Thursday, August 21, 2008

Battleground States - 08/22

My somewhat weekly look at the battleground states. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) had a good week, as has already been discussed here. Three new states have been added to the battleground list, two of which are traditionally blue (MN, NH) and one traditionally red (NC).  Discussion follows:

Here's the current standings with difference since August 15 in parentheses:

  • Michigan (17): Democrat last 4 elections, Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) currently leads by 7 pts.
  • Indiana (11): Republican last 4 elections, McCain by 6 (+7).
  • Ohio (20): Picked winner in last 4 elections, McCain by 4. (+2)
  • Missouri (11): Picked winner in last 4 elections, McCain by 7.
  • Pennsylvania (21): Democrat last 4 elections, Obama by 5
  • Iowa (7):Picked Winner in 3 of last 4 (had Gore in 2000), Obama by 6. (+1)
  • Virginia (13): Republican last 4 elections, currently tied.
  • Florida (27): Picked Winner in last 3 elections, McCain by 3. (+1)
  • Colorado (9): Republican last 3 elections, McCain by 3. (+1)
  • 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.
  • North Dakota (3): Republican last 4 elections, McCain by 3.
  • Nevada (5): Picked winner last 4 elections, McCain by 3.
  • Minnesota (10): Democrat last 4 elections, Obama by 3. (new)
  • New Hampshire (4): Democrat three of last 4 elections (had Bush in 2000), Obama by 1. (new)
  • North Carolina (15): Republican last 4 elections, McCain by 3. (new)

Bellwether states (EV totals in parentheses):

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

Battleground EV Totals (diff since August 15 in parentheses): McCain 104 (+26 due to inclusion of NC), Obama 64 ( +3 due to inclusion of MN and NH), Tied: 13

Rest of map: McCain 157 (-15), Obama 200 (-14)

Totals: McCain 261, Obama 264

For the first time during the campaign, Obama is not in the driver's seat.  He's done well as the "rock star", and not so well as the "presumed winner". It remains to be seen how he does in a tight race. Remember that he didn't do very well down the stretch in the Democratic primaries.

The only state that flipped in the last week was Indiana. Right now that means VA controls the whole thing. Not many states had any changes at all, for the simple fact that most of them didn't have any new polls. McCain also currently leads in SD by only 4, but that's the first poll showing that state so close. One more and I'll have to add it as a battleground as well.

I said last week that Obama wasn't really playing defense anywhere. That's no longer true. He's playing defense in MN and NH. But McCain is now also playing defense in NC. Demographics in that state make things precarious for McCain.

A couple more good polls and I can probably take MI, IN, MO, and IA off this list. For the most part, that's good news for McCain. I don't think he ever planned on IA, and MI always looked out of reach anyway. But to take IN and MO off the chart for Obama would be huge.

Right now McCain has all the momentum, but momentum changes rapidly in Presidential elections and Obama has his convention coming up. It couldn't come at a better time.  I expect that in a week to a week and a half from now, the map will be much more blue. But then another week after that, might be back to how it is now.  Might not, though.  Two to three weeks is a long time in a race this tight. More and more it looks like the debates will be crucial in this campaign.  I've commented on them previously, but I've since thought some more on it and have more to say on this subject, so another post on the debates will be coming in the near future.

FL is still far closer than it should be for McCain. I still find that the most disconcerting state on the map for him.  For Obama, he has two very disconcerting states, MN and MO.  MN because it should be solid blue, and MO because it should be pretty close to a tie.

I still say that for McCain to win, he has to pick up all of FL, IN, MO, OH, NV, and VA, which seems a tall order. Right now he leads in five of those and the sixth is too close to call. Obama has many ways to win, but in general, he just needs to pick up one of those six states.

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