Monday, August 25, 2008

The Pre-Convention Swoon Revisited

I don't necessarily want to reprise the post and the resulting discussion here, but I thought it was important to update Saturday's examination of the August poll movement to reflect all the data we have through August. I'm treating the Biden announcement as part of the convention. Therefore, any polls conducted prior to August 23 are included in the analysis below. In other words, all the polls covered in yesterday's electoral college projection post plus the Epic/MRA Michigan and Columbus Dispatch Ohio polls are rolled into this update. The Suffolk poll from Colorado is omitted because the survey period extended through yesterday. No, the Biden announcement was not part of the convention, but with its proximity to the Democractic convention, it will be difficult to parse out those differences in the polls, ex post facto. As such, we will treat the two -- in relation to state level polling -- as one in the same.
[Click Map to Enlarge]

The map above provides a much the same picture we saw just two days ago. In fact, none of the states where polling had been conducted prior to Saturday, saw any change to the intensity of their shifts thus far during August. However, both Utah and Wyoming were shaded in based on the large margins the Mason-Dixon polls in each gave John McCain. Neither really provides any substantial break from the conventional wisdom though. If anything the relative "tightness" of both to this point in the race was notable.

There are three other states that I kind of gave short shrift to the other day that I'd like to take the opportunity to address here in the absence of an in-depth analysis of the toss up states. Iowa, Minnesota and New Mexico are trending toward Johm McCain since the beginning of August. We've mentioned Minnesota's recent trends before, but they're worth noting again. The Land of 10,000 Lakes has seen a decided tightening in two of the three August polls. Both stand out as anomalous in the overall progression of polling in Minnesota. The slim two point lead in the Survey USA poll, as Scott mentioned, may have something to do with the way the firm is screening its sample. Indeed, the most recent Survey USA poll of Minnesota was in June during Obama's jump in the the polls in most states. While most polling firms showed an Obama lead in the mid- to upper teens, Survey USA had the race in a dead heat with Obama up by a scant one point margin. Minnesota and Survey USA may be like oil and water then. Still that only "explains away" one of those recent narrow leads for Obama in Minnesota. The other was the four point margin Rasmussen found in their latest sample of the North Star state. That one I won't dwell on, but I will say that when you take into account the high numbers of the "bounce" period -- and then peppered throughout the summer -- with the uncharacteristically low numbers we've seen recently, you get an average very similar to the one FHQ has overall now; one in the upper single digits.

In Iowa the story is a bit different. Other than a 17 point margin in a February Selzer poll, the range of polling has been between 2 and 10 points within no discernible pattern emerging. This one has settled in and remains fairly static within the area of a 6 to 7 point edge for Obama. New Mexico is essentially a fringe toss up state, propped up by two favorable Zogby Interactive polls. When those are removed New Mexico does move into the toss up region but it is on par with a state like Missouri on the flip side of the Electoral College Spectrum. It is possible that McCain moves in and picks off New Mexico, but at this point that is the equivalent to Obama pulling Missouri into his column. The probability of those two things happening simultaneously in November is quite small, but one candidate winning both would be a clear signal that the momentum down the stretch has swung decidedly in that candidate's direction.

Recent Posts:
The Electoral Map (8/24/08)

Swoon? What Swoon? A Look at the Changes During Pre-Convention August



Unknown said...

Almost all of the New Mexico drop is due to one Mason-Dixon poll. I wouldn't draw any conclusions from one poll. NM may have narrowed slightly but I don't think its moved to toss up territory. Time will tell though.

Minnesota is similar to NM: two polls that showed a close race, but not a reversal of the lead. All other polls show a solid lead for Obama. Again, I don't think you should draw any conclusions without more data.

Iowa is almost certainly in the bag for Obama. Iowans know Obama well from all of the time he spent there during the primaries. While his support may drop during the campaign, this is a state that will not shift to the McCain column.

In summary, NM and MN are places to keep an eye on, but I don't think that is where the action is. If there was a drop from the heights of July, I think it was most prominently seen in OH and CO. I think the states to keep an eye on moving forward are OH, CO, NV, NH, VA and FL.

Anonymous said...

Allen, I completely agree with that assessment. These are not the states where the action is right now, but there is some action in each worth noting.

Iowa does not seem to be moving anywhere fast. This is around where the Hawkeye states has been and will likely stay.

Yes, the drop in New Mexico during August is almost directly attributable to that Mason-Dixon poll, though the recent Rasmussen poll -- the with leaners numbers version at least -- ran a bit below where the Land of Enchantment has been. But while that Mason-Dixon poll is a drag -- from the Obama campaign's perspective -- on the state's average here, the Zogby numbers have propped up the average there. We're are just picking a different outlier to highlight. The result is that you have a state in New Mexico that is on the line between the leaning and toss up distinctions we have here. But it certainly isn't as close as the states you list; states that I wholeheartedly agree with you that will decide this election.

So we may see a trend toward McCain in states like Minnesota or New Mexico, but it is a tall order for McCain to completely erase the lead in those types of states.


Too bad the GOP doesn't have quite the intrigue surrounding the timing of their VP announcement as the Dems did throughout August.

Thanks for the comment.