Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Battleground States 2008

Here's my take on the battleground states for Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) and Senator John McCain (R-AZ). "Bellwether" states in bold.

  • Michigan (17): Democrat last 4 elections, Obama currently leads by 5 pts.
  • Indiana (11): Republican last 4 elections, Obama by 1 pt.
  • Ohio (20): Picked winner in last 4 elections, McCain by 6.
  • Missouri (11): Picked winner in last 4 elections, currently tied.
  • Pennsylvania (21): Democrat last 4 elections, Obama by 4 (this state likely goes Obama–I only include it because of his blue collar worker issues and his bitter/cling faux pas–If Obama somehow loses this state, he loses the election, possibly by a big margin)
  • Iowa (7):Picked Winner in 3 of last 4 (had Gore in 2000), Obama by 10. (this state likely goes Obama–I only include it because GWB did take this in 2004 and would be a loss for McCain in 2008 that would need to be compensated by a pickup elsewhere)
  • Virginia (13): Republican last 4 elections, currently tied.
  • Florida (27): Picked Winner in last 3 elections, McCain by 2. (this state likely goes McCain–I only include it because of it’s recent history as a battleground state–If McCain somehow loses this state, he loses the election, probably by a big margin)
  • Colorado (9): Republican last 3 elections, Obama by 7.
  • New Mexico (5): Picked Winner in 3 of last 4 (had Gore in 2000), Obama by 5.
  • Montana (3): Republican last 3 elections, Obama by 5.
  • North Dakota(3): Republican last 4 elections, currently tied.
  • Nevada(5): Picked winner last 4 elections, Obama by 2.

Montana, North Dakota, Colorado and New Mexico don’t carry much weight but are symbolic to McCain’s problems. These states should be colored in red. The fact that they aren’t shows how weak Republicans are in general.

There are scenarios where Connecticut and New Hampshire get thrown into the battleground mix, but that doesn’t seem likely, and would be bad news for Obama.

So, 147 EV’s out of the 270 needed to win are up for grab right there. Over half.

Bellwether states:

McCain: OH, FL (47)
Obama: IA, NM, NV (17)
Tied: MO (11)

EV Totals: McCain 47, Obama 78, Tied: 27
If we look at the rest of the map and use 2000 and 2004 as the base, we get:
McCain 172, Obama 214.

(if my math is off somewhere, I apologize–doing most of this in my head)

McCain is giving Obama a 42 EV head start in the base and is currently losing the battlegrounds. Not good. The only good news is that he's doing well in the "bellwether" states, at least in EV count.

However, I've looked at the details in the polls for Indiana, and I consider an Obama victory here unlikely. McCain's chances here appear to ride with Governor Mitch Daniels' (R) chances of being re-elected.  He faces Jill Long Thompson (D), and the polls are pretty much tied. However, Mitch leads in the "depths" of the polls, on questions such as "who would you vote for no matter who they were running against", and "who would you never vote for no matter who they were running against". He also has a huge money edge.

So, Obama just needs to hang on and he wins.  That's simple.  What does McCain need to do to win?

To start, McCain needs to win all three the states that are currently tied, MO, VA, and ND, and flip IN, MT, and CO. That gets the two candidates to 269 each. I don't think a tie is likely though. So, McCain probably has to look next at NV and NM.  Those should be good states for him being from AZ. As an aside, I'm constantly amazed at how blue or at least purple NV is in national elections. In state elections, it's very very red.

As another aside, the mere fact that IN is a battleground also shows McCain’s troubles. President George W. Bush (R-USA) got 60% of the vote here in 2004.

In the end, I think that the 4 states we’ll be talking about right up until election day are IN, VA, OH, and MO. If either candidate can pick up some momentum in these 4 states and take any of them off the battleground list, it is bad news for the other camp. Unfortunately for McCain, it currently looks like he has to go 4 for 4 in them, and still pick up another state.

I don't think McCain can win in PA unless the election becomes a landslide, but it's currently competitive and that's good news for McCain. MI has also been competitive in some polls, even having McCain leading in May. Flipping either of these states are disastrous for Obama, but highly unlikely. Same is true in reverse for FL, and the latest poll has that state very close, but compared to other polls, that appears to be an outlier. It's very very bad news for McCain if it isn't an outlier. He needs to remove this state from the battleground list.

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