A big round of state polls came out today, and not too surprising Obama has had a great one. The national polls I’ll get out of the way first (as you know how important I think them). Fox News has Obama up by 6% – a 9% turn around since last week – at 45% to 39%. LA Times has Obama up by 4%, 49% to 45%. NBC/Wall Street Journal (the Fox News of print) has Obama up by 2%, 48% to 46%. And a reminder about the ABC/Washington Post 9% lead, 52% to 43%. So, in a popular contest, Obama is winning. But it’s not a popular contest, it’s state by state, and going to be decided by a handful fo swing states this year, of which we have some polling data to talk about now.
Colorado I have been calling for Obama for some time now. I was (prudently?) calling it for Obama when a vast majority of other pollsters were calling it too close to call for anyone. If you look at the make-up of the state, and how it’s changed since 2004, plus the groundwork that Democrats established there early on in the piece, then it was ripe for change. The latest polls reflect this too: Rasmussen has Obama at 50%, McCain 47%; InsiderAdvantage has a whopping 9% lead for Obama, 50% to McCain’s 41%, and; CNN/TIME have Obama at 51% to McCain’s 47%. This is the sort of polling that Iowa (which we will get to) started out with, and now it is a solid blue state. I expect, with these polls, and previous pre-convention and post-convention polls, that the real numbers are 50-51% for Obama, 46-47% to McCain, with a 3-4% undecided. Split the undecided evenly and Obama flips another red state blue, along with it a hefty 9 electoral college votes. Great news, indeed, for Obama.
Pennsylvania is another state that I had stubbornly (some may say) kept calling for Obama, even when the polls showed a statistical tie. I refused to believe that this traditional blue state would flip in a year that more red states are flipping blue. McCain has been getting close in the state, but hasn’t been able to peg a lead at all, nor even get over that hump. Two polls are out on this state: Strategic Vision has on Obama 47%, McCain 46%; CNN/TIME has Obama 53%, McCain 44%. I tend to believe that CNN/TIME poll, and am only prepared to accept that it might be as tight as 52/47 split. Obama doesn’t absolutely have to win the 20 EVs, what with his position in North Carolina, Virginia, Iowa, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada, but if he loses them, he can’t lose any more.
Florida is competitive still, even with the resources McCain is using to defend it. Much like McCain’s situation in Pennsylvania, Obama has been getting close to McCain, but hasn’t got over that hump still – the latest poll from Strategic Vision still has McCain 48%, Obama 45%. At this point, I think if Obama were going to win Florida, it would be showing statistical ties in the polls consistently. It is not, because for every tied poll, there’s a McCain lead poll. This latest poll is great news of Obama, just down by 4%, but it’s not consistent enough. To win Florida now, he would have to depend on something pretty big to finally flip Florida, or hope that somehow he over-performs polls on election day (which he probably won’t do by much, given the demographics). This latest stupid move my McCain could be enough to bring it to a tie going into election day, so over-performing polls just slightly might win it. But my feeling is that Obama won’t win Florida. Not that he has to, though McCain must get all 27 EVs here to stand any sort of chance.
Michigan is a state that a lot of people (not me!) would flip due to the hoopla involved with the primaries and McCain’s strange popularity there. It was one of the top 2 states that McCain was targeting to turn red to counter some of the smaller gains Obama was making with swing states. He might as well abandon that idea, because he has hardly been able to establish any consistant lead in the polls there, and the latest round show a clear movement to Obama – noty back to him but to him, showing he’s improving his margin of victory there. CNN/TIME puts Obama at 51%, McCain at 46%. Again, McCain can’t get a consistent lead, much less get near the hump. Michigan is too blue to flip. It always was, and would have required an Obama campaign implosion to win it. I don’t think the result there will be as tight as the polls are suggesting – perhaps 54-44? The 17 EVs are important for Obama to keep, if he wants to keep McCain shut out. It’s the same situation as Pennsylvania though – Obama could lose Michigan, and win the election, but it’s a little harder.
West Virginia, a little talked about state that was brought up as the home of racists during the primaries, has another surprising poll out. CNN/TIME gets – McCain 50%, Obama 46%. No one ever thought W.V. would be in play, and Obama didn’t even include it as a state to target originally. Strange, then, that it’s so close. With economy the front and centre issue, I would expect polls this tight though. If the polls stay this close up to the final week, a stop and a speech from both Obama and Biden might be enough for a surprise flip on November 4. With 5 EVs, it’s handy, especially if Nevada doesn’t look like it will flip (thought it does at the moment), so it’s a helpful ace up the sleeve.
Iowa is a true swing state. It’s been close for the past 2 elections, and goes with the wind. Current Bush won it by 1% in 2004, and Gore by 1% in 2000. That 1% of Bush’s was always going to get hammered after the ground game Obama had set up there for the primaries. As long as presidential polls have been coming in, Obama has been leading here. Nothing new now: Marist gives Obama a double-digit lead of 51% to 41%. 7 EVs, it’s crucial for an Obama win out of the swing states, but having been locked up as blue, it’s not really fair to call it swing anymore.
New Hampshire was the only other blue state that McCain stood a chance of flipping. He’s been popular there since 2000 and his primary win. It’s worth 4 EVs, so doesn’t get much attention, but it is a key to McCain winning. But he’s never been able to convincingly hold a lead there for more than 2 polls since the primaries ended. The trend continues with Marist putting Obama at 51% and McCain at 45%. New Hampshire is traditionally blue, so it was a big ask to flip the small state red, given constraints and time. McCain was hoping for a miracle – it failed to come. The state will stay blue.
And finally my favourite swing state of them all, Virginia. Previously a hardcore red state, reliable for its 13 red EVs. Then came urban sprawl and the North of the state has turned into independent/Democratic suburbs ripe for the upset. The state, on the local and state-wide election level, has been trending blue. And while it’s been convincingly Republican in previous years for presidential elections, it’s just teetering on the edge at the moment. NBC puts the numbers at McCain 47%, Obama 44%. I expect, due to voter turnout and demographics, that the numbers are around 48% Obama and McCain at the moment. This one will be very close, perhaps an election decider. The trend has been toward Obama in the latest polls from the state, and he will continue to improve as long as the economy is front and centre, but how close he will come before election day is hard to tell.