Well, what does this have to do with anything anyway? Alaska, Arizona, Delaware and Illinois are all safe states; the former two for the Republicans and the latter two for the Democrats. Yeah, Alaska looked close for a while before the Palin selection and Arizona turned in a single digit margin or two along the way. Likewise, Illinois and Delaware went without polling for the longest time and were never really at risk for the Democrats in a favorable political climate.
|New Polls (Oct. 26)|
|Arizona||Project New West||+4|
|New Hampshire||Univ. of New Hampshire||+15|
|Ohio||Univ. of Akron||+3.7|
|Virginia||Public Policy Polling||+9|
|West Virginia||Research 2000/Daily Kos||+6|
But that changed today. Two new polls out of Arizona showed the race in the Grand Canyon state still favoring McCain, but within the margin of error. And the indications out of Arizona State University's polling outfit, from which a new poll is due out tomorrow, are that last month's eight point margin will have shrunk in this month's survey. So much for home states being safe. Arizona is still very much within the strong McCain category, but it has suddenly shot up the rankings to a spot right behind Georgia. In other words, it is just one state and about three and a quarter points from being a lean state for the Arizona senator. Even though, the state more than likely safe, this is certainly a trend chock full of symbolism. And not the good kind of symbolism either. This is more ominous for the GOP's 2008 standard bearer.
The Grand Canyon state wasn't the only state to be heard from today though. There was another tight poll in Georgia, a fairly large lead for Obama in New Hampshire and another mid-single digit margin out of West Virginia. But I'll focus on the three toss up states that had new polls out today. In Virginia, there was yet another Obama lead well outside of the margin of error. The Old Dominion is now within half a point of moving into the Obama lean category and if polling like this continues that average will have passed three points sooner rather than later.
The new University of Akron poll in Ohio had Obama up nearly four points, but was in the field in two parts (one, a continued panel survey from earlier in the year and another, just simply a new survey) from the last week of September up through mid-October. So, that one may not join the lower of the two groups of polling results that emerged from the Buckeye state this past week.
Finally, Missouri just looks close. The margin in the Show-Me state is and will likely be within the margin of error from now until election day. Regardless of whether it is a one point lead for McCain or Obama, Missouri is close, but still on the McCain side of the partisan line. But it is on the Watch List to potentially turn blue should polling in the state break toward the Illinois senator in any meaningful over the last nine days of the 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.
Still, none of these polls did anything to in anyway change the electoral vote distribution on the map above. Obama continues to hold 338-200 advantage over McCain. And as we enter the final full work week before the election -- a week that will see Obama on TV Wednesday night before the nation -- the "I" word cannot be that far from being broken out. I don't like talking about inevitability, but to not talk about it in the context of a couple (and maybe one more) of polls showing a much closer race in Arizona, is a mistake. I like competition as much as the next guy -- and wouldn't mind seeing the 2008 election throw us all another curveball -- but we may be better served heading into this week talking about the effects these poll numbers may have on turnout and the final margin on November 4.
I've got one scenario analysis in the works from Scott that I'll roll out as the week moves on. It doesn't directly get at the sorts of things I'm angling at, but it does give us some further insight into why we are seeing what we are seeing from the McCain campaign from a strategic standpoint currently.
|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.|
It seems silly to keep harping on it, but Missouri and Florida are still the states to watch when new polling is out. They are the states who's electoral votes would most likely switch sides of the partisan line. You can add in Virginia to the mix as well, but the Old Dominion is threatening to move into the Obama lean category. One thing is for sure, we'll likely have a lot to sift through tomorrow, including another round of battleground polling from Rasmussen in the late afternoon and of course, that Arizona State/Cronkite poll from the Grand Canyon state.
Nine days left.
The Electoral College Map (10/26/08)
Early Voting and McCain's Home-Stretch Strategy
The Electoral College Map (10/25/08)