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Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

John McCain’s path to victory

Let’s be serious for a moment.

(Crossposted at MyDD)

What is John McCain’s path to victory?  Does he even have one?  If you look at’s state of the race, you’ll see that the numbers currently stand at 260 EVs for Obama, 179 for McCain, and 99 tossup.  In order to win the election, a candidate must have at least 270 electoral votes.  In other words, out of the 99 tossup EVs, Obama needs 10, while McCain needs 91.


It isn’t completely hopeless for John McCain, though.  Let’s examine how he might win this election.

First, let’s lay down a ground rule.  We’re trying to figure out how McCain can get to 270–for the sake of this exercise, presume that a tie favors Obama.  It’s rather more complicated than that, but since 270 is the measuring stick consistently applied to Obama, we’ll apply it equally to McCain.

Now, there are four states that would singlehandedly win Obama the election.  Those are Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, and Ohio.  Thus:

STEP 1: John McCain must win Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, and Ohio.

There is also one state that would singlehandedly get Obama to 269, which would dash McCain’s chances for 270, namely Colorado.  So:

STEP 2: John McCain must win Colorado.

Presuming victories in all of these states, the race would stand at 263 for McCain, 260 for Obama, with 15 up for grabs.  McCain still needs to scrounge up 7 EVs–meaning he has to win either New Hampshire or Nevada, or he cannot get to 270.  Therefore:

STEP 3: John McCain must win either New Hampshire or Nevada.

Let’s be generous and give McCain the larger of the two states, Nevada.  He now has 268 EVs to Obama’s 260–ever so close!  Any one of the remaining states will do.  Finally:

STEP 4: John McCain must win one of Montana, North Dakota, or New Hampshire.

So as we can see, things aren’t hopeless for John McCain.  Why, he has several paths to victory:

  • Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, Colorado, Nevada, New Hampshire
  • Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, Colorado, Nevada, Montana
  • Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, Colorado, Nevada, North Dakota
  • Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, Colorado, New Hampshire, Montana
  • Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, Colorado, New Hampshire, North Dakota

This is obviously great news for John McCain.  Especially when you compare it to Obama’s measly list of paths to victory:

  • Florida
  • North Carolina
  • Virginia
  • Ohio
  • Colorado, Montana
  • Colorado, North Dakota
  • Colorado, New Hampshire
  • Colorado, Nevada
  • Nevada, New Hampshire, Montana
  • Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota
  • Nevada, Montana, North Dakota
  • New Hampshire, Montana, North Dakota

…wait, what was the point I was trying to make again?  You kids get off my lawn!


  1. Stipes

    Personally, I’m really happy with where we are right now:  

    It has turned into a base election.

    Our base is bigger than their base, plus we’ll have record AA turnout this year.

    McCain and Palin will get their bump, and may even pull into a tie/lead within the MOE…but within two weeks, the tracking polls will be back to a 3 – 5 point lead for Obama.

    Palin is unknown, and her favorables will only go down as her positions are better known.  In addition, the MSM is pissed at the McCain campaign for restricting access.  They, and the tabloids will be hunting her for 2 months, and we’ll all get tired of the drama.

    Palin is not doing this yet, but she will only degrade the popularity of the ticket over time, while conversely exciting the GOP base.  

    So, it will come down to GOTV, and we will win that battle this year.

    Prediction:  4.5% popular vote win by Obama, and 302 – 306 EVs at the low end.

    Cheers Bishop!  

    Thanks for the post!


  2. ragekage

    I was thinking the same thing, Rook. Obama’s got a solid 260 electoral votes. But we can’t afford to do anything but treat this election as if one slip will mean we can lose- which it still may. But an excellent job of putting things into perspective.

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