HURRICANE SANDY, racing north along the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, is generating substantial winds and significant rain totals as we await its turn to starboard out over the Atlantic or a move to port atop anxious Mid-Atlantic States and those of New England.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration through its National Hurricane Center in Miami, Fla., uses its cone of probability when forecasting in what direction hurricanes are headed. You've seen the cone of probability depicted on weather maps for more than a decade.
Their graphics attract attention in newspapers, online simulations and during televised weather broadcasts as NHC tracks hurricanes to provide early warning and determine where and when a storm will make landfall. As a hurricane moves closer the cone of probability narrows, causing previous real possibilities to fall outside the cone, limiting options, as certainty grows.
The NHC first used its cones in 2001 – a year after the tumultuous 2000 presidential election and subsequent month-long electoral hurricane in West Palm Beach, Fla.
With nine days remaining in the 2012 presidential election an electoral cone of probability is now zeroing in on the 270 electoral votes necessary for Barack Obama or Mitt Romney to be elected.
As each hour passes, options available to maximize their electoral count become less. States once thought getable get squeezed from the narrowing cone. Time becomes short, votes harden and certainty grows.
On Sept. 2, I wrote about 110 electoral votes still up for grabs in nine yet-to-be-decided states of Colorado (nine), Florida (29), Iowa (six), Nevada (six), New Hampshire (four), North Carolina (15), Ohio (18), Virginia (13) and Wisconsin (10).
To reach 270, I said, Romney needs 79 of those electoral votes, Obama 33. (In 2008 all nine went for Obama).
I further noted, As those states drift finally to one camp or the other over the next 65 days I suspect only Colorado (nine), Iowa (six), Virginia (13) and Florida (29) hang in the balance.
Today, nine days out, Romney has a tenuous grasp on only North Carolina while the president leads in Nevada, Ohio, New Hampshire and Wisconsin. This gives Romney 206 electoral votes to Obama's 275 – five more than the 270 required.
With Nov. 6 rapidly approaching and the cone of electoral possibility narrowing, this is the current state of the race.
Romney's path to 270 is made even more difficult by the ticking clock, never enough waking hours, the seemingly endless amount of time in the air and the inexorable narrowing cone.
To win, Romney must sweep the four In the Arena remaining states of Florida, Iowa, Colorado and Virginia. That would give Romney only 263 electoral votes, forcing him to peel from Obama either Ohio (18) or Wisconsin (10).
That is a tall order within the collapsing cone of too little time and messaging already tried. After all, what mega-tonnage could dislodge your vote so you might cast it for another?
Yes, national polls have the race virtually deadlocked. The venerable Gallup Poll has Romney up 3 points nationwide. But the presidency is not a national contest. Rather it is akin to running for governor simultaneously in each of 50 states.
Within Gallup's poll Obama leads in the East, the West and Midwest, however (outside Florida, Virginia, North Carolina), he gets clobbered all across the South. Yet none of those Southern states are being contested.
Nor are all polling firms created equal. Several seek to influence rather than reflect the state of a race. Proceed with caution.
Email me your Electoral College prediction prior to Election Day, Nov. 6. I will divulge my considered electoral vote prognostication next Sunday and In the Arena will pay tribute to the best guesses among us. How do you see it?
Nine narrowing days to go … VOTE.
Email me your Electoral College prediction prior to Election Day, Nov. 6. I will divulge my considered electoral vote
prognostication next Sunday and In the Arena will pay tribute to the best
guesses among us. How do you see it?
Kevin Blaum's column on government, life and politics appears every Sunday. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.