Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Electoral College Map (10/22/08)

Lots to look at today. There were 22 new polls out on Tuesday in 17 states, but what was different between the Tuesday polls and those that preceded them on Monday was that we got a broader sample of types of states on Tuesday. So, we got polls from Florida and North Carolina and Colorado, but there were also polls from Illinois and South Dakota and South Carolina. In the case of the latter group, we get a chance to see whether there was any continued post-Lehman movement in the polls in strong states or whether they held pat.

New Polls (Oct. 21)
Insider Advantage
Public Policy Polling
Chicago Tribune
Public Policy Polling
Survey USA
Survey USA
Insider Advantage
New Jersey
New Jersey
North Carolina
North Carolina
Survey USA
North Carolina
Insider Advantage
Survey USA
Muhlenberg College
South Carolina
South Dakota
Macro International
West Virginia
Survey USA

The Moore poll in Alaska is interesting. The tables there tell the tale. Since the Palin selection, McCain's numbers in the Last Frontier have remained virtually unchanged, but there has been a drop in the undecideds total and it is all going to Obama. That isn't enough to put Obama over the top there, but it is an interesting development in light of the state's popular governor being on the GOP ticket. Red state margins were down in South Carolina and South Dakota as well. The effect is more pronounced in South Dakota, where the Mount Rushmore state appears to be following its northern neighbor in the polls. But as was the case with our discussion of Virginia and North Carolina the other day, the starting position for both Dakotas was different. There have been more hints of competitiveness in North Dakota than in South Dakota, but neither would be especially close if the election were held today (...and assuming these averages are accurate). Both would be closer than they have been in quite a while but not close enough for the Democrats.

Changes (Oct. 21)
McCain lean
Toss Up McCain

But what about the toss up states? Well, that group adds one more today. Indiana, after moving into the McCain lean category following the lowering of the lean/toss up threshold last week, is now back in the toss up category. The Public Policy Polling survey of the Hoosier state showed Obama with a slight lead there and pulled Indiana off the line between the two categories and into toss up status. Indiana, like Missouri, is much more likely to move more based on new polling. The two of those states have far fewer polls than is the case in North Carolina. If, then, those +2 margins were to continue for Obama in Indiana, that one could close pretty quickly. However, is that more a typical narrowing effect or a complete switch-over? Given that Obama is ahead -- and yes it is in just one poll -- that indicates the latter. As always, though, we'll need more data from the Hoosier state to tell for sure.

[Click Map to Enlarge]

McCain, then, loses 11 electoral votes from his "safer" total (strong plus lean states) and is now over 100 electoral votes down in the comparison of his total (163) to Obama's (273). Overall though, the projection still stands at 338-200 in favor of the Illinois senator. The GOP has argued that the CNN reports that the McCain campaign was pulling out of Colorado, Iowa and New Mexico were false, but all three continue to be uphill climbs for the McCain campaign. If those three are out of the mix then the Arizona senator either has to sweep FHQ's toss up states or pick up any combination of them that along with Pennsylvania would push McCain over 270 electoral votes. Pulling out of Iowa and New Mexico may be wise, as those resources could be used in other areas, but Colorado seems to be an odd choice to back out on -- or even quietly talk about. Seth Masket over at Enik Rising is in Colorado and has a different take on the GOP's potential intent.

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 Colorado (all Obama's toss up states plus Colorado), he would have 274 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.

Colorado is the state 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. It is currently favoring Obama, thus the blue text in that cell.

Regardless, Colorado appears to be a vital piece to any combination of states that would get McCain an electoral college victory. We haven't discussed Colorado's position as the victory line in a while since the playing field shifted right, giving Obama the Virginia/Nevada/Ohio/Florida cushion, but the Centennial state still holds that distinction. If McCain can sweep the toss up states, he'd still need Colorado to get over the hump. With less than two weeks left in the race though, the options are growing fewer in number and the chances slim. As I argued a week ago when the category thresholds were lowered, three points is a lot to make up over the last two weeks and McCain would have to make up that much ground and more in states like Colorado or Pennsylvania to make the math work to his advantage in the electoral college.

The Watch List*
Coloradofrom Obama lean
to Toss Up Obama
Floridafrom Toss Up Obama
to Toss Up McCain
Indianafrom Toss Up McCain
to McCain lean
Minnesotafrom Strong Obama
to Obama lean
Missourifrom Toss Up McCain
to Toss Up Obama
Nevadafrom Toss Up Obama
to Toss Up McCain
New Mexicofrom Obama lean
to Strong Obama
Ohiofrom Toss Up Obama
to Toss Up McCain
Pennsylvaniafrom Obama lean
to Strong Obama
Virginiafrom Toss Up Obama
to Obama lean
Wisconsinfrom Strong Obama
to Obama lean
*Weighted Average within a fraction of a point of changing categories.

[On the Watch List, the standard line applies. Florida, Missouri, Nevada and Ohio are still the states to watch most closely when new polls are released. But as you may or may not have noticed, North Carolina is now off the list. The Tar Heel state continues to draw closer and is now far enough into the McCain toss up category that it is no longer imminently vulnerable to a switch into the McCain lean category.]

Now, there could be a Bradley/Wilder effect at work as well, and I'll look at some scenarios later on this afternoon, where that could make a difference in this race. Under what circumstances and to what effect does that phenonmenon bring McCain back into the race in some states and make the race more competitive?

Recent Posts:
Map Update Coming...

The Electoral College Map (10/21/08)

Early Voting in Forsyth County, GA: Technology at Work


Anonymous said...

New polls today from Mason Dixon in Florida and Virginia.
Florida McCain +1
Virginia Obama +2

Anonymous said...

McCain needs to forget about Pennsylvania and focus on red states.
Actually if I were him, I'd send Palin to southern states that are tight such as Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Missouri, she fits those states way better than McCain.
Then McCain should go to tight red states outside the south such as Ohio, Colorado, Nevada (although I think Nevada and Colorado are hopeless for McCain because of the illegal and legal mexicans).
Southerners don't like McCain because of his amnesty and gay marriage vote and his flip flopping on abortion, so send Palin there.

Unknown said...

Anonymous made me think of something--where the heck are the high profile Republican surrogates? Shouldn't Huckabee be running around, say, Missouri? Why hasn't Romney been deployed to Michigan (he was in Kansas lately campaigning for a congressman!) ? McCain and Palin have been doing this alone on the campaign trail, as far as I can tell, particularly since Bush and Cheney have to be kept under a barrel.

Hillary's out there, giving it her all. Bill shows up once in a while. Richardson is campaigning for the top of the ticket, too. (Edwards, of course, is also in the kept-under-a-barrel category right now.) Gore has maybe been a bit of a no-show, but that's still a pretty good line-up.

With the battlefield spread over so many states, the Republicans need more high-profile types to deploy.

Anonymous said...

I think the reason why high profile republicans are not campaigning is because they don't care for McCain due to his votes on certain issues.
They don't want to be associated with amnesty for mexicans, rights for gays to get married.
The republican party is split right now.
There are the neoconservatives and wall street republicans (that are not conservative at all) that are Israel firsters and rich people firsterts.
Then there are social conservatives, which I am, that are tired of being stabbed in the back by the neocons and wall street republicans.
Huckabee is a mild social conservative that tried to bring all factions of the party together, and whom doesn't want to be associated with amnesty and gay marriage and flip flopping on abortion, and I bet there are more within the party.

Being out on the campaign for McCain is a risk to politicians in the republican party because McCain is NOT a conservative at all.

But I do wonder why liberal republicans like Rudy Guiliani (who I call McCain's twin brother)aren't campaigning for him.

Robert said...

McCain can't afford to tout his immigration credentials in NM and CO. McCain's winning strategy was to convince hold the Republican base and convince independents that he was a maverick. His selection of Sarah Palin cemented his base to allow him to go out and get the independents. The Wall Street collapse exposed his strategy.

Unknown said...

anonymous: I basically agree with you. Throw in one more constituency within the Republicans--the libertarians. Oh, and maybe the fiscal conservatives. That's a ton of different viewpoints...sometimes very different viewpoints.

Those have all been part of the Republican party for at least the past few cycles. But as long as Republicans were winning, they'd show a united front in public, like the Democrats are doing now. This time, though, it appears to be every faction for themselves on the Republican side.

As far as Giuliani goes, he'd be a disaster for McCain, because he is broadly the same kind of Republican (throw Schwarzenegger into that mix too). If the Republican campaign looks like it's John and Rudy and Arnold, then my bet is that the social conservatives run as far away as they can.

Anonymous said...



"If the Republican campaign looks like it's John and Rudy and Arnold, then my bet is that the social conservatives run as far away as they can."

Yep amen to that.

Tammy said...

Surprise - McCain is goint to win.

Tammy said...

McCain is going to win.

People are starting to really.. listen to what Barak is saying and realizing we are going to have worse economic with his plan.
I have studied carefully both candidates suggestions for recovering economy. Obama is a scary one.

Tammy said...

McCain is going to win.

I have listened to both candidates with the their plan to recover out economy. Obama's plan pretty scary.

Unknown said...

I suspect you don't really want a response, Tammy, but I'll give you one anyway:

Big economic crises are scary. Major wars are scary. Environmental disasters are scary.

These are all things where it is difficult to know how best to proceed.

Therefore all plans in those circumstances--at least all plans that are in touch with reality--are scary.

At this point in the election, it seems like most people have concluded that we're in a crisis (or perhaps multiple crises), and that the solution is going to be hard and scary.