Chickens, and the counting thereof.

A lot of my friends seem to be in a good mood lately. For the life of me, I don’t understand why.

I think it’s because they’ve been looking at some pretty pictures that seem to show that Obama has a lock on this race.

At the risk of being a bit of a buzzkill, let me gently say to all of you: this is complete bullshit. The lesson of 2000 was that national vote counts don’t elect a president: electoral votes do. The lesson of both 2000 and 2004 was that major media polling is completely broken and that the Democratic Party’s internal polling is in even worse shape — and there has been no evidence offered by anyone yet to suggest that either of those two things have been fixed.

On November 4th 2004, I attended a celebratory ball in NYC thrown by Billionaires for Bush. They rented out a huge nightclub in tribeca, and lots of famous faces were there, whooping it up. And I will never forget that at 10pm, a fearful-looking Howard Dean came out on stage, to huge applause, to thank us for our support and urge us to stay just a little bit longer, saying “I really thought we’d have this wrapped up by now.”

We caught a cab home at 11. We all know how that worked out the next morning.

Here’s the problem: all of the rosy scenarios of Obama walking away with this election hinge on the prediction, based on polling numbers, that he’s going to take several and quite possibly all of the following states:

North Carolina

I can only say: pull the other one. Seriously.

It’s instructive — very instructive — to look at’s 2004 results for each of those states. Let’s take as a particularly pertinent example Virginia, which some people are starting to call a safe Obama state. Here’s the problem:

The stars represent the actual 2004 vote counts. Note carefully here: for pretty much the entire election season, Bush polled at just a smidge over 50%. Kerry bounced around a little bit more, but for most of September and October was in theory within striking distance at around 47%. The actual results on election day? A blowout: Bush 54% vs Kerry 46%.

The same pattern holds true for most of the other states in that list: Kerry over-polled, Bush under-polled. It was even worse in other states: in West Virginia, Bush’s 2004 poll numbers never once topped 51%, but when the votes were counted he crushed Kerry, 56 to 44.

The only two states where there’s not really a “pattern” to be discerned are Ohio and Florida, but the take-away from both 2000 and 2004 is that the GOP simply has those two states wired for sound, and that in the event of a dead heat, McCain will be declared the winner by hook or crook.

(And seriously: North Carolina? I would love to be proven wrong here, but until such time as I actually see pigs on the wing, I will continue to believe that they do not fly, lipstick or no.)

Give OH, FL, NC and VA back to McCain — and I’ll risk embarrassment here by predicting that he gets at least two and most likely three of them — and neither candidate will have an electoral majority: this race will suddenly hinge on Colorado, New Mexico and Missouri.

Feel lucky?

Obama has a very good chance of winning this election, but this is so far from a lock that it’s not even funny. If once again we wake up on November 5th with a bad hangover, no decided winner and a murder of lawyers circling around the Supreme Court, I won’t be in the slightest bit surprised.

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