Saturday, November 1, 2008

Senator ___, the data suggests...

There is a ritual in Presidential campaigns that goes widely unnoticed by both the press and the public. Late in the night on the Saturday prior to a Presidential election (or the following Sunday morning, depending on the candidate's schedule), the candidate and his/her national campaign leadership team meet with the campaign's polling team to learn the fate of the election. 

This ritual, beginning in the late 1970s, crosses party lines and is one of the most sacred in all of research. The polling team assembles with the campaign staff and awaits the arrival of the candidate. When the candidate enters the room, all rise until motioned to seat down by the candidate.

The head pollster then utters one of two phrases:

"Senator ___, the data suggests that you will not be elected the next President of the United States," or

"Senator ___, the data suggests that you will be elected the next President of the United States." 

Regardless of which sentence is uttered, if it looks to be a close election, each candidate's schedule is reviewed and adjusted to emphasize the states that need last minute support. If it looks to be a blowout, the losing candidate typically will begin scheduling states where Senators or Congressman need help. 

Though there has been an aura of confidence surrounding the possibility of an Obama win in 2008, the data suggests it could be closer than what many people realize. The bottom-line, however, is that even if McCain were to win all the states that are currently "too close to call," he would still not receive enough Electoral College votes to win the election.

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