Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Electoral College Map (10/17/08)

Thursday was slow poll day and none of the polls released today were from particularly friendly territory for the McCain campaign. Connecticut, New York, and Oregon are expected to be blue states and nothing out of Pennsylvania recently has indicated that the Keystone state won't be as well. In Ohio and Virginia, though, there was some interesting data.

New Polls (Oct. 16)
New York
Muhlenberg College
Chris. Newport Univ.

The tie in Rasmussen's survey of the Buckeye state is interesting in that it breaks from what we have seen out of Ohio recently. But in the context of the other Rasmussen polls of late, it isn't a stretch. Even in the post-Lehman environment, Obama never got higher than the two point margin earlier in the week in the Rasmussen/FOX battleground poll. Everything else from Rasmussen in Ohio has shown a race oscillating within the McCain +1 to Obama +2 range; basically a tie. Taken alone, then, this poll makes it look like Ohio is tightening some. It isn't because it was already tight. It has been this whole time. Obama just has the slight advantage now. And as I explained in yesterday's post, it is likely to stay there.

In Virgina, polls continue to provide Obama with margins outside of the margin of error. As such, the Old Dominion is slowly creeping out of the zone of competitiveness. Tomorrow's update will lower the lean/toss up line to three points to reflect the difficulty both candidates will have in making up more than three points over the final 18 days of the race. I don't want to stretch beyond the parameters of the Watch List, but Virginia would be under 1.5 points from moving into the Obama lean category with the line at three points. But that 1.5 points will be tough to break with such a short period of time until the election. Like Ohio, Virginia is close -- not as close -- but is currently favoring the junior senator from Illinois. It should also be noted that the Christopher Newport University poll has shifted 15 points since last month. Prior to the mess on Wall Street, CNU had the race in Virginia at McCain +9. That's a pretty big turnaround in just one one's time.
[Click Map to Enlarge]

With just two polls in states of consequence (Sorry, Connecticut, New York and Pennsylvania. This is the hand the electoral college has dealt you in October of 2008.), there just wasn't that much of an opportunity for any further redistribution of electoral college votes. Virginia isn't even on the Watch List and wasn't expected to shift necessarily. What that does mean is that the tally remains 338-200 in favor of Obama. If FHQ's graduated weighted averages of the states reflect how each state would vote, then Obama would emerge victorious from the electoral college.

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.

The map stays the same and the Electoral College Spectrum only saw minor alterations. The race is still a battle in the states from Colorado on down to Indiana in that center column. It is within those states that this campaign is currently being waged. And as we discussed yesterday, the momentum is seemingly behind Obama in all those states save Indiana. And that may be more a function of a lack of polling in the Hoosier state over the last week or so than anything else. Even so, Indiana is closer to switching to a McCain lean than to an Obama toss up as we can see on the Watch List below. The list is unchanged since yesterday and that means that Florida, Nevada and Ohio are still the the states to keep an eye on as new polling is released.

With no new polling today from Florida or Nevada, their magic numbers don't change. It would still require a tie in the next Florida poll to push the Sunshine state back into McCain territory. And only something four points or greater in favor of McCain would turn Nevada pink. There was a new poll in Ohio today, but that tie did nothing to change the Buckeye state's magic number. It would still take one poll with a +11 point margin for McCain to swing the state.

The Watch List*
Floridafrom Toss Up Obama
to Toss Up McCain
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 Strong Obama
to Obama lean
Ohiofrom Toss Up Obama
to Toss Up McCain
Oregonfrom Strong Obama
to Obama lean
*Weighted Average within a fraction of a point of changing categories.

Finally, I should say something about the Zogby Interactive numbers out today. FHQ dropped the internet-based polls from our averages recently, but I still like to look at the margins. Everything is basically in line with recent numbers out of those states, but Missouri seems a bit too pro-Obama and Ohio just slightly more pro-McCain than other polls from those states. However, the issues inherent in the methodology preclude us from using that data to determine our averages.

NOTE: Keep in mind that with the lines between categories being dropped for tomorrow's update, there is likely to be a significant shake up on the Watch List. As the lines move, so too do the states within a fraction of a point of those thresholds. I'll have more on that tomorrow.

Recent Posts:
The Electoral College Map (10/16/08)

Live Blog and Open Thread: Final Presidential Debate

Breaking: Florida to Turn Blue


Robert said...

I know this is a little off the subject, but I just read an excellent article putting this election into an historical context with particular regard to Presidential temperment. It is long but worth the read.,8816,1850921,00.html#

SarahLawrenceScott said...

Also off topic, I thought the Letterman appearance did not go well for McCain. "I screwed up" might have been OK if the issue was dissing Letterman for Couric, but that was never the main problem: it was dissing the financial crisis for Couric. "I screwed up" in that context is not particularly reassuring.

And then he got so flustered by Letterman's Liddy question that first he had to come back after a break to deal with it, and then he went with Liddy having served his time and being a friend of his. Wow, that's an awful combination of things to say. A lot of voters may not really know who Liddy was, just like they don't know who Ayers was. (I say was, and not is, because the point is what they did 30+ years ago.) So McCain managed to:

--not reject an implied moral equivalence between Ayers and Liddy

--dismiss criticism of his working with Liddy because Liddy had done his time

--indicated his relationship with Liddy was closer than Obama's relationship with Ayers

Just like picking Palin destroyed the experience argument against Obama, this sequence destroyed the "who he hangs out with" argument against Obama.

Robert said...

I missed the Letterman interview. The association with Liddy could be particularly dangerous for McCain if it is played up. I have not seen anything out there yet in the MSM. Is suspect that Obama will use it if McCain continues to harp on Ayers.

BTW, when will CNN learn to use decimal points? Their article out this morning talks about Obama dropping 2 percentage points (from 8 to 6) in the polls, but they round off to the nearest percent so the differences always must be even numbers making 2 points the lowest change they can detect. I noticed this on their primary night covereages and it would drive me nuts. Does it bother anyone else?

Robert said...

Josh, What are you going to do? There are two polls out for Florida today. One has McCain up by 2 and the other has Obama up by 4.

Josh Putnam said...

Sorry, I've been swamped today.

Here is the Time link from Rob as well as his Real Clear link to the Florida polls out today.

And here is the link to the CNN Poll of Polls. Are they still claiming that those things have no sampling error?

I've tried on and off to get the Letterman interview on the actual Letterman site to work today, but it refuses to. Here's the link to that. I hope others have more luck than I did. I can view the Top Ten list for what it's worth. Ha!

On Florida:
Well, the magic number is zero. The McCain +2 pulls it back into McCain territory, but I haven't incorporated the Obama +4 yet.

You'll have to wait and see.