Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Electoral College Map (8/31/08)

During a slow week during the Democratic convention, there wasn't a whole lot of polling work being done out in the field. Rasmussen, which is the largest provider of polling data this cycle, took the week off, but CNN filled the void with four polls in swing states. Overall there were eight polls in eight states. And despite the relative lack of polls, there were some interesting shake ups in our various metrics. Perhaps they weren't as big as McCain tapping Sarah Palin as his running mate, but they were big nonetheless.

New Polls (Aug. 27-31)
StatePollMargin
(With Leaners/ Without Leaners)
California
PPIC
+9
Colorado
CNN
+1
Florida
Mason-Dixon
+1
Idaho
Greg Smith
+23
Nevada
CNN
0
New Mexico
CNN
+14
Ohio
University of Akron
0
Pennsylvania
CNN
+9

There is a lot of blue in the polls on the surface, but there are some interesting quirks in there as well. The CNN poll in Colorado handed McCain a one point edge in the Centennial state, a state that has been favoring Obama throughout, but that was counteracted by a similar, yet opposite, result in Florida, where Obama is up a point. Both are tightening as we enter the traditional kick off to the general election campaign (post-Labor Day). Other than those, there aren't any real surprises. Idaho is a little more strongly McCain in the Greg Smith poll there than it had been in the only other two polls conducted. Both New Mexico and Pennsylvania have favored Obama since he wrapped up the nomination (and before that for that matter), but both had drawn closer in some recent polling. The CNN polls in each then, are running ahead of where we have both states in our weighted averages.

Changes (Aug. 27-31)
StateBeforeAfter
NevadaToss Up ObamaTie

Ohio is tied as is Nevada. Ohio had been drawing attention in these posts of late due to the relative volatility in the polls triggering a back and forth between the Buckeye state favoring Obama or McCain. It has settled into Obama territory, but the margin is still razor thin. The real news is that the tie in Nevada has brought the weight average to a tie in the Silver state. This happened with Ohio earlier in the summer, but that is the only incidence of that having occurred here. Nevada, too, is very close -- obviously -- but this shifts the partisan line in the Electoral College Spectrum below to Nevada instead of between Nevada and Virginia. But I'll get to that shortly.

[Click Map to Enlarge]

The map then has a change for the first time since the recent Ohio flip-flop. [Sorry Ohio, I've heard a bit too much John Kerry this week -- at the convention and this morning on This Week on ABC. Flip-flop is fresh in my mind.] The underlying dynamic remains the same though. Obama still has that cushion of strong states, but has lost five electoral votes due to Nevada shifting into the gray area it is currently occupying on the map.

The Electoral College Spectrum*
HI-4
(7)**
WA-11
(165)
CO-9***
(269/278)
AK-3
(373/168)
KS-6
(64)
VT-3
(10)
MN-10
(175)
NH-4***
(273/269)
MO-11
(384/165)
NE-5
(58)
RI-4
(14)
DE-3
(178)
OH-20
(293/265)
SC-8
(154)
AR-6
(53)
IL-21
(35)
OR-7
(185)
NV-5
(298/245)
SD-3
(146)
TN-11
(47)
CT-7
(42)
NJ-15
(200)
VA-13
(311/240)
TX-34
(143)
ID-4
(36)
ME-4
(46)
IA-7
(207)
ND-3
(314/227)
GA-15
(109)
KY-8
(32)
MD-10
(56)
NM-5
(212)
MT-3
(317/224)
MS-6
(94)
AL-9
(24)
NY-31
(87)
WI-10
(222)
NC-15
(332/221)
WV-5
(88)
OK-7
(15)
CA-55
(142)
MI-17
(239/316)
FL-27
(359/206)
AZ-10
(83)
WY-3
(8)
MA-12
(154)
PA-21
(260/299)
IN-11
(370/179)
LA-9
(73)
UT-5
(5)
*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 Pennsylvania (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.

***The line between Colorado and New Hampshire is the where Obama crosses (or McCain would cross) the 270 electoral vote threshold to win the presidential election. That line is referred to as the victory line.

Nevada, Ohio and Virginia remain the states to keep an eye on. Each is tight now, yet together they don't provide McCain with enough electoral votes to surpass 270. Nevada didn't move, but several other states -- states which had polls this week -- did move on the Spectrum. Idaho became even more intensely red while Florida moved in the opposite direction, moving closer to the partisan line -- the point at which states begin favoring the other candidate. On the blue end, New Mexico became bluer, jumping Wisconsin on the weight of that CNN poll while the single digit PPIC California poll pushed the Golden state past New York and closer to the partisan line. California and Idaho aren't going anywhere, but the fact that Florida and New Mexico are moving in Obama's direction is worth noting.

The Watch List*
StateSwitch
Alaska
from Toss Up McCain
to McCain lean
Georgiafrom McCain leanto Strong McCain
Minnesotafrom Obama leanto Strong Obama
Mississippifrom Strong McCainto McCain lean
Nevadafrom Tieto Toss Up McCain/Obama
Ohiofrom Toss Up Obamato Toss Up McCain
Virginiafrom Toss Up McCainto Toss Up Obama
Washingtonfrom Strong Obamato Obama lean
Wisconsinfrom Obama leanto Toss Up Obama
*Weighted Average within a fraction of a point of changing categories.

Both move off the Watch List to end August, which brings the list under ten states for the first time since we added it. While this isn't definitive, it is on some level more evidence that the race is settling down and that the true battlegrounds are shaping up. Convention season may do something to shake that up, but we'll settle in again after that as we move further into September and closer to that first debate at the end of the month.


Recent Posts:
From Wyoming: An Answer to the "Will the GOP Sanctions Have Teeth" Question

The Barr/Nader Effect Revisited

The Links (8/30/08): Sarah Palin/GOP Convention Edition

4 comments:

Robert said...

The post-convention bounce still seems to be going on (or is it a negative response to the Palin nomination?).

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2008/president/us/general_election_mccain_vs_obama-225.html

I think that Republicans are unwittingly lowering Obama expectations for the debates by spreading the idea that he can only do well with the teleprompter. Likewise, I think the Democrats are seriously misunderestimating Sarah Palin. I heard her on an interview on energy policy this weekend, and she was very convincing. It seems like the Democrats are trying to make this election one about small things, ignoring Obama's warning. Jay Cost has an interesting read on Palin that appears to be much more realistic.

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/horseraceblog/2008/09/what_the_heck_is_mccain_up_to.html

Josh Putnam said...

There's a series of videos circulating today from a roundtable during her run for governor in 2006. Commentators have come to much the same conclusion you did.

Credit where credit is due for that link: FiveThirtyEight.

Josh Putnam said...

Here are those links from Rob:

One

and

Two

Robert said...

She apparently favored the bridge to nowhere (during her 2006 campaign) before she rejected it (when it became politically infeasible to support it). The state also got much of that money for the bridge, but it was spent elsewhere. We'll see how well she holds up under the immense pressure, and how well her record holds up.