Infographic: The 507 Different Paths To Presidential Victory

The New York Times’ cornucopia of statistics-driven interactives gives us something to watch today.

Reporting the first official election results from Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, is an Election Day tradition. The tiny town is a novel bellwether for the rest of the country, and this morning, the town reported a perfect tie, with five votes for Obama and five for Romney. If a 10-person town can be any indication, we’re in for a long day.


Thanks to the Internet, we’ve got dozens of ways to watch the results roll in. Parsing the hundreds of scenarios that could unfold today is a more complicated proposition. But The New York Times does a beautiful job with this bracket interactive, leading us through the 431 discrete paths to the White House open to Obama, and the 76 paths open to Romney. Designed by Mike Bostock and Shan Carter, it’s the most illuminating election graphic we’ve seen around the web.

As with the last few elections, Bostock shows us that it’s likely that everything will hinge on Ohio. Obama’s simplest path to certain victory would take only two steps: winning Florida and Ohio. Romney’s easiest route to victory would take five steps: winning Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, and Wisconsin. There are five scenarios that could result in a tie–but there’s only a %.98 chance of that happening.

The interactive is driven by math from statistical boy wonder (and nonpartisan!) Nate Silver, who has endured bizarre personal attacks over the week for showing how Obama has a 82.66543% chance of winning the electoral college today. Silver, who got his start by creating a program that predicts the performance of MLB players, has come under fire for his predictions, which are nothing if not based on cold, hard data. Which makes the criticism of him and his work feel that much more like a witch hunt. Hence, the best single-serving website of the day: Is Nate Silver A Witch?

Anyway, head over to the NYT to check out the bracket diagram as the day progresses.

About the author

Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan is Co.Design's deputy editor.