Not being a sports fan,
I have little clue what the term "fantasy football" means, but if it is what I think it is, then it must be something like
what I concocted below. Lots of fussing around with arcane figures, the results of which probably resemble reality as
much as what happens inside the head of your average six-pack quarterback approximates the real NFL. But whatever.
As they say, it's only a game.
The presidential race is not just a horse race, of course, it's also a numbers racket,
and it was a glance at a list of such numbers in a recent special section of the New York Times devoted to the Electoral
College, under a huge headline "Could It Happen Again?", that brought me to the startling conclusion that 538 is an even number!
Not to argue that this is a huge breakthrough in mathematical theory, only that it makes one wonder how close we could
be to having a dead-heat in the horse race in 2004. So I started diddling around to find out.
First, just to
remind anyone who may have forgotten about what happened in 2000, George Bush needed one-half of the 538 electors, plus one,
to win; he got plus two, or 271. (Leaving the Supreme Court issue out of the discussion, of course.)
By the way, that
should have left Al Gore with 267, but in fact, Barbara Lett-Simmons, a 73-year-old elector from the District of Columbia,
turned in a blank ballot to protest DC's not having any votes in Congress.
But the year 2000 was also a census year,
which means that since then, states gained or lost electors according to population shifts. So I asked myself, what
if, in 2004, Bush were to win the same states as he did last time, and Kerry were to take the same states that Gore took in
It seems that Bush would have triumphed, with 278 electors to Kerry's 259. (In short, Bush was favored
in states that had small but growing populations.)
And again, just for the fun of it, I wondered what it would take
for a tie, which would throw the whole contest into the House of Representatives.
As it turns out, if just one state,
Colorado, which was not too far from 50-50 in 2000, actually took its present nine votes from Bush and gave them to Kerry,
it would give Bush 269 to Kerry's 268. It would then hopefully be a simple matter to persuade all three of the DC electors
to play along and cast all of their votes this time, bringing Kerry and Bush even at 269 votes each.
then? It goes to a vote in the House of Representatives, in which each state has one vote. And how would that
go? There's no guarantee that each state would follow their original votes, but if they did, Bush would win, 30-21.
(This tally assumes DC has a vote in the House. I forget whether or not they do, but it wouldn't change the outcome
if they didn't.)
(With the exception, of course, of Colorado -- and, of course, my having that stray DC elector actually
cast his/her vote this time -- all of the above assumes that this year's Democratic candidate still gets the majority of the
popular vote. In other words, even if there were a tie in the Electoral College in this fantasy race, the Constitution
once again will allow the people to be overruled. This whole electoral system, including that House of Representatives
chaser, seems to favor the candidate who is liked by the less populous states. I suppose we really should get around
to fixing that problem someday.)
But before we end this, let me lead this back to the real world, in which things
are apparently happening that might lift the spirits of the "Anyone But Bush" crowd, and which brings me back to my original
premise: "It's the Electoral College, Stupid!"
With all of these neck-and-neck polls we hear about every weekend,
we tend to forget, as we do every presidential election year, that all these polls about the popular vote don't really mean
that much in a close popular race; what really matters is what's happening in the states.
And yes, even though pundit
Charlie Cook -- reputedly as good at this political prediction stuff as anyone can be -- is now saying that Kerry is way ahead, I myself imagine it's still too early to nail it all down.
Still, go look at electoral-vote.com, a website I just found, that allows you to roll your mouse over a map of the country and get the most recent poll results
from each state. It's really neat! You should bookmark it, because it changes from day to day.
went there just now, they had Kerry with 286 electoral votes to Bush's 233, which does not include the two states shown to
be "Exactly Tied," Wisconsin and Colorado. (See what I'm telling you? This whole race may swing on Colorado!)
Of course, some of the states are listed as "Weak" or "Barely" for a certain candidate, so things could change at any time,
especially during whatever bounce, if any, happens after the upcoming GOP convention in New York.
By the way, I tried
to imagine a tie scenario on that electoral-vote.com map, but I couldn't do it. Still, this is not to say that couldn't change
over the next two months.
- Rick Brown
Copyright © 2004 – Rick Brown, Atlanta, GeorgiaUsed with permission