Articles and Analysis


PA: Obama 53, McCain 40 (F&M-10/21-26)

Topics: PHome

Franklin & Marshall College
10/21-26/08; Likely Voters, 4.2%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Obama 53, McCain 40



Yet another PA poll showing Obama at 52-53. McCain is finished here.




Darn, PA is a total toss-up. I hope McCain and Palin don't continue to campaign there and spend lots of ad money there, because they might just end up winning!



I've been going through a lot of state polls looking for an example of McCain's momentum, that is being claimed because of some tightening of the national polls. But I can't find any.




I see the same thing. There is no evidence McCain is gaining where he needs to. And, even if we assume that these polls are lagging indicators and that McCain will pick up 3-4 points relative to these numbers in the swing states, he's still toast.



Damn! Good news for McCain!

This could free him up to campaign in Arizona!



Boy, you really have to wonder what McCain's internal pollsters are telling him. Who are they calling when they poll - all the red area in between Philly and Pitt? He's a lot closer in other blue states than he is here. I would think he should have spent his time there, not that it matters at all now.



3 pennsylvannia polls today from three different pollster which have some differences in their methodology.

And yet, the results are *very* consistant : +12, +12, 13 !

This seems solid as rock, and yet Mccain is still campaigning there. Perharps it's just because he told so much about attacking PA in the beginning of the race he can't pull out, this would look to much like accepting defeat.


Want to know why McCain's tightening nationally? "Undecided" voters in already red states have magically made up their minds to vote for him.

Well, that's the only way to make the state vs. national data make sense, unless, like McCain, you feel free to just not care about that data...



The national tightening is typical of what you'll see closer to election day (Nate Silver has written about this), as most undecideds tend to be right-leaners who weren't completely sold on McCain but will vote for him by default. OTOH, you don't see McCain making up any ground in swing states, where Obama's huge advertising and ground game advantage are flooding the zone.



Mccain surge!!!



Hello Pollsters
Can you answer a question? Why are the national polls showing a small Obama lead when he seems to have big leads in the battlegrounds? Obama has large margins in CA and NY etc which are heavily populated. So where are McCains votes in the national polls coming from?


NW Patrick:

I hope McCain stays in PA 'till Tuesday while Obama works hard in FL, VA, and OH!:)



To put it bluntly, I think they are hoping that they get a big "Bradley Effect" in Pennsylvania. That, plus PA having little early voting, plus PA counting for a lot of electoral college votes, might explain why they have focused here rather than on other states where Obama is ahead a bit less in the polls.



No -its getting closer in PA. If Sydney and Caribou Barbi just stay there from now to election day they could flip the state. They are just not advertising enough there. I suggest we all take a few moments out of our busy blogging and call the Sydney campaign HQ and tell them to advertise and spend more time in PA as he is making a difference.

Furthe we should all go straight over to Intrade and vote big on Sydney. He can't lose. You'll make $1.85 for every $1.00 spent - WOW!!! That is big money. $500.00 gets you $925.00. Tell me a better way to make quick money legally.




In all seriousness, everytime I look at news and polling I keep thinking to myself Obama's got this one put away, probably comfortably, then I read something like this blog post. What do you guys think of it?



I said this yesterday and I will say it again. McCain's advisors are smoking some very serious dope for going after this whacky PA strategy. I don't get it and it makes no sense. PA has not gone to the GOP since 1988, Obama is running a campaign that Kerry or Gore could have only dreamed of, and Michael "I ran the worst campaign in modern history only to be rivaled by Bob Dole" Dukakis came within 5 points of carrying PA in 88. If anyone can give me a clear sensible rationale behind this strategy I am all ears.



It's pretty obvious that the reason McCain is investing so heavily in PA is to boost morale among his base.

He needs to make it look like he has a chance. That's why you're hearing this bogus about "the race is closer than it looks."

No, it's not. It's over dude.




"In all seriousness, everytime I look at news and polling I keep thinking to myself Obama's got this one put away, probably comfortably, then I read something like this blog post. What do you guys think of it?"

Haha.. what do I think of it? I can't believe I wated 2 minutes of my life reading that.



These polls make me think of an article I read some time ago, which said that people without strong opinions tend to be heavily influenced by what their neighbors and community think. Okay, so if that's true, then neighborhoods that are red should get redder and neighborhoods that are blue, should get bluer. Same thing for states.

If there were a higher number of undecideds (low information voters presumably) in red states than in blue states that could explain why the national polls might get get tighter and the battlegrounds leads could extend.





I don't care what their internals say, all of the public polls can't be that far off. I think the reason McCain's campaign is focusing on PA is two-fold. Note that these are not original ideas - others have discussed them. The first is in order to keep their supporters engaged, they have to give the appearance of having a chance. You don't give that appearance by being purely on the defensive. Camping out in a formerly deep red state like Virigina is a defensive move. Doesn't show confidence. PA is a good choice because advertising and politicking there can have some bleed over affect into Ohio, where the race is probably much closer.

Second, I think McCain's internal polls are telling him that Obama is going to win all of the Kerry states plus IA, NM, CO, and probably Virginia. If that is the case, the only way McCain can win is by stealing a blue state. And it would have to be a big one. If Obama wins all of the states I mentioned above but McCain somehow pulls it off in PA, McCain wins by the skin of his teeth, 273-265.

Even if Obama wins Kerry states plus IA, NM, CO but lose VA, he still wins. McCain would still need to steel a blue state. Taking New Hampshire would turn it to a 269-269 tie, which would mean an Obama win in the House. PA would be more than he needs in that scenario but it would also provide him with a firewall against a (now likely) loss in Virginia.

In other words, McCain is spending so much time in PA because, well, he has to...he has no choice. That's not a position of strength...it's a position of extreme weakness. But it's really all they can do. And it's a sign of how weak their internal polling in showing them running in IA, NM, CO, and VA. (along with other Bush 2004 battleground states)



I personally think the Ras PA number is a bit more believable (+7) than the +12-13 numbers we've been seeing from other pollsters, if only because McCain has been spending SO MUCH time/money in the state, it seems highly unlikely that he would be 10+ down. PA has been, after all, a battleground for years and went to Dems in 2000/04 by relatively small margins.

That said, McCain won't get within 6 on Election Day. He has only forced Obama to spend money in a state that was relatively safe for him but Obama had the money to spend.



To put it bluntly, I think they are hoping that they get a big "Bradley Effect" in Pennsylvania. That, plus PA having little early voting, plus PA counting for a lot of electoral college votes, might explain why they have focused here rather than on other states where Obama is ahead a bit less in the polls.

Nope. Two things. One, already discussed ad nauseum, is that McCain simply cannot get to 270 without PA. Second is the demographics of the state. Obama's statewide lead in all these polls belies the fact that he actually trails just about everywhere except Philadelphia. McCain's camp feels that they can steal the state if they can turn a few suburban votes and suppress turnout in the big city.




I agree with you that about Rasmussen's numbers, but this is my rationale behind it: I don't pay attention to the spread between Obama and McCain, but the actual level of support of each candidate.

So far all pollsters have found that Obama support is up north 50%, which makes PA very hard for McCain because he would have to a) get 100% of undecided b) peel away support from Obama. I think that those "undecided" will break for McCain at around 3 to 1, but if Obama is already at 53% that will only bring up his numbers a little more.

The most dissapointing thing for the McCain camp should be the fact that Obama has stayed consistenly above the 50% threshold in spite of McCain vigorous campaingning in the state.



McCain is getting carpet bombed with Obama advertising in PA. He has been reduced to hoping there is enough of a so-called Bradley effect to make up at least 7 points in the polls. That is a complete pipedream. This is another one of McCain's one throw of the dice on everything moves, like Palin and like "suspending" his campaign. He is gambling on numbers that do not lie, but he has no choice really.



The more McLame spends time in PA, the more states he will lose. So, if that is the goal, he should stick with his plan and spend the rest of the days in PA.



The longer McWar stays in PA, the worse he does...He should probably start campaigning in NY and CA as well...LMAO



In regards to the "Underground Clinton/McCain Conspiracy" that has a widespread movement of Democrats going to the Dark Side. The most eloquent way I can put this is, "Are you F*CKING kidding me?"

IF something like this was taking place, do you really think that they would advertise it? Can anyone honestly believe that they would make this public that the Clinton machine is doing EVERYTHING they possibly can to sabotage the Democratic party and assist in another 4 years of Neo-con ideology?

The only thing that the Clintons care more about than the Democratic party is the health of their legacy. To be seen as a major component of a McCain upset and the complete destruction of any hope of the Democratic party would FOREVER ruin their legacy as the salwarts of the Democratic party. Bill and Hillary would be FOREVER remembered as the petty, two-faced, sabatours that fostered 4 more years of destructive Republican, Neo-con policy....as well as ensuring Palin a guaranteed spot on the national stage.

If this was honestly taking place....NO ONE would know about it....and it would most certainly not be publicly spewed forth on a blog for everyone to see. This is just more Republican hocus-pocus to gin up the GOP base and make them think they actually have a snowball's chance in hell of flipping Pennsylvania.

I find it absolutely implausible to think that Bill and Hillary would actually risk their legacy, not to mention to turn their back on their party, just out of spite of Obama. This is not to say that their motivation for supporting Obama is pure, but even if they are stumping just to protect their legacy that's fine by me...it's the end result of an Obama administration that I care about most.

Perhaps my perspective on this entire thing is completely off base....but I simply don't see Bill and Hillary wanting the Clinton Machine being forever linked with a McCain-Palin administration and the "deathblow" of what remains of this country. The Clintons have far more to gain by being viewed as having a lions share of the credit of helping Obama win this election and establishing a Democratic "sweep" of Washington than they do by ruining their own party....destroying the hope..and forever cementing the cynicism... of young voters and African Americans when it comes to American Politics.

Anyone else care to weigh in?



I live in Pittsburgh, and have all my life. I see no trend towards Hillary in the traditionally Democratic areas. None at all. I live in the North suburbs and I see exactly as many McCain signs as I see Obama signs. But near the city the signs easily run 90% Obama. All the local polls show that Obama owns Allegheny County. He's polling better than Kerry across the board.

Hillary polled at 7.5% in PA and won by 9.3%. These same polls have Obama at ~ 12%.

I don't know ONE SINGLE Democrat who's going to vote for McCain. And I know a lot of people in town. On the other hand, I can name 4-5 historical Republicans who have abandoned their party to vote Obama. I'm one of them. My wife's another.

Most tellingly: Obama held a rally here on Monday evening with little publicity and nearly no advance notice (the story hit the web late Saturday). The line to see him was about 7,000 people long when I got into it, and about 9,000 got in line behind me. Hillary never saw support like that in Allegheny County. Never. When she comes now, she speaks to crowds of ~ 500.



The very fact that McCain has had so much focus on PA and has not seemed to even make a dent there helps explain to me why the other "true" battlegrounds (not MI and NH), like OH and VA, seem to be getting pretty solid for Obama.



As a followup to my previous post, when Hillary rallied in Pittsburgh in April WITH Bill Clinton, she drew about 35% of Obama's recent crowd.


Obama wouldn't dare hold a rally at that location (Market Square) -- the crowds he'd draw would shut down the city.



I live about 5 minutes from downtown Pittsburgh and can attest to the information provided by the other "Pittsburghers". My neighborhood of Squirell Hill has an ENORMOUS Jewish population and Obama signs are all over the place.

I attended the rally at Mellon arena and the line was absolute ridiculous....which was a fantastic sight to see. I see absolutely NO way that John Wayne McSame carries this state...the "Alabama Middle" of the state...to reference Carville....is not enough to make up the overhwelming support of Obama in the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh regions.




On your first point, it is true that if the current polling is accurate, McCain can't get to 270 without PA, but by the same token he also can't get PA according to current polling. So, you could make the exact same case for several other states or combinations of states (McCain can't get to 270 without them, assuming all the other polls are accurate). Accordingly, the real question is why McCain is selecting PA as his place to overcome the polling, when other states/combinations of states are actually polling closer than PA.

On your second point, the Franklin & Marshall poll just released had the following regional breakdown:

Region McCain Obama
Philadelphia 19% 75%
Northeast 33% 52%
Allegheny 36% 50%
Southwest 50% 42%
Northwest 40% 47%
Central 44% 46%
Southeast 37% 58%

Obama actually led everywhere but Southwest PA outside of Allegheny County.

Temple had it slightly different but broadly comparable (note the order of candidates is reversed from the above):

Obama McCain

Allegheny County
49 47

34 57

48 47

55 41

86 12

South Central
50 47

59 39

47 44

Central and the Southwest have basically swapped places relative to Franklin & Marshall and Allegheny County is closer, but the upshot is still the same: Obama actually has pretty broad support in Pennsylvania, with McCain only being ahead in the most rural and Appalachian parts of the state.

Which is why Obama is ahead by so much overall: not only is he winning big in Philly, but he is at least holding his own in most of the rest of the state, particularly the most populous parts. And that equals a big win in the state.



PA is done, im shocked that they are still campaigning their. Obama supports shouldn't be too worried. State polls are favoring for obama, national polls dont. But remember each percent in a national poll is around 1.2 million people. gday!



The PA strategy is not a bad strategy. Its not great but I understand why he is doing it.

1. PA is close to Ohio, Indiana, Virginia, Missouri, and North Carolina so less travel between West and East Coast.

2. A lot of "Joe the Plummer" type of voters in these areas. While the voters in Colorado, NM, Nevada may not respond to the Joe the Plummer talk.

3. He has to change a big blue Kerry State red. Michigan is even worse than PA. He obviously has no shot in New York or Cali.

Its a tough time for McCain. Really he further behind in the EV than he is in the popular vote. He has closed the gap on the popular vote. I think Obama was oversold somewhat in that regard. In reality a 4 or 5 point win in a presidential election is a landslide. If Barack was up by 10 points really I think he would be making a run at well over 400 EVs. My bet we will see about a 5 point win for Barack and I'm predicting 342 EV.


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