Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Electoral College Map (10/29/08)

Tuesday brought much more red to the polling on the day, but you'd be hard-pressed to call any of it "good" red. The gap continues to close in Arizona, though the state is still regarded as a strong state for John McCain. Still, as I mentioned on Monday, the symbolism of having your home grow increasingly competitive as the race draws to a close is not a welcome sign for any candidate, much less a candidate trailing in the polls both nationally and in the most competitive states. Elsewhere, a day after a Zogby poll gave the McCain campaign a somewhat comfortable advantage in Indiana, the Hoosier state turns in two polls well within the margin of error with one favoring each candidate. Indiana is still off the Watch List for a potential switch to the blue side of the partisan line, but is perilously close for a state that has been reliably Republican since LBJ's landslide in 1964. Also, there was a bit of a bounce back in the Insider Advantage polling in Georgia. And even though the new poll is red -- an improvement over the one point advantage the firm showed Obama had late last week -- that one point margin is far below what would have been expected in the Peach state as recently as two weeks ago.

New Polls (Oct. 28)
StatePollMargin
Arizona
ASU/Cronkite
+2
Arkansas
Rasmussen
+10
Colorado
Insider Advantage
+8
Florida
LA Times/Bloomberg
+7
Georgia
Insider Advantage
+1
Indiana
Howey-Gauge
+2
Indiana
Research 2000
+1
Louisiana
SE LA Univ.
+12.3
Maine
Market Decisions
+19.1
Mississippi
Rasmussen
+8
Mississippi
Univ. of South Alabama
+13
Montana
Mason-Dixon/NBC
+4
Nevada
Suffolk
+10
Nevada
Rasmussen
+4
New Hampshire
Mason-Dixon/NBC
+11
New Jersey
Strategic Vision
+15
North Carolina
Mason-Dixon/NBC
0
Ohio
Survey USA
+4
Ohio
LA Times/Bloomberg
+9
Pennsylvania
Insider Advantage
+9
Pennsylvania
Rasmussen
+7
Virginia
Roanoke College
+9
Washington
Survey USA
+17
Washington
Strategic Vision
+12
Wisconsin
Strategic Vision
+9

And while there is more red among the 25 new polls (in 19 states) out Tuesday, there is certainly more than enough blue to counterbalance it. While the averages are creeping lower on the McCain side of the partisan line, on the Obama side, they are increasing. Well, there are some caveats, of course, but states like Colorado, Maine, New Hampshire and Washington continue to move deeper into the Obama column. Meanwhile Pennsylvania and Wisconsin jumped toward Obama in the wake of the economic crisis but have since receded some, though perhaps not as much as the McCain campaign would prefer. [Both these states came up in the comments section discussion yesterday and I'll have something to add to that a little later today.]

The case is a bit different in Nevada and Ohio, where the results are a bit more muddled. In other words, we're getting conflicting views of just how much Obama is ahead in the Silver and Buckeye states. The Illnois senator continues to hold leads in both but the depth of that lead is something of a question mark. Of the two polls out in each state on Tuesday, one had Obama ahead by 4 and the other had the Illinois senator up by 9 or 10 points. The underlying message to take home, though, is that Obama is ahead in each throughout most of the recent polling. And both states have slipped off the Watch List into a firm position in the Obama toss up category. All that means is that neither state is within a fraction of a point of returning to the McCain side of the partisan line. And both are creeping in the opposite direction at the moment.

Changes (Oct. 28)
StateBeforeAfter
Virginia
Toss Up Obama
Obama lean

Meanwhile, there is Virginia. The Old Dominion looks a lot more like Colorado, Maine and Washington than it does Ohio or Pennsylvania. Unlike Maine or Washington, though, Virginia started out in McCain territory and has since jumped to the Obama side of the partisan line and has sustained those numbers (...as opposed to either a bounce and recession scenario or a mixed results one). Despite that starting point -- a solid Bush state four years ago -- Virginia has now shifted enough to move into the Obama lean category. In the process that vaults Obama into an even more comfortable position ahead of the election next Tuesday. Between the strong and lean categories in the blue, Obama now has 286 electoral votes. Toss up states, then are irrelevant at this point if the goal is surpassing 270 electoral votes. If the discussion shifts to building a coalition of states to claim a mandate, then those toss up states become more consequential.
[Click Map to Enlarge]

But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. McCain is down, but he isn't totally out. Though, there are a decreasing number of scenarios where McCain emerges victorious on November 4. For one, as FHQ showed last week, it would take an above average Bradley effect for McCain to pull out a win. Later today, we'll have a little something up about the effect an October (or at this point pretty much, a November) surprise would potentially have on the election. As things stand now, though, McCain will not only have to sweep the remaining toss up states, but he'll have to stretch into the Obama leans or even a couple of strong Obama states -- like Pennsylvania or Wisconsin -- with favorable conditions (demographics, lack of early voting, etc.). Pulling in one or both of those would negated the need for McCain to "have" to win Colorado, Virginia or New Hampshire. Regardless, the Arizona senator will have to sweep the remaining toss up states.

The Electoral College Spectrum*
HI-4
(7)**
ME-4
(157)
NH-4
(264/278)
MT-3
(160)
LA-9
(67)
VT-3
(10)
WA-11
(168)
CO-9***
(273/274)
WV-5
(157)
KY-8
(58)
NY-31
(41)
OR-7
(175)
VA-13
(286/265)
GA-15
(152)
KS-6
(50)
IL-21
(62)
NJ-15
(190)
OH-20
(306/252)
AZ-10
(137)
TN-11
(44)
RI-4
(66)
IA-7
(197)
NV-5
(311/232)
SD-3
(127)
NE-5
(33)
MD-10
(76)
MN-10
(207)
FL-27
(338/227)
MS-6
(124)
AL-9
(28)
MA-12
(88)
PA-21
(228)
MO-11
(349/200)
TX-34
(118)
WY-3
(19)
CA-55
(143)
WI-10
(238)
NC-15
(364/189)
AR-6
(84)
ID-4
(16)
DE-3
(146)
NM-5
(243)
IN-11
(375/174)
AK-3
(78)
OK-7
(12)
CT-7
(153)
MI-17
(260)
ND-3
(163)
SC-8
(75)
UT-5
(5)
*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.

Finally, the Watch List loses Montana today on the strength of the Mason-Dixon poll in the Treasure state showing McCain up 4 points. Despite that, the RNC thought the race there to be close enough to drop some cash in the state to protect McCain's position there. Other than Montana, though, there wasn't any movement on the Watch List. Colorado is within a couple hundredths of a point of shifting off the list into a more comfortable position in the Obama lean category and the new poll out this morning from the AP will likely push the Centennial state across that threshold. Colorado, then, is one to watch along with the old stand-bys, Florida and Missouri. Though, it should be said that Florida is tracking toward leaving the list in the way that Nevada and Ohio have recently. Missouri, on the other hand, continues to draw closer.

The Watch List*
StateSwitch
Coloradofrom Obama lean
to Toss Up Obama
Floridafrom Toss Up Obama
to Toss Up McCain
Georgiafrom Strong McCain
to McCain lean
Michigan
from Obama lean
to Strong Obama
Missourifrom Toss Up McCain
to Toss Up Obama
New Mexicofrom Obama lean
to Strong Obama
Virginiafrom Obama lean
to Toss Up Obama
*Weighted Average within a fraction of a point of changing categories.


NOTE: Please make a note of the Rasmussen North Carolina poll from a day ago. I mistakenly colored it an Obama one point advantage. It was a McCain lead of one point and the table now reflects that reality. The Tar Heel state is still just outside of being added to the Watch List as a potential switch into the Obama toss up category.


Recent Posts:
The Debate Last Night

The Electoral College Map (10/28/08)

Debate Tonight

2 comments:

Raphael said...

I like your side. I read it every day though I'm from Germany. Good information - Great work!!!

Josh Putnam said...

Good to have you on board, Raphael. And I appreciate your kind words.