|New Polls (Sept. 15)|
The rest of the changes for today are pretty much par for the course; all the way from that +32 in Utah to the tie in Survey USA's poll of Virginia. But this list is not without its anomalies. For starters, the other poll out of Virginia -- from Rasmussen -- has Obama ahead by four while the firm's survey in Pennsylvania has McCain up by two. That's the Arizona senator's first poll lead in the Keystone state since the end of April. Not as large a gap as the one between polls in Delaware, but a large gap nonetheless. Pennsylvania has been tighter lately but the scales had yet to tip in McCain's direction. Now they have. But will that remain the case? Possibly, but Pennsylvania, like Virginia, is settling in as a toss up state and it likely to stay there for the duration of this campaign. The other poll of note is the Siena poll out of New York. That five point Obama edge is far below some of the other polls we've seen out of the Empire state. However, it feels a lot like the Marist poll out of New Jersey over the weekend: a bit too much like a tease for Republicans. If New York is on the table then Obama really is in trouble. I just don't think it is, though.
|Changes (Sept. 15)|
|Delaware||Obama lean||Strong Obama|
Despite some interesting results, the only poll that triggers any noticeable change is the Rasmussen poll of Delaware. Biden's selection seems to have done something in the First state that hasn't happened across either of the two previous cycles: move Delaware out of the "lean" category. The First state has been in that 7-9 point range both in the polls and in the voting booth for much of this decade. Having a favorite son on the ticket makes a typically reliable Democratic state even more reliable. And hey, it's one state other than Ohio that has flipped toward Obama over the last week.
Those three electoral votes shifting even deeper into Obama territory doesn't really do a whole lot to change the map. In fact, the 273-265 edge that Obama held prior to the addition of the 12 new polls from nine states above. We are to a point now where it appears as if we have a pretty good idea about where the battle will be over the next 48 days. Several states like Montana and North Dakota have become more red and in the process have shifted the battle more onto formerly Obama turf.
|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.
***Colorado is the state 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 Electoral College Spectrum gives us a better idea of how this is playing out. The real fight right now is among the eleven states from New Mexico on the left to Missouri on the right. The 143 electoral votes combined will likely decide who wins the election on November 4. Recently Colorado and New Hampshire had collectively shared the distinction as the Victory line -- the line at which 270 electoral votes would be passed for each candidate. Only with New Hampshire hypothetically on the McCain side and Colorado on the Obama side, the tally for each candidate came to 269 electoral votes. Now however, the Granite and Centennial states have switched positions. So now, instead one candidate having to win both states, McCain only has to win Colorado -- in addition to the states in pink -- and Obama has to win both states to surpass 270. Both states are currently favoring Obama in our weighted averages. What the shift does, though, is place added importance on Obama winning Colorado. Without it, the path to victory gets tougher if the Illinois senator is not able to peel off any of those pink states.
|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|
|Virginia||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.|
Nevada, Ohio and Virginia remain within a fraction of a point of switching over to Obama's side, though. And all three are accessible to Obama at the moment. But Michigan and Pennsylvania tightening up is good news for McCain. Until we get more polling out of Indiana, the battle in the current environment -- one that favors McCain -- makes this campaign a battle for Obama to shift the narrative of the campaign in a way that brings Indiana, Florida and Missouri -- the last three pink states on the Electoral College Spectrum -- into play. Without that shift, the list of swing states contracts to the eight states from New Mexico through Virginia.
The Electoral College Map (9/15/08)
The Electoral College Map (9/14/08)
The Electoral College Map (9/13/08)