Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Electoral College Map (10/7/08)

First, let's discuss Monday's polling changes in terms of how they would look under the original methodology and then we'll compare and contrast with how things look under the new graduated weighted average.

Old Methodology:

With 13 new polls out in 10 states -- eight of which are or have become toss ups -- Monday there certainly the potential for a shake up to our map and the electoral vote distribution. As has become apparent since the Wall Street meltdown, Obama is now ahead, not just nationally, but in the states where the battle for the White House is being most hotly contested. If the polls below are indicative of how votes will be cast on November 4, then Obama is in good shape. Polling leads in Colorado, Florida, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia give the Illinois senator a number of paths to 270. The Rasmussen poll of Ohio is the only exception to the rule, but even that poll was countered by a 6 point margin in the ABC/Washington Post poll of the Buckeye state.

New Polls (Oct. 6)
StatePollMargin
Colorado
Rasmussen/FOX
+6
Florida
Rasmussen/FOX
+7
Georgia
Research 2000/Daily Kos
+7
Missouri
Rasmussen/FOX
+3
New Hampshire
Survey USA
+13
New Mexico
Albuquerque Journal
+5
North Carolina
Public Policy Polling
+6
Ohio
ABC/Washington Post
+6
Ohio
Rasmussen/FOX
+1
Pennsylvania
Muhlenberg College
+11
Virginia
Suffolk
+12
Virginia
Survey USA
+10
Virginia
Rasmussen/FOX
+2

And some of these margins are particularly large in view of polling in some of these states just more than a month ago, prior to the conventions. McCain got the last word at his convention, but the staying power of that bounce subsided once the Lehman collapse and other financial sector issues came to the fore.

Changes (Oct. 6)
StateBeforeAfter
North Carolina
McCain lean
Toss Up McCain
Virginia
Toss Up McCain
Toss Up Obama

The result is a slow progression toward Obama in the toss ups and marginally competitive lean states. That lean state movement is mostly on the blue side but North Carolina has now jumped back into the toss up category based on a string [Yes, string...] of Obama-favorable polls in the Tar Heel state. Virginia continues to work its way through the statistical noise in our formula and has once again shifted between toss up categories; this time on the Obama side of the partisan line.
[Click Map to Enlarge]

With Virginia rejoining Nevada on the blue side of the line, Obama's electoral vote lead is now at 291-247. And those 15 North Carolina electoral votes are now back on the table in the toss up McCain area. More importantly, though, Obama once again has a two state cushion with which to work. And obviously that goes back the paths to which we were referring just a moment ago. The Illinois senator has options that McCain just does not at this point. Obama can lose both Nevada and Virginia and still win.

The Electoral College Spectrum*
HI-4
(7)**
ME-4
(157)
NH-4
(264/278)
ND-3
(160)
KS-6
(64)
VT-3
(10)
WA-11
(168)
CO-9***
(273/274)
WV-5
(157)
AR-6
(58)
RI-4
(14)
IA-7
(175)
VA-13
(286/265)
TX-34
(152)
NE-5
(52)
IL-21
(35)
OR-7
(182)
NV-5
(291/252)
GA-15
(118)
TN-11
(47)
MD-10
(45)
MN-10
(192)
OH-20
(311/247)
AK-3
(115)
KY-8
(36)
DE-3
(48)
NJ-15
(207)
FL-27
(338/227)
MS-6
(100)
AL-9
(28)
CT-7
(55)
WI-10
(217)
IN-11
(349/200)
SC-8
(94)
WY-3
(19)
NY-31
(86)
NM-5
(222)
MO-11
(360/189)
SD-3
(86)
ID-4
(16)
CA-55
(141)
MI-17
(239/316)
NC-15
(375/178)
AZ-10
(83)
OK-7
(12)
MA-12
(153)
PA-21
(260/299)
MT-3
(163)
LA-9
(73)
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 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.

That tenuous grasp Obama has on both those states is highlighted by the presence of each on the Watch List. Even though both are currently favoring Obama, each is within striking distance for McCain. But with more and more polling coming out indicating movement toward Obama, that distance is increasing with each day. And now, with the momentum behind Obama, the playing field has shifted away from those light blue states -- the ones we talked about Obama having to defend just a couple of weeks ago -- toward the pink states on the Electoral College Spectrum above.

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

Please see here for the version of the breakdown with the methodological changes alluded to above.


Recent Posts:
The Electoral College Map (10/6/08)

The Electoral College Map (10/5/08)

The Electoral College Map (10/4/08)

2 comments:

SarahLawrenceScott said...

The debate tonight will be a bad one for McCain.

Here's my reasoning:

He was criticized in the first debate for not looking at Obama. One possible response to that would be to go Palin's route: "I did that because I'm interested in talking directly to the American people." If he works that in tonight somehow, he may come out OK.

But that hasn't been his m.o. so far. When confronted by his handlers, campaign staff, and high-profile supporters, he's caved. This was notable in his backing down from choosing Lieberman as VP, and it was notable in his deciding to attend the first debate after all. In both cases, conventional wisdom won out in the end.

So this time he'll doubtless be advised to look at Obama, and he'll do it.

But the format for tonight is a town hall, with no planned opportunities for exchanges between candidates. And there's a narrative out there that McCain is an angry, even mean, kind of guy. So if someone in the audience asks him a question, and then McCain turns to Obama and says something to him, or if McCain stares at Obama while Obama's answering...well, I don't think that will go over well.

And if McCain has a bad night tonight, we're approaching the point where he would need a miracle to win the election...

Robert said...

The campaign is taking on a very nasty tone, but the format tonight is not conducive to attacks. Also, the expectations for McCain are highest in the town hall format. I agree with you, Scott, that the pressure is really on McCain. Some of McCain's biggest gaffes have been in this format. McCain can't show his surly side. Obama just needs to hold his own and keep the focus on the economy. It will be interesting to see how it all unfolds.