Throughout the last month or two Minnesota has been the topic of conversation in the comments sections of these electoral college posts here at FHQ. That is largely attributable to the erratic nature of the polling in the North Star state. The Survey USA poll is the first to show a McCain lead since March, but polling had shown a range from around 0 to the mid- to upper teens across the entire year's polling in the state before that. Now, why is it so hard to poll Minnesota? Well, part of it has to do with election day registration. If there isn't a filter question (or series of questions) in the survey that asks the likelihood of someone both registering and voting on election day, then those folks don't count as registered and they obviously don't count as likely voters. Some of the electorate is potentially being missed then. But which poll is closer to right? The truth, as our custom around here may suggest, is somewhere in the middle. Minnesota looks to have tightened some, but we are beginning to get some information that indicates the North Star state is following the national polls in that it is trending toward Obama. But by 12 to 18 points? Probably not, but it does indicate that the state is fairly strong for Obama at the moment.
|New Polls (Oct. 5)|
Outside of Minnesota, there were also new polls out in Colorado and Ohio. Ohio is very much tracking along the same lines as the national polls. But Colorado, after having a few polls in the wake of the Lehman collapse favor Obama at levels outside the margin of error, has reverted to a margin that, while it still leans toward Obama, is certainly tighter than in some of the other toss up states. And that process continues with the Mason-Dixon poll showing the race in a dead heat.
But back to Ohio for a moment. The Columbus Dispatch poll, like other recent polls out of the Buckeye state, indicates a mid-single digit lead for Obama. [It should be noted that this poll is a mail in poll which comes with some potential issues, but that figure is in line with some of the other polling that has emerged from Ohio in the last week or two.] Another pretty good Obama result and Ohio still doesn't turn blue? No, but it is really close now. [Hey, weren't you supposed to be making some changes to address this lack of responsiveness?*] But close doesn't count, does it? For now then, Ohio stays in the McCain toss up area and the electoral college vote distribution remains unchanged from yesterday, 278-260 in favor of Obama.
|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.
The new Minnesota poll also has the effect of moving it back on to the Watch List, within a point of moving into the strong Obama category. That polls also vaults the North Star state above New Jersey on the Electoral College Spectrum. In both cases, Minnesota is the only change. Colorado is still at the center of the struggle. In its current position as the victory line, the Centennial state puts Obama over 270 electoral votes and would put McCain over if the Arizona senator was able to hold on to the states in shades of red and pick up Nevada. Even though that tie in the Mason-Dixon poll of Colorado is shows a tie race, if McCain were to win it and not Nevada, that would get the race to a 269-269 tie in the electoral college. And that tiebreaker doesn't look too good if you put any stock in any of the House election projections.
|The Watch List*|
|Iowa||from Obama lean||to Strong Obama|
|Michigan||from Toss Up Obama||to Obama lean|
|Minnesota||from Obama lean||to Strong Obama|
|Missouri||from Toss Up McCain||to McCain lean|
|Nevada||from Toss Up Obama||to Toss Up McCain|
|North Carolina||from McCain lean||to Toss Up McCain|
|Ohio||from Toss Up McCain||to Toss Up Obama|
|Oregon||from Obama lean||to Strong Obama|
|Pennsylvania||from Toss Up Obama||to Obama lean|
|Texas||from Strong McCain||to McCain lean|
|Virginia||from Toss Up McCain||to Toss Up Obama|
|Washington||from Strong Obama||to Obama lean|
|*Weighted Average within a fraction of a point of changing categories.|
On the Watch List, this is still very much a Nevada, Ohio and Virginia discussion. Those states are the ones closest to switching sides of the partisan line. Of the rest, most states on the list are flirting with moving into or out of the toss up category. And for the most part, most of that potential movement is toward Obama.
*Yes, and I think I've settled on a slightly different methodology that should help there. As I said, it is more of a progressive weighting structure and it better captures polling changes while rooting them in past results. But I'll get into that more in an FAQ-type post later on...after I've got it implemented. Speaking of which, the implementation of the new formula is somewhat tedious. I hope [HOPE] to have it up and ready to go tonight. If I do, I'll update the map and other graphics as if there was no change and post the altered methodology version along side of it for comparison's sake. Again, hopefully that will be tonight, but we'll see.
The Electoral College Map (10/5/08)
The Electoral College Map (10/4/08)
The Electoral College Map (10/3/08)