Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Electoral College Map (10/5/08)

They must not have circulated the memo very widely, but there's a month left in presidential race. I got it, but apparently the polling firms didn't. Wow, was it a slow day for polling. So slow, in fact, most of us were scrambling to re-enter the Elon numbers from North Carolina yesterday. Needless to say, there wasn't a seismic shift in the way the map looks today. Disappointing, I know.

New Polls (Oct. 4)
North Carolina

Whether you count it as two points or .1 (Only the latter is correct. The data on the former was from a question concerning which candidate would better deal with the current economic situation.), the margin in Elon's poll of North Carolina continues to be a troubling trend for the McCain campaign. Anything there favoring Obama at this stage in the game can't be a positive for McCain. And that trend has stretched down the ballot in North Carolina as well. FHQ doesn't often comment on the congressional races, but being a native North Carolinian, I keep my eye on politics in the Tar Heel state. And this economic crisis and subsequent bailout certainly seems to be giving Democrats more than a fighting chance from the presidential race to the contests for Senate and several House seats. The reason I bring this up is because when we talk about an election where all of the toss up states break in one direction, these are the types of factors that are behind such a potential perfect storm. Is that likely to happen? Maybe, maybe not, but that is what to look for in the polling down the stretch.
[Click Map to Enlarge]

With only one new poll out, though, there wasn't that great a chance for change on the map or in any of the other graphics here at FHQ. The Rasmussen poll in Maine again shows a tightening race there, but the Pine Tree state remains comfortably in Obama's group of strong states. One thing that poll does reinforce is the move the McCain campaign has made recently to shift some resources into the state in an effort to pick off Maine's second district. It may ultimately prove a longshot, but if this election ends up being close -- something that most electoral college projections show to be decreasingly likely -- then that one electoral vote could come in handy. As it is, at 278-260 in Obama's favor, that move wouldn't make that much of a difference.

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 Pennsylvania (all Obama's toss up states, but Michigan), he would have 299 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.

And though the Electoral College Spectrum is identical to yesterday's version, there are enough states at stake on the Watch List to potenitally make this race interesting in this last month. As the McCain campaign has alluded over the last day or two, though, much of such a shift back toward the Republican candidate would be contingent upon the campaign narrative moving away from the issues surrounding the economy. The bailout bill has passed, but it will likely be difficult to get that and other related issues off the minds of voters before November 4.

The Watch List*
Iowafrom Obama lean
to Strong Obama
Michiganfrom Toss Up Obama
to Obama lean
Missourifrom Toss Up McCainto McCain lean
Nevadafrom Toss Up Obama
to Toss Up McCain
North Carolinafrom McCain lean
to Toss Up McCain
Ohiofrom Toss Up McCain
to Toss Up Obama
Oregonfrom Obama lean
to Strong Obama
Pennsylvaniafrom Toss Up Obama
to Obama lean
Texasfrom Strong McCainto McCain lean
Virginiafrom Toss Up McCain
to Toss Up Obama
Washingtonfrom Strong Obama
to Obama lean
*Weighted Average within a fraction of a point of changing categories.

Recent Posts:
The Electoral College Map (10/4/08)

The Electoral College Map (10/3/08)

Live Blog and Open Thread: The Vice Presidential Debate


SarahLawrenceScott said...

Since it's a slow polling day, I have a conspiracy theory I'd like to share. Like most conspiracy theories, it's low probability, but it does seem possible.

What if McCain's pull-out from Michigan is a trick? It seems like it's been handled very clumsily. Palin has already publicly questioned it, and said that she sent an email that said "oh come on, do we have to?" So they could wait a few days, and then Palin could "convince" McCain to let her go back into Michigan.

Why do this?

--It makes Palin a hero to Michiganders. Their state seems to be suffering a series of snubs this year, and their economy makes it feel like it's been snubbed for years. But Palin, champion of Joe Sixpack, cares!

--It makes it look like Palin has real spunk, and will be a strong vice-President, a line of promotion they started to push in the VP debate.

--It makes McCain look like he listens to Palin, which could help him in a variety of ways.

--It saves McCain money on advertising in Michigan, but with the free press, he comes out ahead.

-Maybe it gets Obama to take his eye off the ball in Michigan; certainly the media seems to assume that it's in the bag for him now.

If that's what they're planning, it's a clever play.

SarahLawrenceScott said...

...or maybe their campaign just doesn't know what it's doing. I'm in New York, and I just saw a McCain commercial. I guess that means they're buying national advertising. If that's true, I can think of no better indication that the Democrats' 50-state strategy is working.

cbsmith42 said...

That's funny, SLS, I had the same thought about it being a trick. I hadn't quite figured out what the trick might be and didn't give it much thought past it being just another 'suspension of the campaign' or that the money was starting to subside (although I know nothing about the state of the campaign's money).

At any rate, there's also a post on this morning that addresses this very subject albeit more from a NE 2nd perspective.

"'Oh c'mon, do we have to?' aside, if the McCain campaign is defending Omaha rather than spending time in Michigan, there is no bluffing going on -- McCain is holding on for dear life at this stage."

Josh Putnam said...

Here's that link from CBSmith. I read that last night and I've got to say that you absolutely have to love this cycle if only because it has forced everyone to consider almost every possible scenario from a rules/strategy standpoint. Palin being in Omaha says something. And if McCain is in play in Maine, then Obama cancels that out by competing in Nebraska.

I'll have my comments up on this theory in a bit. I started typing and Meet the Press came on and that computer has our TV as the monitor. Anyway...

This is off topic slightly, but the Star Tribune has the presidential follow up to their senate race poll of Minnesota yesterday. Not surprising for a poll that showed Franken up by 9, Obama is ahead by 18 in the North Star state. That's two double digit leads for Obama there in the last week. Does that counter the one point lead Survey USA showed McCain to have? Well, Tim Pawlenty, just now on This Week on ABC, said that the Star Tribune hasn't been particularly accurate and that Survey USA is the one to believe. Well, that's not especially surprising, but worth noting. And no mention of the CNN poll, of course.

Josh Putnam said...

I don't know that this is all that implausible. This would fit in nicely in the Rovian age of attacking your opponent's weaknesses and other similar counterintuitive actions.

However, this is a stretch -- and you admitted to as much -- simply because of the sometimes bumbling nature of the McCain campaign. Now, were those bad breaks? Perhaps. But again, this highlights the up and down, risk-taking McCain campaign we've witnessed since he clinched the nomination in March versus the steady hand of the Obama campaign.

Now, who would have thought in this campaign of age versus experience that this is how we would characterize the race with just thirty days left? But there is evidence, as was just pointed out on This Week by George Stephanopoulos, that this is the case.

Jack said...

I agree that it's probably just the McCain campaign being incompetent rather than clever, although they are certainly capable of being clever. Even if their cleverness can occasionally backfire, as it may have somewhat with Sarah Palin.

Just out of curiosity, you mentioned "several House seats" and also talked about downballot races in NC. Are there any other House seats in NC you see as being in play besides NC-8 (Hayes-Kissell)?

Josh Putnam said...

I thing the one mitigate factor for the McCain campaign is that the environment is so far against the Republicans. Under "normal" circumstances, some of the things that have backfired for McCain may have worked.

My old congresswoman, Sue Myrick, indicated the other day that her vote may cost her in a month's time. She's in the district covering southwest Charlotte and Gastonia (the 9th). The problem is that we just don't have a lot of polling on these districts. Pat McHenry, a former high school classmate of mine, represents the 10th and PPP did poll that one earlier in the year and while McHenry was ahead, it was by a smaller margin than one would expect in a district that favors the GOP so heavily. With the economy seemingly having an effect, there could be a difference there.

The only other Republican I'd bring up in this context is Walter Jones in the 3rd (central, coastal district). He did surprisingly well in the May primary despite being an anti-war Republican in a military-heavy district. It will be interesting to see how that plays before a general election electorate with the economy thrown in on top of it.