Presidential Race Maps Writing on the Wall

Most Americans Think Obama Is Politically "Liberal"

Posted Nov 28, 2008 at 3:44 AM by Maurice Berger

According to a just released survey Rasmussen Reports, most Americans see President-Elect Barack Obama as politically "liberal": "68% of American voters see [Obama] as politically liberal, including 41% who say he is very liberal. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that just 24% say the President-elect is politically moderate while 4% see him as conservative. These results are little changed from the fall campaign, despite the fact that some on the political left see Obama's early appointments tilting to the right."

Election 2008: Voters Were Often Fickle And Wavering

Posted Nov 28, 2008 at 1:52 AM by Maurice Berger

A post-election analysis by Associated Press/Yahoo reports that voters often wavered in the choice for president, flip-flopping from Obama to McCain and vice versa a number of times throughout the 2008 campaign: "Inch by inch, voter by voter, Barack Obama and John McCain labored for more than a year to lock down supporters and woo defectors. It turns out, though, that the nation's voters were a lot more fickle than commonly expected, and far more prone to switch allegiances. An Associated Press-Yahoo News poll that tracked the same group of about 2,000 adults throughout the long campaign reveals a lively churning beneath the surface as people shifted their loyalties - some more than once. Over the long haul, 17% of those who eventually voted for Obama had expressed support for McCain at least once in a series of 10 AP-Yahoo News polls conducted since November 2007, before the party primaries began. And 11 percent of McCain's eventual supporters had backed Obama at least once . . . Election polls that showed only gradual shifts in support for Obama and McCain were masking a much more volatile electorate. Few voters made unwavering, long-term commitments to either candidate . . . Just 28 percent of those saying they voted for Democrat Obama, and 27 percent saying they backed Republican McCain on Election Day, said they would vote for that party's candidate in all 10 AP-Yahoo News polls."

ABC NEWS Poll: Americans Skeptical About Obama's Ability to Repair Economy

Posted Nov 26, 2008 at 4:40 AM by Maurice Berger

Despite relatively high marks for the Obama transition effort, American voters remain pessimistic about the new president's ability to manage the economy. As a new ABC News survey reports: "Expectations of Obama’s economic performance are highly partisan. Just 16% of Republicans expect him to be able to accomplish a 'great deal' or 'good amount' to improve the economy, essentially unchanged from election eve. At the same time, that expectation has declined among Democrats and independents alike (by 9 and 10 points, respectively), suggesting a more sober post-election assessment in these groups. Obama himself, in introducing his economic team today, pledged fast work
but also said the economy 'is likely to get worse before it gets better.'” The ABC News analysis continues: "Given the larger forces at work, relatively few Americans, 24 percent overall, expect the incoming president to be able to do 'a great deal' to improve the economy. That’s even though it was the single most dominant issue of the campaign, and Obama’s ability to connect with the public’s economic concerns that lifted him to his Nov. 4 victory."

Obama's New Majority: The "Race" Factor

Posted Nov 26, 2008 at 2:00 AM by Maurice Berger

One thing is certain about Election 2008: if Obama had depended on white voters for victory, McCain would now be president. Indeed, the Democrat did no better than most presidential candidates of his party with white voters. The final racial breakdown of the election is sobering: among white voters, McCain received a whopping 55% of the vote, Obama did not better than 43%. An important article in the Miami Herald, puts Obama victory in perspective: he won because many white people stayed home and minorities voted in record numbers for the Democrat: "Barack Obama's 8.5 million-vote margin over John McCain was fueled by a more than 20 percent surge in minority voting, a new analysis of exit polling data suggests. While Obama won a lopsided number of electoral votes, his popular-vote margin was increased by an outpouring of minority balloting as the number of whites who cast ballots declined overall. The analysis estimated that about 5.8 million more minorities voted in this year's presidential election than in 2004 while nearly 1.2 million fewer whites went to the polls. Separate opinion polls and election results themselves indicate that an overwhelming majority of African-Americans and Latinos backed Obama . . . Based on exit polling data, Project Vote estimated that the nationwide African-American vote rose by 2.88 million, to 16.3 million, accounting for 13 percent of the ballots compared with 11 percent in 2004. The Latino turnout increased by 1.5 million to 11.3 million, accounting for 9 percent of the total ballots, up from 8 percent, the group said." For the full article click here.


The Democrat's (Not So) Secret Weapon: "Millennial" Voters

Posted Nov 25, 2008 at 3:01 AM by Maurice Berger

According to a recently published analysis of Election 2008, some of the credit for Obama's victory should go to the newest generation of young voters. Aided (and prodded) by new technologies of communications--from cell phones and computers to text messaging--and aligned into an active political community by social networks such as MySpace and FaceBook, young voters are helping to alter the content and processes of American politics. As Morley Winograd and Michael D. Hais write: "Senator Barack Obama’s success in the 2008 presidential campaign marks more than an historical turning point in American politics. It also signals the beginning of a new era for American society, one dominated by the attitudes and behaviors of the largest generation in American history. Millennials, born between 1982 and 2003, now comprise almost one-third of the U.S. population and without their overwhelming support for his candidacy, Barack Obama would not have been able to win his party’s nomination, let alone been elected President of the United States. This new, “civic” generation is dramatically different than the boomers who have dominated our society since the 1960s and understanding this shift is critical to comprehending the changes that America will experience over the next forty years."


Election 2008: A Political Realignment or A Cry For Change

Posted Nov 25, 2008 at 1:08 AM by Maurice Berger

Was Election 2008 a sign of a radical political realignment or just an election driven by a desire for change and discontent with the party in power. This debate is now underway, as pollsters attempt to grasp the bigger picture. As the Washington Post reports, "conservative analysts have insisted that although the Democrats achieved a sweeping victory, it does not indicate a fundamental change. "America is still a center-right country," as Rep. John A. Boehner (R-OH), the House Republican leader, insisted soon after the votes were counted. Liberals call that argument nonsense. The election, wrote John B. Judis in the New Republic, heralds the arrival of "America the liberal," provided that the Democrats play their strong new hand effectively. This election was "the culmination of a Democratic realignment that began in the 1990s, was delayed by September 11, and resumed with the 2006 election." PollTrack thinks the answer will not be apparent for a while, given the dramatic imperative for change at the heart of many voter's decision making process. Indeed, as Andrew Kohut, one of the deans of American pollsters notes, "There's no indication that ideology drove this election. It was driven by discontent with the status quo" -- a pollster's formulation of the venerable slogan 'Throw the bums out.'"

Obama Gets High Marks For Transition

Posted Nov 24, 2008 at 9:04 AM by Maurice Berger

According to a new ABC News survey, 67% of Americans approve of President-elect Obama's work on the transition so far: "Approval of Obama's handling of the transition is slightly better than Bill Clinton's 62% in mid-November 1992. Clinton improved from there, to 72% in mid-December and 81% just before his inauguration in mid-January 1993. . . . George W. Bush's grade late in his transition also was high, albeit not as high as Clinton's -- 72% in mid-January 2001."

Rasmussen: Consumer Confidence Drops To Near Record Low

Posted Nov 24, 2008 at 2:00 AM by Maurice Berger

One daunting problem facing the new president: consumers lagging confidence in the economy. According to a new survey--The Rasmussen Consumer Index, which measures the economic confidence of consumers on a daily basis--this level has dropped another point on Monday and is now less than a point above its all-time low. At 61.0, the Consumer Index is little changed from a week ago, down eight points from a month ago, and down thirty-eight points from the beginning of the year."

Republican Faithful Looking To Palin, Romney, and Huckabee in 2012

Posted Nov 24, 2008 at 1:16 AM by Maurice Berger

Barack Obama has not even been sworn in as the nation's 44th president, and Gallup is out with a new survey about Republican Party preferences for president in 2012. Surprisingly or not, the top names were also active in this year's campaign. According to Gallup, "Republicans and Republican-leaning independents are most interested in seeing Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, and Mike Huckabee run for the party's presidential nomination in 2012. Those three received the highest scores among the 10 possible candidates evaluated in a recent Gallup Panel survey." GOP support is at 67% for Palin, 62% for Romney, and 61% for Huckabee. Not all of this year's candidates muster enthusiasm among the GOP ranks: "Republicans are evenly divided as to whether Rudy Giuliani should make another attempt at the White House. Giuliani was the early front-runner for the 2008 nomination, but performed poorly in the early primaries and caucuses before dropping out of the race . . . Republicans are also evenly divided on potential candidacies from former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal . . . [They] are decidedly unenthusiastic about possible White House bids from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, current Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham."

Republican Brand In Trouble

Posted Nov 21, 2008 at 1:47 AM by Maurice Berger

According to a survey released by the Gallup organization, the Republican brand is in trouble. Indeed, the poll indicates that the party's unfavorable rating is the worst for either party since 1992: "The Republican Party's image has gone from bad to worse over the past month, as only 34% of Americans in a Nov. 13-16 Gallup Poll say they have a favorable view of the party, down from 40% in mid-October. The 61% now holding an unfavorable view of the GOP is the highest Gallup has recorded for that party since the measure was established in 1992." By contrast, the democratic party fares much better, with more than "half of Americans, 55%, currently hold a favorable view of the Democratic Party and only 39% an unfavorable view, highly typical of views toward the Democrats all year."

Significant Generational Shift In Electorate: Young Voters Now More Democratic

Posted Nov 20, 2008 at 1:17 AM by Maurice Berger

An analysis by the Pew Research Center suggests that there is a significant generational shift in voting patterns: young voters have moved decidedly into the Democratic camp: "In the last three general elections - 2004, 2006, and 2008 -- young voters have given the Democratic Party a majority of their votes, and for all three cycles they have been the party's most supportive age group. This year, 66% of those under age 30 voted for Barack Obama making the disparity between young voters and other age groups larger than in any presidential election since exit polling began in 1972. This pattern of votes, along with other evidence about the political leanings of young voters, suggests that a significant generational shift in political allegiance is occurring. This pattern has been building for several years, and is underscored among voters this year. Among voters ages 18-29, a 19-point gap now separates Democratic party affiliation (45%) and Republican affiliation (26%). In 2000, party affiliation was split nearly evenly among the young." If this patterns hold, it will present a real challenge to Republicans, since a coalition of African-American, Hispanic, Jewish, and young voters constituted a significant majority for Obama in the 2008 cycle.

Sen. John McCain Officially Wins Missouri

Posted Nov 19, 2008 at 2:48 PM by Maurice Berger

More than two weeks after the election, Sen. John McCain officially wins Missouri. The final electoral count for Election 2008: Obama-365, McCain-173. The state's 104 year-streak of serving as the nation's bellwether (missing only 1956) may be coming to an end, as its demographics are tilting slightly Republican in recent years.

Rasmussen: Some Voters Fear Too Much Change In Obama Administration

Posted Nov 19, 2008 at 2:20 AM by Maurice Berger

Registered GOP and independent voters are concerned about the pace and depth of change in the new Obama administration, according to a  new Rasumssen survey: "Changing the way government works may have been the winning message on Election Day, but three out of four Republicans (75%) are worried that Barack Obama will change things too much as president. Half of unaffiliated voters (49%) share that concern . . . Democrats take the opposite view, with 52% worried that the new president won't change things enough. Just 19% fear he'll go too far. Overall, 46% of voters are worried Obama will change too much, while 32% say he will change too little. Another 22% are undecided.

Electoral College Stands Tentatively At Obama-365 to McCain-173

Posted Nov 19, 2008 at 1:47 AM by Maurice Berger

With the Associated Press calling Nebraska's Second Congressional District for Obama (the state and Maine are the only two not winner take all) and NBC calling Missouri for Obama, the tentative electoral count for the 2008 presidential cycle is 365 to 173. When the Missouri tally is made final by the state, PollTrack with enter the final on the Election Day Map and archive it (and the blog). we will continue to have updates on the election and its aftermath over the next month.

Gallup: Obama Approval Rating at 64%

Posted Nov 18, 2008 at 7:15 AM by Maurice Berger

According To Gallup, Barack Obama's approval rating among registered voters is at 64% (to 25% unfavorable). Gallup also reports that "most Americans (83%) are closely tuned in to news about Obama’s presidential transition. However, fewer (48%) are following the transition “very closely” than say they followed the election as intensely (68%)."

Only Modest Public Support For Palin To Step Onto The National Stage

Posted Nov 16, 2008 at 11:37 PM by Maurice Berger

A new Gallup survey has some ambiguous news for Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin: voters are not exactly excited about the prospect of the Alaska Governor stepping onto the national political stage: "Just 45% of Americans would like to see Sarah Palin become a major national political figure for many years to come, while a slight majority of 52% say they would not. These sentiments are sharply divided along partisan political lines." Pelain's support comes mostly from Republican, Evangelical, and conservative voters.

Wny Obama Won: The Palin Factor (That Cuts Both Ways)

Posted Nov 14, 2008 at 1:33 AM by Maurice Berger

The Palin factor was a big one in this election. McCain nomination of the Alaska governor as his running mate would prove a blessing and a curse for the Republican ticket. There is no question that the devout, Evangelical governor helped McCain ignite the Republican Party base, heretofore very slow to warm to the Arizona Senator. Indeed, on Election Day, McCain owed many of his 57 million votes to Palin, who helped excite and galvanized the party. But critically, she slowly began to turn off independents, especially women. As the campaign wore on, Palin's standing with voters wore down. As PollTrack observed on 14 October: "Rasmussen reports that Delaware Senator Joseph Biden is now viewed more favorably than the Republican VP candidate: "Palin continues to be an emotional lightning rod for voters. 56% now have a favorable view of Biden, including 25% who say that view is Very Favorable . . . 53% view Palin favorably, but 35% say their opinion of her is Very Favorable. 47% have an unfavorable view of the first-term Alaska governor, compared to 41% who say that of Biden.' In a survey released September 24, nearly a month after they were nominated, Palin was viewed more favorably than Biden, 54% to 49%." By Election Day, a clear majority of voters believed that Palin was not qualified to be commander in chief. While it is true that vice-presidential picks rarely impact on the eventual outcome of a presidential cycle--voters after all are mainly endorsing or rejecting the candidate at the top of the ticket--on the whole, Palin's lack of traction with voters in the middle was a decided plus for the Obama-Biden ticket.

Exit Polls: Hillary Clinton Would Have Won By A Wider Margin

Posted Nov 13, 2008 at 2:15 AM by Maurice Berger

CBS News Election and Survey Unit's analysis of exit polls in last weeks elections concludes that Hillary Clinton would have beaten McCain by a wider margin than Obama: "As voters left the polls on Election Day, many were asked how they would have voted if the election match-up were between Hillary Clinton and John McCain rather than Barack Obama and McCain. 52 percent said they would have backed the former Democratic candidate; 41 percent would have voted for McCain, wider than Obama’s 7-point margin over McCain. Interestingly, 16 percent of McCain voters said they would have voted for Clinton, the Democrat, if she had been her party’s nominee." While this conclusion is, of course, hypothetical--it's hard to predict how any candidate would do in the heat of a hard fought campaign--the piece examines the makeup of voters who now say thay would have supported Clinton instead of the Republican candidate.

Why Obama Won: The Failed Republican Brand

Posted Nov 13, 2008 at 12:50 AM by Maurice Berger

One important advantage that Obama held in Election 2008 was the poor standing of the Republican brand. The incumbent president dropped to the lowest approval rating in history during this cycle. Voters routinely blamed the Republicans--and pointed to a perceived sense of incompetence or mismanagement on the part of the party--for the Wall Street Crisis and subsequent economic meltdown. As much as John McCain attempted to distance himself from the George W. Bush and his own party, the devastation of the Republican brand made it very difficult for him to break the wave of advantage that Obama rode for all but three weeks of the cycle. Even so, McCain was able to pull ahead of Obama after the conventions, a sign that the Democrat's victory was not inevitable and that the damaged Republican brand had not entirely hamstrung the Arizona Senator, who positioned himself as a maverick and an independent. Still, the president's low approval had a profound effect on the outcome of the election. MSNBC reports: "With the single exception of Missouri (which barely went for McCain after a delayed call from NBC News), Obama won every state where Bush’s approval rating was below 35% in the exit polls, and he lost every state where Bush’s approval rating was over 35%. The state with the highest Bush rating? Utah, at 47%, which supported McCain by a 29-point margin. The place with the lowest? Washington DC, at 8%, where McCain got just 7% of the vote." It's hard to imagine a more inhospitable political environment for a party in power.

Why Obama Won: The Clinton Factor

Posted Nov 12, 2008 at 1:14 AM by Maurice Berger

During the closely fought Democratic primaries and caucuses, a growing and thunderous chorus of Obama supporters (mostly male, by PollTrack's count) called for Hillary Clinton to withdraw from the race. One problem: throughout the latter races, Clinton trailed Obama by just a few hundred delegates at most. And, so, the contest continued to the bitter end, early June. At the time, many Obama supporters felt the hard fought contest would hurt Obama in the fall. In the end, it turned out to be a great asset, allowing him to insulate himself against potential negatives, such as the candidate's association with the Rev. Wright, Bill Ayers, and others. Once aired, and adeptly handled by the Obama campaign, these factors were neutralized to a certain extent for the fall campaign. More important, the long primary season allowed the Obama campaign to build deep and formidable on-the-ground operations in virtually all of the battleground states. As contributions flowed in--indeed, the heated match between the two Democratic challengers fired up their respective bases--Obama built a powerful fund raising and voter turnout database. The icing on the cake: after the "bruising" primary fight ended, Obama was able to attract the lion's share of Clinton supporters on 4 November. Obama pollster Joel Benenson, in Time magazine, notes the campaign never believed it would have trouble winning back supporters of Sen. Hillary Clinton. Said Benenson: "The notion that voters who supported Senator Clinton would vote Republican in the general election was never supported by what we saw in our polling. At the beginning of June, going into the general election, Obama had a double-digit lead in our battleground poll against McCain among women. He was competitive among Catholics and led 2 to 1 among Latinos. The press corps had focused on all these groups in the last three months of the primary and was convinced that they would pose problems for us in the general. But that just wasn't true, and we recognized that early on. As a result, we were able to focus on swing voters instead of worrying about parts of the base that were already with us. We looked at groups where Obama could make gains and at places where he could broaden the map."

Why Obama Won: The Life Of The Party

Posted Nov 11, 2008 at 1:33 AM by Maurice Berger

In terms of the percentage of eligible voters who actually turned out in 2008, the numbers are not much different from 2004. The issue in this election was not an increase in the overall numbers of voters, but a decrease in Republican participation and a significant jump in Democratic voter enthusiasm and participation. Obama's victory was due in large part to "a substantial electoral shift toward the Democratic Party and by winning a number of key groups in the middle of the electorate," according to a Pew Research Center analysis of exit polls. As recently as 2004, voters were evenly divided among Republicans and Democrats. In this election, however, 39 percent identify themselves as Democrats compared to 32 percent for the Republicans. (In this regard, Rasmussen came closest of any pollster to predicting the actual "party weighting" of the electorate in 2008.) This balance was more skewed than in either of the last two Democratic presidential victories when Bill Clinton ran in 1992 and 1996. The biggest of the gains for the Democratic ticket among demographic groups since 2004--groups that would prove instrumental in Obama's decisive victory--were Hispanics (+13%), 18 to 29 year olds (+12%), urban voters (+9%), voters making over $100,000 a year (+8%) and African Americans (+7%). The Pew study also reports that Obama did better with voters in the ideological center than most Democrats: "While moderates have favored the Democratic candidate in each of the past five elections, Barack Obama gained the support of more voters in the ideological "middle" than did either John Kerry or Al Gore before him. He won at least half the votes of independents (52% vs. 49% for Kerry), suburban voters (50% vs. 47% for Kerry), Catholics (54% vs. 47% for Kerry), and other key swing groups in the electorate."

Why Obama Won: Building A Powerful Coalition

Posted Nov 10, 2008 at 2:14 AM by Maurice Berger

When it comes to the issue of how "race" played out on Election Day, one thing is certain: if the outcome was determined only by white people, John McCain would be president, by a landslide. Indeed, Obama garnered just 43% of the white vote to McCain's 57%, a 14% deficit that was only marginally better than Kerry or Gore's total and about the same as Bill Clinton. The Democrat was able to count on four groups for his impressive victory. Preeminently, the intensity and unprecedented numbers of African-American voters made the difference for Obama, especially in the closest fought states, such as Indiana, North Carolina, Virginia, and Ohio. This support was almost singlehandedly responsible for the Democrat's ability to pick off the true-red states of NC and IN. The black vote also deepened and widened Obama's victories in scores of Kerry-blue states, from New York to California. Hispanic voters represented another important asset: Obama led McCain among Hispanics 67% to 30%, a 10% increase in Democrat support from 2004. in his home state, McCain trailed Obama among Hispanics 61% to 36%, making that race surprisingly close. The Hispanic vote was crucial to Obama in the southwest, handing him easy victories in Nevada, Colorado, and New Mexico. And in Florida, where Cuban-Americans have traditionally tilted the Hispanic vote towards Republicans in virtually every presidential cycle, Obama won 57% to 42%. Another religious minority also played a key role in several states: Jewish-Americans, who gave the Democrat nearly 80% of their vote. (Jews are one of the demographic groups most loyal to the Democratic Party.) The Jewish vote in South Florida was crucial to handing the Republican leaning state to Obama. (Another state where the Jewish vote made a big difference: Ohio). Finally, through amazing outreach to the 18 to 29-year old demographic, the Obama campaign was able to boost the turnout of younger voters by more than 3 million, enough to hand the Democrat such razor close states as North Carolina and Indiana. Together, these four groups represented not only a winning coalition, but a shift in the power-base of the national electorate, allowing racial and religious minorities and young people to make a profound difference in the outcome of Election 2008.

How Accurate Were The Pollsters?

Posted Nov 07, 2008 at 12:34 AM by Maurice Berger

How close did polling organizations come in predicting the outcome of Election 2008? A few were right on the money. A few, such as CBS News/NY Times, Zogby, and Newsweek--each showing Obama with a double digit lead--were way off. Dr. Costas Panagopoulos, Ph.D, of Fordham University's Department of Political Science, undertook a detailed analysis of the results of the top polling organizations. His findings indicate that not all surveys were good at analyzing and reporting the relative strength of the candidates. Professor Panagopoulos writes: "I analyze poll estimates from 23 polling organizations. Four of these polls appear to have overestimated McCain support (indicated with a * below), while most polls (17) overestimated Obama strength. Pre-election projections for two organizations’ final polls—Rasmussen and Pew—were perfectly in agreement with the actual election result (**)." (The list follows below.) One problem with this analysis, though, is that it was completed before final results were in. According to the Associated Press, Obama's final number has inched upward slightly, to nearly 53%, bringing the final total to 52.7% to 46.0%. In this case two other pollsters actually tied for first place: Ipsos/McClathcy and CNN/Opinion Research (both tied at 6th place in the Panagopoulos analysis). The more important conclusion from the Fordham survey, however, is not its top numbers but the idea that most pollsters overestimated the Democrat's support. In the past five cycles, this skewing towards blue has tended to be the case. Why? Perhaps because voters who "refuse" to be interviewed fall into demographic categories that favor Republicans--older, male, white, and rural. In this cycle, one other factor may also be at play: Democrats were FAR more enthusiastic than Republicans and thus were less equivocal, tended to have decided early, and were more willing to share their views with pollsters. Given the tendency of the least accurate pollsters to overestimate Obama support, the so-called "Bradley Effect" may have been operative as well.  For Dr. Panagopoulos's analysis click here.

1. Rasmussen (11/1-3)**
1. Pew (10/29-11/1)**

2. YouGov/Polimetrix (10/18-11/1)
3. Harris Interactive (10/20-27)
4. GWU (Lake/Tarrance) (11/2-3)*
5. Diageo/Hotline (10/31-11/2)*
5. ARG (10/25-27)*
6. CNN (10/30-11/1)
6. Ipsos/McClatchy (10/30-11/1)

7. (D)/Research 2000 (11/1-3)
8. AP/Yahoo/KN (10/17-27)
9. Democracy Corps (D) (10/30-11/2)
10. FOX (11/1-2)
11. Economist/YouGov (10/25-27)
12. IBD/TIPP (11/1-3)
13. NBC/WSJ (11/1-2)
14. ABC/Post (10/30-11/2)
15. Marist College (11/3)
16. CBS (10/31-11/2)
17. Gallup (10/31-11/2)
18. Reuters/ C-SPAN/ Zogby (10/31-11/3)
19. CBS/Times (10/25-29)
20. Newsweek (10/22-23)

Obama Wins North Carolina

Posted Nov 06, 2008 at 4:54 AM by Maurice Berger

AP's analysis of vote tabulations in North Carolina concludes that Obama has won the state by less than one-half of a percentage point. Polltrack will now call its final outstanding state in the presidential race for the Democrat. The state has not gone Democratic in a presidential cycle since 1976, when Georgia native Jimmy Carter won the state over incumbent Republican president Gerald R. Ford.

Why Obama Won: "The Fundamentals Of The Economy Are Strong"

Posted Nov 06, 2008 at 1:45 AM by Maurice Berger

On 18 September 2008, PollTrack's tally of electoral votes was starting to suggest that McCain was beginning to pull ahead of Obama: McCain-216 Obama-202 Too Close To Call-120. In the following weeks these numbers would steadily reverse in the wake of a comment made by the Republican nominee just days before the harrowing dimensions of the Wall Street Crisis and subsequent economic meltdown would be known: "The fundamentals of the economy are strong." When the history of the extraordinary 2008 campaign is written, it is this sentence that will read as one of the greatest game changers of the race. The remark, in and of itself, may not have been fatal for another candidate. For McCain, however, it achieved one of the most damaging results in politics--affirming the electorate's underlying anxiety or fears about a candidate. Earlier in the primary season, McCain admitted that the economy was not his strong suit. A nation on the brink of economic disaster is a frightened nation; the gnawing sense that the Republican candidate--not to mention a Republican party widely blamed by voters for the economic mess--was not competent on the economy transformed McCain into the risker choice. Yet, public opinion on the subject changed relatively slowly. On September 20th, PollTrack observed the following: "Gallup reports a slight--but only slight--benefit for Obama in the voters' candidate preferences, vis-a-vis the current economic crisis--'Even though Americans divide evenly as to which candidate can better handle the Wall Street crisis, Barack Obama seems to benefit politically, as slightly more voters say it increases their likelihood of voting for him (29%) than say it makes them more likely to vote for John McCain (23%)'" As time passed, however, and voters became more worried, they took notice of Obama's cool, steady, and authoritative demeanor. If voters approached the first debate demoralized and frightened by the economic news that resonated around them, they also approached the event with a sense of longing--desire for problem solving and intelligent, wise leadership and action. In the end, many voters felt safe with the Democrat, unnerved by the Republican, and desirous of change.


Posted Nov 05, 2008 at 3:00 AM by Maurice Berger

In the next ten days, PollTrack will issue a daily report methodically examining the outcome of the 2008 presidential cycle. Today's post isolates a major turning point in the race: the first debate. In the wake of this event, the Democrat's numbers not only improved, they remained relatively stable until Election Day. As has been discussed before in this blog, the 2008 race was very similar to the 1980 race between incumbent (and politically battered) Democratic president Jimmy Carter and Republican Ronald Reagan. Like Obama, pundits (and many Americans) viewed Reagan as too out of touch with the middle of the nation, a far-right Cold Warrior with domestic politics to match. In other words, he did not fit the expectations of what many believed an electable candidate. In order to win, he needed to allay these fears, proving he had the temperament to be commander-in-chief. In Barack Obama's case, his relative youth, modest experience on the national stage, left-of-center politics, and, most important, his race made him a somewhat unlikely candidate for president in a center-right country with a long history of problematic race relations and racism. The remarkable thing about debates is that they are like a great equalizer. Placing two candidates side-by-side, they allow the country to size them up, both individually and relative to each other. PollTrack believes the first debate was a crucial turning point for the Democrat, not surprising as this blog has often noted: in every competitive cycle in which debates were held since 1960, they proved to be a consequential if not determining factor in the outcome. As PollTrack wrote about the power of these debates (in this case, the Reagan-Carter match): "Indeed, it was not until the last week of the 1980 campaign, another trying economic time, that Ronald Reagan wrapped up the election, having convinced millions of voters through calming and commanding debate performance that he was not the right-wing extremist some feared. The present-day economic meltdown, and the anxiety it engenders in voters, has created an opening for Obama." Indeed, it is PollTrack's belief that Obama's steady, calm, and authoritative performance in the first debate afforded him a game-changing opportunity to seal the deal with a wary, but also economically and politically demoralized electorate eager for CHANGE, the code word of the entire election cycle as it turns out.

Three States Remain "Too Close To Call": Missouri, Indiana, North Carolina

Posted Nov 05, 2008 at 1:09 AM by Maurice Berger

Of the five states that PollTrack marked as "Too Close To Call," three remain virtually tied this morning: Missouri, Indiana, and North Carolina. At nearly a perfect 50% to 50% it may take a few days to get final results from these states, AFTER absentee and provisional ballots (and in some cases military ballots) are counted. As of 9:00 AM EST, Missouri leans ever so slightly to McCain, Indiana and North Carolina ever so slightly to Obama. The extraordinarily high African-American vote in NC is no doubt a key factor in this decidedly red-leaning state possibly flipping into the Democratic column.

Thank You PollTrack Fans: Stay Tuned For Detailed Analysis of Election 2008 and New Features In The Coming Weeks!

Posted Nov 04, 2008 at 5:15 PM by Maurice Berger

Thank you all for joining PollTrack on this historic election night. Please continue to make our website part of your daily news ritual. Over the next ten days, this blog will examine the endgame of election 2008--how Obama won, why McCain lost, and how it all turned out, region by region (and in some cases state by state). Starting in mid-November, we plan a range of coverage--including continuation of Voices on the Ground, our page where voters speak their minds and serve as our eyes and ears, and Writing on the Wall, our page for analysis, opinion, and debate in both national and local contexts. On these pages we will cover the transition of the new president and congress, inaugural events, and local reactions to the new president as well as the way political and cultural events of 2009 impact on voters. Tracking the Nation on our homepage will continue to chart a range of data about the state of the nation. And on my new page, Tracking the Nation Map and Blog, I will offer, in my capacity as PollTrack Political Director, daily updates on voter reactions to the transition and inauguration of the new president and administration as well as local initiatives, referendums, elections, and special elections (e.g. vacated congressional seats) of 2009--providing analysis of the state of these races on the ground as well as ongoing poll averages, from the campaign for mayor and other citywide offices in New York City and Los Angeles to the Governor's race in Virginia and New Jersey. This page will also have a national map and chart that will allow visitors to track analysis for each state as well as the polling averages for 2009 races and ballot initiatives. We will look at the approval ratings, the implications of special and scheduled elections, and other "on the ground" markers of success for the new administration. And next fall, PollTrack will be up and running with our comprehensive coverage of the national cycle in 2010, US Senate Map and House Chart Map and Blog--with maps, polling averages, charts, and an ongoing blog by our political director on all of the key races, including all competitive US Senate and House elections to Governor's races and other local elections. Good Night. And congratulations to our new president elect!

McCain Wins His Home State

Posted Nov 04, 2008 at 3:44 PM by Maurice Berger

A fitting coda to John McCain's gracious concession speech: the AP projects that the Republican will win his home state of Arizona. Obama's significant inroads with Hispanics--in many states his margin of victory among these voters approaches 30%--actually tightened the contest in Arizona in recent weeks.

Obama Wins Florida and Colorado

Posted Nov 04, 2008 at 3:38 PM by Maurice Berger

NBC News has called Colorado for Obama. Less expected--and very significant--the network has also call Florida for the Democrat. Bill Clinton won the state once. But in recent cycles, Florida has been a difficult threshold for Democrats.


Posted Nov 04, 2008 at 3:02 PM by Maurice Berger

With California's 55 electoral votes, Barack Obama is now president-elect of the United States.

Obama Wins Virginia . . .

Posted Nov 04, 2008 at 3:00 PM by Maurice Berger

. . . the first Democrat to do so since LBJ's landslide in 1964.

Obama Will Probably Pass The Magic Number at 11:00 PM EST

Posted Nov 04, 2008 at 2:40 PM by Maurice Berger

Barack Obama will most probably become the next president of the United States within the next half hour, with California and Washington placing him over the 270 EV threshold. A very historic moment is upon us, after one of the most amazing US presidential cycles of the past half century. PollTrack has been honored to guide our loyal and enthusiastic visitors, to listen to what you have to say, and together producing a new and exciting website all about understanding the complexities of a very complex election.

PollTrack's Election Live Blog Map Differs from Some Networks . . .

Posted Nov 04, 2008 at 2:09 PM by Maurice Berger

. . . because we're one electoral vote ahead in Obama's tally, predicting that the Democrat will win BOTH congressional districts in Maine, one of two states that is not winner-take-all but apportions its EVs by congressional district (the other is Nebraska).

President Obama: The Democrat Wins Ohio

Posted Nov 04, 2008 at 1:37 PM by Maurice Berger

It's now just a formality. Barack Obama will be the next president of the United States. With the Democrat now declared the winner in Ohio, it's mathematically impossible for McCain to forge an electoral majority. Ohio, one of the three national bellwethers, has gone with the winner since 1960. More important, no Republican in has won the White House without it. Congratulations to the new president!

McCain Wins Georgia . . .

Posted Nov 04, 2008 at 1:16 PM by Maurice Berger

A highly elevated African-American vote in Georgia was not enough to carry Obama over the top in that state. With McCain keeping Georgia in the Republican column, the South may give the Republican his strongest regional showing.

Intensity Of The Kerry-Blue States

Posted Nov 04, 2008 at 12:30 PM by Maurice Berger

The intensity of Obama's victories in the Kerry-Blue states thus far--large enough to allow the networks to call many of these state based on exit poll data alone--bodes well for the Democrat's overall performance. By 9:00 PM, with New York and other big-blue states reporting, Obama's should start pulling away from McCain in his electoral advantage.

NBC News: Pennsylvania Called For Obama

Posted Nov 04, 2008 at 12:11 PM by Maurice Berger

NBC News has just called Pennsylvania for Obama. If this prediction holds, it may be impossible for McCain to build an electoral majority. Additionally, exit poll demographic data suggests that Obama may be outperforming McCain in Indiana among key groups won handily by Bush in 2004, from older voter to Evangelicals. Both are VERY good news for Barack Obama.

All States Closed but NOT Yet Called: Bush-Red in 2004

Posted Nov 04, 2008 at 11:41 AM by Maurice Berger

Keep in mind: All closed states not yet called were Bush-red states in 2004. Interesting to see what happens when the Kerry-blue states begin reporting at 8:00 PM. Will Obama start blowing these out . . . or will these states come in a bit closer? Stay tuned.

North Carolina: "Too Close To Call" . . .

Posted Nov 04, 2008 at 11:34 AM by Maurice Berger

. . . according to NBC news. Could be a red flag for McCain--this is a state he MUST win. Ohio and West Virginia may not be as close, but still lack necessary precinct data to make a call.

Indiana: "Too Close To Call"

Posted Nov 04, 2008 at 11:17 AM by Maurice Berger

. . . according to NBC. This could be a red flag for McCain: it's hard to see a path to victory for the Republican without this traditionally red-leaning state that hasn't gone blue since Lyndon Johnson's landslide victory in 1964.

States NOT Called: Could Just Be Unavailable Data

Posted Nov 04, 2008 at 11:05 AM by Maurice Berger

Be Careful not to read too much into the states NOT called: GA, IN, SC, VA. They may be close . . . or actual precinct numbers may not be available to back up exit poll data.

Waiting For The First State Closings . . .

Posted Nov 04, 2008 at 10:18 AM by Maurice Berger

Nothing to report for the next hour or so. At 7:00 we will have three crucial poll closings (and potential deal breaker for McCain): Georgia, Virginia and Indiana.

Welcome to LIVE BLOG: Election Night Procedures

Posted Nov 04, 2008 at 10:12 AM by Maurice Berger

Welcome to PollTrack's Election Night LIVE BLOG. Park your MAP on Election Day Today. States will be updated as soon as results are known. The color coding for Election Night: BLUE: WIN ObamaRED: WIN McCain, Green: "Too Close To Call" OR "Not Enough Data To Call" after State closing; Gray: State Voting Not Yet Closed. For states where results are uncontested, PollTrack will post results onto the map without commentary. The blog will perk up only when there is something to report--the meaning of a result, a trend, an implication about the closeness or narrowness of a win. REFRESH the map/blog page to receive the most updated posts. As long as yout map is clicked onto Election Day Today, that map will remain on the screen when the page refreshes. Good Luck!


Grain Of Salt: Turnout Predictions Not Unlike Raw Exit Polls

Posted Nov 04, 2008 at 8:39 AM by Maurice Berger

A note of caution: take any attempts to predict voter turnout at this point with a grain of salt. It is almost impossible to ascertain voter turnout relative to past elections early in the day.As Curtis Gans, director for the Committee For The Study Of The American Electorate at American University writes: "Because turnout can only accurately be ascertained by getting actual tabulated vote numbers and because to make any real sense of the numbers, one needs to wait until at least 90 percent of the vote has been cast in an individual state, any judgment on this year's turnout probably won't be available until late in the evening--probably around midnight before one can make an educated stab at how much turnout might have increased." And do NOT take personal observations about "long lines" and "frustrated poll workers" at your neighborhood precinct too seriously, either.What passes for heavy voting in your community or state may have little relevance to an urban or rural precinct a thousand miles away in another state. Similarly raw exit polling information--if it is leaked after this data is passed onto news organizations at 5:00 PM EST--should also be ignored. Without proper weighting and analysis these numbers are virtually meaningless.

Poll Closings For Battleground States This Evening

Posted Nov 04, 2008 at 7:19 AM by Maurice Berger

Here is a list of poll closings for key battleground--or highly contested--states this evening: 7:00 p.m. -- Georgia, Indiana, and Virginia; 7:30 p.m. -- North Carolina, Ohio and West Virginia; 8:00 p.m. -- Florida, Missouri, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania; 9:00 p.m. -- Colorado and New Mexico; 10:00 p.m. -- Iowa, Montana, and Nevada; 11:00 p.m. -- North Dakota.

Predictions Market Gives Obama A 92.7% Chance Of Victory

Posted Nov 04, 2008 at 6:10 AM by Maurice Berger

On Intrade, the nation's preeminent futures market, where online traders bet on the outcome of upcoming events, traders are almost positive they know who will be our next president: Obama. Futures traders now give him an 92.7%+ chance of victory in today. McCain is at his lowest point to date on Intrade--this afternoon coming in at a paltry 8.0%. Intrade very often gets it right; sometimes it can be startlingly off, as it was on the morning of the New Hampshire Democratic primary this January, when traders predicted a staggering 99% chance of victory for Obama. Hillary Clinton went on to win the primary later that day.

FINAL Daily Tracking Poll Average: Obama, +6.1%, 51.6% to 45.5%

Posted Nov 04, 2008 at 4:29 AM by Maurice Berger

PollTrack's FINAL election day daily tracking poll average puts Obama in the lead by +6.1%--51.6% to 45.5%. One poll indicates that undecided voters have moved sharply in McCain's direction (GWU/Battleground-Tarrance model), another indicates a big shift of undecided and persuadable voters for Obama (IBD/TIPP). One thing to consider: with Obama racking up enormous margins in many of the nation's most populous states (CA, NY, IL, MA, for example), leads as high as +25% or more, as well as many of the Kerry-blue states--and McCain taking a number of red states by very modest margins--this final tracking number may not reflect the relative closeness in a number of the remaining swing and battleground states.

Where Are The Bellwethers: Missouri, Ohio, Nevada?

Posted Nov 04, 2008 at 3:56 AM by Maurice Berger

Where are are three bellwethers on election day? Obama is up in Nevada; Missouri and Ohio remain too close to call. Does the status of the latter two--Missouri is virtually tied this morning, with McCain up by +0.7%--suggest a close election? Hard to say. Interestingly, in the Missouri Democratic primary back in February, on "Super Tuesday," Obama won the state by 1.4%; his popular vote lead for all the primaries and caucuses was under 1%, like MO very close indeed. Yet, in the past few cycles, Missouri has actually trended Republican, affording Bush a higher margin of victory than the national totals and in 2000, he won MO but lost the popular vote. Ohio was relatively close in both elections, so the state's demographics trend towards close presidential races. If the numbers in Nevada hold, they could be a harbinger of a modest, but comfortable win for Obama.  Polltrack's nagging historical question: will Missouri pick the eventual winner tonight, as it has done in all but one presidential cycle since 1904? Or will Nevada emerge as the new reliable national bellwether?

WRITING ON THE WALL: Final US Senate Race Chart Now Up

Posted Nov 04, 2008 at 2:19 AM by Maurice Berger

Check into Writing on the Wall for PollTrack's final US Senate Race Chart.

Morning Report: Obama Well Over The Mark, 291 to 163, with 84 TCTC

Posted Nov 04, 2008 at 1:41 AM by Maurice Berger

On election morning, it is clear to PollTrack that the fundamentals of the race decidedly favor Obama. He has wracked up significant margins in early voting according to nearly all polls, though in a few states, preeminently Florida, its unclear who has the edge and by how much. He maintains "Safe" leads in virtually all of the Kerry-blue states from 2004, and robust leads in a few Bush states as well (Iowa and New Mexico). Additionally, he holds a modest, but statistically significant, advantage in another two: Colorado and, amazingly in a state that hasn't gone Republican since 1964, Virginia. McCain, on the other hand, maintains 127 "Safe" electoral voters, and 32 "Leaners," one comfortably (West Virginia), and three by a very slim margin, helped by red-leaning statewide demographics (Montana, North Dakota, and Georgia). The Republican, unlike Obama, leads in NO Kerry-blue states (though his campaign insists it has a chance in PA) and is struggling in several states won by Bush: Indiana, North Carolina, and Missouri, all three virtually tied and thus remain too close to call. And the two candidates have drawn the mother of all battleground states, Florida and Ohio, to a tie. Indeed, of the 12 true swing states in 2004, Obama now leads in all but these two states. If Obama simply maintains most of the states he now takes on PollTrack's map, he wins. McCain, on the other hand, would have to run the Bush-red deck now on the map, including all red-safe and red-leaning states, the five that are now too close to call, AND pick off a Kerry-blue state or two from Obama. In the end, turnout means everything in this--and all--elections. And the "wave" matters, too. If momentum remains sharply with Obama--e.g., voters are comfortable with him and angry about what they see as Republican mismanagement of the economy--the Democrat will win an electoral landslide. If McCain's newfound "momentum" turns out to be real and more than moderate--indeed, in most statewide surveys, voters who have already cast their ballots favor Obama by a significant margin, those who plan to vote today, lean to McCain, to varying degrees--the race could end closer. In this regard, Obama has another structural advantage in many states: with voting going on since early October in some places--a time when the Democrat was riding high in the polls--he comes into today's contest with a real edge. Yet, if turnout is unprecedented then the make-up of the electorate could determine the outcome of close states. This explains the near impossibility of predicting the outcome of states are now virtually or literally tied--MO, IN, FL, OH, and NC--simply from present-day polling, historical voting models, and demographics. Will this show of voter enthusiasm merely underscore Obama's longstanding popularity and the intensity of his supporters, or might Republicans, Evangelicals, and center-right white working class voters come home to McCain in larger than expected numbers?

Tomorrow's Map: Ohio Moves From "Leaning Democrat" To "Too Close To Call"

Posted Nov 03, 2008 at 11:20 AM by Maurice Berger

With two of the most recent polls in Ohio showing McCain ahead in the state by +2%, several indicating Obama with a small lead, and one showing it a virtual tie, PollTrack moves the state from "Leaning Democrat" to "Too Close To Call on Tomorrow's Map.

Today's Map: Changes To MT, ND, GA, and VA

Posted Nov 03, 2008 at 11:11 AM by Maurice Berger

PollTrack redesignates the following states, all "Too Close To Call," on Today's Map: Virginia: "Leaning Democrat"; Montana, North Dakota, and Georgia: "Leaning Republican"

Daily Tracking Average: Obama Bumps Up An Additional +1.6%

Posted Nov 03, 2008 at 8:48 AM by Maurice Berger

Today's daily tracking poll average indicates a comfortable national aggregate lead of +6.6% for the Democrat, 50.6% to 44%. Still, with Obama up as much as +25% in states with some of the largest populations--such as CA, NY, MA, IL, MI--this national number may not reflect the relativeness closeness of the race in several key battleground states, including OH, NC, and FL. Much of today's polling continues to indicate an unusually large bloc of undecided or still persuadable voters. IBD/TIPP puts the figure at an amazing 9.5% undecided. A just issued CBS News periodic poll indicates a 6% undecided block. And Rasmussen still indicates that 10% of voters remain uncertain, lean to one candidate, or intend to vote for a third party candidate. The large undecided bloc that continues to register in some polls is unusually high the day before a national cycle, particularly one with as much voter enthusiasm as this one. Where will these voters wind up, if and when they vote?


Variable #3: The Bradley Factor

Posted Nov 03, 2008 at 6:55 AM by Maurice Berger

The so-called "Bradley Factor" in contests with black candidates--in which white voters tell pollsters they are undecided or voting for the African-American candidate out of embarrassment or fear of being judged as racist, only to vote for the white challenger in the privacy of the voting booth--is the greatest variable in this presidential cycle. Since no African-American has ever served as the presidential nominee of a major party, there are no national models on which to gauge and understand the Bradley factor. As of this morning, there are enough very close battleground states--at this stage containing large, even unprecedented blocs of undecided and persuadable voters--to make this effect meaningful (if it were to occur). In Ohio, where a number of polls out this morning report only a +2% lead for Obama, any sharp movement of remaining wavering or undecided voters could throw the state to McCain. Ditto other races that are exceedingly close as of this afternoon: Florida, Missouri, North Carolina, and Indiana (though Obama could lose all five states and still win). The good news for Obama is that his lead in nearly all Kerry-blue and some swing states is by sufficient margins (and over the 50% mark) to offset any potential McCain advantage vis-a-vis the Bradley effect. BUT, there are signs out there that the ghost of Bradley is lurking, exemplified by Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell's publicly stated fear that PA is not a done deal for Obama (or Democratic Congressman Murtha's impolitic musings on the "racism" of western Pennsylvanians). Even though Obama holds a healthy aggregate lead in PA of +7.6% (a lead that is increasing as of this morning)--requiring at least an 8% swing to reverse the Democrat's numbers--a swing of a far greater magnitude, and with a within a much more liberal voting base, took place in the New Hampshire Democratic primary this January, when Obama entered Election Day with a +8.3% lead, but lost to Hillary Clinton by +2.6%. That a number of battleground states have drawn very close within the past 48 hours may, in fact, suggest that undecided voters (who now are predominantly center-right, older, and demographically disinclined to vote for Obama) may already be breaking for the Republican. If a substantial shift were to occur towards McCain, another question arises: will Obama's enormous advantage in early voting (and new voter registration) offset any of McCain's gains in the now surprisingly large bloc of voters who now call themselves undecided or still persuadable? And has the dramatic tightening in a few key swing states in recent days made the Bradley Effect more of a factor?

Variable #2: The Youth Vote

Posted Nov 03, 2008 at 5:07 AM by Maurice Berger

Factor #2: Will one of the voting blocs most favorable to Obama--young voters, 18-29 years old--stay home or come out in record numbers? In early voting across the country--from North Carolina and Ohio to Florida and Nevada--the turnout for these voters has been disappointing. A spike in young voters could swing close battleground states such as NC and FL to Obama and provide him with landslides in others. Over the past half-century, this bloc has been one of the most unreliable in the general electorate: between school work, exams, and other factors, young folks inevitably stay home. In 1972, as in this cycle, enthusiastic young voters provided Democratic candidate George McGovern with an enormous advantage during primary season. By Election Day, the so-called "youth vote" failed to materialize, contributing to the Democrat's devastating lose against incumbent Republican president Richard M. Nixon. Can Obama break this 50 year streak of under-performance?

Variable #1: Party Weighting

Posted Nov 03, 2008 at 3:22 AM by Maurice Berger

Throughout the day, PollTrack will be providing analysis about the three hidden variables that could effect both turn out in and outcome of tomorrow's election: [1] Party weighting in polls. [2] The youth vote. [3] The so-called "Bradley Effect." Factor #1: One Thing to keep in mind about the today's final numbers--especially is VERY close races--most public opinion surveys in this cycle have tended to weight the party affiliation of likely voters in a way that skews to the Democrats by an historical degree. NBC/WSJ this morning gives the Democrats a +10% advantage in its national numbers this morning. Such figures suggests an historical realignment of the electorate that is virtually unprecedented over the past fifty years. If the Republican turnout should be greater than these polls suggest--and as a few surveys believe--the race could actually draw closer, especially in states that are already very close at this point, including Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, and Ohio. Will Obama benefit from a record turnout of Democratic voters? If so, he could win an electoral landslide, if not, things could get a bit closer.

Final Daily Tracking Average and Final TOMORROW'S MAP Will Be Issued Tomorrow Morning

Posted Nov 03, 2008 at 2:38 AM by Maurice Berger

Since a number of pollsters will be gathering and analyzing samples throughout today (and well into the evening) our final Daily Tracking Poll Average and final Tomorrow's Map will be issued tomorrow morning, on Election Day.

Morning Report: The Fundamentals Remain Strong For Obama

Posted Nov 03, 2008 at 1:43 AM by Maurice Berger

A close examination of polling out this morning suggests that while a few states have drawn very close--Florida, North Carolina, Montana, and Missouri in particular--the race is appearing to stabilize for Obama. Ohio and Virginia, though having drawn much closer over the past three days--and remain "Too Close To Call" on Today's Map--appear to lean to the Democrat as of this morning. Several states now appear to be leaning to McCain--West Virginia and Indiana. The great news for Obama: all nine states were won by George W. Bush in 2004. The Democrat holds a solid, unusually commanding lead in nearly all of the states won by Kerry, except Pennsylvania (and according to the Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby poll this morning, Minnesota, where the race has drawn down to 49% to 46% for Obama). The slight bit of good news for McCain, enough voters remain undecided or are persuadable in enough states to produce a few surprises. (This result would imply that these voters, now mostly white and center-right, would trend towards their demographic--as undecided voters often do--and thus would favor McCain by a considerable margin.) But with Obama at or above the 50% mark in many of these battleground states, McCain would also have to pick off a fairly large bloc of voters who now say they are committed to the Democrat. Obama's overall structural advantage in the Kerry-blue states of 2004 also leaves him in much better shape than McCain: the Democrat's lead in "Safe" electoral votes--in which a candidate has a demographic advantage in a state, leads beyond the margin of error, and has a top-line of 50% or more-- now stands at more than 100, 238 to 127. (Obama's number here could drop to 228 if more polls corroborate a narrowing race in Minnesota.) As of this morning, the map solidly favors Obama. PollTrack expects an enormous amount of fresh polling throughout the day, so stay tuned for updates.

Election Day Map Cleared For Live Blog

Posted Nov 02, 2008 at 3:07 PM by Maurice Berger

Our Election Day Today map will be cleared back to gray over the next 24 hours in anticipation of our Election Night Live Blog. The Election Day Map will be filled in throughout the night as states are won and will serve as a record of the final results of Election 2008. Tomorrow's Map Today (and by Monday, Election Day will, in fact, be tomorrow) will contain PollTrack's final prediction of trends in the presidential race. Today's Map will register the state of the statewide polling as is, warts and all, close and not so close, ambiguous and clear-cut in the twenty-four hour period before voting actually begins. All three maps will be archived on our site and available in perpetuity, a history of this historic and exciting presidential cycle

Today's Map: Georgia Moves From "Leaning Republican" To "Too Close To Call"

Posted Nov 02, 2008 at 2:55 PM by Maurice Berger

With McCain's numbers tightening in Georgia (his PT lead is +3.0%)--and African- American early voting breaking records in the state--PollTrack moves GA from "Leaning Republican" to "Too Close To Call" on Today's Map. Additionally, the state moves from "Safe" to "Leaning Republican" on Tomorrow's Map.

Today's Map: Montana Moves From "Leaning Republican" to "Too Close To Call"

Posted Nov 02, 2008 at 9:10 AM by Maurice Berger

With McCain's PT average falling below 4% in Montana to 3.8%--and Democrats making significant inroads in statewide races in recent years--PollTrack moves the state from "Leaning Republican" to "Too Close To Call" on Today's Map.

Today's Map: Virginia Moves From "Leaning Democrat" to "Too Close To Call"

Posted Nov 02, 2008 at 8:57 AM by Maurice Berger

Obama's aggregate lead in Virginia has dropped this afternoon to under + 4% to 3.8%. Additionally, Survey USA reports signs of momentum for McCain in the state: "Compared to [our] poll 1 week ago, McCain is up 3, Obama is down 2. Among voters age 35 to 49, McCain leads today for the first time in 7 weeks. Immediately after the GOP convention, McCain led by 22 points among white Virginians. That narrowed to a 9-point McCain lead when the stock market fell. Now, at the wire, McCain is back up to a 17 point advantage among whites. In the Shenandoah, McCain moves ahead of Obama. In the DC suburbs, McCain slices into Obama's lead." PollTrack moves the state from "Leaning Democrat" to "Too Close To Call."

PollTrack Policy On EXIT POLLS

Posted Nov 02, 2008 at 8:04 AM by Maurice Berger

In anticipation of our Live Blog on Election night, tune in throughout the morning and afternoon of Election Day for updates on voting and trends. One thing you will not get, however: exit poll vote projections. PollTrack conforms to proper journalistic standards, and these include not releasing or discussing exit poll data, except demographic trends, until all of the polls are closed in a state. Given the inaccuracy of exit polls--they were often wrong during the primary and caucus season--and the need to properly weight and interpret data culled from these surveys, we will also not publish unprocessed raw exit numbers.This policy is consistent with others on our site. We are committed to fair, accurate, non-partisan analysis of elections.

Election Night: Live Blog, Beginning 6:00 EST!

Posted Nov 02, 2008 at 7:20 AM by Maurice Berger

PollTrack invites you to its Live Blog on election night. Starting at 6:00 EST, as results start coming in, PollTrack will explain and analyze the significance of wins and loses. Stay with us for an up to minute examination of electoral trends as well as a prediction of where the election is headed. We will clear the Election Day Map that morning, filling it in on election night, state by state, as results are confirmed.

Daily Tracking Poll Average: National Average Tightens Overnight

Posted Nov 02, 2008 at 5:31 AM by Maurice Berger

This afternoon, four of five tracking polls out today report that the race has tightening over the past 24 hours (except for the erratic Zobgy survey). Today's PollTrack daily tracking poll average indicates that Obama's lead is down -1.3% from yesterday to 49.8% to 44.8%, for an aggregate advantage of +5% DEM. One poll, TIPP, the most accurate in 2004, reports a dramatic tightening of the race (Obama by +2%, 47% to 45%): "The race tightened again Sunday as independents who'd been leaning to Obama shifted to McCain to leave that key group a toss-up. McCain also pulled even in the Midwest, moved back into the lead with men, padded his gains among Protestants and Catholics, and is favored for the first time by high school graduates." One other thing to consider, with Obama's national lead down to 5%--and his lead in high-population Kerry-blue states such as NY, IL, CA, MA, and NJ ballooning to 15-25% in most--the shrinking national total might also suggest that the races in more highly competitive battleground states may be drawing closer. Stay tuned.

As National Lead Narrows Somewhat, Are States Getting Closer, Too?

Posted Nov 02, 2008 at 2:00 AM by Maurice Berger

While national polling indicates a somewhat narrowed race from a month ago--Obama now has an aggregate lead in our daily tracking average of a little over +6%--this effect carries through only in some states. As of this morning, Obama maintains a commanding, "Safe" lead in almost all of the states won by John  Kerry in 2004 plus Iowa, for a total of 239 "Safe" electoral votes. McCain now safely holds on to 127 electoral votes. These numbers, of course, suggest a strong structural advantage for Obama in the electoral college, especially considering that his average leads in these "Safe" states rise to or well above the 50% mark. But something interesting is going on: in a some of the swing and red-leaning states that went for Bush in 2004, but in which Obama has been leading in recent weeks--Colorado, Nevada, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, and Missouri--the momentum seems to be with McCain over the past two-three days. The most recent polls indicate that the race may be moving into the two-close-to-call range in all of these states. Additionally, Pennsylvania has narrowed considerably in the last three days of polling--three polls show the race at +4% DEM, another, Morning Call Tracking, which had Obama up by as much as the mid-teens, now reports the race is down to +7% DEM--and thus PollTrack moves the state on Today's and Tomorrow's Map from "Safe Democrat" to "Leaning Democrat." Ohio may be narrowing as well: Obama's PT average has dropped to +4.2%, while one poll out this morning, Mason-Dixon (one of the most accurate pollsters over the past two cycles), reports that McCain has pulled into a very modest +2% lead, 47% to 45%. Additionally, Obama's aggregate top-line in the state has dropped below the 50% mark to 48.8%. While early voting in Ohio should favor Obama in the end, PollTrack moves the state on Today's Map from "Leaning Democrat" to "Too Close To Call." An in Indiana, where Obama has drawn the race to a virtual tie, PollTrack moves the state on Tomorrow's Map from "Leaning Republican" to "Too Close To Call."

23% Of Texans Believe Barack Obama Is A Muslim

Posted Nov 02, 2008 at 12:38 AM by Maurice Berger

A University of Texas poll released earlier this week reports that 23% of Texans are convinced that Barack Obama is a Muslim. These numbers are unusual because most national polls show that just 5% to 10% of American voters still believe Obama is a Muslim-- less than half the number of Texans who buy into the debunked theory. The poll also shows McCain with a comfortable +10% lead in the state.

Daily Tracking Poll: Obama Up Again

Posted Nov 01, 2008 at 9:29 AM by Maurice Berger

Today's PollTrack daily tracking poll average shows Obama up +6.3%, 50.2% to 43.9%. This is a slight uptick from yesterday, though one poll--GWU/Battleground which has shown the race at around +4% DEM all week--does not issue trackers over the weekend. Several things to note: IBD/TIPP today reports the undecided block at +8.7%. Zogby, one of this cycle's more erratic pollsters, writes this morning that the McCain "made solid gains in Friday's single day of polling," pulling into a lead on that single day, 48% to 47%. And AP/Yahoo yesterday reported a staggering 14% of voters who say they are undecided or still persuadable and thus could change their mind by Election Day. Is this volatility real? Hard to say. The good news for Obama: he leads in all national surveys, has a near lock on almost every state won by John Kerry in 2004, has McCain struggling in a number of true-red states (NC, VA, IN, ND, MT), and has a considerable structural advantage in many battleground states --from early voting that favors him to a top-line above the 50% mark on average in many of these contests. The possible good news for McCain: most of the undecided and much of persuadable bloc is made up of voters who demographically trend Republican. Most undecided voters, if they actually vote, usually break towards their demographic. (Many polls actually indicate a very high degree of enthusiasm among uncertain voters, a sign that they may show up in the end.) A large bloc of undecided voters--if it is true that this bloc hovers around the 8-10% mark nationally--moving lockstep in one direction or another could still significantly impact the race. 

What's Going On With Pennsylvania?

Posted Nov 01, 2008 at 3:36 AM by Maurice Berger

With several new polls showing the race in Pennsylvania drawing closer, the question of the day is why. Rasmussen this morning reports on the narrowing trajectory over the past month: the latest "survey of voters in the state shows Obama with 51% of the vote while McCain picks up 47%. That four-point advantage for Obama is down from a seven-point margin earlier in the week and a 13-point advantage for Obama earlier in the month." First it is important to note that the Democrat does lead, has held this advantage for more than a month, and passes the 50% threshold. The competitiveness of the race, however, may relate to the state's demographics, which tend to be evenly divided among Democrat- and Republican-leaning voters (the old joke about PA: it's New York in the big cities at either end of the state; Alabama in the middle). Kerry won the state very narrowly four years ago. The state has one of the oldest populations in the nation (+65 voters tend to favor McCain), a large and politically active bloc of gun owners, and a large contingent of conservative, working class white voters. Even among Democratic primary voters in April--who trended considerably more progressive than the statewide electorate at large--Hillary Clinton defeated Obama by nearly a +10% margin. Indeed, during the fall campaign, PA has been the one Kerry/Gore blue State that has given Obama the most trouble. PollTrack was the first polling website to note Obama's problem in the state, writing on 11 September: "With three new polls all showing the race in Pennsylvania drawing down to a statistical tie --Obama now leads by an average of just over 2%--PollTrack moves the state on Today's Map from 'Leaning Democrat' to 'Too Close to Call.' It is quite possible that the RNC and Palin are helping McCain in the more conservative middle section of the state--an area rich in small towns, Evangelical and Christian conservative voters, and gun owners." (NOTE: the previous passage is a quotation from PollTrack's post in early September: PA remains "Safe Democrat" as of 1 November and until further evaluation on Today's and Tomorrow's Map) If Pennsylvania, and its unique demographics, represents an isolated example of a narrowing race, Obama may hold enough of a structural advantage in the electoral college to win handily on Tuesday. But if PA is a harbinger of a broader national pattern--say, for example, indicating a tendency of white working class and Reagan Democrats to vote for McCain, whether they are admitting this to pollsters or not--certain statewide contests could draw closer as well, particularly Ohio and Missouri.

Obama Voter Outreach Reaching More Voters

Posted Nov 01, 2008 at 1:40 AM by Maurice Berger

According to one study, the Obama campaign may be doing a better job of reaching voters. More U.S. voters say the Democrat's campaign has contacted them at some point in the last few weeks than say the McCain campaign has done so, 38% vs. 30%.