Friday, October 31, 2008

The Electoral College Map (10/31/08)

Happy Halloween! We've made it almost all the way through October with no surprises. That either means that the door has been opened up to a November surprise or that Joe the Plumber was the October surprise. For those looking for a last minute costume idea, just do what I'm doing tonight: break out your plunger and go as Joe. [Yeah, my kids need one more campaign reference in their lives right now. Poor kids. My daughter actually asked me if Obama and McCain were coming to her birthday party. No, but Joe the Plumber might!]

New Polls (Oct. 30)
StatePollMargin
Arizona
CNN
+7
Arizona
Mason-Dixon/NBC
+4
California
Field
+22
Colorado
National Journal
+4
Colorado
Marist
+6
Florida
National Journal
+1
Idaho
Harstad
+23
Indiana
Selzer
+0.6
Indiana
Rasmussen
+3
Iowa
Survey USA
+15
Kentucky
Rasmussen
+12
Louisiana
Loyola
+3
MichiganEPIC/MRA
+14
Michigan
Strategic Vision
+13
Minnesota
Mason-Dixon/NBC
+8
MinnesotaMPR
+19
Montana
Rasmussen
+4
Nevada
CNN
+7
New Hampshire
Suffolk
+13
New HampshireUNH
+18
New HampshireStrategic Vision
+9
New Jersey
Research 2000
+16
North Carolina
National Journal
+4
North CarolinaCNN
+6
North CarolinaRasmussen
+2
Ohio
National Journal
+7
Ohio
CNN
+4
Oklahoma
Survey USA
+29
Pennsylvania
CNN
+12
PennsylvaniaMason-Dixon/NBC
+4
PennsylvaniaStrategic Vision
+5
South Carolina
NBC
+11
South Carolina
Survey USA
+8
Texas
University of Texas
+11
Utah
Mason-Dixon
+23
Virginia
National Journal
+4
Virginia
Marist
+4
West Virginia
Public Policy Polling
+13
Wisconsin
Survey USA
+16

There were a ton of new polls out on Thursday; 39 in 25 states to be exact. The story, though, continues to be that there just isn't any perceptible tightening in the race for the White House. Sure, you can cherry pick results, but the overall picture shows the race continuing to trend toward Obama as opposed to being closer to a draw -- in most of the blue states at least. The polls out of Pennsylvania and Virginia were closer than they have been but are still outside of the margin of error for Obama.

Changes (Oct. 30)
StateBeforeAfter
New Hampshire
Obama lean
Strong Obama

But in the red states, the story is different. No, not across the board, but there is some narrowing in many of the states outside of the far right column of the Electoral College Spectrum below. [Well, Obama keeping it under a 30 point margin in states like Idaho or Utah would resemble a narrowing effect, though it doesn't probably meet the criteria Jim Campbell had in mind when he described the phenomenon in the American Campaign.] It doesn't mean that states like Arizona, Louisiana or South Carolina are going to turn blue on Tuesday, rather it means they'll be much more "competitive" than they were just four years ago.

[Click Map to Enlarge]

Despite continued movement toward Obama on the state level, there wasn't really all that much to show for it. New Hampshire did slip into the strong Obama category, joining Pennsylvania as a former FHQ toss up turned strong Obama state. What is amazing is that some of the closest states from 2004 -- Iowa, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and now New Hampshire -- are solidly favoring the Democrats now. All, with the exception of Iowa, were Kerry states four years ago and are indicative of the favorable climate the Democrats have enjoyed in 2008. [And New Mexico, it should be noted, is on the Watch List for a potential shift into the strong Obama area.]

The Electoral College Spectrum*
HI-4
(7)**
ME-4
(157)
NM-5
(264/279)
MT-3
(160)
AK-3
(61)
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)
TN-11
(50)
DE-3
(44)
NJ-15
(190)
NV-5
(291/252)
AZ-10
(137)
KS-6
(39)
IL-21
(65)
IA-7
(197)
OH-20
(311/247)
SD-3
(127)
NE-5
(33)
RI-4
(69)
MN-10
(207)
FL-27
(338/227)
MS-6
(124)
AL-9
(28)
MD-10
(79)
WI-10
(217)
MO-11
(349/200)
LA-9
(118)
WY-3
(19)
MA-12
(91)
PA-21
(238)
NC-15
(364/189)
TX-34
(109)
ID-4
(16)
CA-55
(146)
NH-4
(242)
IN-11
(375/174)
AR-6
(75)
UT-5
(12)
CT-7
(153)
MI-17
(259)
ND-3
(163)
SC-8
(69)
OK-7
(7)
*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.

New Hampshire's move doesn't change the electoral vote distribution (only Florida and Missouri will be able to do that between now and Tuesday, it appears) between the two candidates, but it does alter the Electoral College Spectrum from the way it has been (in that middle column) for weeks. We have seen some red states shuffle in and out of the bottom of that middle column but New Hampshire and Colorado have been the mainstays at the top. Not anymore. The Granite state switches positions with New Mexico, giving the area above the partisan line a distictly western flavor to it. And given the early voting in both Colorado and New Mexico, those two are virtually shut down for McCain. Obama has gotten solid turnout in early voting there and that coupled with the high overall early turnout is ominous news for the McCain campaign (as Scott has shown us).

The Watch List*
StateSwitch
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
Nevadafrom Toss Up Obama
to Obama lean
New Hampshirefrom Strong Obama
to Obama lean
New Mexicofrom Obama lean
to Strong Obama
Ohiofrom Toss Up Obama
to Obama lean
Virginiafrom Obama lean
to Toss Up Obama
West Virginiafrom McCain lean
to Strong McCain
*Weighted Average within a fraction of a point of changing categories.

As we head into the final weekend, then, the indications are that Obama is in a comfortable position with no readily available signs of that trend abating. As I said earlier, the thing now is to keep an eye on those toss up states and especially Florida and Missouri. Those two are the states most likely to change here at FHQ between now and Tuesday and shift electoral votes in the process. But keep in mind that these states are toss ups for a reason: they are close.

...and susceptible to a last minute November surprise? Maybe, maybe not.

One question for everyone to discuss in the comments (and it is something I brought up in the comments to the November surprise post):
What effect does that have on election day turnout?

1) It depresses turnout.

2) a) People say, "Hey, the lines will be short(er), why not go vote!"
or

b) "Wow! I want to be a part of this!"
Thoughts?


Recent Posts:
A November Surprise Scenario

National and State-Level Factors in US Presidential Election Outcomes: An Electoral College Forecast Model

The Electoral College Map (10/30/08)

2 comments:

Jack said...

New Hampshire turning dark blue. Amazing. Websites showing things like this are the reason John McCain hasn't learned to use the internet.

SarahLawrenceScott said...

I think the "bandwagon" choice is the dominant one. When people see friends and family who never vote voting early, the "sometimes" voter is more likely to make the effort on election day. It's just downright embarrassing when, for example, your college-age kid votes and you don't. It may depress turnout a little for the never-voted-before procrastinators, but how will we know their turnout was even depressed?