Friday, August 15, 2008

Battleground States 2008 - 08/15

I was planning on revisiting this post about once a week, but obviously have not done so up until now.

Since the last post, things have improved for Senator John McCain (R-AZ) but definitely not to the point where he and his wife can start picking out curtains for the White House.  Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) still controls this race.

Here's the current standings with difference since July 23 in parentheses):

  • Michigan (17): Democrat last 4 elections, Obama currently leads by 7 pts. (+2)
  • Indiana (11): Republican last 4 elections, Obama by 1 pt.
  • Ohio (20): Picked winner in last 4 elections, McCain by 2. (-4)
  • Missouri (11): Picked winner in last 4 elections, Mcain by 7. (+7)
  • Pennsylvania (21): Democrat last 4 elections, Obama by 5 (+1)
  • Iowa (7):Picked Winner in 3 of last 4 (had Gore in 2000), Obama by 5. (-5)
  • Virginia (13): Republican last 4 elections, currently tied.
  • Florida (27): Picked Winner in last 3 elections, McCain by 4. (+2)
  • Colorado (9): Republican last 3 elections, McCain by 2. (+9)
  • New Mexico (5): Picked Winner in 3 of last 4 (had Gore in 2000), Obama by 5.
  • Montana (3): Republican last 3 elections, McCain by 1.  (+6)
  • North Dakota(3): Republican last 4 elections, McCain by 3. (+3)
  • Nevada(5): Picked winner last 4 elections, McCain by 3. (+5)

Bellwether states (EV totals in parenthese):

McCain: OH, FL, NV, MO (63)
Obama: IA, NM (12)

Battleground EV Totals (diff since July 23 in parens): McCain 78 (+31), Obama 61 (-17), Tied: 13 (-14)

Rest of map: McCain 172, Obama 214

Totals: McCain 250, Obama 275

My source is always Andrew Tanenbaum's Electoral-vote.com.

Worries for McCain: His lead in OH has shrunk dramatically, one of only three states he's lost ground in, the others are MI and PA. He still trails in IN, but to be fair, there hasn't been a new poll there. FL is looking better, but still too close. The earlier close poll there does not appear to be an outlier. Quite a few of these battleground states are traditionally Republican, IN, VA, CO, MT, ND, and NV.  Also, the biggest fear in the McCain camp is that all of these polls may be undercounting Democrats, and it may turn out much worse than it currently looks.

Worries for Obama: He now only can claim two "bellwether states", and both of those went to Gore in 2000. He lost ground in MO, IA, CO, MT, ND, and NV.

Good news for McCain: He's now leads in several of the states that I earlier mentioned are "must win" for him.  Winning VA and flipping IN puts him in the White House. He has a statistically significant lead in MO. Taking this off the battleground list would be a severe blow to Obama. He's doing very well in "bellwether" states and now leads in the EV count in the battlegrounds. Of course, he has to, since he's giving Obama a 42 EV head start on the rest of the map.

Good news for Obama: He can still claim a winning position in EV. If the map stays precisely as it is now, he'll have a new place to live next January. There are only two traditionally Democratic states listed as battlegrounds and he's expanded his lead in both of them. This means he can force McCain to play defense in several states. At the moment, Obama isn't really playing defense anywhere (despite the poll numbers, PA appears to be a long shot for McCain), and it doesn't look likely that he will be anytime soon. Also, the Democratic convention is right around the corner, and that will likely give him a boost in several of these states.

Here's what I said in July:

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.

Still true, but McCain currently has found that other state, NV.  Actually, in June I even narrowed it to IN and VA, and those still look the tightest to me. As I mentioned above, McCain's lead in MO has to be troublesome to Obama, just as troublesome as Obama's position in IN is to McCain. I can't see any scenario where McCain wins and loses IN.

Still, despite everything on the map that looks bad for McCain and good for Obama, this is the closest the race has been. McCain supporters should take solace in that, and Obama supporters may start chewing their nails soon. The Democratic convention could not be coming at a better time for Obama.

The EV count here is much closer than the national polls.  Could we have a repeat of 2000 where Obama wins the popular vote and McCain the EV? Seems doubtful, but that possibility does exist.  A month ago I would've said "impossible". Now I'm down to "doubtful".

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