Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Electoral College Map (8/6/08)

The latter half of the week has been the time for releasing polling recently. That has made the last two Wednesday electoral college posts pretty skimpy though. Still, there were 9 new polls out in 7 states since Sunday. Of those seven states, four were already McCain states that became even more so with the addition of these polls. Arizona had been drifting away from its home state senator and nearly into "McCain lean" territory, but two new polls there provided him with some added cushion that moved the state more firmly into the red.

New Polls (Aug. 3-6)
(With Leaners/ Without Leaners)
Public Policy Polling
Public Policy Polling
Survey USA
Oklahoma Poll

Florida, after moving toward Obama in recent polling has shown a resurgence of support for McCain since August began. The Sunshine state is still considered a toss up here even when those August polls are included. However, only one out of four Florida polls in July favored McCain, but the two polls out so far this month have favored McCain.

In the blue states where new polling results were released, the news was mixed. Connecticut and Washington are still comfortably blue for Obama. Massachusetts is still a solid Obama state as well, but a single digit lead in the latest Suffolk poll (down 14 points since the firm last polled the Bay state in late June) was an eye-opening result out of a states that is a typically dependable Democratic state. FHQ sees Massachusetts similar to the way it viewed Arizona when it was on the Watch List (see below). It may be trending in a direction contrary to where you might expect, given the circumstances, but ultimately voters will pull the lever for the candidate of the party they have supported in recent cycles.
[Click Map to Enlarge]

Despite the new polling, though, nothing changed as far as the outlook in the electoral college is concerned. Obama maintains 298-240 electoral vote advantage. Things did change in the rankings though. Pennsylvania remains the breaking point where each candidate passes (or would pass) the 270 electoral vote total necessary to claim the White House, but the states where polling has been released since Sunday generally moved in McCain's direction. Oklahoma suplants Utah as the reddest state and the remaining red states moved further into the red as well. Of the three blue states represented, Connecticut held its position while Massachusetts and Washington switched places. So, even though there was movement toward McCain, it didn't particularly help in terms of shifting any "blue state" electoral votes his way. In the case of Florida, though, the good news for McCain is that while it is still a toss up, it is now moving in his direction at least. That is a valuable 27 electoral votes the Arizona senator likely would not want to relinquish.

The Electoral College State Rankings
* Pennsylvania is the state where Obama crosses (or McCain would cross) the 270 electoral vote threshold to win the presidential election.

The new polling out of Arizona pulls the Grand Canyon state off the Watch List, and was replaced by the addition of Florida and Massachusetts. McCain likely will not win Massachusetts (and I doubt he is putting much effort in in the Bay state), but protecting his position relative to Obama in Florida is an important piece of his electoral college equation. On that, Florida's reappearance on the Watch List (as potentially shifting from a toss up favoring McCain to a more comfortable McCain lean) is certainly welcome news.

The Watch List*
Floridafrom Toss Up McCain
to McCain lean
Georgiafrom McCain leanto Strong McCain
Massachusettsfrom Strong Obamato Obama lean
Minnesotafrom Strong Obamato Obama lean
Mississippifrom Strong McCainto McCain lean
Nevadafrom Toss Up Obamato Toss Up McCain
New Mexicofrom Obama leanto Toss Up Obama
North Carolinafrom Toss Up McCain
to McCain lean
Ohiofrom Toss Up Obamato Toss Up McCain
Virginiafrom Toss Up McCainto Toss Up Obama
Washingtonfrom Strong Obamato Obama lean
*Weighted Average within a fraction of a point of changing categories.

Recent Posts:
Did Obama or McCain Win July?

About Those Rules: What Obama's New Florida/Michigan Stance Means for 2012 and Beyond

The Electoral College Map (8/3/08)


Robert said...

The breaking point doesn't cut it. I liked Scott's proposal of 'The Victory Line' for the yellow state. The last few polls on RCP suggest that the narrowing between Obama and McCain has stopped, at least temporarily. Looks like Obama is going to Bayh-pass Indiana for the time being. See

You need to scroll down to get the Obama/Bayh details.

Jack said...

If Pennsylvania remains the yellow state (I'm staying neutral in the debate as to what to call it) - I'm pretty comfortable as an Obama supporter.

But if I only saw the Massachusetts polls, I would be conceding the election. In 1972, for instance, George McGovern won Massachusetts by nine points. McGovern, of course, did not win any other states (but did win DC).

Josh Putnam said...

Here's that Bayh link from Rob.

Yeah, I haven't settled in on breaking point, Rob. I'll tell you what I'll go and collect all those suggestions and put them here (or in their own post) for a vote. Who says democracy is dead?

Glenn, who was commenting here over the weekend, wanted to see what things would look like if I removed some of the older polls from our weighted average. I hope to have that hypothetical up tomorrow. Just as a sneak peek: PA won't be the as yet unnamed state in yellow and Massachusetts won't be too close either.

Jack said...

I can't stand the drama! I do have a guess as to what it would be, although that might change depending on what you consider to be "older polls."

Just for fun, I figured out which state it would be using 538's numbers. It's Colorado. (I'm not referring to their "tipping-point states" graphic, but to the state that would push either one over the top.)

Josh Putnam said...

"Older" in this case refers to any poll out prior to June. Obviously this will shift things in Obama's direction in several cases. I glanced through where 538's decay function (the half life equation Nate uses) cuts the polls off and in most cases that fell in mid- to late April or early May. I thought about using a similar sort of cut point, but opted for June instead. That way we have the general election polling with Clinton removed. Now, it could certainly be argued that a handful of those early June polls were conducted prior to Clinton dropping out. However, as of May 31 and the RBC meeting, it was pretty clear who the nominee would be.

This cut off isn't without flaws, but as I say, this is for purely hypothetical purposes.

Jack said...

Then again, it was pretty clear who the nominee was going to be in March, though I suppose there are a few Clinton (and Ron Paul) diehards who still question who the nominees will be.

538 might tend to cut them off in late April but those polls don't get much weight. June is very sensible. For states that haven't been polled since before June, you can use their last poll or their average.

I'm going to hazard a guess that it's going to be Michigan. Or Colorado. Or Ohio. I'm one for one on this site (in the match the VP with the President quiz) so I'm going to risk that and guess Ohio.

Robert said...

Map lovers need to look at Jay Cost's analysis of PA before Josh moves the current Victory Line to some other state.

Josh Putnam said...

Here's that Cost link from Rob.

The Victory Line isn't being moved. This is a "What if" scenario and nothing more.

I'll have that up shortly. I had to move offices this morning so I'm working on a bit of a delay.

Josh Putnam said...

Oh and Jack, you are now two for two. Good guess on Ohio.

Jack said...

Thank you! Though I must admit I checked other sites (well, just 538) to get an idea of the polling done before and after June 1.

Is that considered cheating? It did give me some extra knowledge but didn't exactly give me the answer.

Josh Putnam said...

No, that's not cheating. That's considered doing your homework. I never said this was a closed-note test.