NM Could Decide the 2008 Race (no really!)

I'm one of the few (it seems) that thinks the November Presidential election is going to be close. Very close. I've also heard many times that New Mexico will be an "important swing state". But I've always laughed at that idea. My November prediction was that the race would be decided by a bigger state with much more than New Mexico's five measly electoral votes, and probably long before we finished counting our ballots. But which one? Florida (again)? Ohio (again)?
I started tinkering with the pretty nifty 270towin.com that lets you click on states to assign them to McCain or Obama. I used other sites as a reference, like electoral-vote.com to get a feel for which states would be blue or red this November. The latter site predicts an easy democrat win by 60 electoral votes. My calculations were not so kind to Obama. Eventually I stumbled upon this unlikely but very possible nightmare scenario:
Oh Please God No
Electoral-vote.com classifies our state as "barely Democrat". In New Mexico in 2000, Gore defeated Bush by 366 votes. In 2004 Bush beat Kerry by 5988 votes. It is conceivable that in 2008, New Mexico might decide who the next President is by a state margin of less than half a percentage point.

Add to that the Republican shenanigans of 2000 and 2004 (see below), and our state's penchant for rumours of voter fraud (real or imagined), and it becomes a potential disaster for the 2008 elections.

If you've read the book Armed Madhouse (New Mexico practically has its own chapter in it) you know about voter purge and caging lists. George Bush was elected twice because his machine knew how use the electoral system:
1. Pinpoint the swing state polling democrat required to win.
2. Find out which voter blocs and precincts are most likely to vote democrat.
3. Actively find a way to suppress all those votes.
4. Turn that blue state to red.
Florida in 2000 - Bush by 537 votes.
Ohio in 2004 - Bush by 118,601.
New Mexico in 2008 - _______ by ___? *gulp*

OK... here's the part where everyone tells me I'm just being paranoid (please!). See you in November!

Views: 3

Tags: 2008, election, mccain, obama

Comment by mombat on June 8, 2008 at 3:41pm
I don't think we should take the results for granted, many things can happen between now and then.
Comment by Laura on June 8, 2008 at 3:48pm
Sorry...but I don't think you're being paranoid.

New Mexico elections (for president and CD 1) have been extremely close the past few years. I wrote a story about that fact -- and voting issues in the state -- a few months ago.

(And no, I'm not tooting my own horn; I'm sure other journalists have written about it as well, but I can find and quote from my own story faster than finding someone else's story.) Anyway here's an excerpt:

In 2006, officials announced two weeks after Election Day that incumbent US Rep. Heather Wilson, R-NM, had defeated Patricia Madrid by less than 900 votes in the 1st Congressional District. In 2004, New Mexico officials certified statewide results two weeks after the election in which Bush narrowly beat US Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. That same year, some voters� ballots were disqualified when polling places in at least five counties and on the Navajo and Laguna reservations ran out of either provisional ballots or the envelopes in which to place them. And in 2000, New Mexico didn't announce Al Gore had defeated Bush by 366 votes until three weeks after Election Day.

Undoubtedly, 2008 promises to be a historic year for New Mexico. In addition to the presidential election, voters will cast ballots for three congressional seats, a US Senate seat and all 112 state legislative positions.

The biggest lesson I personally learned while researching and writing this story? In New Mexico, every single vote matters.
Comment by John on June 8, 2008 at 3:55pm
This seems a pretty realistic possibility. Hell, we're close in everything. Remember the disaster that was Super Tuesday? We didn't have a winner declared for several days after Super Tuesday, while every other state had wrapped up and finished the results.
Comment by Oliver on June 8, 2008 at 6:01pm
Take heart, all you Obama fans. The difference between this year and 2004 is that Big Bill wants Obama to win, and will throw the full force of his considerable political organization behind the effort.
Comment by Ryan Martin Stark on June 9, 2008 at 10:05am
Sorry guys. Discussing the electoral college breakdown in June is a bit like predicting the World Series winner based on the baseball standings in April. Lots of stuff is going to happen between now and November.
Comment by SNM on June 9, 2008 at 12:29pm
I would have to agree with Ryan and others, it is way to early to prognosticate. The 527's are just starting to clear their throats.
Comment by Izquierdo on June 9, 2008 at 6:46pm
If I recall, NM came very close to being decisive in the Gore-Bush race, giving Gore 5 votes after a long count that last three or four days. Florida was the decider, but the math could have just as easily worked for NM.
Comment by LP on June 10, 2008 at 2:28am
If you're looking into electoral vote scenarios and analysis, you can't do better than FiveThirtyEight.com, written by Baseball Prospectus analyst Nate Silver.
Comment by Blakeington on June 10, 2008 at 6:22am
Looking at that sea of red in the nightmare scenario made me puke in my mouth a little bit, and then I realized it was just a scenario. Thanks Soy!

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