|New Polls (Sept. 17)|
|District of Columbia||ARG||+69|
|Virginia||Public Policy Polling||+2|
|Virginia||Chris. Newport Univ.||+9|
In both Colorado and Florida, the surveys showed results contrary to where FHQ's averages have each as of now. The effect was that each drew closer. Of the three closest states, McCain managed a small lead in Nevada while the two polls each out in both Ohio and Virginia provided split decisions: one for McCain, one for Obama. Outside of those instances among the toss up states, the rest held steady in the territory they had been prior to the introduction of these polls. Indiana and Missouri still maintain leads for McCain and Obama is ahead in New Mexico
|Changes (Sept. 17)|
|Alaska||Strong McCain||McCain lean|
|Montana||McCain lean||Toss Up McCain|
|New Mexico||Toss Up Obama||Obama lean|
|North Carolina||McCain lean||Toss Up McCain|
|Texas||McCain lean||Strong McCain|
But it was the introduction of more competitive poll results in Montana and North Carolina that pushed each back into the toss up category. Texas, however, moved in the opposite direction. The Lone Star state's 34 electoral votes were never really in doubt, but the average has been between 8 and 10 points for much of the summer. With them shifting in to McCain's strong category, the Arizona senator has a total that is now on par with Obama's tally of strong state electoral votes. New Mexico, after a flirtation with being a toss up state, moved right back onto to moderately safer ground among Obama's lean states.
Finally, Alaska changes due to a bit of quirk in our methodology. The Last Frontier shifts back into the lean distinction, but that has more to do with most recent poll -- the one that receives the highest weight -- changing from the +31 Rasmussen poll last week to the +16 ARG poll this week. With the weight coming off that wide margin and it being pushed into the average of the other polls in the state, the overall average was going to drop. And it dropped just below the strong/lean line. I don't expect it to stay there.
So, while the electoral vote distribution remains the same (273-265), something of an interesting pattern has emerged on the map (...and the Electoral College Spectrum below). With Texas moving toward McCain and Montana and North Carolina becoming more competitive, the lean category on the Republican side is suddenly quite thin. The four states in that category comprise just 19 electoral votes, and I don't particularly see any of them voting for Obama in November. You could perhaps make an argument for North Dakota, but it would have to be considered a stretch. So while we have a three tiered division on the Democratic side, the states in red are suddenly either really with McCain-Palin or close enough to be considered competitive. There just isn't any middle ground. McCain can almost assuredly count on 160 electoral votes, then, but the Arizona senator finds himself having to defend 105 electoral votes and that doesn't even get him to 270. And that's quite a shift in thinking considering how some people were talking last week (Yeah, I'm looking at you "jittery" Democrats.).
|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), 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.
Despite that, if McCain can defend those 105 electoral votes and pick off Colorado, he'll win. And let's not let the fact that the margins in the Centennial state have closed and cases are favoring McCain slip by unmentioned. Colorado is, at the moment, the state where each candidate would surpass 270 electoral votes. Call it what you will, Victory Line, Tipping Point, whatever. Colorado is the new Ohio. Sadly, Coloradans were four years too early with their plan to allocate electoral votes in a method similar to Maine and Nebraska. If they (Coloradans) were voting in November for that switch -- from winner-take-all to a districted system -- to take place, things certainly would have gotten interesting in mile high country. Hey, even if they had passed that measure in 2004, it would give us a talking point with it currently occupying "most consequential state" status. Too bad. That would have been fun.
|The Watch List*|
|Alaska||from McCain lean||to Strong McCain|
|Delaware||from Strong Obama||to Obama lean|
|Georgia||from Strong McCain||to McCain lean|
|Nevada||from Toss Up McCain||to Toss Up Obama|
|New Mexico||from Obama lean||to Toss Up Obama|
|North Carolina||from Toss Up McCain||to McCain lean|
|North Dakota||from McCain lean||to Toss Up McCain|
|Ohio||from Toss Up McCain||to Toss Up Obama|
|Texas||from Strong McCain||to McCain lean|
|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.|
We have a couple of additions to the Watch List today with Delaware (see Alaska above for an explanation) and Texas joining in. I expect both to move back off the list, away from the lines around which they are currently hovering. Montana is the only state to leave the list and we have a pair of flip-flops in New Mexico and North Carolina. The latter two moved toward Obama and are now on the Watch to potentially switch back closer to McCain. As we move forward, these are the states to keep an eye on, but also be sure to keep tabs on what is happening with those leaning Republican states. Will we continue to see basically two categories there and three for the Democrats? And if so, what does that mean? It is an interesting development.
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