As I listened to the news on independent media outlet NPR this morning, their esteemed Capitol pundit, Cokie Roberts, said the presidential race was neck and neck, or some similar cliche.
No, it's not.
As every third-grader in this country knows, the president is elected by the electoral college. The electoral college is, with only two exceptions, determined by winner-take-all votes on a state-by-state basis. This is not news. It's why we have swing states. It's why presidential candidates aren't campaigning in California, Texas or New York this year, but spending a lot of time and money in Ohio and Florida. This is not news.
So why does every joker who gives us news start by referring to the national popular vote? It's meaningless. It's less than meaningless - it's misleading. It's a lie to even mention that there is such a thing as popular vote in a presidential election.
The legendary poll-explainer Nate Silver at 538.com has a historical/projecting chart of the electoral college race. It's not even close. As of this morning, Barack Obama has 298 likely EC votes while Mitt Rmoney has 240. It takes 270 to win. It's not even close.
Nate crunched some numbers - I don't understand how but I trust him - and determined that Obama has a 69% chance of winning in November; Romney has 31%. That's a far cry from the 46%-45% story that Ms Roberts and the rest of the punditocracy would have us believe. Reporting that would give the chattering class less to chat about, I suppose, but isn't it important for people who report the news to report the news?
Anything can happen in politics and November is a long ways away, but let's report the news rather than the distraction, shall we?