For the weekly changes in the State probabilities, the simulation results, the daily updates and all the usual bits and pieces, you can just click a link over to the US Election page to see them.

We know from previous Intrade markets on US political contests that probabilities of less than 30% and greater than 70% are as close to dead certainties as we’ll ever see, with no political contestant ever winning an election with a probability of less than 30% the day before Election Day.

So today, we’ll have a closer look at just those states operating in the 30% to 70% probability spectrum and the Electoral College votes involved to find out the Intrade road to the Whitehouse for each of the candidates. Also worth keeping in mind here is that the Intrade results from this day in 2004 were only 2 States out compared to the actual 2004 Presidential election results. Wisconsin at this stage in the last electoral cycle had Kerry on a 41.8% probability of winning that State, even though he took Wisconsin’s 10 Electoral College votes on Election Day by a margin of 50 to 49. The other State which was out of whack at this time in the previous cycle was New Mexico which had Kerry on a 64% probability of victory, yet the Republicans went on to win that State by, again, a margin 50/49.

So at this stage in the 2004 election, the Intrade markets were out by 2 States, or 15 Electoral College votes compared to the final election result.

Food for thought.

If we look at those States that have had their probabilities regularly outside of that 30-70 spectrum, they tally up as 185 Electoral College Votes to McCain and 222 to Obama, leaving 131 votes up for grabs.

We can take those remaining states and break them down into three categories:

McCain Leaning States – those States where the Democrats have between a 30% and 40% probability of victory.

Obama Leaning States – those States where the Democrats have between a 60% and 70% probability of victory.

Contested States – those States where the Democrats have between a 40% and 60% probability of victory.

Just click the charts to expand.

If we look at the race to 270 – if McCain wins all his leaning States as well as every contested State, that would result in a 269 Electoral College Vote tie, as Obama’s ‘in the bag’ States of 222 plus his leaning States likewise add up to 269.

So for McCain to win from here, he needs to defend his own leaners, take every one of the contested States as well as pinch an Obama leaning State. For Obama, he only has to hold his own leaners, and take a single contested or McCain leaning State to claim the Presidency.

The Intrade road to the Whitehouse has quite a few routes for Obama, for McCain it is North Carolina, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, Virginia, Ohio and one of either Colorado, Pennsylvania or Michigin.


We’ll add a new chart over on the Intrade data page that’ll be updated daily along with the Daily Gallup/Intrade Trackers. It’s called Battleground 131 and represents the 131 Electoral College Votes of the 8 States mentioned above that make up the Intrade road to the Whitehouse.

We take the average Intrade probability a Democrat victory of today, yesterday and the day before for each of the 8 states and subtract from this the same 3 day average of one week ago. This gives us a less volatile measure of weekly change for the key States in terms of the probability of the Democrats winning each of these States.

We then plot those weekly probability change values (where a negative score means the State moved toward the Republicans and a positive score means it moved toward the Democrats over the past week) against the current Intrade probabilities of the Democrats winning each of those States we get. (click to expand)

The States are marked along with their respective Electoral College Votes. So if you’re a Republican supporter, you want to see 85 of those Electoral College Votes move below the 50% mark, meaning you’ll want to see at least 85 ECVs worth of States consistently move to the left over the next few weeks. For Democrat supporters you’ll want to see 48 ECV’s worth of States to stay above 50% and consistently move to the right of the chart.


For a bit of fun, we can also use a google time motion gadget to trace that chart through time since June 1st – you’ll need a flash enabled browser to use it.

On the bottom Axis, click on the arrow next to Electoral College Votes and change that to Probability Change over past Week. Make sure the left axis is Intrade Democrat Probability of Victory. Where it says colour, change that to Intrade Democrat Democrat Probability of Victory as well, uncheck the tails box, Under Size choose “Electoral College Votes”. Then click each of the circles to highlight their name and press play. Or alternatively, play with it however you like!

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