Presidential Forecast, 7/18: Is Static Good?

by: Chris Bowers

Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 12:06

Electoral College: Obama 293, McCain 184, Toss-up 61
National popular vote: Obama 46.4%-43.1% McCain

(Dark Blue (227): Obama +8.0% or more
Lean Blue (66): Obama +3.0%-+7.9%
White / Toss-up (61): Obama +2.9% to McCain +2.9%
Lean Red (98): McCain +3.0%-+7.9%
Dark Red (86): McCain +8.0% or more

Since the last update, new polls in Alaska, Arkansas, Kansas, Oregon, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Virginia and Washington once again result in no category changes to any state. Over the past week, there have been new polls from over twenty states, and no categories have been changed as a result of any of those polls. That is a very strong sign of a static campaign.

Since the campaign appears static right now, it is worth asking if a static campaign is good for Obama. Certainly, holding a statistically significant lead in states totaling 293 electoral votes would appear to be a good place for the campaign to freeze for Obama. On the other hand, while the state polls are static, McCain has gained about 1.1-1.6% in national polls, so perhaps the campaign is best described as somewhere between static and a slight trend toward McCain. Perhaps Obama has reached his ceiling, and the rest of the campaign will be about maintaining this lead, which really isn't very large. Further, a static campaign could be a side effect of the caution we have seen from the Obama campaign recently, when a less cautious campaign would have been able to build a huge lead over the past three weeks.

Or, maybe I am just overanalyzing things. The campaign has moved about 1% nationally, which hasn't had any real impact on the state-by-state situation. And maybe there isn't anything more to say about it than that, given that people won't really start paying attention to the campaign again for another five and a half weeks when convention season begins.

State by state details in the extended entry.  

Chris Bowers :: Presidential Forecast, 7/18: Is Static Good?
Solid Obama: 227 Electoral Votes
State EV's Obama % McCain % Margin # Polls
California 55 54.3% 33.3% +21.0% 4
Connecticut 7 54.4% 34.3% +19.0% 4
Delaware 3 50.0% 41.0% +9.0% 1
D.C. 3 -- -- +80.0% 0
Hawaii 4 61.0% 31.0% +30.0% 1
Illinois 21 55.5% 35.3% +20.2% 4
Maine-AL* 2 50.3% 35.5% +14.8% 4
Maine-01* 1 -- -- +18.5% 0
Maine-02* 1 -- -- +11.3% 0
Maryland 10 51.5% 37.3% +14.2% 4
Massachusetts 12 53.3% 33.0% +20.3% 4
Michigan 17 48.3% 39.8% +8.5% 4
Minnesota 10 50.3% 37.3% +13.8% 4
New Jersey 15 46.8% 36.8% +10.0% 4
New York 31 54.5% 33.3% +21.2% 4
Oregon 7 48.0% 39.0% +9.0% 4
Rhode Island 4 50.8% 31.0% +19.8% 4
Vermont 3 60.0% 32.5% +27.5% 2
Washington 11 49.6% 38.6% +11.0% 5
Wisconsin 10 51.0% 40.5% +10.5% 4

Lean Obama: 66 Electoral Votes
State EV's Obama % McCain % Margin # Polls
Colorado 9 44.8% 41.5% +3.3% 4
Iowa 7 46.0% 39.8% +6.2% 4
New Hampshire 4 47.3% 39.5% +7.8% 4
New Mexico 5 46.8% 40.5% +6.3% 4
Ohio 20 46.4% 41.8% +4.6% 5
Pennsylvania 21 47.3% 40.3% +7.0% 4

Toss-up: 61 Electoral Votes
State EV's Obama % McCain % Margin # Polls
Indiana 11 43.3% 45.3% -2.0% 4
Missouri 11 43.8% 45.4% -1.4% 5
Montana 3 43.3% 46.0% -2.7% 3
Nevada 5 42.3% 43.0% -0.7% 4
North Carolina 15 44.5% 45.3% -0.8% 4
North Dakota 3 43.3% 44.3% -1.0% 3
Virginia 13 46.8% 44.8% +2.0% 4

Lean McCain: 98 Electoral Votes
State EV's Obama % McCain % Margin # Polls
Alaska 3 41.3% 47.5% -6.2% 4
Arizona 10 37.3% 44.0% -6.7% 4
Florida 27 42.8% 45.8% -3.0% 5
Georgia 15 42.0% 48.5% -6.5% 4
Nebraska-02** 1 -- -- -5.0% 0
South Carolina 8 41.3% 45.5% -4.2% 4
Texas 34 38.8% 46.3% -7.5% 4

Solid McCain: 86 Electoral Votes
State EV's Obama % McCain % Margin # Polls
Alabama 9 35.5% 51.3% -15.8% 4
Arkansas 6 38.0% 49.0% -11.0% 4
Idaho 4 39.0% 52.0% -13.0% 1
Kansas 6 36.8% 51.0% -14.2% 4
Kentucky 8 36.5% 49.5% -13.0% 4
Louisiana 9 38.5% 51.3% -12.8% 4
Mississippi 6 42.0% 52.0% -10.0% 4
Nebraska-AL** 2 36.0% 52.0% -16.0% 4
Nebraska-01** 1 -- -- -10.0% 0
Nebraska-03** 1 -- -- -34.0% 0
Oklahoma 7 32.5% 53.3% -20.8% 2
South Dakota 3 38.8% 47.5% -8.7% 3
Tennessee 11 34.8% 50.8% -16.0% 4
Utah 5 32.0% 55.3% -23.3% 4
West Virginia 5 36.0% 49.0% -13.0% 2
Wyoming 3 37.5% 53.5% -16.0% 2

* Maine four electoral votes are awarded as follows: two for the statewide winner, and one for the winner of each congressional district. ME-01 is about 3.5% more Democratic than the state as a whole, while ME-02 is about 3.5% less Democratic than the state as a whole.

** Nebraska's five electoral votes are awarded as follows: two for the statewide winner, and one for the winner of each congressional district. NE-01 is about 6.0% more Democratic than the state as a whole, NE-02 is about 11.0% more Democratic than the state as a whole, and NE-03 is about 18.0% less Democratic than the state as a whole.

I will update at least once every day between now and November 4th. The methodology is simple and straightforward.

  1. For each state, take the last four polls conducted for the state, and average them.
  2. If more than four polls were conducted in the state over the previous thirty days, all polls conducted during that time period are included in the averages.
  3. If polling dates overlap, and make it difficult to determine which polls were the four most recent, include all of the overlapping polls.
  4. No polling firm discrimination whatsoever. Polls are never excluded because the organization has a bad or partisan reputation. Also, if a polling firm has conducted more than one of the most recent four polls, all of the polls from that organization are included.

As we move closer to the election and more data becomes available, both the time frames for polls included in the averages will decrease and the definition of a "solid" lead will eventually drop to 7.0%.  

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I think static is pretty this point (4.00 / 1)
Let's take a step back and look at the specific events that can cause noticeable swings in the polling in presidential elections:

-- Leftover effect from the primaries, which can either be good for a candidate ("unity bump") or bad (lingering disunity)  

-- The party conventions

-- The presidential debates

And...that's about it, isn't it?  The rest of it mostly boils down to structural specifics of any given election year: the economy, wars, how the electorate views the incumbent party on those big issues, etc.  I suppose advertising could be included as a big-swing factor, assuming that one party has a major advantage over the other, as has sometimes been the case in the past.  

Obama has already consolidated most of the available positive polling effects from the post-primary unity bounce, so were there are any other avenues avilable to him for opening up a noticeably larger lead?  I doubt it.  The conventions and the debates are the next reasonable time to expect some sort of big shift in the polls.  

One exception could be Obama's overseas trip next week (I think that's when he's leaving).  Concerns about Obama's lack of experience is about the only weakness he has left that the GOP can readily try to exploit (all the stuff about him being unpatriotic are pretty closely related to that), and they obviously realize that he might get a boost from a successful trip abroad, particularly from going to Iraq.  Their pre-emptive whining about how it's no fair for Obama's trip to get so much attention from the media is evidence enough of that.  

If Obama gets a big polling boost from this trip, the McCain campaign knows that they're completely dead and buried.  Although I'm not sure it's very realistic for us to expect that; some extra innoculation from negative attacks on Obama's inexperience abroad (which would be quite valuable and definitely worth the trip) is probably all his campaign is hoping for.

Exactly (0.00 / 0)
There is still a lot of campaigning to do, and I think that you are underestimating the aggressive moves Obama has made in the meantime. Multiple field offices in Montana, Virginia. Absorbing the coordinated campaigns in Iowa, Colorado, and Washington. Having by far the largest field organization team in the history of campaigning. These are aggressive moves on Obama's part - and should be recognized as such - if not today but when polls firm up after the convention.

[ Parent ]
Static is good considering media has turned against Obama (4.00 / 1)
how anyone can survive calling social security a disgrace, making a joke about killing a country's civilians, essentially confirming making a rape joke, and panicking at the mention of birth control, can only be attributed to a media praying for a close race and burying these stories.

John McCain won't insure children

three times (0.00 / 0)
that's how many i had to take grad stats before i could say i was good with them. C, B-, B+. anyway, i hate stats. always, and forever, and for lying. nor do i trust, based on what i've observed first hand in a pro polling environment, the "results" of various polls. still, my question is: is there a rethug site with similar posts? and how, if at all, do they differ from what i read here? the aggregate, to my opinion, would be tres interesting. very. i look at the white/lt blue states on these maps and i wonder: what do rethug consultants think of the product they are fed? that is, do they see their 'results' in a dim red hue, as we see ours in a light blue? the devil in the details, as they say, Chris.

still, i read and rely upon what i find here, because i know those who produce similar data are motivated differently than our opposites. or rather, i choose to believe.

here's an intrade map (0.00 / 0)
For another perspective, you can look at this Electoral map based on intrade.  The results of the people betting money don't look wildly different.  

New Jersey politics at Blue Jersey.

[ Parent ]
Well, For One Thing (0.00 / 0)
compared to Mr. 28%, this map just has to look positively rosey.

The mere fact that Obama doesn't have 350+ EVs already locked up has got to be a sign of some small shred of deeply conflicted hope.

"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 ]
You should check out... (0.00 / 0)
...Election Projection. It's run by a die-hard Republican, but he comes up with pretty similar numbers.  

[ Parent ]
Static is bad... (0.00 / 1)
those who think that 'the media has turned against Obama' are obviously so used to the demonization of Clinton and the romantization of Obama that occured throughout the primary season that they have no idea what "turned against Obama" really means.

Here's a clue ... a media that had "turned against Obama" would not be sending all three nightly news anchors to chase Barack Obama around Europe and the Middle East.  This is unprecedented -- and a big, sloppy, wet kiss from the media for Obama, and represents media complicity in Obama's efforts to achieve the illusion of "stature" in foreign policy/national security matters that he resume demonstrates he utterly lacks.

To date, the right-wing noise machine's efforts against Obama have been all but non-existent; when the biggest thing in the media that Obots have to complain about the cover of a left-wing publication like the New Yorker, you know that the right-wing isn't even trying -- that they are keeping their powder dry as long as possible, because they don't want anything to interfere with the nomination of the right's dream candidate -- Barack Obama.

The fact that Obama is merely static, when the media is still slobbering all over themselves to give him positive coverage because no real effort is being made by the GOP to damage Obama... well, IMHO, Obama should be doing more than "holding his own".    

coverage...not necessarily 'positive' coverage (4.00 / 4)
The media is slobbering all over themselves with "flip-flop" and "why can't Obama lock down [insert group here] voters?"  They have fully accepted the McCain meme that the election is a referendum on Obama, not Republican incompetence.

You are right; it will get worse.  McCain just had a week of blundering that should have virtually ended his campaign and the media ignored it.

McCain's camp has been whining about Obama dominating the coverage.  As long as the thrust of the coverage is the questioning of his qualifications and the noting of the groups he hasn't locked down, the GOP should be all for it and enjoy McCain's media blackout.

[ Parent ]
I'm somewhere in the middle on this (4.00 / 2)
I think plukasiak makes a fair point about the media's surfeit of Obama coverage.  From where we stand, it's ridiculous for any Republicans to be complaining about coverage, considering the free pass McCain gets on all sorts of stuff, or Bob Schieffer getting his dander up whenever someone is "questioning McCain's integrity"--I seriously doubt ANY other candidate from either party would get that particular bit of fawning thrown their way on Face the Nation.

But the "star factor" surrounding Obama is very real, and a definite advantage for him.  That's really what the Republicans are complaining about, and I think their assessment of the state of play is pretty accurate, if not their reasoning (as always, they assume it's because the media is full of liberally liberal liberals).  McCain really is having a hard time shaking off the sense that he's old, boring, and kinda screwy.  We all assumed that he would be fluffed the same way he was in 2000, and while that has been true in some sense (like a free pass for any number of screwups), I think it's indisputable that his 2000 image as the new-mavericky-hoTTness has largely given way to a media environment that, relative to Obama, sees McCain as the far less interesting and newsworthy candidate.  

So how big a problem is this for McCain?  I think it's definitely a big hurdle for him.  How does he "change the game," shake things up, however you want to put it, when he's constantly being eclipsed by Obama's star power?  Having a large measure of insulation for whenever he puts his foot in his mouth simply isn't going to be enough for McCain to win this election.  

I mean, consider the far greater number of voters who pay only glancing attention to all this stuff, as compared to people like us who follow it constantly.  Who's more swayed by the general media environment, things like who's "hot" and who's "not," or who's getting most of the coverage--and who's more in touch with the everyday ups and downs of who's making gaffes, whose gaffes aren't getting reported, who's being targeted by fake outrage over non-existent issues, etc.?  Which audience would you choose, if you could only pick one with which to have a more favorable media environment?

Now, where I greatly differ with plukasiak is in the assessment that "the right-wing isn't even trying" and that "no real effort is being made by the GOP to damage Obama."  IMO, those claims are completely ridiculous.

[ Parent ]
a matter of degrees... (0.00 / 1)
Now, where I greatly differ with plukasiak is in the assessment that "the right-wing isn't even trying" and that "no real effort is being made by the GOP to damage Obama."  IMO, those claims are completely ridiculous.

when I say 'no real effort', I'm talking about the GOP/right-wings ability to control their daily message, and define this issues.   I think we may just be seeing the beginning of the GOP right/wing noise machine efforts with stuff like Krautheimer's 'narcissism' column... that you're going to be seeing a lot more commentary about Obama's arrogance and hubris in the near future, because it will tie into the eventual overall campaign theme that will focus on Obama's lack of understanding/concern for 'the average American'.  

And, of course, the Obama campaign is going to have all its little surrogates out screaming "racist!  racists!" when that happens, and its not going to work, because tons of politicians have been accused of being 'out of touch with average americans' without any racial implications whatsover.  

[ Parent ]
Your lingering resentments notwithstanding, (4.00 / 3)
McCain's campaign should be dead from his last week.  Instead we're on day 4 of Jesse Jackson's comments and how McCain won the Iraq War all by himself by agreeing to the surge.  

John McCain won't insure children

[ Parent ]
Static is good . . . (0.00 / 0)
Despite the conspiracy of MSM silence on McCain's repeated flip flops and his hatred of Social Security and Whinergate and all the rest, the public attitudes about the candidates haven't moved -- this is a good thing, for a variety of reasons.

These are the dog days of summer, and people aren't paying a lot of attention. The static polling indicates very little in the micro macro and meta narratives (at this point in time) are having an impact.

I expect a small bump for Obama during his overseas trip, for no other reason than the positive press he will receive. The trip should help reduce doubts about his experience, but that will be a bonus if it happens.

I expect a large bounce for Obama during and after the convention, while I expect (hope, actually) that the GOP grumpy old fart fest will flatline, or give McCain a dead cat bounce at best.

Short Answer -- nobody but us obsessives are paying attention right now; the final turn and race to the finish will be what counts. Static is good . . .  

Jiminy Christmas! (0.00 / 0)
Anyone that looks at that map, where there is only one (1) state with double digit electoral votes that is considered safe for McCain, and thinks that this is bad news for Obama has completely lost the forest for the trees here. Heck, arguably South Dakota, Mississippi, and the NE-01 should also be light red.

We're talking about less than 10 states that are truly off the board, and arguably only six or seven. That means we're approaching landslide territory this fall.

This is unadulterated good news.

yep (0.00 / 0)
but keep it quiet. hubris is frowned upon. i really don't think the GOP expects to win. it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that we have a landslide in the making.

[ Parent ]
From who? (0.00 / 0)
On the other hand, while the state polls are static, McCain has gained about 1.1-1.6% in national polls

It seems like this would tend to mean something different depending on whether McCain gained this 1-1.6% by taking it from Obama, or taking it from Undecided...?

Static is good when you have a plan... (0.00 / 0)
...and I can see it coming together.  

The way Senator Obama has run his campaign to date is like an athlete preparing for the big race.  You don't want to peak too soon but steadily build up for the big day.  In this case it's about attracting the critical independent voters, one-at-a-time.

The trip to Europe and the Mideast are a part of this strategy.  It will be interesting how they effect the national and regional polls.

And, lest not forget that Senator McCain is the "accidental candidate."  The deeper we get into the campaign, the more voters get to know who he really is, the more Senator Obama's numbers will go up.

Then there will be the debates!  

I'm no expert but John McCain is Bob Dole on quaaludes.  Forgetting his age and the attendant issues it brings, Senator  McCain is inane and insipid.  And as time passes I believe it will become abundantly clear to the voters.

the GOP screwed up (0.00 / 0)
they picked the wrong guy.  

[ Parent ]
Who else could they have picked? (0.00 / 0)
Anyone else they could have picked would have already been getting killed in the polls by this point.  McCain was the only one they had with high enough national favorables + media support to keep it close.  

[ Parent ]
Pretty boy Romney (0.00 / 0)
would have given Obama a run for his money. Two charismatic, good looking men--one white and one not....PA, Ohio, Michigan would suddenly get a lot tougher.  And VA and NC would come off the table. Mormon or not Romney would have been a better pick if they had really wanted to win.

[ Parent ]
No way (4.00 / 1)
Just about every poll during the primaries showed Romney getting absolutely killed by every leading Dem, which was decidedly not the case with McCain in those same polls.  

And Romney would have had little or no chance of turning that around, because the media really DIDN'T like him.  I actually thought they were pretty unfair to him.  He was getting slaughtered for some of the same stuff that McCain was absolutely coasting on.

[ Parent ]
I disagree (4.00 / 1)
The problems the GOP is having with evangelicals would be much worse if Romney were the candidate. The simple fact is that many evangelicals think LDS is a "false" religion, and they deeply mistrust any Mormon. There's simply no way that a lot of them would vote for one. Some would go for Obama; lots more would stay home.

Michigan might get tougher for Obama, but PA and OH would come off the table for the GOP, as would VA, CO and probably NC. Obama would be favored in MO, and would even have a serious shot at SC and GA. And the Mormon vote wouldn't be any help in the West, because they're concentrated in states that the GOP always wins anyway - Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming.

Romney simply wouldn't have a chance.

[ Parent ]
i disagree (0.00 / 0)
i doubt that any GOP can win in this environment and that is why Hillary fought so darned hard because she knew that who ever won the primary probably had it in the bag.

however i think a pretty white boy would have been a more attractive candidate--and those were in short supply. even i find romney appealing and i think he would have driven up the 'racist' vote. he would have been a real alternative. mccain is not.

[ Parent ]
Check the numbers on (0.00 / 0)
I can't get links now because it keeps destroying my browser, but they have numbers collected for head-to-head in all the different matchups that were out there.  Compare Obama-Romney to Obama-McCain, and you'll see that the GOP would have started from a considerably bigger deficit with Romney as the nominee vs. Obama than they have now with McCain.  The hard numbers indicate the opposite of your subjective argument.

[ Parent ]
The GOP needed a true conservative to rally their base (0.00 / 0)
but, amazingly, there were none available.

Romney's religion made him anathema to Southern Baptists, Huckabee's economic populism made him anathema to economic conservatives and conservative Catholics had a problem with some of his anti-Catholic Southern Baptist associations (he had given a sermon at one point at a infamously anti-Catholic church.)

[ Parent ]
Obama will win Missouri and Florida (4.00 / 1)
Because I and a lot of other Obama supporters are working to make that happen. And I predict Obama will break the 300 electoral vote barrier.

Obama leads McCain slightly in latest Missouri poll


No fuzzy math: State Dems sign up voters 7-1 over GOP

Florida Political News and Commentary for 7/12/08

[The numbers are ominous for Republicans: Through May, Democratic voter registration in Broward County was up 6.7 percent. Republican registrations grew just 3 percent while independents rose 2.8 percent.

Democrats have posted even greater gains statewide, up 106,508 voters from January through May, compared with 16,686 for the Republicans.]  

Voter registrations in Florida show 'huge swing' toward Democrats

National Poll drop (0.00 / 0)
I keep hearing about this drop, yet just off the top of my head the last couple of polls have all been up for Obama:

CNN Poll of Polls: 8
Pew: 8
Quinnipiac: 9
Washington Post: 8, with Nader and Barr 10

I think there was also a Reuters poll in there that had him up by 7.

Again, this is all off the top of my head, but if anything the last batch of polls over the last week or so seem to be pretty good.

Moreover, the Kerry states, which I feel pretty good Obama will carry, plus Colorado and Iowa give Obama 268 EVs. If he does just that he only needs to win one more state to break 270. I feel pretty certain there will be at least 10 more states seriously in play for Obama come election day. Is McCain really going to win all 10?

Say Obama takes the Kerry states plus Colorado, and Iowa, he would only need to win one of the following:

New Mexico
Nevada (lates poll he's up 2)
North dakota

In the above he's either ahead in the average, or ahead in the last poll out of the state, in 7 of the 9.

Assuming Obama does take the Kerry states plus Colorado and Iowa, is McCain really going to win all 9 of the above. I think more likely Obama takes minimally 4 of the 9 if not 5-6.

Seriously folks, the map looks very bleak for McCain.

And I'm not even considering North Carolina and South Dakota, where the lates pols have Obama down by 3 and 4 respectively.

Not bad (0.00 / 0)
No, at this point, not bad at all.

By one metric, Obama leading by 4.6% (0.00 / 0)
By counting up to 270 beginning with the states with largest Obama leads and descending, Obama crosses 270 at Ohio, which he is winning by 4.6%. Which means, everything else equal, that Obama has a 1.3% advantage vis-a-vis electoral college v. popular vote. This might be a metric worth keeping an eye on...


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