Well, we had plenty of polling to sift through on Monday. A total of 33 polls in 17 states -- including multiple surveys from states like Florida, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia -- provided enough new data to potentially shake up the graduated weighted averages here at FHQ. The picture created by the full day's set of polls, though, was one that continued the trend we have seen across most of the recent polling: Obama is ahead and seemingly comfortably so in enough states to be able win a week from today. Of course, as we've seen here for the last several weeks, Obama has been over the 270 electoral vote mark with or without any of the toss up states. Nothing on Monday changed that. However, the new polling did reposition several states on the Electoral College Spectrum below in some noteworthy ways.
|New Polls (Oct. 27)|
|Arizona||N. Arizona Univ.||+5|
|North Carolina||Public Policy Polling||+1|
|Washington||University of Washington||+21|
The first thing about this series of polling is how overwhelmingly blue it is. Oklahoma, we can understand. And Indiana and West Virginia certainly look better for McCain in light of the Zogby polls in each. Indiana especially, is heading in the right direction after those two blue polls in the Hoosier state last week. But McCain's home state of Arizona looks bleak. Not Gore/Tennessee in 2000 bleak, but bleak nonetheless. Both states were/are trending away from their favorite sons, but Tennessee was further away from Gore in 2000 than Arizona is from McCain in 2008. Still, while single digits aren't ideal, the numbers Monday (+8 and +5 for McCain) were better than they were on Sunday (+2 and +4 for McCain). The Grand Canyon state's average is now under 10 points, though. Missouri, too, with each passing day, continues to inch closer and closer to the partisan line and a switch over into the blue. Regardless of our measure here, the Show-Me state is looking like as close to a dead heat as we may have next week. The last week of polling in Missouri has been dominated by one point margins in both directions.
I'll get back to Missouri towards the end today, but let's look at the effect all those blue polls in Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia had. Obviously, all are moving toward Obama at this point, but each had different starting points. Virginia's shift down the stretch has been notable. While it has been a toss up throughout, the Old Dominion was on the other side of both Ohio and Nevada on the McCain side of the partisan line not that long ago (during the last week of September). Virginia has switched from being a state that wasn't even on the Watch List -- state closest to changing categories -- as a possible switch into the Obama column to a state that is within a couple hundredths of a point of moving into the Obama lean category. If that Rasmussen/FOX poll (the poll most recently in the field in the state) of the state had shown a 5 point margin instead of a 4 point margin, Virginia would be a darker shade of blue today.
Florida's starting point was even further into McCain territory than Virginia, but the Sunshine state's shift has been nearly as large; switching from a state that treaded the line between the toss up and lean categories on the red side of the ledger to now being within half a point of moving off the Watch List into the "safer" area of the toss up category. Of course, that +/-3 point area is called toss up for a reason, but Florida's position switch has been a steadily consistent work-in-progress. Now, whether the Sunshine state ends up in the blue on the evening of November 4 is far from a certain outcome, but the fact that that is even possible now, given the state's position in the race over the summer is saying something. It was moderately controversial to question whether the state was a toss up then.
North Carolina and Ohio, too, have moved closer to or into Obama territory since the economic downturn during the latter half of September. The recent polling backs this up to some extent. In Ohio, the margin has spread out a little, while in North Carolina, there was a jump toward Obama that has since contracted some and settled into an area that puts the Tar Heels state on a trajectory similar to that of Missouri's -- trending toward a dead heat at the right time for Obama and the wrong time for McCain.
|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.
That the battle is being waged over this last week of the campaign in four Bush states says an awful lot about the state of the race. Sure, the McCain campaign was in Iowa over the weekend, but the numbers there aren't that promising. But the Hawkeye state was red four years ago too. The last hope state for McCain is Pennsylvania and that is really the only Kerry state being contested at this point (other than New Hampshire). And we see this on the map above, a map that continues to show Senator Obama ahead 338-200 with Missouri and North Carolina drawing closer as the race itself draws to a close.
But the big movers of the day were among the safe states. New York, California, Oregon and Washington all jumped up the rankings on the Electoral College Spectrum. Meanwhile, Arizona moved as well, just in a direction opposite of what the McCain campaign might like. Arizona has now joined Georgia to form a 'tweener group here at FHQ. Both are trending toward increased competitiveness, but are stuck on the low end of the strong McCain category. However, there is some distance between Arizona and Mississippi and between Georgia and West Virginia. Regardless, though each is moving toward Obama, neither is likely to jump over to Obama in the next week. That imaginary line between Arizona and
|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.|
On the Watch List, Florida and Missouri are still the states to watch most closely when new polling is released. Missouri's magic number is now down to 9 (from 11), meaning that it would take a poll with a margin of 9 points in favor of Obama to shift the state into the blue. Alternately, Florida would have to give McCain a 13 point margin in the next poll to bring the Sunshine state back into the red in FHQ's averages. Comparatively, Missouri's magic number is shrinking while Florida's is growing. Neither can be seen as welcome news for the McCain campaign.
The Electoral College Map (10/27/08)
The Electoral College Map (10/26/08)