Make Your Own Electoral College Pool

A campaign blog.
Oct. 28 2008 5:09 PM

Make Your Own Electoral College Pool

Politics is a horse race whether you like it or not , so you might as well gamble on it with your friends. Here are the rules the Slate staff is using for our (no stakes) Electoral College pool.

Contestants choose a winner for every state. Points are awarded based on how certain the state looks to go to one candidate or the other, rewarding correct picks that go against the current political winds, like so:

  • 3 points for correctly guessing a tossup state
  • 2 points for correctly guessing a leaning state in the direction it's leaning
  • 6 points for correctly guessing a leaning state against the direction it's leaning
  • 1 point for correctly guessing a safe state in the direction it's leaning
  • 10 points for correctly guessing a safe state against the direction it's leaning
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The status of each state is determined by our " Election Scorecard " feature, which uses data from Pollster.com . As a tiebreaker, players guess the percentage of the popular vote for both McCain and Obama.

If you want to organize your own pool by these rules, here's a form ( Google spreadsheet or Excel file ) that lists the tilt for each state and calculates the electoral score for each set of picks. We'll post another spread after the election that calculates the score for each set of predictions.

A note on strategy: Some have wondered whether it would make sense to gamble the other way on all the safe states, given that an upset in one of them is worth 10 times as much as guessing according to the polls. This strategy would pay off only if more than 10 percent of the safe states flipped between now and the election, a sufficiently low probability to make it a risky move.

Got any good stories from your office Electoral College pool? Send them along . (E-mail may be quoted by name unless the sender specifies otherwise.)

Chris Wilson is a Slate contributor.

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