|New Polls (Sept. 18)|
|New Jersey||Strategic Vision||+4|
|New Mexico||National Journal||+7|
|New Mexico||Survey USA||+8|
But it isn't all Colorado and Florida. The Big Ten consortium of surveys provides us with a great new source of polling information in a vital area. The Rust Belt has had and continues to have a disproportionate number of swing states compared with other areas of the country. And this series of polls does little to alter that perception. Illinois is the only exception, but the remaining states are all if not within the margin of error, very close to it. That isn't surprising in states like Ohio or Pennsylvania. But these polls do seem to confirm the competitiveness we have witnessed in recent surveys of Minnesota and shows a much tighter race in Iowa than our average would indicate. There have been blips of competitiveness in the Hawkeye state polling throughout this race, but on the whole, it has been firmly planted in the Obama lean category. As is the case when these seeming outliers appear, we will need additional information to confirm that this is, in fact, a trend. [This does speak to some of these rather wide ranges of polling results in some states recently.]
|Changes (Sept. 18)|
|South Carolina||McCain lean||Strong McCain|
Outside of the Rust Belt, though, there are some other areas of note. Further south, both Virginia and South Carolina offer interesting trends as well. In Virginia, a series of mid- to upper single digit leads for McCain over the last week plus have pushed the commonwealth's average far enough toward McCain that there is some breathing room between it and the nearly tied Nevada/Ohio group. Does that mean that McCain is destined to win there? Not necessarily, though, I would expect it to get tighter again in Virginia. South Carolina, on the other hand, is not getting more competitive. In fact, since a couple of close polls in the spring, the competitiveness in the Palmetto state has ebbed quite a bit...especially now with a more than twenty point margin in the latest poll of the state. So another traditionally Republican state slips into a safe position for McCain.
Now that Texas has moved into the strong category for McCain, the group of lean states is shrinking rapidly. And now that South Carolina has drifted into safer territory for McCain, there is a real argument that can be made for a two-tiered Republican group of states: those that are competitive and those that are not. I brought this up yesterday and it still rings true today. None of the remaining three lean states -- Alaska, North Dakota and West Virginia -- seem like they will break for Obama in the end. North Dakota has been intriguing and West Virginia certainly has been of late, but I'm having a hard time imagining either going any way other than for McCain in early November. With South Carolina out of the lean category, though, that leaves just the eleven electoral votes in that middle-ground distinction. Most of those electoral votes have become more intensely pro-McCain and in the process has virtually evened the two strong electoral vote tallies between the two candidates.
|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.
***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.
McCain, though, has to defend an awful lot of toss up electoral votes. And yeah, with the national polls and several consequential state polls trending against McCain, he is playing defense now. But it isn't all that bad for the Arizona senator. If, and this is a pretty big if, he can maintain leads in his toss up states, New Hampshire and Colorado are the only other states McCain will have to pick off to win. Of course, with New Hampshire and Colorado switching places on the Electoral College Spectrum, that brings the electoral college tie scenario back to the forefront. If Obama wins the blue state, successfully defends Colorado, but loses New Hampshire, then a 269-269 electoral vote tie will result. Hey, if it is going to happen, it will happen during this election. Everything else pretty much has.
|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|
|South Carolina||from Strong McCain||to McCain lean|
|Texas||from Strong McCain||to McCain lean|
|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 was mentioned above, South Carolina and Virginia were among the movers and shakers within this group of polls. Virginia slips off the Watch List and South Carolina moves on, but is likely not there for long. Again, as the day closes, these are the states where new polling could be the most consequential. But as I said yesterday, be on the lookout for new polls from the remaining McCain lean states. Alaska should be expected to move permanently into the strong McCain distinction. North Dakota seems to be trending in that direction as well, but West Virginia is moving in the opposite direction. Nonetheless, those three with the list above are the states to watch in the next twenty-four hours.
The Electoral College Map (9/18/08)
How Big Was McCain's Bounce?
The First Presidential Election Votes Get Cast Tomorrow