|New Polls (Sept. 8)|
(With Leaners/ Without Leaners)
|Michigan||Public Policy Polling||+1|
In looking at these eight polls across seven battleground states (Well, six if you exclude Washington, which has been on the line between a strong Obama and Obama lean state throughout the summer. However, more polls like this will quickly put the state on a more McCain-friendly trajectory.), nothing really stands out as that different from the pre-convention period. Only Florida, Ohio and Washington are more than three points outside of where our weighted averages had them positioned. Everything else is closely clustered around those averages. The Washington poll from Survey USA is not all that surprising compared to the past polls of the Evergreen state from that firm. Survey USA has been the only polling agency to find Washington to be in the single digits over roughly the last two months. The other polls have placed the state in the 10-12 point range in Obama's favor. So, while this result differs from the recent history of polling in the state, that discrepancy may be agency-specific and not necessarily indicative of a trend.
The case is somewhat similar for Florida. Rasmussen's polling of the Sunshine state has been less responsive to what appears to have been a summertime move toward Obama in other polling of the state. What we have seen is a steady move in the Rasmussen polls in Florida. What was a 7 or 8 point McCain advantage in the state in late June gradually tracked down two points in August and a tie now. [Yes, that glosses over the blip that was the one point lead Obama had in the late July Rasmussen poll, but bear with me here.] Over the late June to September period there have been 17 polls in Florida and the median and modal values for that series of polls is 3 points to McCain (The raw average is 2.35 points in the Arizona senator's direction.). That Rasmussen now finds the state to be tied is something of a coup for the Obama campaign, especially considering the perceived bounce McCain got out of his convention last week.
|Changes (Sept. 8)|
|Ohio||Toss Up Obama||Toss Up McCain|
Ohio is somewhat quirky as well. I don't want to sound as if I'm trying to explain away McCain's gains, but Rasmussen has really been the only firm to show McCain as far ahead as 7 points over the last couple of months. In the same period we examined Florida in above, there were 13 polls in Ohio and the range of results was rather wide. However, the raw average of those polls would give Obama a slight .08 lead (and the median value was a 1 point Obama edge). Rasmussen's polls in Ohio represented the three most McCain-favorable results (10, 7 and 5 points). So, while the most recent poll of the Buckeye state from Rasmussen sends Ohio into Toss Up McCain territory, it is not without caveats. And as is the case with Florida and Washington, we'll have to see some more post-convention results from each to get a sense of where each state actually is.
With that shift of Ohio's electoral votes, though, things suddenly seem a lot tighter in this race. The truth is, it always was close. However, that cushion of electoral college votes I've discussed in relation to Obama isn't as cushiony anymore. In other words, you don't want to use all your excess electoral votes now. The good news for Obama partisans given this first round of post-convention polling is that the national bounce McCain is getting isn't necessarily extending into the swing states. And that isn't particularly good news for the McCain folks. Let's let this play out for a week or more though and see where this takes though.
|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.
Regardless, with Ohio switching and Nevada's electoral votes stuck in limbo -- at least in terms of FHQ's weighted average -- the 13 electoral vote margin is the smallest we've witnessed in quite a while. It is certainly the smallest margin during the general election campaign (post-Obama nomination). The divide has not been this small since McCain held a 270-268 electoral vote edge in mid-May. Beyond that, we are beginning to see a convergence of the partisan and victory lines on the Electoral College Spectrum. Nevada now serves as the partisan line -- where Democratic states turn to Republican states and that is nearly right up against the victory line in between Colorado and New Hampshire. So, whereas we had seen two or three light blue states in between those two lines, that has now been shrunk to nearly nothing. And that is indicative of this cushion we've been discussing here. Obama had that cushion, and thus more paths to victory, but it has largely disappeared here of late.
|The Watch List*|
|Georgia||from McCain lean||to Strong McCain|
|Minnesota||from Obama lean||to Strong Obama|
|Mississippi||from Strong McCain||to McCain lean|
|Nevada||from Tie||to Toss Up McCain/Obama|
|Ohio||from Toss Up McCain||to Toss Up Obama|
|Virginia||from Toss Up McCain||to Toss Up Obama|
|Washington||from Strong Obama||to Obama lean|
|Wisconsin||from Obama lean||to Toss Up Obama|
|*Weighted Average within a fraction of a point of changing categories.|
The states to watch are still the same as they were before we got this new polling. The only change is that Ohio is now in the verge of switching from McCain to Obama instead of vice versa. The interesting thing is to contrast this Watch List to the one that would have existed four years ago in the Bush-Kerry race. An overwhelming majority of those states on the Watch four years were blue and were moving in Bush's direction. The distribution of states near the various lines between distinctions here is much more even. There are actually some red states that could potentially move as well. The real difference is that the 2008 Watch List on this date has fewer states which seems to indicate that there is a settling in this race that was not present in 2004. Granted, that could change in the coming weeks, but the movement toward Bush that we saw down the stretch in 2004 has not reappeared in the 2008 context.
2008 vs. 2004: Glass is Half Empty/Glass is Half Full
The Electoral College Map (9/7/08)
On to the Debates! -- And a Note on Compression