Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Electoral College Map (7/13/08) [Update]

As the week progressed, out came several, less controversial polls, which was nice considering that the Zogby polls were the only ones bridging the gap between the pre- and post-4th of July polling. Eleven new polls in eight states further clarified the picture in race for electoral college votes between John McCain and Barack Obama.

New Polls (July 9-12)
Capital Survey Research+13
War Room Logisitics
Pan Atlantic SMS
Public Policy Polling
Research 2000/St. Louis Post-Dispatch+5
New Jersey
North Dakota

And in the first consistent signs that Obama bounced in the polls after his nomination-clinching win in Montana (Yeah, those superdelegates helped too.), there were a handful of polls that show him with good-sized, yet smaller leads in several states where he had been further ahead. Illinois (gasp, Obama's home state), Maine, New Jersey and Washington all showed smaller margins in this group of polls than the ones Obama had enjoyed in late June. Granted, other than Zogby's, there hadn't been a poll in Illinois since February. Regardless of these numbers, Obama's advantage is steady in each: strong in Illinois and Maine, on the line between strong and lean in Washington and firmly within the lean category for New Jersey.

On the McCain side of things, Alabama behaved similarly. A new poll there confirmed a shrinking yet very solid lead for the Arizona senator. It is still noteworthy that two states as similar as Alabama and Mississippi continue to produce such wildly different results. Mississippi has proven to be much closer, though not quite within Obama's grasp (and I don't think it could reasonably be considered to be an Obama state if it was), in the state polling.

While the above performed in line with expectations, the Rasmussen poll in North Dakota--the first new poll in the state since February--confirmed that the state indeed looks to be competitive for the general election ( least in July). And while the trio of polls out of Missouri provided mixed results--two favoring McCain and one for Obama--that kept the Show-Me state even more firmly within the toss up category (still leaning toward McCain).

Changes (July 9-12)
FloridaMcCain leanToss Up McCain

The only change since Wednesday, though, was brought about by the new poll in Florida. That 3 point Obama edge in the War Room Logistics poll nudged FHQ's weighted average under the McCain lean/Toss Up McCain line. And that lowers McCain's total of safer electoral votes (in his strong and lean states) to just 149 while the number of competitive states (both Obama and McCain toss ups) now sum 167. More troubling still, is that Obama's strong category by itself represents more electoral votes (175) than those two categories for McCain. As I said earlier, McCain may be making a dent in Obama's numbers long term (or he may not be--we'll see), but more immediately, his standing--at least in FHQ's analysis--is in decline. The end result is something of a mixed message for both candidates: not quite a maintanence of the status quo, but not a wholesale departure from it either.
[Click Map to Enlarge]

As for the Watch List, Florida remains close to the line between Toss Up and Lean so it stays on for the time being. The new North Dakota poll pushes it even closer to the line between McCain and Obama placing it on the list (for the first time) as well. The only other addition was Wisconsin, which edged closer to the Toss Up/Lean line even with the double digit margin in the Rasmussen poll this week. This hasn't happened often (in fact this is the first time I can remember it occurring), but with the most recent poll being given the most weight, any drop in that number however slight can shift the average (in this case onto the Watch List). Wisconsin was a bit of special case this time anyway. The most recent poll prior to the Rasmussen poll this week was in fact polls not poll. Both the Zogby poll and the Quinnipiac poll had the same survey midpoint (The midpoint of the survey data collection.). As a result they were treated together as the most recent poll--their results averaged together. Shifting both out and replacing them with a smaller margin pushed Wisconsin closer to the line between toss up and lean state for Obama. The recent trend in polling in the Badger state has had Obama ahead by a margin closer to the line between the next two distinctions, lean and strong. That may get a bit more into the internals of the average than most prefer, but in an effort to be at least somewhat transparent, I feel it is necessary to explain the quirks of the average when and if they surface.

The Watch List*
Alaskafrom McCain leanto Toss Up McCain
Arizonafrom Strong McCainto McCain lean
Floridafrom Toss Up McCain
to McCain lean
Minnesotafrom Strong Obamato Obama lean
Mississippifrom McCain leanto Strong McCain
Nevadafrom Toss Up Obamato Toss Up McCain
North Carolinafrom Toss Up McCain
to McCain lean
North Dakotafrom Toss Up McCainto Toss Up Obama
Ohiofrom Toss Up Obamato Toss Up McCain
Oregonfrom Obama leanto Strong Obama
Virginiafrom Toss Up McCainto Toss Up Obama
Washingtonfrom Strong Obamato Obama lean
Wisconsinfrom Obama leanto Toss Up Obama
*Weighted Average within a fraction of a point of changing categories.

Again, we did not get a massive unloading of polling data during the second half of the week, but Survey USA has yet to release any new numbers since before the second day of July. At some point I would expect to see a steady trickle of data, if not a one-time, Zogby-esque release of polling numbers some time soon. That could come this week. And if it does, these 13 states are the ones to look at first.

Recent Posts:
Guam: Why Frontload in the Primaries When You Can Do it in the General Election?

Bob Barr Through the Lens of the Zogby Polls

The Electoral College Map (7/9/08) [Update]


Unknown said...

Regarding the Obama "bounce":

At this point, it looks to me like it could be a bounce on top of a pro-Obama trend. That can be seen most clearly in the 538 "SuperTracker," but the RCP average hints at is as well.

That makes the next week or so of polling crucial from what stock market types would call a "technicals" point of view. If it was a bounce on top of a trendline, then the Obama numbers should start gradually climbing again. If it's something new (say, Obama's base starting to crack or McCain's energy arguments having an effect), then Obama should drop back below the trendline toward April-like numbers.

Anonymous said...

Good points, Scott. Just because there is a bounce doesn't mean that Obama has to return to his point of origin. Let's say Obama is bouncing up a staircase. If he's moving upward and forward, he's going to end up at a higher step even if he comes down some.

As Nate pointed out today in his "Today's Polls" post though, much of this noise over the last week may simply be a function of the relative drop in polling frequency since the 4th holiday. The last week may not represent much of a (counter-)trend at all. Well see. As I said I'm hopeful that Survey USA is on the verge of a big update.

Robert said...

The trend in Florida is interesting. If it continues to trend toward Obama, it would suggest that the offshore drilling position might be eroding McCain's support in Florida. The tourist interests in the state are very much opposed. If Florida becomes competitive, McCain may have to go with Charlie Crist as his running mate, although he also favors offshore drilling.