After all the speeches and campaign ads and debates, politics comes down to cold hard numbers. It always has; it always will.
In fact, when you get right down to it, only one number really counts, and every politician and political strategist knows it: 50 percent of those who turn out, plus one more vote to put you over the top. That’s the goal;, that’s the Holy Grail; that’s the number that your entire campaign strategy is designed to achieve because it guarantees election.
Just ask President Al Gore.
OK, in that one instance, getting the most votes earns you a divorce and an ownership stake in a cable channel that no one’s ever watched. But that’s because the presidency is different. To become leader of the free world, a candidate needs a minimum of 270 votes in the electoral college. Failing that, five votes on the U.S. Supreme Court will do.
Today, with the 2012 presidential campaign at full throttle, it seems as though every political scientist in the country hoping to get on Fox or CNN (which is every political scientist in the country) is out there touting his or her own computerized, highly sophisticated predictive model for how this election will turn out.
Me, I already know.
While others may have math, I have THE math, in the form of my own statistical model. It has been carefully calibrated over the years to the point that after the fact, it has accurately predicted the outcome of every presidential race dating back to Grover Cleveland. In the interest of transparency, I’m about to let you in on the secret details of how it works:
In my model, as in most such models, we start with the basics: The number of women to whom the GOP candidate’s grandfather was married at any one time, which in this case would be (4). You multiply that by the number of extramarital affairs conducted over a lifetime by the spouse of the current secretary of state (237). (CAUTION: This number could shift at any moment.)
You then add the number of emails sent in the past four years depicting the Democratic nominee with a bone through his nose, which would be 457,283. You divide that by the total number of beers and cigarettes tried by the GOP nominee in his lifetime (2), divided again by the total number of beers and cigarettes consumed by the Democrat (58,399).
You multiply that by the square root of the number of hair follicles transplanted into the Democratic VP (√6,798=83.53) divided by the best marathon time fraudulently claimed by the Republican VP nominee (2.55).
Subtract the percentage of Americans gratuitously insulted by the GOP nominee (47), add the number of times in a best-two-out-of-three match that the First Lady would beat you arm-wrestling (3), and then also add the number of dog-lover votes — in units of tens of thousands — lost by the Republican for transporting an aptly named Irish setter (Seamus) on the station-wagon roof (236.5).
Finally, you add the number of percentage points that all polls but Rasmussen are skewed in favor of Democrats (10). Voila!
You now have the mortal-lock number of electoral college votes that the Democratic nominee will win in any given year.
– Jay Bookman