Friday, September 19, 2008

not your most authoritative electoral analysis

As I wrote not too long ago, I'm not getting too excited about the polls just yet.

Yes, we're starting to get polling on individual states, and those are more interesting to me. But with the debates ahead, and heaven only knows what kinds of issues still to arise to front-page stories, there's a LONG WAY to go to Tipperary.

But here are some quick reminders:

a) overall polling means almost nothing. The election is decided by states, not by the "general population". So for trends, yes, given a good methodology and a balanced pull of the electorate, MAYBE there's something to a nationwide poll. But really, other than just trends, don't get too excited about anything that doesn't have state affiliation tied to it.

b) McCain does NOT have to keep all of Bush's 2004 states to win. Bush beat the needed electoral spread by 16, so McCain does have some fudge room. So even if Obama turns both New Mexico and Iowa blue, as is expected, McCain is still the winner provided all other states follow their 2004 vote.

c) Keep in mind that of the close state races in 2004, 6 went to Bush from all over the map (OH, NM, IA, FL, CO, and NV) and 5 went to Kerry from primarily the midwest (WI, PA, MN, MI, and NH). At RCP, there are 10 states still in "toss-up", and 6 of them are leaning Obama right now (although the closest margins are for McCain, in Ohio and Nevada). While Obama is probably comfortable with how he will perform in Iowa, New Mexico and CO, he doesn't appear to have an inherent advantage in any of the other states; McCain, on the other hand, can spend just about the rest of the campaign in Big 10 country and really get a lot of bang for his buck in trying to get some other midwest state to turn red. Regionally speaking, McCain has the easier task at hand. Having said that, IF Obama does turn NM, IA and CO into his column and everything else stays the same. . .well, then Nancy Pelosi gets the honor of making Barack Obama our next President.

c2) How ironic that a ballot initiative put into play in CO in 2004 that was largely hated by the right could have made the above scenario STILL not enough to make Obama the President? I'm talking about amendment 36, the initiative to split the electoral votes in a loose resemblance to the popular vote. It was beaten in '04 by a pretty sound vote, and for the record, I think the winner-take-all system is the right system for just about every state. But in '04 it was defeated behind the efforts of conservatives. . .and then along came 2006, and Dems won just about everything in CO. No talk of another amendment has since arisen, oddly enough. Now, of course, we're worried that CO goes blue this year. Ah, what a country, eh?

d) Are any of the non-close 2004 states in play? Exceedingly, it looks like the answer is no. While I don't think that McCain will cruise to Bush-like victories in Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia and Missouri, I think he will probably hold serve there. Obama's attempts in Oregon and Washington appear to be on solid ground, too--and that was an area where I thought maybe Palin would make a difference.

SO. . .traditional battlegrounds. A little room for error, although it looks like some of that room has already been rented out. (Why on earth is Iowa in love with Obama, anyhow?) And AT LEAST 4 more major newsmaking events left in the campaign.

Long way to Tipperary, indeed!


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