Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Electoral College Map (9/3/08)

Kudos to CNN for filling state polling void present since last week. Granted CNN continues to call Iowa and Minnesota swing states when they've been anything but. But hey, you don't bite the hand that feeds you, right? In addition to the North Star and Hawkeye states, there is also a new poll out in Ohio. Now that's enough to get your attention; a poll in one of FHQ's three most competitive states.

New Polls (Aug. 31-Sept. 3)
(With Leaners/ Without Leaners)

And these are three states that have, of late at least, been favoring Obama, continuing to do so here. Though CNN has yet to poll any of these three states, each of the results seems about right. I don't want to read too much into any of these polls, especially considering these are CNN's first efforts in each, but given where the polling had been in Iowa and Minnesota, both appear to be showing a bounce for Obama coming off the Democratic convention a week ago. The margins in the Hawkeye and North Star states had been tightening recently, but these three polls and the four state polls the Cable News Network conducted a week ago seem to be pretty close to what we've seen in all seven states on average over the course of the campaign. If Iowa and Minnesota are bouncing toward Obama, Ohio, like Colorado and Nevada last week, is in a holding pattern. All three are consistently polling within the range that would place each in the toss up category here at FHQ. Though Colorado is not as close in our averages as Nevada and Ohio, the Centennial state is trending toward McCain, or had been prior to the Democratic convention.
[Click Map to Enlarge]

Despite the widened margins in Iowa and Minnesota, neither changes categories, though Minnesota is threatening to move back into the strong Obama category after a stint in the lean category through much of August. Iowa just seems to be stuck in the mid- to upper single digits, just beyond McCain's reach, but not yet comfortably in Obama's. Ohio? Well, the Buckeye state's 20 electoral votes seem destined to be fought over intensely throughout the general election campaign in a reprise of its role from four years ago.

The map, though, doesn't shift in any way based on the addition of these three polls to our weighted averages. Nevada remains a tie and will until the next poll is released from the state -- hopefully some time next week. Nevada, Ohio and Virginia should be among the first states polled once convention season ends tomorrow. But I suppose that's my personal preference.

The Electoral College Spectrum*
*Follow the link for a detailed explanation on how to read the Electoral College Spectrum.
**The numbers in the parentheses refer to the number of electoral votes a candidate would have if he won all the states ranked prior to that state. If, for example, McCain won all the states up to and including Pennsylvania (all Obama's toss up states, but Michigan), he would have 299 electoral votes. Both candidates numbers are only totaled through their rival's toss up states. In those cases, Obama's number is on the left and McCain's is on the right in italics.

***The line between Colorado and New Hampshire is the where Obama crosses (or McCain would cross) the 270 electoral vote threshold to win the presidential election. That line is referred to as the victory line.

The widened margins in Iowa and Minnesota don't even alter the Electoral College Spectrum or the Watch List. Though, as I said, Minnesota is on the verge of jumping back into the strong Obama category based on this new poll in the state. The election, at this moment, still comes down to those five states at the top of the middle column of the spectrum. If Obama can hold Colorada and New Hampshire, he has the luxury of ceding the three closest states and still acheiving a victory in the electoral college. Maintaining that state of play, though, depends to a large degree on how the polling shakes out in the aftermath of the conventions and VP selections.

The Watch List*
from Toss Up McCain
to McCain lean
Georgiafrom McCain leanto Strong McCain
Minnesotafrom Obama leanto Strong Obama
Mississippifrom Strong McCainto McCain lean
Nevadafrom Tieto Toss Up McCain/Obama
Ohiofrom Toss Up Obamato Toss Up McCain
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.

By the way, with Mike Huckabee up next at the GOP convention, I'm hopeful that someone will finally invite this Abe Lincoln look-a-like up on stage. Again, just a preference. The guy has maybe gotten enough face time already.

Recent Posts:
A Follow Up on the 50% Mark: The View from 2004

Obama Cracks 50% in the Daily Trackers. What Does It Mean?

And What About the Green Party?


Unknown said...

Slightly off-topic, but I have a polling question.

I found it intriguing that the poll that just came out on Indiana has an interesting strategy for screening:

"I would like to speak to the youngest male, registered voter who is at home now who is eligible
to vote in Indiana elections. (IF NO MALE AVAILABLE, ASK…) May I speak to the youngest
registered female voter who is at home now who is eligible to vote in Indiana elections?

The point of doing it that way is clear. A random choice would tend to oversample older people and women. (For example, more men work outside the home than women.)

But there are funny biases inherent in this method. For example, they're likely to way oversample housewives as compared married women who work outside the home. In the case of the working married women, their husband is more likely to be home when they are, and therefore the husband answers.

Do any of you know if this is a normal methodology?

Anonymous said...

Good catch, Scott. I have never seen anything like that before.

I'm assuming that this is the new Howey-Gauge poll that you're referencing. I hesitate to say that this isn't "normal" methodology, but all the same, this is the first I've heard of this firm. They don't appear to have polled during 2004 at the presidential level, much less in the Bayh re-election race or the gubernatorial race of that year. So, I don't know. Perhaps they are acting on a hunch. What that hunch is, I have no idea. Very odd.

Unknown said...

A couple of people at 538 have confirmed that this is, indeed, a common technique. Apparently it's often combined with a computer program that keeps track of how many from each demographic has responded and adjusts the script accordingly.

Anonymous said...

News to me. Huh. Yeah, I failed to read the comments to yesterday's polls post at 538 -- the drawback to reading them quickly in an RSS reader. Well, I'll have to read them now. Ha! Thanks Scott.