|New Polls (Aug. 6-9)|
(With Leaners/ Without Leaners)
|Alabama||Capital Survey Research Center||+13|
|Wisconsin||Wisconsin Policy Research Institute||+6|
It is difficult to say definitively whether this set of polling is more favorable to McCain or Obama, but what we can discern is that, on the whole, they maintain the status quo in FHQ's weighted averages. If, for the sake of parsimony, we focus on this data and count the Rasmussen polls "with leaners," none of these state polls break more than three points from our average with the exceptions of Alabama and Oregon. It is odd though that both polls echo the previous polls in those states by the same firms. Capital Survey Research Center's late June poll in Alabama showed the same 13 point McCain advantage that it does now. Likewise, the Oregon poll from Survey USA has the exact same 3 point Obama edge that the firm's mid-June poll in the Beaver state had. In both cases the polls show significantly smaller margins than the combination of other polls show. Other than the Zogby poll in June (11 point McCain lead) and the June poll from Rasmussen, no Alabama poll has had a margin less than 18 points since February. In Oregon, no poll other than Survey USA has shown the state to be any closer than eight points since late March. These two polls then are out of the ordinary compared to most of the other polls from both states while at the same time being consistent with past polls conducted within the last two months in these states by the same firms.
Of the remaining states where polling data has been released since Wednesday, Michigan and Missouri are also of note given that the pair of states is within the toss up category. In Missouri, the polling results have been erratic since mid-May, but still comes out closer to McCain than Obama currently. Of the ten polls since that point, six have favored McCain and the other four have given the edge to Obama. May is also the month to note in Michigan polling as well. The three polls released in the Wolverine state in May all showed McCain ahead by small margins. Once the calendar turned to June (and Obama claimed the Democratic nomination), the polling margins moved in Obama's direction. The Illinois senator's bounce there peaked in late June and early July before a series of polls showed a tighter race there (yet one that still favors Obama). Incidentally, Michigan has been blue since just after Obama wrapped up the nomination. Based mostly on those May polls showing McCain ahead, Michigan had moved into and stayed in the red (during the span of FHQ electoral college projections from April 30 through June 11). Long story short, Michigan is a toss up state that favors Obama while Missouri is a toss up state that favors McCain.
With no changes to the map, the underlying 298-240 electoral college tally remains static. Obama maintains that 58 electoral vote advantage based in large part on the number of electoral votes in states in which he holds a solid advantage over McCain. As I mentioned in the hypothetical look at what our averages would be by including just polls conducted since June, this is not unlike the delegate advantage that Obama held over Clinton following his post-Super Tuesday sweep of contests during February. That provided him with the cushion necessary to effectively win the nomination. Are we looking at a similar scenario here? We cannot definitively say, but that 81 electoral vote advantage in "strong" states is the difference at the moment. How the toss up states break will have a great deal to say about who ultimately wins this election, but if those states are divided approximately evenly between both McCain and Obama, then it looks as if Obama will likly have enough electoral votes to claim victory.
|The Electoral College Spectrum|
|* Pennsylvania is the state where Obama crosses (or McCain would cross) the 270 electoral vote threshold to win the presidential election. That state is referred to as the victory line.|
Having said that, though, our Electoral College Spectrum (states ranked from most pro-Obama to most pro-McCain) still shows a two state spread between the partisan line and the victory line (where the candidates pass or would pass the 270 electoral vote threshold) with the latter just within the blue states that signify Obama advantages. McCain, given the current FHQ averages, has the least amount of work to do in Ohio and Nevada to swing those states in his direction. Given the current trends, Colorado and/or Michigan are likely to supplant Pennsylvania as the victory line state. Since June, only Rasmussen has shown anything less than a 7 point margin in the Keystone state, while Colorado and Michigan have had, on average, tighter margins during the same period. Regardless of the victory line, McCain's best bets for switches are the six toss up states in light blue.
|The Watch List*|
|Florida||from Toss Up McCain||to McCain lean|
|Georgia||from McCain lean||to Strong McCain|
|Minnesota||from Strong Obama||to Obama lean|
|Mississippi||from Strong McCain||to McCain lean|
|Nevada||from Toss Up Obama||to Toss Up McCain|
|New Mexico||from Obama lean||to Toss Up Obama|
|North Carolina||from Toss Up McCain||to McCain lean|
|Ohio||from Toss Up Obama||to Toss Up McCain|
|Virginia||from Toss Up McCain||to Toss Up Obama|
|Washington||from Strong Obama||to Obama lean|
|*Weighted Average within a fraction of a point of changing categories.|
Turning our attention the the Watch List (states most likely to switch categories), Nevada and Ohio remain the only two states among those six that are at all close to moving into the red. And while McCain can play offense in those two states, the Arizona senator likely has to play defense in Virginia to prevent Obama from picking off the Old Dominion. Of the remaining states on the list, only Florida and New Mexico are bordering on coming into play.
One thing to keep an eye on as we head into the new week is how the Olympics will affect the frequency of polling. Will the polling firms opt to scale back their polling operations while at least some of America's (a majority?) attention is shifted to the games in Beijing? We've had bursts of polling recently, but there still appears to be a general underlying trend of about 20 polls every week. If there is a drop below that line over the course of the next two weeks, we'll likely have an easy answer to this question. If there isn't a drop, good for us. More polls.
On VP Announcement Timing and Graphic Naming -- Some Housekeeping
What Would Happen If...
The Electoral College Map (8/6/08)