For starters, we are shifting our lines between categories. So, the point at which a toss up becomes a lean state is now a margin of four points in our weighted average. That one point point drop is mirrored by an equivalent move the next category up. A strong state is now defined as any state where the weighted average is more than nine points.
FHQ will also take this opportunity to remove the ever-popular Zogby Interactive polls from our data set and to make a change from taking polls based on registered voters to those with likely voters. That latter decision has pretty much been made for us, as most of the polling firms -- and the outlets disseminating their survey results -- have made the switch already.
But back to the polls...
|New Polls (Sept. 26)|
|Missouri||Research 2000/St. Louis Dispatch||+1|
|Montana||Research 2000/Daily Kos||+13|
|South Carolina||Research 2000/Daily Kos||+15|
|Wyoming||Research 2000/Daily Kos||+21|
After a couple of days chock full of Obama-favorable polls, things came back a bit for McCain on Friday. Now, some of the Obama's advantage on Wednesday and Thursday was that the polling released was coming from a host of already blue states. McCain got some polls from some of his states on Friday. South Carolina and Wyoming are safe for the Arizona senator and door seems to have been closed on Obama in Montana. The Treasure state had showed Obama ahead in July, but that edge has dissipated with the GOP convention and the selection of Sarah Palin as the GOP vice presidential nominee. On the Obama end of things, Rasmussen shows the Illinois senator ahead in Virginia. That is the third such poll for Obama in Virginia to give him an edge outside of the margin of error. And as a result, the Old Dominion is creeping back toward a tie both in our average and in relation to the margin of error.
The real mark of this set of polls is how close the other six are. And four of those polls are within a point, in either direction. There's a split decision in the two polls out of Florida, Missouri continues to narrow and the third one point margin in a week has been released from New Hampshire.
|Changes (Sept. 26)|
|North Carolina*||Toss Up McCain||McCain lean|
|Washington*||Obama lean||Strong Obama|
|*Change brought about by shifting of the lean/strong and toss up/lean lines, not new polling.|
But none of these new polls move any of the nine states into an alternate category. However, shifting the lines between the categories brought about a couple of changes. North Carolina now becomes a McCain lean just a day after it looked like the Tar Heel state might threaten to stay in toss up territory. Much of that is based on the removal of a trio of favorable polls from Zogby. North Carolina does stay within range of changing back, however, and the way polling in the Tar Heel state has gone over the last week, that is a distinct possibility. Also, Washington moves further into Obama's column, becoming a strong state again for the Illinois senator. The Evergreen state, like North Carolina, is still within the range, though, of switching back. The recent polling in the northwest has been a bit more muddled. Tighter, yes, but still favoring Obama.
So a couple of midrange electoral vote states move into more comforable positions for their respective candidates. Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia get some company in that McCain lean category from North Carolina and Washington rejoins the group of strong Obama states. But neither move changes the distribution of electoral votes between McCain and Obama. The Illinois senator maintains the same eight electoral vote advantage he has held for the couple of weeks or so.
|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. Both states are currently favoring Obama, thus the blue text in those two cells.
What dropping the Zogby polls does do is shake up the Electoral College Spectrum and Watch List to some extent. Virginia jumps Ohio and North Carolina moves into the lean category, but other than those changes the toss ups states continue to be in the same positions. There are other subtle changes to the Spectrum, but Minnesota is the most notable one. The North Star state again moves closer to the toss up category based on a series a narrower and narrower polls in the state recently.
|The Watch List*|
|Florida||from Toss Up McCain||to McCain lean|
|Indiana||from Toss Up McCain||to McCain lean|
|Michigan||from Toss Up Obama||to Obama lean|
|Missouri||from Toss Up McCain||to McCain lean|
|Nevada||from Toss Up McCain||to Toss Up Obama|
|North Carolina||from McCain lean||to Toss Up McCain|
|Ohio||from Toss Up McCain||to Toss Up Obama|
|Oregon||from Obama lean||to Strong Obama|
|Virginia||from Toss Up McCain||to Toss Up Obama|
|Washington||from Strong Obama||to Obama lean|
|*Weighted Average within a fraction of a point of changing categories.|
But Minnesota is not in a position that an imminent change is upon us. What is striking about the states that are now on the Watch List is that other than Oregon and Washington, we are dealing with a series of states that are on the verge of either moving into or out of the toss up category. With the toss up/lean line now at four, there is a lot more potential for some action. However, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia remain the only three states anywhere close to crossing the partisan line into Obama's side. The point from the candidates' perspective, though, is that these toss up states are the ones that could easily shift as a group to one side or the other based on the momentum heading down the stretch. When John Zogby (Yes, that John Zogby.) spoke about the potential for a landslide increasing in the context of the current economic turmoil, this is how it would likely play out. As the Spectrum indicates, if one candidates captured the momentum heading into election day and was able to completely sweep the toss up states, that would net McCain 316 electoral votes and Obama 360 electoral votes. And given how close the last two presidential elections have been, both would likely be interpreted as landslides. Now, whether that happens, we'll see over the next five plus weeks.
Open Thread: First 2008 Presidential Debate
Who You Callin' Underpolled?
Nothing to see here, folks.