PBS Map Makes Electoral College Fun—Seriously.

By David Noonan

With Labor Day behind us, the race for the White House becomes a sprint, and the time has come to pay serious attention to the Electoral College. I know, I know, that sounds really boring, but trust me: with this cool interactive map from PBS Newshour, it’s actually kind of fun.

I’ve tried most of these online gizmos, and Newshour’s is the best. It uses projections from the Associated Press, offers lots of info—including state unemployment rates and election results as far back as 1964—and it’s easy to use.

As of today, the map shows President Barack Obama in the lead with 18 states and 247 electoral votes to Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s 25 states and 206 votes (it takes 270 votes to win). The fun comes with the seven toss-up states*—Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, Ohio, New Hampshire, Virginia and Florida. By clicking on them, you can add their votes to either Obama or Romney and see, for example, that a win in Florida (29 electoral votes) earns Obama a second term. Similarly, if you give Florida, Ohio, Virginia and Colorado to Romney (all single-digit percentage wins for  Obama in 2008), he’s the next president.

You can also do your own thing and, say, take Wisconsin away from Obama and give it to Romney, or take North Carolina away from Romney and give it to Obama. So give it a try. It really is fun.

*While the PBS map gives Wisconsin to Obama and North Carolina to Romney, other maps, including CNN’s, list those two states as toss-ups.