While last week's post focused on the Clinton-Obama match up through the lens of the electoral college, one thing was neglected: John McCain. Yes, he even gets a pass here...apparently. Well, he did until now. Obama's competitiveness in some traditional red states based on these early head-to-head polls was interesting (alarming to some), but McCain is also competitive in some states that have been blue in recent elections (see also CQ's look at recent state polls in NJ, MI and WA). In the match up with Clinton, McCain is ahead in Oregon and Washington and against Obama he is running close in Massachusetts. Massachusetts, Oregon and Washington haven't voted with the GOP presidential nominee since 1984, and while Oregon and Washington have had close statewide elections recently, that hasn't translated to the presidential level.
Massachusetts, on the other hand, is a surprising inclusion on the list. And given that Obama is being backed by both senators and the governor of the state that is something of an anomaly. What is driving this is one poll (of the three conducted in Massachusetts thus far) has McCain and Obama tied. The other two have Obama with comfortable seven point leads.
Well, what about New Jersey (CQ does make a good point.)? The last time the Garden state voted for the GOP nominee was when the first George Bush was elected in 1988. However, coming down the stretch in 2004 the race between Kerry and Bush was fairly tight; tight enough to make the GOP consider expending more resources there (Those of you with access to Lexis Nexis out there can check out this Boston Globe article from mid-October 2004.). New Jersey then, wasn't as eye-catching as Massachusetts (or some of the other red states in which Obama is competitive).
Well, what about the map update?
Twelve states had new polls this week (CA, CT, FL, MI, MO, NJ, OH, OR, PA, VA, WA & WI), and there are some shifts. The overall conclusion though, is still the same (right down to the electoral count in the McCain-Clinton case). Here are the changes:
NJ: Lean Clinton to toss up.
PA: Obama and McCain are now tied (a change from toss up leaning McCain)
VA: McCain Lean to Strong McCain in the match up with Clinton; Toss up to McCain Lean against Obama
WA: Lean McCain to Toss up (still favoring McCain)
WI: Toss up to McCain Lean (v. Clinton) and Obama Lean to Toss up (still favoring Obama)
Clinton then, makes no gains on McCain in the electoral vote count (still 314-224) but the toss up total increased by 16 electoral votes in her direction. Among the big three, she takes Pennsylvania and Ohio, but loses Florida.
***CORRECTION: Wisconsin should be an "Obama lean" state (one poll was mistakenly omitted from the analysis.)
The McCain-Obama map offers a new distinction: a statistical tie in Pennsylvania. And the outcome of this hypothetical election would come down to which way the state broke. Obama holds a 260-257 lead in electoral votes. The 21 in Pennsylvania would put either candidate over the top. In this scenario then, Pennsylvania is the new Ohio is the new Florida.
A note on the methodology:
Some people have taken issue with me using the average of the polls since Super Tuesday; claiming that that gives Obama an advantage. The reason I made Super Tuesday the cut off, was that that was the point at which the race entered the current deadlock phase. Both Clinton and Obama were on "pretty" equal footing from that point forward. The averages help to absorb the shock of any one event on the polls (Bosnia, Wright, etc.). If the most recent polls were used as opposed to these averages the results don't significantly change. Clinton would gain Florida and Nevada but lose Minnesota and New Jersey while tying in New Mexico. Obama would lose Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Wisconsin to McCain, but gain both Pennsylvania and Ohio with Colorado as a tie.
The other argument is more damning. "It is too early." I can't argue with that. It is, but this does give us a fun glimpse into each of the states and further, the direction they are leaning seven months out. One thing is certain, as we add polls, the picture will get clearer...provided the Democrats actually make a decision. As such, I'll keep updating this weekly (every Wednesday) so we can all keep tabs on the progression.
How much difference does it make?: a set of companion maps.
And an update for 4/9/08
Update for 4/16/08
Update for 4/23/08
Update for 4/30/08
Weighted Averages 4/30/08
Weighted Averages 5/7/08
Update for 5/14/08 (weighted)
Update for 5/21/08 (weighted)
New Maps? (5/25/08)
Update for 5/28/08 (weighted)
Update for 6/3/08 (weighted)