|New Polls (July 21-23)|
|Ohio||Public Policy Polling||+8|
Ohio shifts its 20 electoral votes from Obama to McCain. This is based in large part on the Rasmussen poll that has the Arizona senator up by 10 points in the Buckeye state. That ten point lead is an anomaly when compared with the most recent polls out of the state, especially in contrast to the 8 point lead the PPP poll handed Obama in the state just two days prior. Some saw this and wanted to know why. I don't have a problem with asking why, but in this case I didn't really flinch because Ohio has been so close throughout FHQ's tracking of the electoral college since March. My thinking was that if Obama gets an 8 point poll from one firm, McCain was just as likely to get an 8 point (or in this case, 10 point) advantage in another poll. That's just the nature of Ohio. And yes, I say this even though the majority of polls recently have been trending in Obama's direction. Ohio is simply that close.
|Changes (July 21-23)|
|Ohio||Toss Up Obama||Toss Up McCain|
These widely differing numbers--just a couple of days apart--do point out a weakness in the weighted average we use here. With all the weight on the newest poll--the one favoring McCain--Ohio's electoral votes move into his column. Well, why don't you put equal weight on both of those new polls since they basically average each other out? I thought about that, but opted to stay true to the measure established. Our rule here is to only give equal weight to more than one poll if they surface on the same day. With that said though, let's be transparent here and report the results if we had decided to move in that direction. As it stands, the Rasmussen poll is the most recent poll in Ohio and is given the extra weight. That's the formula and it puts the average for Ohio at 0.174 in McCain's favor. If we throw that PPP poll that gave the edge to Obama into the "added weight" pile, Ohio stays in Obama's column with the average basically remaining stationary at 0.167 in the Illinois senator's direction.
In other words, no matter how you look at it, Ohio is a toss up state. It remains the closest state to flipping between candidates, followed closely by Nevada and Virginia. And those three are pretty much in line with what FiveThirtyEight.com (see right hand column and scroll down) calls their Tipping Point states: those states most likely to be the states that put either candidate over the top in the electoral college total. Nevada, Ohio and Virginia make up three of the top five. Colorado and Michigan round out that list there, but aren't as close in the FHQ average. In fact both have been off the Watch List for a few weeks now.
For the time being then, Ohio and its 20 electoral votes shift over to McCain, altering each candidate's electoral totals for the first time in July. In the process the race becomes closer. Well, the race may not be any closer but the electoral vote totals for McCain and Obama are closer. The fact remains though, that we are talking about a shift from one toss up category to the other. These states and their electoral votes are still very much in play (14 states and 167 electoral votes). That hasn't changed. McCain's lean and strong totals are still less together than Obama's strong category by itself, and that continues to put McCain at a disadvantage. However, to see any state, much less Ohio, switch in his direction is a positive for the McCain campaign given how much things have moved in Obama's direction (on the whole) since the beginning of June.
|The Watch List*|
|Arizona||from Strong McCain||to McCain lean|
|Florida||from Toss Up McCain||to McCain lean|
|Georgia||from McCain lean||to Strong McCain|
|Minnesota||from Strong Obama||to Obama lean|
|Mississippi||from McCain lean||to Strong McCain|
|Nevada||from Toss Up Obama||to Toss Up McCain|
|North Carolina||from Toss Up McCain||to McCain lean|
|North Dakota||from Toss Up McCain||to Toss Up Obama|
|Ohio||from Toss Up McCain||to Toss Up Obama|
|South Carolina||from Toss Up McCain||to McCain lean|
|Virginia||from Toss Up McCain||to Toss Up Obama|
|Wisconsin||from Obama lean||to Toss Up Obama|
|*Weighted Average within a fraction of a point of changing categories.|
So the Watch List adds Georgia and retains Ohio, though the potential switch is from McCain to Obama instead of vice versa in the Buckeye state. Of the 12 states now on the list, Ohio, Virginia, Nevada and North Dakota (in that order) are the ones most likely to change sides as opposed simply changing categories. And with a new poll out in Virginia this morning, we already have something to look at for Sunday's edition.
The Electoral College Map (7/20/08) [Update]
The Electoral College Map (7/16/08)
The 30/30 Rule: Obama's Chances in Georgia...and across the South