|New Polls (Oct. 17)|
|Alaska||Research 2000/Daily Kos||+19|
|Georgia||Research 2000/Daily Kos||+6|
|Mississippi||Research 2000/Daily Kos||+10|
|North Dakota||Research 2000/Daily Kos||0|
|Oregon||Research 2000/Daily Kos||+15|
|Texas||Research 2000/Daily Kos||+12|
|Wyoming||Research 2000/Daily Kos||+23|
And while Friday's polls were more positive for McCain than a set of polling has been for the Arizona senator, it wasn't all good. The spread in Colorado continues to be troubling for the McCain campaign. The Centennial state is the state where McCain would cross over 270 electoral votes if he was able to sweep the toss up states (blue and pink). That may seem a stretch, but without Colorado, such an effort would be all for naught.
The other big news of the day was yet another poll showing a tight race in North Dakota. The state has been sporadically polled this year, but has periodically looked close. Following the Palin selection and the Republican convention it looked as if the door had been closed on North Dakota, especially when the Obama campaign pulled out of the state. But, as has been the case in many states across the country, the economic crisis has seemingly triggered a reevaluation of the race and has brought Obama closer in the process. This has gone beyond outlier status as we now have two polls (Three if you count the union-aligned, Democratic poll that showed Obama up three points.) that show a much more competitive race in North Dakota than just a month ago.
|Changes (Oct. 17)|
|Colorado*||Toss Up Obama||Obama lean|
|Florida||Toss Up Obama||Toss Up McCain|
|Indiana*||Toss Up McCain||McCain lean|
|Minnesota*||Obama lean||Strong Obama|
|Wisconsin*||Obama lean||Strong Obama|
|*Change brought about by shifting of the lean/strong and toss up/lean lines, not new polling.|
Florida, though, is not the only change to speak of today. Due to the time crunch in the presidential race, FHQ has once again decided to shift the category-defining thresholds in our graduated weighted averages. It is our feeling that with just more than two weeks remaining in this campaign that three points is the limit to the ground that can be made up (down from four points). For example, during simultaneously occurring debate season and economic situation, Obama essentially gained two points in many of the crucial states. If such high-profile events don't shift the averages anymore than two points, then the closing argument phase will be hard-pressed to match that without intervention from some external event or events. Such a shift isn't impossible, but it is decreasingly likely with each passing day.
The line between the toss up category and the lean category, then, is now at a margin of three points. Similarly, the line between the strong and lean states has been moved down from a nine point margin to seven points. The effect of both shifts is to push Colorado and and Indiana into the Obama lean and McCain lean categories, respectively, and to bring Minnesota and Wisconsin into the strong Obama area.
What that does is make the map even darker, leaving just a handful of toss up states from Virginia all the way down to West Virginia (see the middle column of the Electoral College Spectrum below) as the remaining seven toss up states. Together they amount to 96 electoral votes. But the Colorado shift into the Obama lean category if rather monumental. With those nine electoral votes added to the two "safer" categories (strong and lean), Obama is now over 270 when the two are combined. Translation: the toss ups are inconsequential if Obama wins his strong and lean states. So despite the fact that Florida turns pink once again and the electoral vote margin shrinks to 311-227, Obama is in a better position with just two weeks left in this race.
|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 plus Colorado), 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 Electoral College Spectrum doesn't see that many changes to the rankings, but with the threshold shift, the strong Obama states now stretch over halfway down the second column from the left. On the right side, McCain's strong states held steady, not adding any states in the shift.
|The Watch List*|
|Colorado||from Obama lean||to Toss Up Obama|
|Florida||from Toss Up McCain||to Toss Up Obama|
|Indiana||from McCain lean||to Toss Up McCain|
|Minnesota||from Strong Obama||to Obama lean|
|Missouri||from Toss Up McCain||to Toss Up Obama|
|Montana||from McCain lean||to Strong McCain|
|Nevada||from Toss Up Obama||to Toss Up McCain|
|New Mexico||from Obama lean||to Strong Obama|
|North Carolina||from Toss Up McCain||to McCain lean|
|Ohio||from Toss Up Obama||to Toss Up McCain|
|Pennsylvania||from Obama lean||to Strong Obama|
|West Virginia||from Toss Up McCain||to McCain lean|
|Wisconsin||from Strong Obama||to Obama lean|
|*Weighted Average within a fraction of a point of changing categories.|
The move of the lines means that the states clustered around them is different as well. Florida, Nevada and Ohio remain -- close to crossing the partisan line over to the opposing side -- but now states like Pennsylvania and New Mexico are close to moving into a safer position for Obama. Indeed, most of the states on the Watch List are now colored in some shade of blue. Montana along with North Carolina and West Virginia are in positions to move into one of the safer categories for McCain. All of those states have been moving toward Obama of late, however. With a new week coming, we'll have to see if the Obama surge has peaked, plateaued or have begun to dissipate, bring the two candidates closer together.
UPDATE: Missouri was mistakenly omitted from the Watch List. The new Rasmussen poll of the Show-Me state pulled Missouri's average under the one percentage point mark.
Reminder and a Note
The Electoral College Map (10/17/08)
The Electoral College Map (10/16/08)