Friday, September 26, 2008

The Electoral College Map (9/26/08)

The way the polls came out on Thursday, you'd think the firms were all trying to get them released ahead of something. A debate, say. Regardless, there were 28 surveys in 16 states to pick through; enough that you could cherry-pick results if you wanted to. The problem was that McCain just didn't have that much to point to in the polls on a day where, at best, his arrival in Washington was ill-timed since it coincided with the perceived unraveling of the bailout deal. [Yeah, that's at best.]

New Polls (Sept. 25)
StatePollMargin
Alaska
Public Mind
+18
Arkansas
Rasmussen
+9
California
PPIC
+10
California
Survey USA
+10
Delaware
Public Mind
+20
Delaware
Survey USA
+20
Maine
Survey USA
+5
Massachusetts
Survey USA
+16
Massachusetts
Rasmussen
+20
Michigan
EPIC/MRA
+10
MichiganNational Journal
+8
MichiganMason-Dixon
0
MichiganSelzer
+13
MichiganStrategic Vision
+3
Missouri
Survey USA
+2
New Hampshire
Strategic Vision
+1
New Hampshire
National Journal
+1
New Hampshire
Research 2000
+4
New York
Survey USA
+19
North Carolina
Rasmussen
+2
Ohio
Rasmussen
+1
Oregon
Survey USA
+11
Oregon
Research 2000
+14
PennsylvaniaSurvey USA
+6
Pennsylvania
National Journal
+2
Pennsylvania
Rasmussen
+4
West Virginia
Rasmussen
+8
Wisconsin
Research 2000
+6

There was a lot of blue on the board today. And it stretched all the way into North Carolina, where 2 point Obama lead in the latest Rasmussen poll of the Tar Heel state brought the state's weighted average down to nearly four. And on the eve of moving the toss up/lean line down to 4 points, North Carolina and Missouri -- after a slim 2 point McCain lead emerged from the Survey USA poll -- are within range of actually staying within the toss up distinction. Both looked to be on the chopping block as recently as the beginning of the week, but both are less than a tenth of a point on the McCain side of 4 points. And speaking of that line (It will be shifted from 5 points to 4 point for tomorrow's update.), Michigan is within a tenth of a point of actually moving out of the toss up category when the line is at four. But that is more a discussion for tomorrow.

Changes (Sept. 25)
StateBeforeAfter
Alaska
McCain lean
Strong McCain

While blue was the color of the day, it was actually in a red state where the day's sole category shift took place. Alaska moves back to a strong McCain state after some minor polling fluctuations triggered a quirk in the averages. [The 31 point margin in the Rasmussen poll of the Last Frontier immediately after the Republican convention overinflated the average. When it wasn't the poll receiving the extra weight, there was some regression to the mean. ] That has worked itself out now and Alaska is likely to stay a strong state for McCain now. I've said this a hundred times today and should probably heed my own advice: Never say never in this campaign. Regardless, I think we have a pretty good idea of the state of things on this one.
[Click Map to Enlarge]

The end result is that the map doesn't fundamentally change in any way. The 273-265 electoral vote distribution still favors Obama, but there are three more electoral votes that move into safer McCain territory based on Alaska's shift. With that move there are now nearly an equal number of electoral votes in each of McCain's and Obama's strong categories. Obama, though, has an advantage in lean electoral votes while McCain currently has a lead in toss up electoral votes. And even with a rather large number of polls in three of the four Obama toss ups their ordering doesn't budge either. Michigan is still outside of Pennsylvania is still outside of Colorado is still outside of New Hampshire. The same can be said of the trio of closest McCain toss up states. But they -- Nevada, Ohio and Virginia -- are so close that one poll can make the difference in how they are aligned.

The Electoral College Spectrum*
HI-4
(7)**
ME-4
(157)
CO-9***
(269/278)
ND-3
(160)
AR-6
(64)
VT-3
(10)
WA-11
(168)
NH-4***
(273/269)
WV-5
(157)
KS-6
(58)
RI-4
(14)
OR-7
(175)
NV-5
(278/265)
TX-34
(152)
NE-5
(52)
MD-10
(24)
MN-10
(185)
OH-20
(298/260)
AK-3
(118)
TN-11
(47)
IL-21
(45)
IA-7
(192)
VA-13
(311/240)
SC-8
(115)
KY-8
(36)
CT-7
(52)
NJ-15
(207)
IN-11
(322/227)
GA-15
(107)
AL-9
(28)
DE-3
(55)
NM-5
(212)
FL-27
(349/216)
SD-3
(92)
OK-7
(19)
NY-31
(86)
WI-10
(222)
NC-15
(364/189)
AZ-10
(89)
WY-3
(12)
CA-55
(141)
MI-17
(239/316)
MO-11
(375/174)
MS-6
(79)
ID-4
(9)
MA-12
(153)
PA-21
(260/299)
MT-3
(163)
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 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. Both states are currently favoring Obama, thus the blue text in those two cells.

Maine is doing its best Minnesota impression at the moment, drawing not as close as the North Star state, but closer all the same to competitiveness. It is now the least safe Obama strong state. But the Pine Tree state still is not close enough to be added to the Watch List. And is likely to remain safe, especially if the strong/lean line is shifted to a smaller margin as well. Other than Maine, Delaware is the only notable mover, moving off the list and much further in to safe Obama territory on the strength of a pair of 20 point poll margins. The First state jumped Maine, Massachusetts, California and New York to move into a tie with Connecticut.

The Watch List*
StateSwitch
Alaskafrom Strong McCainto McCain lean
Montanafrom McCain lean
to Toss Up McCain
Nevadafrom Toss Up McCainto Toss Up Obama
New Mexicofrom Obama leanto Toss Up Obama
North Carolinafrom Toss Up McCain
to McCain lean
Ohiofrom Toss Up McCain
to Toss Up Obama
South Carolinafrom Strong McCainto McCain lean
Texasfrom Strong McCainto McCain lean
Virginiafrom Toss Up McCain
to Toss Up Obama
Washingtonfrom Obama lean
to Strong Obama
Wisconsinfrom Obama leanto Toss Up Obama
*Weighted Average within a fraction of a point of changing categories.

That said, if the lines were moved today -- to 4 for the toss up/lean line and 8 for the lean/strong line -- Missouri and North Carolina would become McCain lean, but only barely, and Washington and Oregon would become strong Obama states. As I said, Michigan is right there on that toss up/lean line and West Virginia's average is actually equal to the potential new lean/strong line value.

Now I'm anxious to go see the effect this new Rasmussen poll in Virginia has. I'll be back later this evening (post-debate with that update.)


Recent Posts:
The Electoral College Map (9/25/08)

Now They're Trying to Take Away My Debate!?!

The Electoral College Map (9/24/08)

2 comments:

cbsmith42 said...

Let's say that McCain does not show tonight. Will the cutoff still change to four points? or do we actually need a debate to trigger it? I'm in favor of it, for what its worth.

Josh Putnam said...

This is why the 2000 election and this one are so fun: the triggering of contingencies.

...or maybe that's just me.

Debate or not, the line will drop. The time has come. I'd like to have the nice line of demarcation, but we can triangulate some and say that the drop occurred just before debate season.

And who's to say we won't have a debate, even if John McCain doesn't show.

I'm in between classes now, but I'll be back a little after lunch time this afternoon.