# Frequently Asked Questions

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## Presidential Prediction

**Where is the District of Columbia on the map and what are the
probabilities associated with it?**

The District of Columbia is not on the map though it is included
in the statistical and probabilistic computations. At present,
the probability of President Obama winning the District of
Columbia is 1.00. This probability has not changed since our web
site went live.

**How are Maine and Nebraska handled?**

Maine and Nebraska split their electoral college votes (4 and 5,
respectively) based on their congressional districts. However,
since congressional district state polling data is unavailable,
these two states are treated like every other state (i.e., all or
nothing).

**Is a tie possible?**

Yes, ties are possible. There are numerous combinations of states
that can lead to a tie (269 Electoral College votes for both
candidates). However, only a small fraction of such combinations
are likely to occur.

**What are Safe Electoral Votes?**

Safe electoral votes are the votes that a candidate is almost
certainly expected to win. Whenever a candidate has an 85% chance
or greater of winning a state, the state's votes are considered
safe.

**What are the thresholds for the colors on the map?**

States are considered *Strong Democrat* if the Democratic
candidate has an 85% chance or higher of winning the state,
*Mild Democrat* if the Democratic candidate has between a
60%-85% chance of winning the state, *Mild Republican* if
the Republican candidate has between a 60%-85% chance of winning
the state, and *Strong Republican* if the Republican
candidate has an 85% chance or higher of winning the state. If
neither candidate has above a 60% chance of winning the state, it
is considered a *Toss Up* (also referred to as a
battleground state).

## Senate Prediction

**How are Independents handled?**

For the 2012 elections, there are two independent candidates
running, Bernie Sanders in Vermont and Angus King in Maine.
Sanders currently caucuses with the Democrats, and King is
expected to do so. Because of this, the independent candidates
can be included with the Democrats when computing the probability
of one party achieving a majority. Columns labeled
*Dem + Ind* report values when this is the case, while
columns labeled *Dem* or *Ind* consider these two
groups separately.

**What are Safe Seats?**

Safe seats are seats that a party is almost certainly expected to
win. Whenever the party's candidate has an 85% chance or greater
of winning, the seat is considered safe.

**How are upcoming primaries handled?**

In states where one or both primaries have not finished, the
candidate currently leading in the polls is assumed to be the
winner. Polling data comparing the leading candidates from both
parties is then used to determine which party is likely to win the
state.

## House Prediction

**How are Independents handled?**

At present, no available polling data shows any races that are
likely to be won by Independent candidates. Therefore,
Independents are omitted from the House calculations.

**Why do the House results change so little?**

There are two major reasons why the House results remain fairly
constant. First, only a handful of House races are truly
competitive, so many of the districts are guaranteed to one party
or the other. Second, even for the the competitive races, polling
data is not widely available. Without new polls, the results will
not change.

**How are the map colors determined?**

The states on the House map are colored in proportion to the
expected number of representatives from each party. As an example,
consider a state with D districts, where the expected numbers of
representatives from Parties A and B are given by x and 10-x,
respectively. The colors are determined based on the proportions
x/D and (10-x)/D and the thresholds used on the presidential site.

**Is a tie possible?**

The total number of representatives in the House is 435. Since the
current model does not consider Independent candidates, there is
no way for the two parties to have an equal number of House
seats.

## Miscellaneous

**Why do some probabilities not add up to 1.00?**

Not all probabilities will add up to 1.00 because of slight
round-off error in the computations and the need to truncate the
numbers for display purposes.

**How can the predictions on different web sites be
different?**

Each web site uses their own set of algorithms and methodologies.
In any close election (as this one appears to be), one site may
predict the Democratic candidate as the winner, while another may
predict the Republican candidate as the winner. Since our
methodology only uses state polling data and ignores popular vote
polling data, it may seem that one candidate is gaining in
popularity, yet their probability of winning the election does not
change significantly or moves in a direction contrary to what one
would expect. For our methodology, only when there are shifts in
state polling data will the results change the prediction measures.

**Where can I find results from previous elections?**

Our prediction results for the 2008 presidential election can be
found here.

**Other Prediction Sites**

- FiveThirtyEight (http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/)
- 270 To Win (http://www.270towin.com/)
- Electoral-Vote.com (http://www.electoral-vote.com/)

**Polling Sites**

- RealClearPolitics (http://www.realclearpolitics.com/)
- Polling Report (http://pollingreport.com/)
- Rasmussen Reports (http://rasmussenreports.com/)
- SurveyUSA (http://www.surveyusa.com/)
- Pollster.com (http://pollster.com/)