First, who won the debate? Well nationally, polling has continued to rise in Obama's favor since the debates, but does that extend to the state level and, if so, where? Rasmussen has put together a nice little time series of five toss up states (Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia) since the conventions and over the last week there have been some notable trends.
- Colorado has had only two Rasmussen polls over the last eight days, and the trend between those two polls is contrary to most of what is going on in the states below. The Centennial state was at +3 for Obama last week, but that has decreased to just a one point lead in the poll out today.
- In Florida, McCain had bounced to a 5 point margin -- one outside the margin of error -- in the first poll last week. But as the week wore on that lead dissipated, first shrinking to one point and then disappearing altogether in today's poll.
- Obama has made up ground in Ohio. The Buckeye state had been somewhat resistant to Obama advances in the post-convention environment, but that has changed ever so slightly. Down four a week ago, Obama has been behind by just one point in each of the before and after debate polls of the state.
- In Pennsylvania, Obama has tacked on a few points with each poll over the last seven or eight days, moving from +3 to +8 in Rasmussen's recent surveys of the state.
- Virginia went from +2 McCain to +5 Obama to +3 Obama today.
|New Polls (Sept. 29)|
|New Jersey||Survey USA||+10|
|North Carolina||Public Policy Polling||+2|
|Tennessee||Mid. Tenn. St. Univ.||+11|
But it is perhaps not wise, though no less fun, to rely too heavily on this one polling firm's surveys. However, the results of those polls in Florida and Pennsylvania were echoed by additional polling in those states today. And North Carolina continues to tighten based on a series of polls that have either shown a tie or a slight Obama lead within the margin of error.
Overall, though, the map holds steady at 273-265 in favor of Obama. I can sense that perhaps people are getting antsy about the map not moving*, especially in light of recent polling. Truth be told, however, any shifts are dependent upon Nevada, Ohio and Virginia at this point. Virginia is tracking toward Obama, but Ohio has levelled off and there continues to be a lack of polling in Nevada given the closeness of the race in the Silver state. Should all three break for Obama on November 4, that would put the Illinois senator at 311 electoral votes. The idea of Obama's ceiling was brought up earlier today and that 311 seems a solid conservative estimate, but as I discussed recently, Obama could conceivably pull out a more serious victory with a sweep of those McCain toss ups. Is that likely? I have no idea. This bailout issue will have play out some more perhaps. The trajectory of the race, though, is toward Obama. And the gap between the trio of pinks states discussed above and the remaining McCain toss ups is enough to separate the category into likely and less likely Obama swings.
|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.
On the Electoral College Spectrum today, Minnesota moves a spot closer to the toss up/lean line by virtue of New Jersey jumping a spot closer to Obama in the rankings. But that's is the only move on a day when the majority of polls were in toss up states. Now, with the two polls in Pennsylvania showing Obama ahead by upper single digits, the Keystone state has officially joined the Watch List (states most likely to shift in to other categories with the addition of new polling). Like Michigan, Pennsylvania is within a point of moving into the safer Obama lean category. As September closes, then, the list is comprised of nine states that involve the toss up category in some way. Of those nine, six are on the cusp of moving toward Obama. When we talk about the positions each candidate is in, this is a clear indication.
|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|
|Pennsylvania||from Toss Up Obama||to Obama lean|
|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.|
*If I have time this week, I'll look at some alternate scenarios like I did over the summer when I shifted the earliest poll considered in the data set to the point at which Obama clinched the Democratic nomination.
The Electoral College Map (9/29/08)
Is McCain Right? Does a Tie Go to the Runner?
The Electoral College Map (9/28/08)