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The Rundown

3:20 p.m. ET: The Day of Reckoning is nearly upon us, so it's time for one last afternoon poll roundup. So much has changed since the first one of these roundups we did ... let's think back nostalgically for a moment ... actually, almost nothing has changed, because we only started doing this feature last week.

Um, anyway, how 'bout them polls? Nate Silver -- who is exceptionally stats-smart about politics and, more importantly, baseball -- views the state of play thusly: "I continue to find a hair's worth of tightening on balance in the state-by-state polls -- even as Obama's position in the national trackers seems to be roughly as strong as it has ever been."

Eight national surveys are out that polled through yesterday, and they have Obama up by the following margins: 5, 6, 6, 7, 7, 8, 9 and 11 points. (Silver particularly likes the NBC/WSJ poll, which has Obama up 8 points.)

At the state level, we have five new surveys of Ohio, with Obama up 0 (tied), 2, 6, 6, and 7 points. In Pennsylvania, it's three new polls with Obama up 6, 6 and 14 points. And in Florida, we have three fresh polls with Obama up 2 points twice, and McCain up 1 point once.

Meanwhile, the gamblers over at Betfair -- who got every single state right in 2004 -- give Obama a better than 90 percent chance of winning. The Rundown does not endorse gambling, he just reports its existence. Now go enter your office pool before it's too late.

8 a.m. ET: It's prediction time!

With 34 hours until the polls start to close in key states (watch Indiana!), there is less and less actual news for the media to report and thus more time to start hazarding guesses about what will happen tomorrow. The Washington Post's venerable Crystal Ball feature came out yesterday, with a broad consensus that Barack Obama will win but Democrats won't reach 60 votes in the Senate.

The Rundown was invited to participate in the feature but held out unsuccessfully for more money and a company car. That's okay, though, because he has a blog, so he can unleash his own set of predictions without going through the management's "filter." Here they are:

● More than once in the next day, this headline will appear: "Turnout Will Be Key." Pulitzer Prizes will follow. Other phrases to expect: "It all comes down to this" and "there's only one poll that matters." Both very true.

● Pundits and reporters alike will keep saying today that the polls are tightening. Well, maybe they are and maybe they aren't. You can always find a poll showing the race getting closer (i.e. the WSJ survey had Obama ahead 10 points last week, and 8 points ahead now). On the other hand, Gallup's "traditional" model put Obama's lead at 3 points two weeks ago, 5 points a week ago and 8 points yesterday. We see what we want to see -- and lots of people want to see a close race.

● So which candidate does The Rundown think will win tomorrow? Read the paragraph above and figure it out for yourself.

● On the Hill, Republicans will emerge Wednesday after their drubbing armed with popular vote data to make their case that Election Day wasn't so bad. As in, "We got 48.3 percent of the vote, so Democrats don't have a mandate." Or something along those lines.

Ted Stevens will lose, and will thus have more time to relax in his massage chair or in his jacuzzi. Ugh, The Rundown just got a mental image. Never mind.

● By Wednesday morning, a host of "looking ahead to 2012" stories will already have been written. Will it be Obama vs. Palin? Romney? Joe the Plumber? The Rundown already knows one thing for sure about the next election -- turnout will be key.

By Ben Pershing  |  November 3, 2008; 8:00 AM ET
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