Posted Oct 09, 2008 at 1:55 AM by Maurice Berger
With Obama's numbers up nationally and leaping in many battleground states, it's worth nothing another barometer of the Democrat's success of late: the rapid and steady rate with which states have moved into the safe Democrat column on Today's Map. Generally, if a candidate is ahead in a state in early-October by a percentage outside the margin of error, he wins the state in November. (The margin of error is the numerical fluctuation that accounts for statistical error in a poll, as much as +5% in either direction). To lead Safe in PollTrack's assessment is to cross a far higher threshold: a PT safe advantage is usually +10%, well outside the margin of error. PollTrack relies on more than just numbers and mathematical formulas (a problem with most other electoral websites--they make determinations based on formulas, not a deeper assessment that includes events on the ground, demographics, and historical precedents.) So a safe designation on PollTrack implies a truly solid lead, based on polling data and history and supported by recent demographic and voting trends in the state.On Today's Map this morning, Obama has 206 safe electoral votes; McCain has 158. More significant: McCain has NO safe votes in battleground or swing states. Obama, on the other hand, maintains safe leads in three: Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and Iowa. Additionally, another six swing states are "Leaning Democrat." Discounting the Obamican/50-state theory--the argument made early on by the Obama campaign that it could dramatically flip Republican and independent voters in traditionally Republican states--historically red states are not battlegrounds. And it is only in these states that McCain leads. Only West Virgina can bee seen as a marginal battleground, though it's gone Republican in the past two cycles. The upshot: McCain has a difficult, uphill battle. Right now he has little traction on traditional Democratic turf (Obama now leads in all the states won by Kerry in 2004 and Gore in 2000, including the three that flipped: New Mexico, New Hampshire, and Iowa). McCain is struggling even on traditional Republican turf (take Indiana and North Carolina, for example). Is a McCain win impossible? No: the national numbers suggest that Obama is not walking away with this election and enough swing states remain competitive to keep the race relatively close. Still, though national polls may be tightening, so is McCain's electoral playing field.