Articles and Analysis


POLL: SurveyUSA Statewide GEs

14 new SurveyUSA statewide general election match-ups (conducted 4/11 through 4/13) testing McCain against both Obama and Clinton are now available online.

Changes from last month here.

The state of Virginia here.



Overall not great numbers for the Democrats, but one thing that strikes is how the very large demographic gaps for Clinton and Obama are largely erased: in most states, both Clinton and Obama do well among among young people and women.



My take on the numbers:

Nothing shocking here, but a trend I do see starting to emerge is that the red states are turning red and the blue states blue. Meaning, even with Obama don't "redraw the electoral map" I think in the end its the same states that matter.

-virginia is looikng much better for McCain

-What is up with my state of MA, obama continues the peform poorly (dont buy for a second he would lose it though)

-If we get to the Kentucky primary Obama loses by 30

-New Mexico was a bit of a surprise, If McCain holds the southwest in this election he will be tough to beat

-I dont see Obama losing to McCain in either MN or WI

-Obama has a serious problem with states like Ohio, Missouri, Florida, and Pennsylvainia.



As airhawk86 notes in his last point, Obama has a 'serious problem' with states like Ohio, Missouri, Florida, and Pennsylvania. Guess what 3 states have decided presidential elections for a generation now? Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania. It would take several other states to swing from Red to Blue for Obama to overcome losing those 3 states. And it just isn't going to happen, especially against a moderate like McCain. Unless he's able to swing very large groups, Obama won't win. (He could carry 95% of the African American vote and the vast majority of yuppies and youth in America and he will still lose the White House because of the Electoral College). Hillary's demographics, as well as the "Clinton legacy", would make her a stronger candidate in the those 3 most important swing states.



This is obviously Senator Clinton's dream come true - for her argument to superdelegates, that it.

But I think this reflects, more than anything else, the divisiveness of this primary season. States Senator Clinton has won back her more strongly than they do Senator Obama, and vice-versa (possible exception - Kansas). Remember the polls saying 30% of Clinton-supporters would vote McCain but only under 20% of Obama-backers would vote McCain?

I highly doubt MA would be tight, for instance. And likely OR will go Blue, irrespective of who's the nominee. Still, the negativeness of the primary season (Senator Clinton, I am looking at you) is just not good for anybody.

For those who say Senator Obama has a problem in OH/FL/PA - SUSA had results for only Ohio. Besides, as I always say - if Senator McCain picks Governor Crist as his Veep, poof goes Florida.

It's time the Dems changed the electoral map, and Senator Clinton just ain't gonna do it. The "Clinton legacy" has a lot of unsavory aspects as well. And by the way, her demographics do not include African-Americans - without whom the Dems are toast.

Obama-bot signing off!



I agree. And what of the southern states. Please correct me if I'm wrong, No President has ben elected without carrying 1 Southern state. If true Obama is not even competitive in 1 Southern state. If he's the nominee victory would be near impossible.



True, either way Florida seems to be going to McCain, but I think Clinton has a far better shot than Obama. Missouri and Ohio are real problems for Obama. I really dont like his chances there. If you take Virginia off the board also, Obama has a pretty narrow path to the nomination.

IMO, his best shot is holding all the blue states(PA and MI seem to be the toughest and both look like 50/50 right now.) Then he has to pick up a few red states. Iowa, Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico are all most certainly in play. The bottom line is Obama has a path to the nomination without the traditional big swing states, but it seems rather narrow.

To continue ranting, this election has really been amazing to me, I mean right now John McCain is looking 50/50 or better to win the presidency. In december i was convinced the republicans would nominate Romney and the democrats would wrap up their race and it would be a cake walk, thats still possible, but not likely.

if it was life or death right now, I would say Mccain wins the white house, and Democrats extend advantages in both houses of congress.



well, i predicted that obama would win the nomination but lose the general election somewhere around december. democrats love to nominate losers. once ted kennedy and company got together to pull the "selma-kennedy-obama" endorsement and the media frenzy began (along with the false racism accusations), I knew the race was over. The media was so hot for Obama that when Clinton won Michigan and Florida, they laughed at her for thanking the voters ("Clinton celebrates nothing"). At that point, many Dems who support Clinton felt that they were being forcefed a candidate, which just does not help. Plus, all of the pleas for Clinton to drop out just solidfied her base. So, we had a totally divided party -- and his base was talking about Clinton "stealing an election." Meanwhile, Howard Dean had hs head n the sand. Florida is a very, um, "proud" state; I knew that discounting its delegates would present tons of problems for the democrats. It has happened.....So many things have gone wrong. The media chose Obama, with even greater ferocity than it chose Kerry. The outcome, however, will look the same: The Dems will LOSE! Oh, well, better luck in '12.



Obama-bot back in...

Both Al Gore (if he had won NH) and John Kerry came really close without winning a southern state. The Clinton argument I have heard goes "Kerry + 1 battleground state" - presumably, Ohio.
[That assumes, of course, that NH stays Blue, despite "favorite son" McCain.]

So if you think about it, Senator Clinton's path to the Presidency is *very* narrow - she *has* to win either Florida or Ohio (assuming PA stays Dem).

Still, given the Dems' fund-raising advantage, reducing the election - yet again - to only 1-2 battleground states will only play into the GOP's hands. But that's just me.



Here's my take:
For purposes of diclosure:I am a strong Obama supporter. All these arguments are about an election in which the popular vote margin is less than 2%. If any candidate wins 52+% of the vote he or she will walk to victory.
I've gamed out many scenarios for both democrats against McCain and they both have reasonably paths to 270+. Clinton's scenario is essentially Kerry + Ohio and maybe IA, NM, or AR. She may well need a cushion if she loses NH, WI, and/or MN. Other than AR, the south is off the table for her. She can do it without OH, but she'd need to run the table everywhere else. Without PA, she is doomed.
For Obama, I assumed that, in a close election, he would lose Ohio. However, he will hold the upper Mississippi Valley more easily than Clinton. IA, WI, and MN will be safe. He will win the 1 electoral vote in Omaha's congressional district (don't sneeze at it, just ask Al Gore). Despite recent polls, I am convinced that Obama will win VA (where I live) in a close election with a unified party behind him. Give him CO as well, and it becomes tough for McCain. I still think Obama will take an "unexpected" western state, and Montana probably tops the list. NC and GA are more of a stretch, but he will get them if he has any kind of popular vote margin. MS is interesting in that if Obama could get the African American voter to turnout level well above the norm, he would need much less than 20% of the white vote . He probably still won't win it, but McCain won't be able to ignore it. I don't think Obama will completely realign the south, but he can pick off a few southern and western states and get enough of an Electoral Vote margin that he could afford to lose all of the "big three", but if he does well enough to do this he will have won PA anyway.
As far as I'm concerned, FL is an irrelevance in that it is in the GOP column in all but a blowout. I will also bet anyone that WV will over-perform the national popular result for McCain by at least 5%; those who still see WV as a swing state simply have not campaigned there lately.
McCain's strategy actually seems quite simple: Win Ohio, win the entire Southwest, and try to pick off at least one North Eastern state (PA obviously being the grand prize). McCain will almost certainly lose IA to Obama, but may well take NH from him.



"Still, given the Dems' fund-raising advantage, reducing the election - yet again - to only 1-2 battleground states will only play into the GOP's hands. But that's just me."

I agree. Obama opens up more states and with his massive money advantage, this becomes an even larger advantage.

Also, before anyone claims this is good news for Clinton...

"Overall, Obama gained ground in 7 of the 15 states we polled, lost ground in six, and remained steady in two; Clinton gained ground in 5 states, lost ground in 8, and remained steady in 2."

Obama lost ground, but Clinton did worse.



Obama is in a statistical tie in Ohio, in fact he's shrunk Mccain's lead since last month and in PA he's in the lead according to earlier polling, and North carolina is in a dead heat, Obama can win this



Here's what I am seeing

CA, OR, WA, NY, IL, MD, DE, RI, MA, ME, CT, VT, NJ, DC, HI are all preey certain to go Obama so that's 190, these states have very little chance of going red

Wisconson, Minnesota, Michigan, Iowa all look likely Obama, there is a chance they could go McCain, but Obama has polled very well in them so I put them in the Obama bracket, so that's another 44, so 234 total

Nevada, Nebraska, Texas and North Dakota, Alaska, and Montana are possibilities, but probably not, however by spending money there Obama can hurt McCain making him have to fight for those states, Obama can afford it McCain can't, but i'll give those to McCain

now for NC, OH and PA, all three are essentially statistical ties as of recent polling, Obama wins two of three he is prez without a doubt, even if he won only one it would be a possibility, but it would require him to flip states that while close are leaning more to Mccain at the moment.

Now this could change depending on Obama's running mate or events in the economy/Iraq, etc.



RLF:"No President has ben elected without carrying 1 Southern state."

Meet President Taft. Coolidge won only Kentucky, Harding won only Tennessee. The Republicans dominated the Presidency for about half a century with essentially zero Southern support.

Other polls have suggested that Obama will be competitive in VA. As for the rest of the South, as Senator Clinton would say, screw 'em.



Hessian - you did not have to mention you were an Obama person. :) That's a looooooot of hope and change in your post. Florida on its own is not critical. Florida and PA and Ohio are. If the Dems lose FL, they have to win PA and Ohio (maybe one or the other, but they would need a huge upset elsewhere). I do not think Obama will win VA. It is possible, but he is not the same as the recent Dem victors. VA votes Republican in the general. Obama would have to run well with western, southern, and coastal whites. He would carry Richmond and Nova - but what else? NC and GA are definitely red. I have not heard anyone say Montana was an option. I have heard that Obama polls well in Colo., but I believe the SurveyUSA data show otherwise. Obama's strengths, relative to Clinton, are in the upper-midwest and northwest, plus Colorado. Clinton's strengths are in Ohio, Florida, PA, Ark, and Missouri. Honestly, I think the Dems are doomed -- because of the southern problem and winner-take-all electoral college. So long as southern whites continue to vote for republicans in such large numbers, the African American votes remain absolutely useless in the South during a general election. Awful, but true.



Here is my list of states/scenarios for the Democrats: I am not using my mind, but Excel and a poll weighting system- combined with the 538 Regression (www.fivethirtyeight.com)

States with an Obama/Clinton Win Probability of more than 90% [safely Democrat]:

California---------------------New York
RHode Island (...90,0%)-------RI (97%)

Much more states with more EV for Obama in this list than for CLinton...

States with an Obama/Clinton Win Probability of 70- 90% [strongly Democrat, but McCain shouldn�t forget these states]:

New York------------California
New Hampshire--------Maine

Again-Advantage Obama

States with an Obama/Clinton Win Probability of 55- 70% [leaning Democrat, but McCAin is competitive]:

New Mexico-----Pennsylvania (close to 70%)
New Jersey----New Jersey(!)

OK, there are Ohio and Pennsylvania in that category for Clinton, but note that here are also New-England-States that should be certainly Democratic- McCAin could have a shot against both in New Jersey and against CLinton in DE, CT and, for sure, NH.

States with an Obama/Clinton Win Probability of 45- 55% [true swing states]:

Ohio (45,1%)-----------------Washington (45,8%)
Pennsylvania (48,1%)------West Virginia (47,5%)
Michigan (50,5%)-----------Minnesota (54,9%)
--------------------------Florida (45,1%)

Note, that Obama is just a very slight underdog in OH and PA- and he is competitive in Michigan, while CLintons bets there are worse.
We shouldn�t forget that, Obamas advantage in MI is making up for Clintons in Ohio.

States with an Obama/Clinton Win Probability of 30- 45% [still close, but leaning Republican]:

North Dakota---------------Missouri
----------------------New Mexico

note the presence of many, many blue states in Clintons list. Except Missouri, all CLinton states here are better places for Obama.

States with an Obama/Clinton Win Probability of 10- 30% [strongly Republican, but the Democrats still have a chance there]:

Alaska (25,4%)-------------COlorado (10,1%)
Indiana (11,3%)--------------------Iowa
Montana (25,1%)-----------Mississippi (11,5%)
North Carolina-----------North Carolina (11,1%)
Virginia-----------------Texas (12,3%)
Utah (13,4%)--------------Tennessee
South Dakota--------------New Hampshire (27,5%)
South Carolina-------------South CArolina

The percentages are for states with a win probability of less than 15 or more than 25%.
Clinton does well in the Appalachian Area [KY, WV...], and Obama has a good chance to win really Republican states [AK; MT;NC;VA (NC and VA Win Percentages for him are between 22 and 25%)]

States with an Obama/Clinton Win Probability of 0- 10% [not worth campaigning for the Democrat]

West Virginia-----------Virginia
Tennessee---------------South DAkota
------------------------North DAkota

I think McCain (it�s easier to think for the Republican, when there is one of them, and two Democrats) has good chances against Obama (in the moment about 58%) and better chances against Clinton (~65%)

Where are the differences?

State where (Obama Win%-Clinton Win%)>30%

New Hampshire
North DAkota

Those are the states where the "ELectability argument" fits most for Obama.

Opposite for CLinton:
State where (Obama Win%-ClintonWin%)

West Virginia

not so many states here, eh?

Well, if we would take the formula down to
CLinton +25%, we could add FL, but we could also add WI on Obamas side, and some other small states too, so this makes no difference.

Clintons advantage in Ohio and PA is actually about 20% (Win%), Obamas in MI about the same.
That is important, but it does not mean that Obama couldn�t win OH and PA (or Clinton MI)...

I hop some things are clearer now.

In my model, all polls conducted since 1st January are included.



Many interesting comments above. I'd only add a couple that I don't see emphasized.

First, all of the scenarios implicitly take heavy defections from either Clinton or Obama seriously. Frankly, I'm skeptical. If one assumes even a 50% "return to the fold" among currently defecting Democrats the electoral map will shift significantly.

Secondly, it's possible, of course, for McCain to put together a winning EC coalition with less than 50% of the popular vote, but it's difficult to see how he would do so with less than 49+%. And on his best day over the last year, he's several percentage points short of that.

Pennsylvania is crucial to a Democratic win, but neither Ohio or Florida are if the Democrat carries the rest of the NE, Mid-Atlantic and upper midwest states and add Colorado, NM, and Nev. I suspect that Florida is a lost cause for the Democrats, but McCain must carry Ohio, Colorado, and New Mexico to win in that scenario.

Of course, the nightmare scenario is McCain carrying Ohio and Colorado and losing the other states. That makes it a 269-269 tie. McCain would win in the House, of course. But assuming he loses the popular vote the stage would be set for four more years of gridlock.



P.S. Of course, as someone else noted, in the "tie" scenario, it might come down to voters in Omaha deciding the next president.



It is way too early - these polls mean nothing.

Wait a few months - then we'll see what the situation is really like.



Clearly, the most relevant point is that it is far too early for these state polls to mean anything for the general election.
I'm basing my judgments on Pollster's combined data (rather than just SurveyUSA or any one poll) and my own personal experience with recent presidential politics in a few of these states.

damitajo1, with respect to VA you have the right comments for the wrong decade. The state is changing rapidly. The Dem leaning part of NoVA isn't just Arlington and Fairfax anymore; Mark Warner and even Tim Kaine won Loudon and I believe Kaine won Prince William as well. There will be a huge African American vote in the Tidewater and Southside. You have to realize that Obama won Winchester city in the primary and Fredrick Co. was essentially a tie - that would have been almost unfathomable even in a primary 20 years ago. He only lost parts of the Valley and South Western VA. You must recall that NoVA has gotten much bigger even since 2004, and much bluer. He will run up huge margins there, in Richmond, in many parts of Tidewater, and in Charlottesville/Albemarle. I don't know about Lynchburg and Roanoke cities, but they may well be winnable. Keep in mind that Warner will be on the ticket in the Senate race as well, and the two of them will campaign together when Obama is here.
If anyone wants to take my bet on WV, just let me know; I'll be happy to take your money.


Post a comment

Please be patient while your comment posts - sometimes it takes a minute or two. To check your comment, please wait 60 seconds and click your browser's refresh button. Note that comments with three or more hyperlinks will be held for approval.