A number of nifty applications have popped up in response to the 2008 elections, like Google's tool to search political speeches and the Obama iPhone application. One more social-networking application is attempting to gain from the current political fever with a very speculative electoral map. For an application with only 321 active monthly users on Facebook, the myPicks U.S. Election 2008 electoral college map looks surprisingly (though certainly not completely) reasonable.
Developed by the Indian company Pramati Technologies, using the Sun Microsystems' social-application tool zembly, myPicks U.S. Election 2008 is a game that lets you "run" for office. The game, which runs on Facebook and MySpace, was developed after a strong response to myPicks Beijing 2008 on Facebook.
The point of the game is to accumulate points to move up in the political ranks. A player starts out as a lowly citizen with zero points but quickly earns them by participating in polls, answering trivia questions, and getting "donations" from other users of the application. It takes 2,500 points to put you in the running for school board and 10,000 makes you a candidate for mayor, but the ultimate goal is to become a presidential candidate with 1,000,000 points.
The application asks each player to give their state and to choose a campaign slogan. For the uninspired, it has a handful of generic slogans it offers up like, "Preparing for the future" and "Tomorrow is looking great." It then asks you to answer whether you will be voting for John McCain or Barack Obama, and which of the two you think will win.
The game shows what the electoral map would look like if the presidential election were held that day, based on the answers given by users of the application. Given the application's paltry following, the electoral map clearly cannot represent any sort of reality. On October 9, the application had Obama winning a solid 286 electoral votes and McCain earning 152, with 100 electoral votes left as a toss-up.
As it turns out, though, the map does not look too different from serious predictions being made at sites like FiveThirtyEight.com, which as of October 8 had Obama winning 346.8 electoral votes and McCain winning 191.2. Both maps have critical states like Nevada and Ohio in Obama's camp, while the traditionally Republican-voting Virginia appears as a solid Obama state on both maps.
There are, of course, some wacky outcomes on the myPicks map, such as the tie between Obama and McCain in Louisiana. Perhaps it just goes to show that Obama needs to work the Facebook crowd if he wants to win over more red states.