New General Election Maps From Survey USA

by: Chris Bowers

Thu Mar 06, 2008 at 14:51

Survey USA has released fifty-state polls for the general election. When looking at this data, keep in mind that about one in twenty polls is way, way off (there are 100 polls here). Here is the Clinton vs. McCain map, which is Clinton 276-262 McCain:

Solid Clinton--77 (eleven or more points): AR, DC, IL, MA, NY, RI
Lean Clinton--126 (six to ten points): CA, CT, FL, ME, MD, OH, VT
Toss Up--135 (five points or less): DE, HI, IA, MI, MN, MO, NJ, NM, OR, PA, TN, WA, WV, WI
Lean McCain--136 (six to ten points): AL, CO, KS, KY, LA, MS, NV, NH, NC, OK, SC, TX, VA
Solid McCain--65 (eleven or more points): AK, AZ, GA, ID, IN, MT, NE, ND, SD, UT, WY

And here is the Obama vs. McCain map, which is Obama 280-258 McCain:

Solid Obama--163 (eleven or more points): CA, CT, DC, HI, IL, ME, MD, NY, RI, VT, WA, WI
Lean Obama--66 (six to ten points): CO, DE, MA, MN, NM, OH, OR
Toss-up--186: (five points or less): AK, FL, MI, NE, NV, NH, NJ, NC, ND, PA, TX, VA
Lean McCain--25 (six to ten points): IN, MO, MT
Solid McCain--98 (eleven or more points): AL, AZ, AR, GA, ID, KY, LA, MS, OK, TN, UT, WV, WY

Despite seemingly similarity in their performance against McCain, this breakdown shows real differences between Obama and Clinton in the general election. Against Obama, McCain's "solid" and "lean" states only add up to 123, while Obama's add up to 229. In a matchup against Clinton, the "solid" and "lean" states are of equal size: 201 for McCain, and 203 for Clinton. In other words, while McCain and Clinton appear evenly matched, McCain is only able to keep it close against Obama by running up a series of narrow wins in the toss-up states.

An important pro-Clinton caveat on these polls is that they were taken before Clinton's successful night on March 4th. Since whoever has the momentum in the primary tends to have the momentum in the general election, I expect her to start performing better against McCain after those victories. An important pro-Obama finding from these polls is just how utterly myopic and stupefying her campaign's argument about "states that don't matter" actually is. Obama puts a whole range of supposedly deep red states into play, such as Alaska, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, and even Texas (although Clinton doesn't do too bad in Texas herself). There are other ways to win outside of the 2000 and 2004 paradigm. To insist that there is no way to break out of the electoral maps of recent elections is not only depressing fatalistic about Democratic chances, but it actually reinforces the Obama campaign's assertion about Clinton not being able to break out of the political arguments of the past. A new map is clearly possible, as long as we put the effort into actually running a 50-state campaign. Heavy Democratic campaigning in Texas has even put that state into play (and heavy Democratic campaigning in Ohio has virtually put that state out of play). Over the next two months, I salivate over what heavy Democratic campaigning in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Indiana can accomplish.  

Chris Bowers :: New General Election Maps From Survey USA

Tags: , , , , , , (All Tags)
Print Friendly View Send As Email

Obama's numbers are very impressive (0.00 / 0)
He wins North Dakota. He's within spitting range of winning Nebraska, South Dakota, the Carolinas, and Texas(!). And regardless of the poll numbers now, I'm sure Obama can pull out Pennsylvania in the general election - we would be able to run up huge margins in Philadelphia (more so than usual) and especially in the suburbs.

Simply put, there is an amazing chance for us to make inroads into the South and the prarie states in the Midwest and Mountain West with Obama. Even states like Montana, Idaho(!), and Alaska(!) are within range if he puts time and effort into those places.

Great analysis (0.00 / 0)
Polls that show close races, especially this far out, should only be treated as "where is it close," certainly not "who's going to win."  And the collective analysis on that level shows that (according to these polls) Obama's ability to score a big electoral win is stronger than Hillary's.  Or, equivalently, as you say, McCain has to get luckier to keep it close against Obama than he does against Hillary.

Good numbers for us on Ohio--both Hillary and Obama win 50-40, I think, according to those polls--but also on Florida, where Hillary wins big (51-42) while McCain barely beats Obama (47-45).  But previous Florida polls have shown a big lead for McCain against both of them, right?  So if the numbers reflect a boosting effect from heavy Dem primary campaigning in Ohio and Texas, where the heck are those Florida numbers coming from?

Huh? (0.00 / 0)
In what is otherwise seemingly very good news all around, what the heck is New Jersey up to?  Obama LOSES it?  Clinton barely wins it?  Huh!?

Netroots for Gore

Not really any difference (0.00 / 0)
42M, 47C versus 43M, 43O.  Still a large chunk of undecided - and remember, these are registered voters, too.

[ Parent ]
New Jersey (0.00 / 0)
I recall that a lot of the polling showed a close race there leading up to the '04 election, resulting in some GOP trash talking about how they were going to win it, but Kerry won it 53-46.  

These SUSA polls show McCain at 42/43% against either Clinton or Obama, but (I guess) too many undecideds for either of the Dems to get over 50% at this point.  But that's less cause for concern than if the polls were showing McCain at or near 50% in that state.  

[ Parent ]
Yea, no way Barack loses NJ. (0.00 / 0)
Pennsylvania either.

[ Parent ]
The Key Is Going To Be Taking One Or More Red States! (0.00 / 0)
Ohio and Florida are only the most obvious. Virginia is a key state too. If Obama wins they can start a new paradigm about how "no Republican has won the Presidency without winning Virginia."

I would say that polling strong in Virginia and Colorado is Obama's biggest asset. Of course, McCain is going to pour resources into Ohio and Florida has been tending Republican since 2000. I expect Florida to move solidly McCain over the summer.

Ohio will break one way or the other in September-October. But, those close states: Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Virginia, New Jersey, maybe Michigan and Iowa will be neck and neck.

The key to victory is to be within the margin of error in as many as possible going into the election so that Obama has many different winning scenarios.

In 2000 & 2004 Gore & Kerry failed because they had only 1 way to win - win Florida or Ohio. There's gotta be a much wider map in 2008 if Democrats expect to win.

[ Parent ]
Be very (0.00 / 0)
of describing states as competitive this far out.  

I tracked every poll in 2004 and 2000.  Some states looked competitive at this stage in the cycle but really weren't.  The reason for this is that they would be tied, but both candidates would be under 45.  The undecided were overwhelmingly likely to revert to form, and in 2000 and 2004 did.

Some examples:
In may of 2004 Quinipiac had Kerry up only 3: 46-43 in New Jersey.  In May Rassmussen Bush up only 4 in NC (before Edwards was named).   Neither was close.  

[ Parent ]
Coupla questions... (0.00 / 0)
What do you think a good definition of 'competitive' would be?

And do you think there's any good way to tell months ahead of time?

[ Parent ]
Here is my definition (0.00 / 0)
States within 5 in an average of 3 or more (in 99 taken in Feb, Mar and April of '04, only 5 polls with margins of plus 5 were wrong, and two of those were from one pollster in Wisconsin) AND which were decided by less than 7 in 2004 or 2000.

I think you need to evaluate the polling results against prior elections.  

[ Parent ]
Thank you (0.00 / 0)
Very interesting, I will keep that in mind as I watch the numbers come in.

[ Parent ]
other polls have shown both winning (0.00 / 0)
Of course, if we are to believe that various "red states" are in play on the basis of a poll, we have to do the same with New Jersey.  

As the other commenters noted, NJ is notorious for giving low ratings to Democrats and then coming through for them in the statewide election.

It's probably worth noting that McCain's base in the Republican primaries was Northeastern Republicans, so he should do better up here than a "Texan" like Bush.

New Jersey politics at Blue Jersey.

[ Parent ]
Yeah, there's "in play," and then there's "IN PLAY" (0.00 / 0)
A surprising one that sticks out to me is Colorado.  Obama leads there in this poll by 50-41!  

I guess there are a lot of ways to slice these numbers up.  Chris just categorized by the margin of one candidate's lead, which is fair enough, but maybe some guesswork on splitting the undecideds would make for an interesting (albeit even more theoretical) read of the results.  

For instance, split the undecideds a little more one way than the other if the state in question has gone solidly to one party in the last few elections, like NJ for the Dems, or (even more so) Texas for the Repubs.  Then you could characterize a few states as "trending flip," like Colorado for Obama--with a 50-41 lead over McCain, he wins that state no matter how you realistically split the undecideds.  Same for Hillary in Florida and Arkansas; she's over 50 in both states already, according to these polls.      

[ Parent ]
Obama does well in all the Western states (0.00 / 0)
The Western states with substantial metro areas, are Colorado, Washington, Oregon and New Mexico. Obama does well in all of these, with the obvious absence of Arizona.

But even in less populated Western states, like Montana, Obama does very well. Obama's success in Texas blows me away. (it's sort of Southern, sort of Western, sort of Texas)

Clinton does better in rust belt states.

The nature of the Democrats is quite different between Western and Rust Belt. Unionization, Economic insecurity, Libertarian sentiments.

Also, the Western states have lower Democratic registration numbers, but higher independent numbers.  

[ Parent ]
Cool... (0.00 / 0)
What would be interesting to see is how these electoral maps play against the House and Senate races that we have a shot in.  For instance does Obama's close showing in Alaska push us over the top on the corrupt Stevens?  Does Hillary's strong numbers in Texas give Noriega a better shot at winning his race?

I am disappointed in both candidates on the policy front, so my main hope is that someone ushers in big majorities for us in the House and Senate with a large number of real progressives, so that at least the Congress can push the progressive agenda that neither candidate seems to think all that worth running on.  

These maps at least suggest that Obama is the better choice, but I can't think through all the important races we have to be sure this is really the case.

Interesting survey (0.00 / 0)
This survey is an interesting data point.

It will be interesting to see what this map looks like after the next 5 weeks (months) of Clinton and Obama going postal on one another.

I don't see how either candidate wins if they lose the votes of the other's base. Sadly, I think the moment for Obama and Hillary to reach out to each other's base has already passed.

There is no way that Hillary's base of older, White, Latino/Hispanic, and conservative Democrats will vote for a person they believe to be a Black Muslim who is soft on terrorism. Her base thought it might be true before, and she helpfully confirmed it for them over the past two weeks. Give this, Obama will be hard pressed to get more than 60% of Hillary's base in the General. In fact, he'll be lucky if Hillary's people don't vote for McCain.

And Obama's base of Africa Americans and younger, White progressives will just not show up for Hillary in November. They may not vote for McCain, but they won't vote or volunteer for a Hillary campaign that will be largely indistinguishable from the McCain campaign.

Honestly, are there two politicians in America who are more emblematic of the failures of the Republican and Democratic parties over they past 16 years? How can anyone honestly choose between McCain and Clinton when, at the end of the day, they agree on so much? Is it even a choice?

We were SO close to changing America. Unfortunately, we continue to get the government we deserve. And apparently we don't deserve very much.  

I talked to a bunch of Clinton (0.00 / 0)
voters and volunteers in Texas of the weekend, and didn't meet anybody who would only vote for Clinton or McCain.

I did however meet a lot of folks, perhaps myself included, who will not vote for Clinton if she "steals" the nomination - Hell, there are a bunch of folks who won't vote for her even if she wins it... I still will, unless she wins it without the support of the people.

[ Parent ]
lucky to get 60% (0.00 / 0)
you have some basis for this analysis? even I an ardent HRC hater know that the vast majority of Obama supporters will vote for HRC, and likewise.

a loss of 10% may be possible, and that could be enough to cost the election. but suggesting either will losing 40% of the other's base is silly.  

Michael Bloomberg, prince of corporate welfare

[ Parent ]
Maybe you are right (4.00 / 1)
Let's spend the next 5 weeks (months) watching Obama and Clinton go nuclear, and then we'll see.

The two campaigns appeal to very different demographic groups. The things that appeal to Clinton's supporters in Ohio are meaningless to the Obama people in the inner-city, and vice versa. (And by inner-city I don't just mean black folks, but the upper middle class white people that live in the upscale neighborhoods in places like Seattle, Denver, and Charlotte.) Their campaigns aren't designed to appeal to each other's bases.  

Let me flip the question around: Given Hillary's stance on NAFTA and Iraq, and the massive failures of the Clinton administration on health care and the environment, why would an Obama supporter vote for her.

Conversely, if you think Obama isn't experienced enough to be President, why not vote for McCain? Can he really be worse than Bush? Why would a typical Clinton supporter in Columbus, Ohio take a chance on Obama if Hillary spent months explaining - in detail - that Obama was a naive fool?

[ Parent ]
And by massive failure (0.00 / 0)
I mean that I'm still waiting for Hillary-Care to kick in. After all, she's been fighting for it since 1992.

And, Al Gore and I are still waiting for Bill and Hill to go to the mat fighting for Kyoto.

I'll give her credit for one thing. When she says she is a fighter, that's true. I just wish that on things that matter to me, like the environment and health care, there was less fighting and more winning.  

[ Parent ]
I'm not sure about that (0.00 / 0)
Yes, there are parts of each candidate's base that won't show up in the GE. However, I'm not sure that fraction is as large as people make it out to be. The losing side may not be as active as they were during the primaries, but I believe the majority of them will show up at the polls.

[ Parent ]
I honestly don't think (0.00 / 0)
you'll see that from Obama.

It might seem like that in the netroots, but not from Obama himself.

For what it's worth, I've been attacking McCain.

[ Parent ]
these maps would be more informative (0.00 / 0)
if each state was sized relative to its EC proportion. NYTimes has some.

Michael Bloomberg, prince of corporate welfare

but great info! (0.00 / 0)
was just wishing out loud.

Michael Bloomberg, prince of corporate welfare

[ Parent ]
North Dakota (0.00 / 0)
More thought ought to be into that one too.  I'm really thinking it's no coincidence that one of the better progressives in the Senate, Byron Dorgan comes from such a supposed "red" state.  

I know it's only 3 EV's but the many smaller states makes it harder for republicans to keep a state by plugging a few extra million into it.  Dems would only get Texas in a 50 state rout, since if it was competitive Republicans would probably quietly cede the election and just try and maintain their base states.

Democratic Self Destruct Mode (0.00 / 0)
I was wondering how long it would take for the Dems to assemble the circular firing squad.
Even before Hillary went negative on Obama, there were people who would refuse to vote for her.
I was the Obama precinct captain for our caucus (Washington State), and among the 40+ individuals there, at least five put up their hands in answer to the question Would you refuse to vote for Hillary in the general election?
I had to step up and give my standard answer to everyone I meet with that mindset; I always sum it up in two words: "Supreme Court". Regardless of my personal feelings about another Clinton presidency, I will suck it up and campaign as vigorously for her as I would for Obama, because this country just can't survive if a Baby Doc junior like Grampaw McCain gets the opportunity to appoint the at least two -- and probably more -- justices that the next president will get to appoint.
Now is not the time to sit on our hands and sit out the election. It's just too important.

Hillary's "succesful night" (0.00 / 0)
Looks like Hillary is going to come away with 4-6 delegates out of the 370+ that were up for grabs. Given her deficit in earned delegates at the moment, why is nearly everyone conceding that she had a great night on Tuesday?  Just last week every pundit in the business was telling us that she was desperately behind and needed blowout, 20-point wins.

She barely broke even, yet somehow this tranlates into great news for HRC?  I am astonished and amazed and pissed off that Tueday's results are being spun as some sort of watershed moment for her campaign.  It could just as easily be spun thus:

"Clinton entered the evening trailing Obama by 157 earned delegates.  Ohio and Texas are large, delegate-rich states that offered her a chance to close the gap.  But she only managed to win a handful of delegates in OH, while Obama took TX by a small margin.  Net result for HRC has got to be disappointing news for her supporters.  With only a couple large states remaining (PA and NC), she would have to win by extraordinary margins to have any hope of staying competitive with Obama."

Pretty amazing. (0.00 / 0)
Obama picks up 5 more states west of the Mississippi where Clinton's surprisingly weak. She gains back the swing states of NM, FL, AR, OH and WV, but loses NH and IA.

Obama holds the Pac NW pair and NH, regains NM and IA, and adds new swing states CO, NV, VA, picks up the wholly unexpected ND... but surprisingly lets PA and NJ slip away.

And neither touches the bellwether state of MO.

I think you're holding your breath for an untouchable state in IN.

Besides Obama and Clinton drawing the same states the other draws, I see MO, NC, TN, LA and MT as far more likely to shift blue before Indiana. In 2004, Indiana's vote for Bush was the 10th highest in the country. Even SD, SC, MS, GA and KY weren't as Republican as Indiana was.

electoral votes in 2004 - a sobering plot (4.00 / 2)
It's worth checking out this electoral college graph at, which shows the estimated EC votes over the course of 2004 based on the statewide polls.   May, July, August all featured Kerry with 300+ EVs.

The campaign matters.

New Jersey politics at Blue Jersey.

A Good Reminder (0.00 / 0)
Kerry was really doing just about everything right through early July.  He was even giving some pretty good speeches about values--what you do, not what you say, learning service from his parents, etc--that were very well-positioned for throwing the GOP off its game.  It's not just the EV count, either.  Look at where Kerry was competing.  The GOP was clearly on the defensive, and Bush's job approval numbers also reinforced that.

But then we had that terribly orchestrated convention, and the utter refusal to go nuclear in response to the Swift Boat Liars, and that was it.  Kerry was on the defensive for the rest of the campaign.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Obama Winning ND and Losing NJ Is My Favorite Grain of Salt In This Stew (0.00 / 0)
'Course, Gopeers always think they're going to win NJ.  But losing ND in the process?

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

For what it's worth... (4.00 / 1)
I did diary over at dKos that shows a best-case scenario (based on these numbers) of Obama winning over 400 electoral votes. The best-case numbers for Clinton don't come close to that (around 325).

Your diary (0.00 / 0)
was very well done.

[ Parent ]
Geek question: what's the m-of-e? (0.00 / 0)

SUSA merely says that

The winner’s margin in each state is not always outside of the survey’s margin of sampling error.

 Exactly which states are we talking here?  With only 600 respondents in each state, that margin of error could be fairly substantial.

 Also, note that

These are not surveys of likely voters, these are surveys of registered voters.




John McCain thinks we haven't spent enough time in Iraq

Great post Chris (0.00 / 0)
I think you've really given added value to the data:

Solid Obama--163 (eleven or more points): CA, CT, DC, HI, IL, ME, MD, NY, RI, VT, WA, WI
Lean Obama--66 (six to ten points): CO, DE, MA, MN, NM, OH, OR
Toss-up--186: (five points or less): AK, FL, MI, NE, NV, NH, NJ, NC, ND, PA, TX, VA
Lean McCain--25 (six to ten points): IN, MO, MT
Solid McCain--98 (eleven or more points): AL, AZ, AR, GA, ID, KY, LA, MS, OK, TN, UT, WV, WY

Is very persuasive.

The Obama map is wrong... (0.00 / 0)
Survey USA updated it to reflect the Nebraska numbers. Obama wins CD 1 44-42 and CD 2 45-43. Since Nebraska awards 3 EVs by congressional district, Obama would take 2 EVs in this scenario.

Further Reading

to get a more accurate current assessment of (0.00 / 0)
the map, after the Mar 4 result, you'd probably have to add, say, 4 points to all Clinton results, and subtract, say, 3 points from all Obama results. Likewise this should be done with the "Strong lean" and other categories.

Of course, that would change the map and the lean categories dramatically in Hillary's favor.

Of course, the map is, in fact, pretty bogus anyway, but at least the suggested "correction" would both give it greater currency and, by contrasting it with the previous map, it would suggest how short-lived its predictive value really is.


Open Left Campaigns



Advanced Search

Powered by: SoapBlox