Presidential Race Maps Writing on the Wall

Rasmussen: Obama Ahead In Four Key Swing States

Posted Mar 14, 2012 at 3:02 AM by Maurice Berger

According to a new survey by Rasmussen, "President Obama now holds a modest lead over Mitt Romney . . .  in combined polling of key swing states Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia. The numbers mark a shift from late February when Obama was tied in the four states. Obama is now ahead of the former Massachusetts governor 46% to 42%. 6% prefer some other candidate in this matchup, and 6% are undecided."

McCain's Challenge III

Posted Oct 23, 2008 at 3:17 AM by Maurice Berger

Another of McCain's challenges--filtered through the ever watchful eyes of PollTrack--can be summed up in four words: Obama's "Safe Democrat" advantage. As of this morning on Today's Map (and trending similarly on Tomorrow's Map) Obama approaches the magic number of 270 electoral votes even without "Leaning Democrat" states: of his 286 EVs on Today's Map, 255 are "safe," meaning that his average PT lead is large enough (at this point) to probably overcome  a range of possible problems, from the so-called Bradley Effect to lower turn-out among his most ardent supporters. By contract, McCain now holds on to 137 "safe" EVs. On Tomorrow's Map, McCain's "safe" EV count jumps slightly to 160. The good news for Obama: no matter the apparent fluidity and/or variations of his lead in the national numbers, his substantial leads in many states may be impossible for McCain to overcome. Indeed, the 10% or greater advantage Obama now maintains in many states has historically held: candidates this far ahead in statewide polling in mid-October inevitably win those states in November. Could this election defy history? Yes. But with each passing day, Obama is looking increasingly secure in enough states to dramatically limit his opponent's path to victory.

Electoral Math: Another Positive And Important Sign for Obama

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.

Ohio: Improvement For Obama

Posted Oct 01, 2008 at 5:55 AM by Maurice Berger

After weeks of trailing McCain in Ohio in PollTrack's poll average, Barack Obama has taken a small lead in the state. This is another sign of the Democrat's momentum over the past week and an indication that the Republican is having trouble holding on to some of the battleground/swing states won by George W. Bush in 2004.

"Obamicans": The Myth of The Expanding The Electoral Map

Posted Sep 17, 2008 at 5:11 AM by Maurice Berger

Back during the primaries, Obama partisans and surrogates touted the idea that their candidate's popularity was so broad and deep that he would flip Republican voters (into so-called "Obamicans") and get the lion's share of independents in November. During the primaries, his campaign did capture its share of crossover voters, including a modest number of Republicans. What a difference five months makes. Now, the picture is quite different: with Republicans firmly in McCain's grasp and independents leaning his way, the electoral map is much as it was in 2004. During the primaries, pundits talked about Obama redrawing the electoral map by winning in traditional Republican strongholds in November (such as Kansas, the Dakotas, Georgia, and North Carolina). As PollTrack has noted before, this is not panning out. Further proof that both camps are relying on the same limited field of battleground and swing states comes this morning from the Wisconsin Advertising Project: "Despite much talk about an expanded playing field, by and large, states receiving advertising in 2008 look similar to the states targeted in the 2004 presidential campaign. The Obama campaign aired ads in seventeen states from September 6-13, while the McCain campaign aired ads in fifteen of those same states."

2008: Looks Like A Nail Biter . . .

Posted Sep 07, 2008 at 2:04 AM by Maurice Berger

With National periodic and daily tracking polls now reporting the race a tie (Rasumssen this morning: 48% to 48%) and both candidates appearing to inch up over the 45% level, are we in for a nail biter of a campaign?

The answer would appear to be yes. In 2006, the Democrats took back both houses of congress in a political environment that was even worse for the Republicans than it is today. Yet, the national race remained very close. Indeed, the Democrats took back the Senate by winning two highly contested elections-- Montana, and Virginia--by 3,000 and 8,000 votes respectively out of millions cast. In other words, the nation was and remains fairly evenly divided.

Conventional wisdom suggests that Obama should be way ahead right now--given voters generally negative view of the Republican brand. Yet, sharp divisions within the electorate suggest that both parties are evenly divided in support, with each maintaining a base of about 40%. This leaves independents, unaffiliated, and undecided voters to make up the difference. And these voters, too, appear to be wavering and divided. After the DNC, many independents shifted towards Obama. Now they are moving back to McCain. With the Democratic and Republican bases now firmly in place, it is this shift that will account for each candidate's lead (or lack thereof) in the coming weeks.

These conditions are not that different from the last three presidential and national cycles. Indeed, the grand national realignment that the Obama campaign touted several months ago--in which Democrats maintained they would be competitive in tradition Republican strongholds such as the Dakotas, North Carolina, Georgia, Indiana, Nebraska, and Kansas--does not appear to be materializing. McCain is now leading in all of these states (by significant margins in some, and with only North Dakota possibly in play), in good part because he has solidified the Republican base and fired up Evangelicals and Christian conservatives.

Right now we're back to an electoral map that appears similar to 2000 and 2004--with just a few extra swing states thrown in (Colorado, Virginia, and New Hampshire being the most volatile right now).

A nail biter, indeed.

Key "Battleground" States Now Tied

Posted Aug 23, 2008 at 1:32 AM by Maurice Berger

Another indication of the closeness of the race: A new National Public Radio survey of likely voters in 19 key "battleground" states--states that have been competitive in recent cycles or have swung between parties, such as Ohio, New Mexico, Iowa, and New Hampshire--finds Obama with just a one point lead over McCain: 46% to 45%.

Joe Biden: The VP Effect + New Call Delaware: Leaning to Safe

Posted Aug 23, 2008 at 12:51 AM by Maurice Berger

Well, it's Sen. Joe Biden (D-DEL). The immediate question: how will his selection as Obama's running mate impact on their standing in the polls and electorally? For one, PollTrack will now move Delaware from ""likely Democrat" to "safe Democrat."

Beyond this, the implications of Biden's role on the ticket are unclear electorally. There is no one swing state that Biden can help lock in for Obama (as LBJ did for JFK in Texas in 1960, and Kaine or Bayh might have accomplished in this cycle, with Virginia or Indiana respectively). His experience, of course, could help with voters concerned about Obama's inexperience, a serious problem for him at the moment (see below, "Tightening Race: Crisis Management").

The big hurdle that Obama now faces, however--one that accounts to a great extent for the closeness of the race--is that McCain has unified his party and Obama has not. Will selecting Biden help bring disgruntled Clinton supporters into the fold, for example?  This seems unlikely right now.  And, of course, the VP selection rarely significantly alters the dynamics of an election.