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Morning Jay: The Media Doesn’t Understand Races in the States

6:00 AM, Jun 8, 2012 • By JAY COST
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4. The “horse race” metaphor has its limits. Take this from the guy who used to write the Horse Race Blog: The concept of a horse race does not capture the idea of voter psychology very well at this point. Roughly 85 percent or so of the electorate is locked in – though they may not be admitting it to pollsters – while the final 15 percent has barely started the decision-making process. So, the idea that Obama has a “lead” in the polls is really a non sequitur. The gettable voters are not yet engaged, so there really is no race going on at the moment.

With these four points in mind, here is the current map I have in mind. It’s based on my estimate that the range of outcomes for 2012 will go from a 53-47 for Obama, the 2008 result, to a 53-47 victory for Romney. That means that any state that Obama won in 2008 is in play (plus Missouri, which he nearly won), while pretty much any state that historically has had a Democratic tilt of D+3 or less is in play, too. That leaves the map looking like this (map from 270 To Win):

I think this is the most we can confidently say at the moment. The states in tan are genuinely uncertain, as to how they will unfold. It depends on how the national vote goes, and that is uncertain right now. Like I said, I see a reasonable range of anywhere between 46 percent and 53 percent for both candidates, which leaves a wide swath of electoral votes up for grabs.

Jay Cost is a staff writer for THE WEEKLY STANDARD and the author of Spoiled Rotten: How the Politics of Patronage Corrupted the Once Noble Democratic Party and Now Threatens the American Republic, available now wherever books are sold.

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