And the Friday polls? Well, for once a Friday was actually a pretty good day for polling releases. Typically, we've seen the number of polls drop off significantly on Friday, and while there was a decrease compared to Thursday's massive release, to have 19 polls to end the work week gives us something to examine heading into the weekend.
|New Polls (Oct. 24)|
|Alabama||Capital Survey Research Center||+20|
|Ohio||Public Policy Polling||+7|
The question of the day? Was the polling any better on Friday than it was on Thursday for John McCain? The short answer is yes. There weren't any Indianas or Montanas in the blue and Iowa and New Hampshire, at first glance, looked much closer than they have been recently. A closer look shows us that while both were tighter than they had been compared to other polling of late, there were differing results compared to the last poll conducted by the same firm in those states. The previous time Rasmussen surveyed both Iowa and New Hampshire, Iowa showed the exact same 8 point margin for Barack Obama as September turned into October.
The Illinois senator's margin in New Hampshire, however, dropped six points from 10 t0 4 over the same period. Of all the states, New Hampshire seems to be one that moves the most in conjunction with how the national polls are trending. But that may not be the case here. John McCain has a base of support among the independents in the Granite state dating back to his 2000 run for the Republican nomination, and it could be, though I can't confirm this on Rasmussen's site [The toplines from the last poll aren't up anymore. When and if they reappear, I'll check.], that the few undecideds have decided to line up behind McCain. We don't have the October 1 toplines, but the previous Rasmussen poll of the Granite state shows the same number of undecideds during the last week of September as there are now, 3%. So, that may not be the reason the margin has closed.
Outside of those two instances of McCain gains, the rest of the day was kind of a mixed bag. Sure, Obama was up a point in the latest Insider Advantage poll in Georgia (Yes, Georgia! I wouldn't mind seeing the Peach state get competitive. It's good for business.), but that was balanced out by the six point advantage McCain had there in the Strategic Vision poll. Still, even if the former is disregarded, that six point edge for McCain is smaller than the lead had earlier in the month. And it should also be noted that Insider Advantage has periodically had Georgia much closer than the other polls of the state throughout this election year. It was a couple of polls earlier in the summer from the organization -- +1 and +2 for McCain -- that raised the possibility that Georgia could be in play. Yes, that talk had been around since Obama's Super Tuesday victory in the state, but those two polls certainly didn't hurt that perception, giving them some actual independent polling evidence of the potential closeness. At this time though, it looks like Georgia is still out of Obama's grasp.
|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.
There was a similar canceling effect with the Ohio polls of the day as well. On the one hand, Insider Advantage's survey of the Buckeye state confirmed the double digit margins in the Quinnipiac and Big Ten polls a day earlier. But on the other, Strategic Vision showed a 3 point McCain lead. That's a pretty big margin, but we have seen this in Ohio before. [Within a week of each other late in July, PPP and Rasmussen had polls showing an 8 point Obama lead and a 10 point McCain lead respectively.] The late-night release of the PPP poll carves out a nice position between the two other Ohio polls of the day at seven points. My intuition tells me that even that is a bit high, but is indicative of the shift toward Obama since the Lehman collapse triggered the economic bailout situation on Captiol Hill.
|The Watch List*|
|Colorado||from Obama lean||to Toss Up Obama|
|Florida||from Toss Up Obama||to Toss Up McCain|
|Georgia||from Strong McCain||to McCain lean|
|Michigan||from Obama lean||to Strong Obama|
|Missouri||from Toss Up McCain||to Toss Up Obama|
|Montana||from McCain lean||to Toss Up McCain|
|New Mexico||from Obama lean||to Strong Obama|
|Virginia||from Toss Up Obama||to Obama lean|
|*Weighted Average within a fraction of a point of changing categories.|
But on a good Friday poll day, nothing changed on the map and little else changed in the rankings reflected in the Electoral College Spectrum. Georgia did move enough to be added to the Watch List, but the Peach state isn't likely to move any more than into the McCain lean category between now and election day. FHQ's measures aside, for Georgia to move into the blue on November 4, it would take something on the order of a 10 point win nationally for the Illinois senator. I suppose that could happen, but we rarely see such resounding victories in presidential elections, especially, as Seth Masket has continually cautioned, since this is an "open seat" presidential election. In those situations, the losing candidate is typically able to get to at least 45% of the vote. That would put ten points as the ceiling on what a winning candidate can achieve.
Finally, Nevada also moves off the Watch List for today. What? With no polls? Yeah, keep in mind that every state's average changes everyday now. That is because the weighting scheme is dependent upon the number of days since Super Tuesday to determine the weight of each poll conducted since that time. Nevada, as we said the other day, was a few thousandths of a point from moving off the list, and has gotten that fraction as the weighting has changed since.
The Electoral College Map (10/24/08)
While You Wait for the New Map, Here's a...Map
The Electoral College Map (10/23/08)