Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Electoral College Map (10/11/08)

Friday was another slow day for new polls, but the ones that were released didn't lack interest. The big news was the new Insider Advantage survey of Georgia, a poll that shows the race has narrowed quite a bit. In fact, that poll runs about seven points under where FHQ's graduated weighted average had the state prior to the poll's release. We had talked about Georgia earlier in the week and the idea that Obama's numbers in the Peach state were running behind Democratic senate candidate, Jim Martin. That's still the case, but it is only a handful of points now. Martin is knotted in a race with incumbent Saxby Chambliss according to that same Insider Advantage poll. If Georgia voters are in a "throw the rascals out" mood on election day, things could get interesting.

[Granted, I say this from a rather selfish vantage point. I'm more interested in competitive races where I am than blowouts. It's more fun for a political scientist that way.]

New Polls (Oct. 10)
Research 2000
Insider Advantage
Survey USA
North Carolina
Insider Advantage

But the ominous signs for McCain on Friday weren't confined to just Georgia or rallies where he seemed to claim Obama wasn't some to be scared of as president. Florida and Ohio both turned in yet more results positive for Obama. [And I should note that I wrongly reported the numbers for the Strategic Vision poll of Florida yesterday. The Obama advantage in that poll was +8, not +7 as was listed in the table of polls.] Ohio has already crossed the partisan line to join the Obama states on the board and Florida continues to move in that direction as well. What we know about the recent polling in Florida and the methodology here is that when or if that switch takes place, it will likely be for good.

[Click Map to Enlarge]

But it wasn't all bad for McCain. Michigan seems closer with the MIRS poll showing the Illinois senator's lead at just five -- a day after Rasmussen has the state at +16 for Obama. However, that poll comes with a caveat: it is a week old and likely didn't get a full picture of the reaction to McCain pulling resources from the Wolverine state. North Carolina, then was the lone survey that was positive for McCain. But that's indicative of how the perceptions are in this race currently. This looks great for McCain given the slew of polls lately that have had Obama ahead, but if you'd have told the McCain campaign a year ago that they would win the nomination and would have to defend North Carolina, they likely would not have liked their chances in November.

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 New Hampshire (all Obama's toss up states), he would have 278 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.

Colorado is the state 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. It is currently favoring Obama, thus the blue text in that cell.

None of the polls changed anything on the maps or in the Electoral College Spectrum, though. If our averages reflect how the states will go on November 4, then Obama would win with 311 electoral votes to McCain's 227. As we discussed, however, Florida is well within position to switch over to Obama. Like Virginia the other week, a poll with a 10 point margin in Obama's favor would just push the Sunshine state into the blue. Now, is that realistic? I hesitate to say since the last time I did a similar exercise -- in Virginia's case -- I surmised that it was not. But, the next day brought a 10 point margin in Virginia. Is it feasible, though? The ceiling for Obama in Florida during this post-Lehman surge in the polls has been 8 points on three separate occasions. From that perspective, 10 seems a bit much, but we'll see. With the way polling data has been coming in this weekend, we won't likely know until early in the week ahead.

The Watch List*
Floridafrom Toss Up McCain
to Toss Up Obama
Georgiafrom Strong McCainto McCain lean
Indianafrom Toss Up McCain
to McCain lean
Iowafrom Strong Obama
to Obama lean
Michiganfrom Obama lean
to Toss Up Obama
Nevadafrom Toss Up Obama
to Toss Up McCain
New Hampshirefrom Obama lean
to Toss Up Obama
New Jerseyfrom Obama lean
to Strong Obama
North Dakotafrom Strong McCainto McCain lean
Ohiofrom Toss Up Obama
to Toss Up McCain
Oregonfrom Obama lean
to Strong Obama
Washingtonfrom Strong Obama
to Obama lean
*Weighted Average within a fraction of a point of changing categories.

Needless to say, Florida continues to be on the Watch List as do all the other 10 states on the list yesterday. The only addition is Georgia and the Peach state moves on based on the strength of that Insider Advantage poll. Georgia is still out of Obama's reach as it is positioned on the Electoral College Spectrum above, but in a landslide election, the Peach state is increasingly likely to get caught up in an Obama wave, should one occur.

Recent Posts:
The Electoral College Map (10/10/08)

Open Thread: An Obama Landslide: How Far Could It Go?

The Electoral College Map (10/9/08)


Jack said...

I see there's a McCain+2 poll in Ohio coming out, hopefully that won't push it back into the red column. Don't think it will.

One last question about Chambliss - do you think his 2002 campaign is hurting him a bit, given the very different political climate of 2008?

While we're on the subject of Georgia, some more polls of MS (both presidential and senate - I'm not too optimistic about Musgrove's chances though) and SC might be good too. Instead, we get two polls in Alabama.

Why is McCain still going to Iowa? This O+13 result is about as good a result as Republicans have gotten in any poll of Iowa lately. And Obama was way ahead in Iowa even pre-Lehman.

Josh Putnam said...

Ohio is safe for Obama for the time being. The situation in the Buckeye state is similar to the one in Florida. Well, maybe not as extreme.

If we do a similar exercise to the one we did with Florida in the post, McCain would need a poll giving him six points to pull Ohio back in to the red. And that includes the Cincinnati poll. In the context of all the Ohio polls, +6 doesn't seem that much of a stretch. But that type of margin hasn't come up since the last Cincinnati poll in mid-September. And before that in an ARG poll of the state a few days earlier. [And we all know about ARG recently.] In the context of recently polling in Ohio, though, that type of margin does seem like a tall order.

On Chambliss:
There really isn't any indication here in Georgia that that 2002 race against Max Cleland is having an effect on this current race. However, I have thought repeatedly about the irony of the Chambliss/Martin race drawing closer at the end like the race six years ago did for Cleland. Of course, that 2002 tightening was based on the negative attacks down the stretch that questioned Cleland's patriotism based on his opposition to the bill that established the Homeland Security Department. And that was a big deal just a year after 9-11.

The dynamics are similar. One issue seems to be having a decided effect on the race.

Then: 9-11/homeland security.
Now: Economic crisis/bailout bill.

We'll see. More polling here and in the states you mentioned is certainly warranted.

McCain would probably be better served going to Florida, North Carolina or Virginia. Or any of the other close states.

Jack said...

The one thing that 2002 might do is motivate out-of-state donors to give to Martin, but I doubt even that is significant. When I've received fundraising emails from Democratic-leaning organizations about the GA senate race they invariably mention 2002. But I didn't think it would make a huge difference this year.

I'm off to watch my beloved New York Rangers take on Sarah Palin and the Philadelphia Flyers. I hate all things Flyers with a passion but we'll see if those Philadelphia fans will come through for me and give her a typical Philly reception.

Josh Putnam said...

The Philly fans seem to have come through for you, Jack.

Jack said...

Yeah, they did. Gotta love Philly fans. And the Rangers came through for me too, although they almost blew a 4-0 lead. But I'm a Rangers fan; I'm used to it.

On a side note, the Rangers have two players from Alaska, and they both were kind of evasive when interviewed about Sarah Palin. One basically avoided saying anything about her, and the other (who was there for the ceremonial puck drop and received a little peck on the cheek from her) said, basically, "Well, we're Alaskans, and we like to see each other do well, that's the Alaskan way. Not to get into politics or anything."