|New Polls (Sept. 13)|
Iowa is a state that could very easily go the route of Minnesota and Washington but has been very steady of late. Strangely, after moving toward McCain in early August prior to the conventions, Iowa has rebounded for Obama in the post-convention period. Nonetheless, those three Obama states above are essentially one and the same as far as their individual weighted averages are concerned.
|Changes (Sept. 13)|
|South Dakota||McCain lean||Strong McCain|
As I said above, nothing is terribly eye-catching in the three red state polls. Utah isn't going anywhere, but South Dakota has followed the path of Alaska, Montana and North Dakota by moving toward McCain since the conventions. The uptick in the support for McCain in the Mount Rushmore state polling has pushed the state's average up above the strong McCain line. And that's the only switch on the map for today. [I know, I've gotten used to the multiple daily changes on the maps over the last week, too.]
So while those 3 electoral votes shift into the strong McCain category, the basic distribution of electoral votes remains the same: Obama leads 273-265. What is truly striking is that over the last week the gap in the two candidates' strong category electoral vote totals has been cut in half. Obama had been carrying a nearly 2:1 advantage over McCain during the conventions (165-94 EVs), but that has since dwindled to a narrower gap (154-110) recently. More than anything, this is indicative of the movement among those surprisingly close red states that coalesced behind the McCain-Palin ticket following its full-scale introduction at the GOP convention. But it also shows that some of those states that had been near the line between strong Obama and Obama lean (Minnesota and Washington) have shifted toward McCain into that latter category.
McCain makes up the ground he loses in the strong states by beating Obama out overall in the toss up states. That collection of states, though, is more vulnerable to the shifts of the campaign. With the wind at his back, McCain has an edge, but does that continue if, say, Obama does well in the first debate, effectively shifting the narrative in the process? Maybe, maybe not. The point is that the opinions in those states is far less solidified than in the strong states or the majority of lean states.
|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 Pennsylvania (all Obama's toss up states, but Michigan and New Mexico), 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.
This idea is borne out in the Electoral College Spectrum as well. Here we see not just the effect of this in terms of the number of electoral votes, but as a tally of the states as well. Due to the number of states that are usually Republican, McCain should expect to break into the third column with a combination of red and/or pink states, but his group of states now stretches up most of that middle column. The result is that Obama's list of toss up states has shrunk in number and in electoral votes. With the momentum going with McCain now, we no longer talk about how far Obama may be able to stretch into McCain territory, but can begin to envision McCain seriously playing offense in Obama territory.
|The Watch List*|
|Florida||from Toss Up McCain||to McCain lean|
|Georgia||from Strong McCain||to McCain lean|
|Montana||from McCain lean||to Toss Up McCain|
|Nevada||from Toss Up McCain||to Toss Up Obama|
|New Mexico||from Toss Up Obama||to Obama lean|
|North Carolina||from McCain lean||to Toss Up McCain|
|North Dakota||from McCain lean||to Toss Up McCain|
|Ohio||from Toss Up McCain||to Toss Up Obama|
|Washington||from Obama lean||to Strong Obama|
|Wisconsin||from Obama lean||to Toss Up Obama|
|*Weighted Average within a fraction of a point of changing categories.|
As I pointed out yesterday, most of the states on the Watch List are in a position to move into categories closer to Obama. The Illinois senator would have to alter the dynamics of the race to accomplish that, however. The basic trendline is such that Obama is going to be hard-pressed to shift the narrative of the campaign without the intervention of some outside event. And the debates offer the clearest opportunity for Obama to directly shift things on anything approaching his terms.
The Electoral College Map (9/13/08)
Questions About the Current State of the Presidential Race
The Electoral College Map (9/12/08)