Beam: Don’t be swayed by projections

By By Jim Beam / American Press

If you believed some of the polls and projections about the presidential election, it would already be over. President Obama would have another four-year term. However, as baseball’s Yogi Berra said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

CBS-TV News said Thursday night its projections showed Obama with 255 electoral votes to 206 for Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

That means the president would need only 15 more electoral votes to reach the magic number of 270, a virtual certainty at

this point. The Associated Press on Oct. 1 reported that if the election were held that day Obama would have 271 electoral

votes to 206 for Romney.

Look at other polls and projections and you soon learn they vary widely, depending on the source of the information. Real

Clear Politics, for example, had Romney with 206 electoral votes to 201 for Obama. The other 131 were toss-ups.

Rasmussen Reports on Friday had Obama with 172 electoral votes, 38 likely his and 27 leaning in his direction, or a total

of 237. Romney had 167, 11 likely and 18 leaning his way, or a total of 196. The other 105 are toss-ups.

The situation looked much different two

months ago. Two University of Colorado political science professors

said in August

Romney would win the election with 320 electoral votes to 218 for

Obama. It just goes to prove this election is going to shift

from one side to the other until Election Day, and voters

shouldn’t get too worked up about all of these predictions and

projections.

Romney supporters were elated last week when the Gallup organization had him leading 52-to-45 percent in the popular vote,

a 7-point margin.

The Huffington Post took issue with

those numbers, saying, “The already controversial Gallup Daily Poll

raised even more eyebrows

on Thursday...” The Huffington story by Mark Blumenthal listed

nine other polls where Romney led in four with a margin no

higher than 4 percent. The other five had Obama ahead by nothing

higher than 3 percent.

“The HuffPost Pollster tracking model, which combines all of these public polls as well as state level surveys into a national

popular vote estimate, continues to show Obama and Romney in a virtual tie,” the story said.

Pollsters, commentators and news organizations are quick to point out that the popular vote isn’t the deciding factor when

it comes to electing the president. That’s true, and that means the electoral votes in nine toss-up states hold the key to

the election. They are Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin, a total of

105 electoral votes up for grabs.

The Electoral College system was worked

out by this country’s founding fathers. It is a compromise between

those who wanted

Congress to elect the president and those who wanted it to be done

by popular vote. There has been much talk over the years

about eliminating the Electoral College and going to a popular

vote. However, it has survived the test of time.

Each’s state’s electoral vote is based

on the number of senators and representatives it has in Congress.

Louisiana, for example,

has eight electoral votes based on its two U.S. senators and six

U.S. representatives. The winner of the popular vote in each

state gets all of its electoral votes, except for Maine and

Nebraska where they allocate those votes based on the candidates’

vote percentages.

The Electoral College has 538 electors based on 100 senators, 435 representatives and 3 for the District of Columbia. The

winner has to get 270 votes, one more than half of the 538. It is also possible to have a tie at 269 votes each.

If that happens, the U.S. House picks the president with each of the 50 states getting to cast one vote. The Center for Politics

at the University of Virginia said an analysis shows Romney would win if there were a tie this year.

National Journal, a political magazine

in Washington, D.C., called eight of the swing states Campaign 2012. It

doesn’t include

Missouri. George E. Condon Jr. said the 82.8 million people who

live in California, Texas and New York, the nation’s three

largest, “are just bystanders in the most hotly contested

presidential election in a decade.” He notes that in 1960 Richard

Nixon campaigned in all 50 states and John F. Kennedy in 45.

The magazine said since June 5, the

last day of the major primaries, each candidate has campaigned in only

10 states. And

that is where they have spent more than half of the $600 million

spent so far, according to NBC. Visits to other states have

mostly been for fund-raisers, the magazine said.

It’s tough to sit on the sidelines and realize your state isn’t still in play. However, Romney is expected to carry Louisiana,

and he needs its eight votes.

What all of this tells us is that much

of the nation is divided into two camps, the blue and the red states.

The focus from

here on out will be on the swing states, and the candidate who

holds the edge in those nine states is going to fluctuate between

now and Nov. 6.

Don’t be misled by the poll numbers and predictions you will hear between now and Election Day. There may be only 16 days

to go, but this one isn’t over by a long shot.

           •••

Jim Beam, the retired editor of the American Press, has covered people and politics for more than five decades. Contact him at 494-4025 or jbeam@americanpress.com