Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sarah Palin and the Hail Mary Pass

I've learnt something new today. I now know what a "Hail Mary Pass" is. I'd heard the phrase used twice to describe McCain's pick of Sarah Palin:

A Hail Mary pass or Hail Mary play in American football is a forward pass made in desperation, with only a small chance of success. The typical Hail Mary is a very long forward pass thrown near the end of a half or end of a game where there is no probability for any other play to score points. This play is unlikely to be successful, because of the general inaccuracy of the pass and the defensive team's preparedness for the play makes it likely that it can intercept or knock down the ball.

Votemaster on uses the phrase in a little playlet which posits the reason for McCain's choice of the Moose-eater:

Schmidt: Yeah, but now Obama is just 5 EVs short of a tie (which means it goes to the House and he'll win there) and 6 EVs short of a clean win. Look, there are six swing states this time: Florida, Virginia, Ohio, Missouri, Colorado, and Nevada. We have to win all six of them. Can't lose a single state or we're dead meat.

McCain: I'm a fighter. You know that. The gooks couldn't break me. I'll campaign like hell in all six. Don't worry.

Schmidt: I'm worried. We're 50-50 on all six. It's like flipping a coin six times and getting six heads. One chance in 64, roughly 2%. We have to do something dramatic. Something that will throw all calculations out the window. Something that completely shakes up everything. Something that gives us a fresh start. Gotta hit the RESET button. carries the latest "scores on the doors" for the Electoral College based on the latest polls. The latest report shows Obama on 278 electoral votes* (he needs 270 to win). This might explain the desperation behind McCain's Hail Mary Pass.

However, my calculations based on the Cook Report 9 "toss-up" states and a more conservative look at the last few polls, gives Obama 264 votes:

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