I have 2 posts to write, both about polls. First up is the state polls released over the past few days. Oregon (7EV) had a bit of a surprise. Barack Obama is up, but only by 3% here – 48% to 45%. No alarm bells will be ringing in the Obama campaign just yet, seeings as how he has led every Oregon poll from the start and by 8% just last week, but I think that more attention will be paid to the state in the weeks after the convention should this poll start a trend. Obama wins women here by 29% and McCain wins men by 29% – another big gender gap. Important here is that women make up 54% of the voters. Portland, the city-centre, is Obama’s by 9%, and crucial is that it makes up 64% of the voters. Otherwise, there might be a little trouble as McCain wins the rest of the areas anywhere up to 10%. If this poll is the truth, and it is a close state, McCain isn’t in much of a position to even capitalise on it. That’s why bringing Georgia, North Carolina, Alaska (and more, as you will soon see) is a triple hit – McCain has to defend his base, can’t compete in swing states, and can’t try and flip close Democratic states.
Some good news for McCain – he will win Utah! Yes, Utah (5EV) has two polls out, one giving McCain a 28% lead (57% to 29%) and another giving him a 19% lead (52% to 33%). That 9% difference is nothing notable, the state will go red. I don’t know why they even poll the state. I wouldn’t expect to see any more than 1 more poll from the state after the conventions.
New Mexico (5EV) was surveyed twice and came out with a healthy 8% lead for Obama – 47% to 39% – and an interesting 3% lead – 49% to 46%. I’ll look at the first poll first. There’s quite a bit of undecided here that could swing the result, but I expect Obama to target them with Bill Richardson, whether he is on the ticket or not. Obama leads among women by 11% and men by 7% and independents by 7%, and is still only getting 72% of the Democratic vote. If he were to get that number up to 80-85% then he would have a comfortable win in New Mexico come November. Interesting to note, 51% of respondents said they didn’t want to see Hillary Clinton as the VP, while only 29% said they did.
As for the second poll, we see some more similar numbers. Obama leads women by 30%, McCain men by 24%. This might be closer simply because of the location the poll was taken, the time of day, or the sample groups. There’s a range of reasons. But it still had Obama up. The state might be close, but the state is blue at the moment.
Pennsylvania (21EV) has a 4% lead for Obama – 46% to 42%. It’s up on his 2% lead last month. This is what’s expected in those swing states that Clinton won in the primaries – Obama needs to get in and familiarise himself with the voters. He is leading among voters on the issue of economics, and that will be a big advantage in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan. Interesting, Obama only gets 69% of the Democratic vote but is still winning by 4%. If he were to increase that by just 10% (ignoring that he could get it up a further 15%), his margin would be very comfortable. Obama’s overall lead comes from him winning independents by 11% – an extremely important lead to maintain in Pennsylvania. This is Obama’s 7th consecutive lead in Pennsylvania polls. I said a while ago that the state isn’t swing, that it’s blue. I’m right.
Michigan (17EV) was McCain’s only real chance of threatening Obama’s base. It looks as though that ship has set sail. Obama is up by 9% here in the latest poll – 48% to 39%. He is spending more time there, did the Edwards endorsement and the Gore endorsement there, and is campaigning heavy in the state. Expect the money to start flowing in the day after the convention. Extremely important number: Obama wins 78% of the Democratic vote. McCain is only winning 74% of the Republican vote. If McCain stays stagnant, and Obama is able to get that up to more than 80%, then Obama wins by double-figures. This is a blue state for now. Obama’s lead on economic issues will see that it probably stays blue too.
And we get to my favourite poll for the post: Indiana (11EV). The poll prior to this had it a race that would probably go McCains way, but room for Obama to maybe divert attention away (again, like North Carolina and Georgia) from real swing states – 48% to 39%. The latest poll, however, puts the state in the category with North Carolina, Georgia, and Alaska – possible Democratic gains. The poll had Obama with a 1% lead, 48% to 47%. This will be probably more worrying that the other states because Indiana is like the litmus test for Republicans on the economy. Indiana is a red state – President Bush won it by 21% in 2004, 16% in 2000, while Bob Dole (Dole for crying out loud!) beat Bill Clinton in the state by 5% in 1996, and George Bush beat
Bill Clinton for it in 1992 by 6%. It is a red state, and the economy is the number one issue. If the Republican candidate is weak on the economy, then Indiana quickly starts looking for a candidate that is strong on the economy, and thus the state becomes competitive.
McCain could sure up the state by picking Mitt Romney as his VP, but he would quickly lose more ground in Georgia, North Carolina, and Alaska. McCain could go a different route to sure up those Southern states and pick a Southern VP like Mike Huckabee, but he would lose ground in Indiana and Alaska. This latest poll, if it’s the case on the ground, provides some serious problems for McCain. McCain is also at a disadvantage because Obama comes from neighbouring Illinois, because of the extended primary season in which a fair few Republicans switched parties in the excitement of the action and intended to continue voting Democrat, because the state has been hammered economically, and because the state seems to be blaming the sitting president and his party for their problems. This does not bode well for McCain.
Looking at the numbers in the poll, Obama wins women by 7%, McCain wins men by 5%. Obama wins the 18-49 ages by 5%, McCain withs the 50+ by 3%. The worst numbers for McCain is that he dominates in the issues of terrorism (92% to 8% for voters who view this issue as the most important) and immigration (90% to 8% for voters who view this issue as the most important), but that, combined, only 17% of Indiana voters consider these the most important issue. 62% of the state say that the economy and Iraq are the most important issues – and Obama wins both (54% to 40% and 66% to 31% respectively). Obama needs to keep these levels steady, improve on the other issues and win over the independents some more, and then we have a ballgame.
When you start looking at the list of traditional states that McCain is going to have to spend money on (North Carolina (15EV), Georgia (15EV), Alaska (3EV), Indiana (11EV)) we see that there is 44 Republican electoral votes up for grabs here, and no Democratic ones. If McCain isn’t worried … what am I saying, I’m sure he’s worried.