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Not too elastic

Posted: August 23, 2012 9:50 a.m.
Updated: August 24, 2012 5:00 a.m.

By now, everyone is accustomed to being bombarded by different presidential polls that purport to indicate how the race between President Obama and Mitt Romney is going. Many of these focus on the so-called swing states -- those that are still up in the air and will probably decide the election. But political analyst Nate Silver, who’s been extremely accurate in predicting political goings-on in the past, has a new measure, and South Carolina ranks at the very top.

It’s called elasticity, and it measures how much changing political conditions affect the vote in a particular state. Those states which move and roll with various economic conditions, for instance, would be highly elastic; those which tend to vote in a particular way, regardless of how things are going, are not elastic. The Palmetto State ranks 48th in elasticity, meaning that the presidential vote is predictable, and of course that means predictably Republican. Alabama and Mississippi are also not elastic, both of them solidly in the GOP camp. The most inelastic area in the country is the District of Columbia, which is solidly Democratic no matter who’s running for president or what policies they’re espousing.

The three most elastic states -- those that examine the political climate most closely and make a decision based on current conditions and policies -- are all in New England. They’re Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Maine. In the weeks leading up to November, both Obama and Romney will be trying to make headway with elastic voters. You won’t see much of them in South Carolina because minds are already made up.

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