|New Polls (Oct. 15)|
|New Mexico||Survey USA||+7|
|North Carolina||Insider Advantage||+2|
|West Virginia||Insider Advantage||+2|
On the heels of a fiery debate performance that, at first glance didn't go over too well, this Florida situation is not a positive development for the McCain campaign. They don't need some two-bit electoral college analysis to tell them that, though. The GOP standard bearer's campaign has likely known this for a while. After pulling out of Michigan altogether a couple of weeks ago and now having the RNC pull its ads in Wisconsin to focus on "red states," there just isn't any doubt that those resources are being shifted to states like Florida, North Carolina and Virginia. All three were Bush states just four years ago.
|Changes (Oct. 15)|
|Florida||Toss Up McCain||Toss Up Obama|
While the Sunshine state was the only mover of the day, that didn't mean that the rest of the polling wasn't enlightening. Again, the list is overwhelmingly blue, with the exception of a healthy, but below normal margin in Kansas and a trio of "too close" surveys from Georgia, Missouri and West Virginia.
But let's not doom and gloom it too much. There's only so much negativity this campaign can take, right? Let's shift our focus to some of those blue polls and how Obama is doing. Other than Florida, the Illinois senator is also in good shape in Massachusetts, where some surprisingly low numbers earlier in the year have given way to the typically pro-Democratic tilt of the Bay state. And among the closest states polled today, Colorado, Nevada and Virginia, in addition to Florida, continue to show Obama ahead. The same is true in North Carolina as well. But the Tar Heel state is one of the few remaining McCain toss ups that has not crossed the partisan line to join Obama's coalition of states. Polling has been scant in Indiana, but the other three toss ups on McCain's side of the partisan line have all shown Obama ahead in the last week. But in a wave election, all four states are likely on the table as potential changes over the remaining 19 days of the race.
The fact that there are just four McCain toss up states left is indicative of the current state of the race. Not only is McCain now behind in every category comparison (strong to strong, lean to lean and toss up to toss up), but he has been pushed to the brink in the electoral college tally as well, teetering on the threshold between the 200s and 100s. I don't want to overstate matters too much, but if the battle over the next two and a half weeks is in North Carolina and Missouri, then the race is over. McCain's only hope is to somehow swing Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania and even then he would come up two electoral votes shy of what is needed. Sweeping those three is a tall order in any election, but having to do it when Pennsylvania is moving rapidly into the darker blue, is nigh impossible.
|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 Colorado (all Obama's toss up states), he would have 274 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.
But that's what the McCain campaign is facing currently. And with the thresholds between categories being dropped over the weekend, the perception is only going to get worse. The Obama lean blue has already stretched into the middle column of the Electoral College Spectrum and the light blue is gradually inching downward into formerly McCain states as well. I haven't decided on where I'll shift the strong/lean line yet (wherever a natural break occurs), but the lean/toss up line will be dropped to a 3% margin. In other words, our estimation of what is an attainable amount of ground to be made up in two and a half weeks time is three points. Any state outside of that margin is going to be difficult to swing without an outside factor intervening. [Then again, changing the overall dynamic of the race depends on that also.] Colorado would turn darker blue and Indiana and West Virginia darker red. That leaves the states between Virginia and North Carolina within that range. Those six states account for 91 electoral votes and McCain would have to sweep them all plus another state to break 270. And that's another scenario that is difficult to envision in the current environment.
|The Watch List*|
|Florida||from Toss Up Obama||to Toss Up McCain|
|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|
|*Weighted Average within a fraction of a point of changing categories.|
Though there is still some jockeying for position going on, the Watch List is essentially down to just three states now, Florida, Nevada and Ohio. Yes, you could throw Indiana in there as well, but I'll focus on just those states most likely to shift sides of the partisan line for the time being. The rest of the list is comprised of states that just are not likely at this point to switch sides. But Florida, Nevada and Ohio are. All three are within a fraction of a point in our averages of moving back toward McCain.
But what would it take to do that? What is each state's magic polling number do get that done. In Florida, there is enough McCain support in those past polls that a tie in the next poll would bring the Sunshine state back into the pink. But there has not been a tie or a pro-McCain result in Florida since the end of September. In Nevada, it would take a survey showing the Arizona senator ahead by four points to shift the Silver state toward McCain. There hasn't been a poll showing anything greater than McCain +3 since August though. Finally in Ohio, the news is a bit more grim. Again, when we have a lot of data on one state, it becomes much more difficult to shift. That is certainly the case in Ohio. It took a while for the Buckeye state to turn blue here when it had shifted on other sites, but the move here is indicative of a lasting shift. At this point, it would take one poll showing McCain ahead by 11 points to shift Ohio back to him. There just haven't been those types of margins in Ohio. The more likely route to a change is a series of polls showing McCain ahead in Ohio, but time is running out on that possibility.
Time is running out on this race, period, at this point. 19 days to go.
Live Blog and Open Thread: Final Presidential Debate
Breaking: Florida to Turn Blue
The Electoral College Map (10/15/08)