First electoral map projection: Obama 298, Romney 170

While this early Electoral College result will cheer Obama partisans, take it with a huge grain of salt. The polls driving the estimates for the battleground states are sparse, and all but a handful of the most recent surveys were fielded in the midst of the Republican primary contest, when the president enjoyed a bigger lead in national polling.

Some background: The methodologies used for both the charts and the map are the same as those that produced the estimates in 2008. Pollster’s final 2008 trend charts had the correct winner ahead in all but two states and missed a perfect projection of the Electoral College count by just a single electoral vote.

However, the polling environment today is very different from that in the final week before a presidential election. First, while pre-election polling in September and October will typically provide an accurate snapshot of the outcome, polling conducted six months before the election is far more prone to error.