There are two basic questions being asked:
1) Is one of the candidates above the 50% mark in a state currently?
2) Has one of the candidates been the only one to surpass 50% in any reputable state poll?
If the answer is yes to both, then that implies there has been some consistency to the candidate being or having been over 50% in those averages. Those are the states that are designated solid states for either McCain or Obama.
If the answer to the second question is yes but the answer to the first question is no, that state is a lean state. In other words, there is some potential there for one of the candidates to cross that threshold. It has happened before. However, that support has either waned and is dormant or is latent in the current period.
If the answers to both questions are no, then that state is a toss up according to this metric. In this scenario, neither candidate has demonstrated the level of support in the polls to translate to an outright win in the state. As Scott put it:
"The idea is that if a state consistently polls 50-47, regardless of the methodology of the poll or the state of the national race, it's very hard for the trailing candidate to win. But if a state has a lot of polls like 46-40, but the leading candidate never breaks 50, the trailing candidate has a chance."He added:
"There are two different ways a state can end up a toss-up. One is to have neither candidate reach 50 in any poll since McCain became the presumptive nominee. The other is to have both candidates do it, but to have neither break 50 in the pollster.com average."
Finally, Scott includes a couple of caveats to this last update:
"There have been two important changes in methodology for this last map, both designed to make it more sensitive to more recent information:
- The "more sensitive" setting was used at Pollster.com.
- To determine "lean" states, I only looked at polls taken between the first debate and now."
|Changes (Oct. 27- Nov. 3)|
|Nevada||Obama lean||Strong Obama|
|Ohio||Strong Obama||Obama lean|
|Rhode Island||Obama lean||Toss Up|
|North Dakota||McCain lean||Toss Up|
|South Dakota||McCain lean||Strong McCain|
Here's the analysis from Scott:
"Probably the most important changes from the last map are that Ohio has slipped to an Obama lean, but Nevada has firmed up to a solid state for Obama. That still leaves Obama with 287 solid electoral votes, well above the threshold for the Presidency.
"North Dakota and Rhode Island have slipped to toss up status. For North Dakota that may be legitimate; a recent Research 2000 poll shows McCain up 47 to 46. Rhode Island, on the other hand, is almost certainly an artifact of some strange recent polls by local outifts; the last three show 19, 24, and 26% of the voters still undecided. They also show double-digit leads for Obama, so don't think that Rhode Island is really in play.
"On McCain's side of the ledger, Georgia and South Dakota have firmed up for him again, but that will be small solace for the Republicans [tonight]."
The Electoral College Map (11/4/08)
Open Thread: Election Day! AM Edition
An Election Night Scenario Analysis