Monday, June 16, 2008

Was Hillary Right?

At the end of the extended-race charade, Hillary made a public plea to superdelegates, in a memo that outlined her campaign's strengths.

Was she right?

We can ask that for two reasons, at least. First, it's interesting to those who are interested in winning, and it seems that a dispassionate assessment is easier now than before. Second, one ought to avoid the pitfalls of blogging just one perspective allatime.


Her team proposed that there would be a smaller battleground, whether that was accurate or not. She's got only 106 votes up for grabs, with team-blue having just a slight advantage of 217-215, implying magic numbers of 53 and 55.

There would be 19 ways to get exactly 270 EVs and chances would split only slightly in favor of blue.

BlockCombs to Reach
270 exactly
Probably of
270 or more
Win Probability

The odds presented are clearly not as strong as the prior opportunity set. Even throwing Florida to team-red in the prior set would still leave chances slightly better than those here, 56-44 to 52-48.


Florida takes on a greater importance, with the reduced set:

State Percent of Battleground EVs
Florida 25.5%
Michigan 16.0%
Missouri 10.4%
New Hampshire 3.8%
Ohio 18.9%
Iowa 6.6%
Minnesota 9.4%
New Mexico 4.7%
West Virginia 4.7%

It becomes almost a must-do for team blue, with a win percentage dropping to 23% for team-blue if the GOP pick up the state:

Table 3b. Shows winning combinations if battleground state goes "red" or "blue". Shows the number of exactly 270 combinations for both red and blue, for each outcome. Also indicates all the winning combinations as a percentage, adjusted for the fact that one team must win.

270 CombosRed Wins / Blue Wins State
StateBlue WinsRed WinsBlue 270 CombosBlue Win %Red 270 CombosRed Win %
New Hampshire712642%658%
New Mexico109643%357%
West Virginia109648%352%

That result emphasizes the riskiness of having a smaller set to work with from the start, perhaps. The comparative set shows considerably less sensitivity to Florida.

Looking at the combos required if Florida was lost by team-blue, you can come close to reaching the conclusion that a bet on Hillary is/was very much a bet that she could bring home that state, with its older voters, women, and Hispanics.


The major changes from the prior analysis would be to put PA, AR, WV, FL and OH into the "blue column", while putting most everything else either red or battleground.

For the purpose of this analysis, I've chosen to put OH and WV into the battleground, and chosen to go along with the comparative assertion that MN would be a battleground and WI, VA, and NC would go to team-red.

BattlegroundBlue StatesRed States
2008 ElectionFlorida, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, Ohio, Iowa, Minnesota, New Mexico, West VirginiaMaine, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, WashingtonColorado, Nevada, North Carolina, Virginia, Wisconsin, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Wyoming

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