Title text: As of this writing, the only thing that's 'razor-thin' or 'too close to call' is the gap between the consensus poll forecast and the result.
In another election-themed comic (this one posted the day after the 2012 U.S. presidential election (see 1122: Electoral Precedent, 1127: Congress, and 1130: Poll Watching), this comic shows a bar graph representing expected (see note below) electoral college votes in the election, including a dotted line indicating the 270 votes needed to win, a span of projections ("Forecast"), and the actual result.
The forecast range is above the 270 line, showing that Obama (the 'Blue Candidate' according to a convention used since the 2000 election) was always projected to win by statisticians like Nate Silver and others. The only question among these people was how much he was going to win by.
By contrast, most of the media was calling the election too close to call, with some news outlets actually projecting a Romney win. Essentially the combined pressures of right wing self referencing media denial, the large number of republican pundits, the tendency of media to give any issue two dramatically or fictionally equal voices (for supposed "fairness") regardless of the relative merits of the two sides, and the desire to present the election as a suspenseful "horse race" resulted in a lot of talking heads disbelieving the polls. These factors shaped the "too close to call" narrative, leading to the punch line of this story. You don't need to believe in science or statistics for it to effectively describe or predict reality. The progressively more radicalized republicans of this era are known for disregarding scientific or statistical consensus which reflects reality but does not conform to their world view.
For those unfamiliar with the US Presidential electoral process: unlike other political offices, the election for president is not a direct election. Instead, each state is apportioned a certain number of "electoral college" votes based on population. For the most part (and there is perennial discussion on whether this should be changed) the candidate that receives the most votes in a given state receives all the electoral college votes for that state. With 538 electoral votes total, receiving 270 electoral college votes ((half of 538) + 1) is sufficient to be declared president-elect. For this reason, sometimes one candidate actually receive more "popular" votes (more people voted for the candidate) but have fewer electoral college votes. This happened with the election of John Quincy Adams in 1824, Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876, Benjamin Harrison in 1888, and George W. Bush in 2000.
The electoral college votes are expectations until the official voting in early November.
- Heading: Math
- [Bar chart showing 58% blue and 42% red. Header showing range between 53-63% with heading "Forecast". Arrow below pointing at meeting of blue and red sections of graph with heading "Result"]
- Caption: Breaking: To surprise of pundits, numbers continue to be best system for determining which of two things is larger.
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