|New Polls (Aug. 17-20)|
(With Leaners/ Without Leaners)
|Iowa||Univ. of Iowa||+5.1/+6.5|
|Ohio||Public Policy Polling||0|
In Ohio, though, the back and forth continues. The tie in the latest PPP poll and another McCain advantage in this month's Rasmussen poll of the Buckeye state (one that largely mirrors the firm's poll of the state last month), swings Ohio back over to McCain's side. The switch of those 20 electoral votes brings to fruition the closer feeling the race has taken on of late. In fairness, though, I should mention that Ohio reclaimed its position as the closest state in our averages. After yielding the title to Nevada after last week's Rasmussen poll in the Silver state, Ohio not only shifted over to McCain, but did so by the smallest of margins: 0.07 points. Due to the weight being placed on the most recent poll, a subsequent result that favored McCain by less than 1.5 points or a poll favoring Obama would shift the state back to the Illinois senator. Needless to say, Ohio continues to be on the Watch List (below).
[One other note, given the updated discussion yesterday regarding Rasmussen's reporting of both "leaners" numbers and those without leaners: If the without leaners data are used, Obama still leads in Ohio even with this new poll included.]
|Changes (Aug. 17-20)|
|Ohio||Toss Up Obama||Toss Up McCain|
That 20 electoral vote shift now brings the tally in the electoral college to 278-260 in Obama's favor. Despite the shift, the election appears to be hinging on the results in the four closest states in our average: Colorado, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia. But given the current dynamics of the race -- seemingly favoring McCain -- you can begin to envision more of those light blue states being brought more seriously into play. That isn't to say that McCain isn't making efforts in any of those states -- he is -- but they are certainly more attainable if the winds are blowing in his direction. Colorado and Nevada are already marked, but states like Michigan and New Hampshire are also worth increased attention if McCain is pushing into the blue states. I exclude Pennsylvania from that discussion because unlike any of the other toss up states favoring Obama, the Keystone state is actually trending toward Obama. Even the lower margins in the most recent polls of Pennsylvania are running above where the weighted average has the state charted. That being the case, the average typically inches up every time there is a poll that runs above the established average.
At the same time, if the political winds were to shift [What, two wind references in one post? I know, I have a problem.] back in Obama's direction -- and they are likely to do so at least a little with the Democrats' convention next week -- the current trend could reverse itself. McCain, though, seems to be in a good spot now. Obviously, polling is moving in his direction, but what happens when the dynamics of campaign spending are altered. Seth Masket over at Enik Rising has a post up asking that very same question. McCain's time of spending furiously is almost at its end. Following the GOP convention, the Arizona senator will be party to the spending cap placed on him by the federal matching funds system. Currently, he's spending the uncapped money collected for use prior to the general election campaign. Granted, he'll have some help from the coordinated efforts of the Republican National Committee, but will we see any drop for McCain after his convention (Well, not directly after it, but in the period afterward.)? Put differently, will Obama be able to use his decision to opt out of federal funding to his advantage to regain his footing in the race? That's definitely something to consider (Perhaps for the comments section.).
|The Electoral College Spectrum*|
|*Follow the link for a detailed explanation on how to read the Electoral College Spectrum.|
**The numbers in the parentheses refer to the number of electoral votes a candidate would have if he won all the states ranked prior to that state. If, for example, McCain won all the states up to and including New Hampshire (all Obama's toss up states, but Michigan), he would have 299 electoral votes. Both candidates numbers are only totaled through their rival's toss up states. In those cases, Obama's number is on the left and McCain's is on the right in italics.
***Colorado 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.
Even with the shift in McCain's direction, the Electoral College Spectrum hasn't changed all that much (nor has the map for that matter). What has happened is that you begin to see the state of play differently. We've moved in short order from talking about how far Obama could potentially push into those pink states to which ones McCain may now be able to pull off. That said, surprisingly tight margins recently in Iowa and Minnesota didn't pull either into the toss up category. And those same four states -- Colorado, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia -- remain the most vital components of either candidate amassing 270 electoral votes. Of course, as Allen -- from Election Projection -- aptly said earlier today, Obama still has more paths to victory. That is certainly true, but if things continue on their current trajectory, that may change as well.
|The Watch List*|
|Alaska||from Toss Up McCain||to McCain lean|
|Florida||from Toss Up McCain||to McCain lean|
|Georgia||from McCain lean||to Strong McCain|
|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 McCain||to Toss Up Obama|
|Virginia||from Toss Up McCain||to Toss Up Obama|
|Washington||from Strong Obama||to Obama lean|
|Wisconsin||from Obama lean||to Toss Up Obama|
|*Weighted Average within a fraction of a point of changing categories.|
As for the Watch List, there are a couple of alterations to Sunday's list to note. Minnesota has shifted from being on the list as a state to potenially shift from Strong Obama to an Obama lean to now being completely off the list. However, if you look a the Spectrum above, you'll see that the North Star state has not shifted at all. Truth be told, Minnesota is a victim of the definition of what's included on the Watch. It is no longer within a fraction of a point of switching back to that Strong Obama distinction, but it is within exactly one point of it (...tied with seldom-polled Delaware). Ohio is the only other change. As I mentioned, the Buckeye state remains on the list but is now slated for a potential move toward Obama instead of a move in McCain's direction.
[Note: I purposely avoided the VP topic here. If you'd like to weigh in on the latest speculation, please follow the link to the VP thread immediately below in "Recent Posts". Thanks.]
On VP Predictions: Timing and Choices
Is Rasmussen's Inclusion of "Leaners" Affecting the Electoral College Outlook Now? An Update
The New Ohio Poll and McCain's VP Choice