Monday, November 1

You give me fever ...

Yes, I have yet another fever ... but not to worry, 'cos this time it's US Presidential election fever! (And just how sexy does that sound? Not in the least bit!)

This is largely in response to Simon's post on his blog (a good friend) about an Opinion poll on the election. I've been tracking the polls for some weeks now and at the latest look these polls show the following ...

CNN/USA Today/Gallup: Bush 46% Kerry 48%
CBS/NY Times: Bush 49% Kerry 46%
ABC/Washington Post: Bush 48% Kerry 48%

As Simon pointed point in his blog, these polls all carry a small but significant margin of error meaning that such marginal leads actually give very little indication of who might win and in any case two of the polls put the two different candidates ahead, whilst the other has them level!

Also, one must take into account the electoral college system. Basically, each of the 50 states have a number of electoral college votes; these are distributed to each state according to the number of federal representatives from that state (Senators - 2 from each state and Congressmen - according to population). The state of Delaware thus has 3 electoral college votes whilst California has 55. The Presidential election is thus a series of mini contests in each state; and if the candidate wins the state (except in Maine & Nebraska) he wins all their electoral votes. In the 2004 election, the winning candidate must have received a majority of the electoral votes (270 votes in 2004) This can be achieved without receiving a majority of the popular vote - which was the situation in 2000. And it's especially likely when the race is tight!

However, some researchers at the Washington Post have come up with 33 different scenarios with 11 swing states (the ones not clearly tied to supporting either candidate) voting different ways that would result in both candidates achieving 269 electoral votes! In this situation, the House of Representatives (lower chamber - like the House of Commons) would choose the President - they would probably choose Bush; however, the vice-President would be chosen by the Senate and there is a distinct possibility they could choose John Edwards, Kerry's running mate. This would be an extraordinary situation in modern times - America's used to having different political parties being in control of Congress, the Senate and the White House, but to have such an ideological division between the President and his deputy would make for a very interesting political landscape.

Anyway, for a political animal like me, it makes it absolutely fascinating ... hence why I'm staying up to watch the coverage as the results come in! I like Simon, suspect that Bush will clinch it ... incumbency is a significant strength, unless you're widely perceived to have had an absolutely disastrous time in the White House, or been so distracted by international affairs, that domestic issues have been forgotten (like George Bush Snr.!) Both Bush and Kerry appeal brilliantly to those who are like-minded and so this is very much a battle for the middle ground ... I think this is reflected in the incredibly tight polls and whatever happens, it's going to be very close ...


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