Yesterday, I mentioned two sites that do EV calculations based on polls–NowChannel.com and Electoral Vote Predictor 2004. And, of course, there are many, many others.
But, in the end, the estimates they provide cannot, by their very nature (they are driven by the latest polls and only the latest polls), incorporate the wide range of historical and campaign data that are relevant to thinking through a state’s probable electoral outcome this year. For that, we have to fall back on that old stand-by: the educated judgement of an actual person sifting through all available evidence.
Here’s a good example of what I have in mind. “mattb25” over the Daily Kos offers an assessment that, in his description:
1. Assigned Bush and Kerry their safe states
2. Briefly examine[d] five states that are pretty strongly leaning Bush but could conceivably go Kerry: Missouri, Nevada, Colorado, West Virginia & Arkansas
3. [Took] a closer look at the nine states that, in my view, are 99% certain to determine the election: Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan, New Mexico, & New Hampshire. Please note that I DO NOT consider these states toss-ups, like much of the ignorant SCLM does–but they are the states that the campaigns are playing for right now.
I strongly recommend you read his piece in full. He does an excellent job of combining a critical analysis of available polling data with reasonable judgements about the state of the campaign and underlying political trends and history in a given state. The result is a solid assessment that takes you a lot farther than any purely-poll-driven EV analysis possibly can.