Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Mile Wide and an Inch Deep

    On Sunday, Jim Geraghty of National Review posted the following painful numbers on just how close the United States came to "President Romney." (Yes, I know, the milk is spilled, but we can cry a little, can't we?)
On Wednesday, I added up Obama’s margin in a few key states, to get a sense of just how agonizingly short the Romney campaign finished from 270 electoral votes. 
Some of those straggling precincts have reported, and so here is an updated set of numbers, according to the results this morning on the New York Times’ results map: 
Florida: 73,858
Ohio: 103,481
Virginia: 115,910
Colorado: 113,099 
Those four states, with a collective margin of, 406,348 for Obama, add up to 69 electoral votes. Had Romney won 407,000 or so additional votes in the right proportion in those states, he would have 275 electoral votes.
    As regular readers of this blog know, I had been considerably overly optimistic about Romney’s chances in the election.  I wrote a blog post called “One in Fourteen” which was the number of Obama voters from 2008 who would have had to switch sides in the 2012 election for Romney to win (national popular vote.)  In that piece, I noted:
On at least a few occasions, the Obama campaign has expressed concern about this very thing.   In Florida in September, Michelle Obama said this at a campaign rally:
“Think back to what happened in this state in 2008. Back then Barack won Florida by 236,000 votes. Now, that might sound like a lot, but here’s what it looks like when you break it down—that’s just 36 votes per precinct … So get that number in your head, because that could mean just one vote in your neighborhood, in your dorm. Just one vote in your apartment building could make the difference.”
    While I did not include this next one in my post, Michelle Obama also said a similar thing about Virginia:
“We won Virginia by 235,000 votes [in 2008]. Now, that’s wonderful. And while that might sound like a lot, think about this: When you break that number down, that’s just 100 votes per precinct. Now think about that—100 votes. That could mean just a couple of votes in your neighborhood, just a single vote in your apartment building.
    Based on Michelle Obama’s numbers and the margins Geraghty listed above, Virginia actually came down to 49 votes per precinct.  Florida came down to eleven votes per precinct.  While I did not calculate the numbers for Ohio and Colorado, they must be distressingly similar.

Source: http://nbcsports.com/
    In any case, the numbers back up my contention in "On Second Thought" that this election was much closer than the Obama campaign or the media in general are saying.  The electoral vote tally ended with 332 for Obama and 206 for Romney, but that 126 vote difference is a mile wide and an inch deep (or 407,000 votes, one-third of one percent, deep.)  Sure, it's enough for the win and even an electoral college shellacking.  But this win for the Obama team seems more like a buzzer beater than a blow out. Perhaps the GOP can learn some lessons from the President's wife.  Every vote really does count.

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