|New Polls (Oct. 13)|
|New Jersey||Survey USA||+15|
|New York||Survey USA||+33|
Other than Missouri, Ohio and North Carolina are noteworthy. On a gut level, both "feel" closer than they did just a week ago. North Carolina did seem to peak last week and has since turned in a run of margins well within the margin of error. However, any North Carolina number less than two for McCain or anything leaning in Obama's direction is narrowing the gap in the Tar Heel state. So, while things look a little closer in North Carolina, given the last few polls, the truth is that it is still closing. The same sort of thing is playing out in Ohio. The Buckeye state crested in the the Obama economic surge period, but has settled into an Obama +2-5 point range that is occasionally peppered with a positive McCain poll.
|Changes (Oct. 13)|
|New Jersey||Obama lean||Strong Obama|
|North Dakota||Strong McCain||McCain lean|
|Oregon||Obama lean||Strong Obama|
And what about that North Dakota poll? [Yeah, why did I wait so long to talk about that one?] The North Dakota poll from Forum led us into the week with a surprisingly positive Obama result. Unlike West Virginia last week, though, North Dakota is a bit more insulated by more polling data. In other words, it wasn't as vulnerable to a (potential) outlier as the Mountain state was. Yet, North Dakota did move into the McCain lean category, joining Montana as the only other lean state for the Arizona senator. North Dakota, then, is more competitive as a result -- at least according to our average -- but the number of days left are waning and the Peace Garden state is likely too far out of the Illinois senator's reach. If this poll is, in fact, indicative of what is happening in North Dakota, then Obama's North Dakota pull out, has not had the same effect on his numbers there, as McCain's in Michigan after the Arizona senator move resources out of the Wolverine state. Granted, one of those got a touch more press than the other.
Other than North Dakota, New Jersey and Oregon joined Iowa in shifting into the strong Obama category. What we are seeing is the continued movement across the map toward Obama. The darkest red states are impervious for the most part and we see that in the fact that there are so few lean states on the McCain side of the partisan line (see Electoral College Spectrum below). There continue to be two types of McCain states: solid McCain and toss up. In other words, there's a group of states that are safe for McCain, but outside of those states, the Arizona senator's potentially vulnerable. Those McCain toss ups have for the most part shift toward Obama, Obama toss ups have shifted toward Obama leans and Obama leans have shifted toward strong Obama states. But there remain three distinct tiers of states on the Obama side of the partisan line. If the line between strong states and lean states were dropped today to, say, 7 points, Minnesota would be the only state to move (into the strong Obama category). The polling movement during debate season, then, has gone as expected as the campaign draws ever closer to its conclusion. What I mean is that the categories of states are largely solidified now and there are natural breaks between them.
Despite the moves, nothing has really been altered in terms of the distribution of electoral votes between the two candidates. Obama moves 22 electoral votes onto safer ground, but still holds 264 electoral votes between his lean and strong states. McCain on the other hand, maintains comfortable leads in states with 158 electoral votes. That would leave McCain in a position of having to sweep all the toss up states to clear the 270 electoral vote hurdle.
|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.
As Scott pointed out in the comments to yesterday's post, that seems unlikely. But to win without sweeping the toss ups, McCain would have to pick up Pennsylvania. The Arizona senator could cede Colorado and Virginia to Obama, swing Ohio and Pennsylvania and only get to 268, which is obviously short of the goal. But pulling Nevada in as well, would get McCain over the top. Is Pennsylvania an attainable target though? That's the question. Recent polling does not give him much of a shot. The type of North Carolina and Ohio movement discussed above is not present in Pennsylvania. Whereas the the Tar Heel and Buckeye states peaked and settled into a new equilibrium below that peak point, Pennsylvania has bounced and plateaued in the lower double digits for Obama.
|The Watch List*|
|Florida||from Toss Up McCain||to Toss Up Obama|
|Indiana||from Toss Up McCain||to McCain lean|
|Iowa||from Strong Obama||to Obama lean|
|Michigan||from Obama lean||to Toss Up Obama|
|Nevada||from Toss Up Obama||to Toss Up McCain|
|New Hampshire||from Obama lean||to Toss Up Obama|
|New Jersey||from Strong Obama||to Obama lean|
|Ohio||from Toss Up Obama||to Toss Up McCain|
|Oregon||from Strong Obama||to Obama lean|
|Washington||from Strong Obama||to Obama lean|
|*Weighted Average within a fraction of a point of changing categories.|
The Keystone state isn't even on the Watch List. In fact, Pennsylvania is moving deeper into the Obama lean category with each new poll that is released. But the ten states above are on the list of states most likely to move in the event that new polling is released. And there is a lot of blue there. The lack of red of any shade again underlines that idea that the McCain side of things has solidified. The only thing left to settle is if those pink toss ups will shift toward Obama. Florida is the most likely at this point. To put the Florida situation in the terminology of a baseball pennant chase, the Sunshine state now has a magic number of 7. If a new poll were to give Obama a 7 point advantage, Florida would turn blue. That's down from 10 points before the Rasmussen poll was added in last night.
Just to be fair here, Nevada and Ohio are also close to changing sides. What are their respective magic numbers. McCain would need just a two point poll margin to shift Nevada to his side of the partisan line. Ohio, though, is a different story. We have much more data in the case of the Buckeye state, and thus a pretty good idea of how it is leaning. In other words, it, in all likelihood, takes more than just one poll to shift Ohio. If one poll were to do it, though, it would have to give McCain a 9 point edge. Given our discussion above -- about how Ohio had basically averaged one positive poll in the lower single digits for McCain recently -- that is very unlikely.
The story today is similar to what it was yesterday (and the day before and so on): McCain has to find a way to shift the race in his direction. The problem is that he is running out of time.
The Electoral College Map (10/13/08)
A Follow-Up on ACORN
The Electoral College Map (10/12/08)