Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Electoral Map (8/24/08)

Wow! Thirty-five polls in 21 states certainly augmented our database of existing polling between Wednesday and Sunday. And what's more is that we have a good idea about what the race looks like in several swing states that received a handful of polls each. Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia all had multiple polls surface over the latter half of the week. Of those, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina and Virginia were all on the Watch as of last Wednesday.

New Polls (Aug. 20-24)
StatePollMargin
(With Leaners/ Without Leaners)
Arizona
Cronkite/ASU
+10
Arizona
Mason-Dixon
+6
California
Rasmussen
+13/+14
Colorado
Mason-Dixon
+3
Colorado
Zogby Interactive
+6
Colorado
Quinnipiac
+1
Florida
ARG
+1
Florida
Zogby Interactive
+3
Indiana
Rasmussen
+6/+4
Kansas
Survey USA
+23
Maryland
Rasmussen
+10/+12
Michigan
Zogby Interactive
+9
Michigan
Selzer
+7
Minnesota
Minnesota Public Radio
+10
Mississippi
Rasmussen
+13/+13
Missouri
Public Policy Polling
+10
Nevada
Mason-Dixon
+6
Nevada
Zogby Interactive
+1
Nevada
Research 2000
+1
New Hampshire
Zogby Interactive
+4
New Hampshire
Rasmussen
+1/+1
New Hampshire
ARG
+1
New Mexico
Mason-Dixon
+4
New Mexico
Zogby Interactive
+9
New Mexico
Rasmussen
+4/+6
North Carolina
Zogby Interactive
+8
North Carolina
Insider Advantage
+2
Ohio
Zogby Interactive
+5
Pennsylvania
Zogby Interactive
+9
Pennsylvania
Rasmussen
+3/+5
Tennessee
Rasmussen
+25/+24
Utah
Mason-Dixon
+39
Virginia
Public Policy Polling
+2
Virginia
Zogby Interactive
+2
Wyoming
Mason-Dixon
+37

However, despite being inundated with new data, little changed. Surprisingly, Nevada, which has been so close to a tie lately, did not shift into McCain territory even with that 6 point Mason-Dixon margin included. For every 6 point margin there, -- in either direction -- there are three polls that show it as a race that is within 3 or fewer points. In other words, the underlying message on Nevada is that the Silver state is a statistical dead heat, given the margin of error in these polls. Since May there have been eight polls conducted in the state and two have shown six point McCain leads -- the most recent one and the oldest one in that group -- but the other six have resulted in smaller gaps in the results within the margin of error. Nevada, then, is the most closely contested race according to FHQ's metric. But Ohio is not far behind (Neither, for that matter, is Virginia, but I'll hold of on the Old Dominion for the time being.). In fact, as I alluded to in my look at the August polling trends, Ohio shifted back in the direction of the Illinois senator based on the inclusion of the 5 point advantage last weekend's Zogby Interactive poll showed in the Buckeye state. Some have issues with the methodolgy behind Zogby's online polls, but even if those two results -- the one in June and current one -- were changed to exact ties, McCain would only barely take the lead by just under a quarter of a point. The positive is that the poll is not the most recent -- Rasmussen's poll of the Buckeye state is -- so it isn't being given that extra amount of weight that the most recent poll is. And the back and forth in Ohio only further cements it as one of the closest races. But that isn't terribly groundbreaking news.

Changes (Aug. 20-24)
StateBeforeAfter
OhioToss Up McCainToss Up Obama

Nevada and Ohio, then, along with Virginia represent a trio of states which are all within a quarter of a point of being a tie/switching sides and all three will factor heavily into the electoral math of each candidate. And though Obama has a nice cushion "strong" state electoral votes (165 EVs), the back and forth of any of those three can change that outlook quickly. Obama could lose all three and scrape out 273 electoral votes, but if all three go to McCain, that certainly calls into question the direction the overall momentum is going in to bring about that result. If those three are all going for McCain, for example, are other swings states moving too?
[Click Map to Enlarge]

And the Electoral College Spectrum gives us a glimpse into the tenuous lead (even though it is 58 EVs) Obama holds at the moment. The Illinois senator has an advantage in all of the states through Nevada, but tightening polls there and in Colorado, New Hampshire and Ohio mean that the job isn't finished -- not that the Obama campaign thought it was. Then again, the perception is that generic Democrat X should/would be well ahead of the generic GOP counterpart and that raises ever so slighty the bar for Obama.

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)
ID-4
(58)
RI-4
(14)
DE-3
(178)
OH-20
(293/265)
SC-8
(154)
NE-5
(54)
IL-21
(35)
OR-7
(185)
NV-5
(298/245)
SD-3
(146)
AR-6
(49)
CT-7
(42)
NJ-15
(200)
VA-13
(311/240)
TX-34
(143)
TN-11
(43)
ME-4
(46)
IA-7
(207)
ND-3
(314/227)
GA-15
(109)
KY-8
(32)
MD-10
(56)
WI-10
(217)
MT-3
(317/224)
MS-6
(94)
AL-9
(24)
CA-55
(111)
NM-5
(222)
NC-15
(332/221)
WV-5
(88)
OK-7
(15)
NY-31
(142)
MI-17
(239/316)
IN-11
(343/206)
AZ-10
(83)
WY-3
(8)
MA-12
(154)
PA-21
(260/299)
FL-27
(370/195)
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
.

The quirk of this iteration of the Spectrum is that it brings the 269-269 tie possibility into focus. Due to the rank ordering of states, the Victory Line is at a point wedged between Colorado and New Hampshire. Both candidates then, would have to pick up both those states in order to surpass 270 electoral votes. As it stands now, Obama has an edge in all the states to the left of Nevada -- including both Colorado and New Hampshire. That means that McCain would have to pick off not only Nevada and Ohio but Colorado and New Hampshire as well to get to 270. That isn't an insurmountable task, but it is a byproduct of Pennsylvania moving toward Obama. And that causes McCain to have to work in more states, not that the Arizona senator isn't already. That doesn't change the fact that having to go after more states is a more difficult task than getting more total electoral votes in one place like Pennsylvania. There has been some talk out there that Pennsylvania native and currently Delaware senator, Joe Biden, will help Obama lock up Pennsylvania. That may come to pass, but it was probably already good that the Keystone state was heading in the direction of Obama.

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 Toss Up Obamato Toss Up McCain
New Mexicofrom Obama leanto Toss Up 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.

Finally, while the three close states mentioned above, remain on the Watch List, the list was trimmed by a couple of notable states this time around. Both North Carolina and Florida inched closer to Obama given the new polls while remaining slight leans to McCain. Minnesota also rejoined the list based on the 10 point margin in the latest MPR poll, but just barely.

I'll be back later with an update of the pre-convention August polling shifts. In the meantime, get ready for convention season.


Recent Posts:
Swoon? What Swoon? A Look at the Changes During Pre-Convention August

Obama-Biden

More on the Effort to Curb 2012 Frontloading

4 comments:

Jack said...

I take that to mean that Colorado and New Hampshire are tied. Oh wait - never mind. One is the tipping point for a tie, the other the tipping point for a win. I suppose anyone who considers 269 electoral votes a win for Obama can consider Colorado the tipping point. (And here I was marking states on 270towin before I noticed that you had the vote totals in the graphic. I had forgotten about that.)

Democrats must be happy that their convention is in Colorado this year!

Josh Putnam said...

That's right Jack.

I'll explain more in the actual analysis. It is a bit ambiguous now.

The convention location won't hurt the Democrats. It may not pay the dividends they ultimately want, but it won't hurt them.

Back in a bit.

Jack said...

It won't help a lot but it might help energize the grassroots a bit, as well as giving extra positive exposure to Obama in Colorado. Even if all that is only worth a small number of votes, Colorado is so important and so close that that could be huge.

Josh Putnam said...

Hey, it's leaning toward him now. That's a good start. I certainly don't want to minimize the importance of Colorado to the Obama campaign. The ECS shows us that. It may prove necessary and something as isolated as where the convention was held may prove beneficial enough in retrospect.