Obama.
Obama wins Nevada by less than expected, making it a very close race. But, in the end, he will take the state.
New Hampshire (4)
John McCain's favorite state will deny him a win, and go strongly for Obama. Why is this state even in the "Close" category, I wonder to myself... purely for the media's nostalgia for McCain's primary win here in 2000, I suspect. But no matter, the Granite State goes for Obama in a big way.
New Mexico (5)
New Mexico goes strongly for Obama, and he will hit record numbers of Latino voters here. This could signal a trend for the future for a lot of the West, which Democrats (if smart) will capitalize on in future elections.
North Carolina (15)
Another squeaker, but Obama pulls it out. Again, record youth and black vote turnout will swing this one for him in the end. I also predict that this will astonish the talking heads on television.
North Dakota (3)
Obama had a chance to pick this state up a few weeks ago, but in the end it will go for McCain. South Dakota as well (which also softened up, but then swung back to McCain).
I wrote this list alphabetically, but the three most interesting states happened to wind up at the end of the list. Ohio will be close, we may see duelling lawsuits here, but when the fracas is over, Barack Obama will win the state. Hopefully he will win with a big enough victory that the shenanigans on the margins won't even matter.
Pennsylvania will crush John McCain's hopes for the White House early in the night when it decisively goes for Obama. Sorry, John, but all that time and money you spent here was wasted in the end.
And my favorite state in this election is last -- Virginia will go for Obama, and furthermore, when Virginia does go for Obama, it will become almost impossible for the networks not to call the entire race for Obama. No matter how you see the entire rest of the country (and even if Ohio and Florida go for McCain), if Barack Obama wins Pennsylvania and Virginia, then the race is over and you can turn off the television and go to bed.
So with those rash and exuberant predictions, the final tally will be:
Barack Obama -- 390 Electoral Votes
John McCain -- 148 Electoral Votes
Call me a cockeyed optimist, but that's how I'm calling this race. Can you say "landslide"? I knew you could!
[Note: This is really the end of the column, so if you're not interested in the charts-and-data section, you can stop reading here. You have been warned.]
Final Electoral Percent Chart
[Click on any of these charts to see a larger image. Compare with last week's column to see the graphs' movement in the past week.]
[Obama's percentage starts from the bottom (blue) and McCain's starts from the top (red), and winning means getting your line over (or under, for McCain) the 50% mark. Tied states are in white.]
Final McCain Electoral Vote Chart
[Definition of terms: Strong means 10% or better in the polls, Weak means 5% or better, and Barely is under five percent.]
Final Obama Electoral Vote Chart
Final Chart from Sam Minter
[Chart combines my three charts above into one. Obama starts from the top, McCain starts from the bottom, and wherever the double baby-blue/pink line currently is determines who is ahead, measured from the centerline.]
Previous electoral math columns:
Cross-posted at The Huffington Post
-- Chris Weigant