Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Breaking down some polling

I've been looking at this site electoral-vote.com, which compiles recent presidential polls and puts them together into a projected electoral map. The site currently has Obama up 317 electoral votes to John McCain's 221.

One thing you learn when you do campaign work is that if you can keep your opponent below 50%, you have a shot, no matter what else is going on.

According to electoral-vote.com's map, of the states in which John McCain is ahead of Barack Obama, he is at or above 50% in:

Idaho - 4 EV
Wyoming - 3 EV
Utah - 5 EV
South Dakota - 3 EV
Nebraska - 5 EV
Oklahoma - 7 EV
Texas - 34 EV
Tennessee - 11 EV
Kentucky - 8 EV
Alabama - 9 EV
Georgia - 15 EV
Arizona - 10 EV

These states combined represent a total of 114 electoral votes. Those are the states that McCain can definitely count on in November.

Obama is at or above 50% in the following states:

Maine - 4 EV
Vermont - 3 EV
Massachussets - 12 EV
Rhode Island - 4 EV
Maryland - 10 EV
Washington, DC - 3 EV
New York - 31 EV
Illinois - 21 EV
Minnesota - 10 EV
Washington - 11 EV
Hawaii - 4 EV
California - 55 EV

That's a total of 168 electoral votes.

Already, Barack Obama has a significant advantage over McCain and can play a lot more offense.

Here are the states where McCain is beating Obama, but doesn't hit 50%. I'm putting in bold those states where the current margin is tighter than the result of the '04 election:

Kansas - 6 EV
Nevada - 5 EV
Arkansas- 6 EV
Louisiana - 9 EV
Mississippi - 6 EV
Florida - 27 EV
South Carolina - 8 EV
North Carolina - 15 EV
West Virginia - 5 EV
Indiana - 11 EV
Montana - 3 EV
North Dakota - 3 EV
Alaska - 3 EV

That's a total of 107 electoral votes. These are the states where Obama can conceivably spend resources to break down McCain's lead. Interestingly, none of these were Kerry states in '04.

Finally, here are the states where Obama is beating McCain, but doesn't hit 50%. I'm again putting in bold those states where the current margin is tighter than the result of the '04 election. I'm also going to put in italics those states that went to Bush in '04:

New Hampshire - 4 EV
Pennsylvania - 21 EV
New Jersey - 15 EV
Connecticut - 7 EV
Virginia - 13 EV
Ohio - 20 EV
Michigan - 17 EV
Wisconsin - 10 EV
Iowa - 7 EV
Missouri - 11 EV
Colorado- 9 EV
New Mexico - 5 EV
Oregon - 7 EV

That's a total of 146 electoral votes. These are states where McCain can spend resources. Two things to note here: Obama's margin is either similar to or wider than Kerry's in all but one of these states. That's a very different picture than the states McCain is defending. Also, as we can see, 6 of these states were Bush states in '04, so McCain is again on the defense here.

Let's add it up.

Obama has 168 electoral votes nailed down. He has 146 that he'll need to work to defend. And he has 107 electoral votes to wrestle away from McCain.

McCain has 114 electoral votes nailed down. He has 107 to defend from Obama. And he has 146 that he can wrestle away from Obama.

It's pretty clear that the electoral map in November is going to look very different from recent elections. These results seem to show that a lot more Bush states are going to be in play than Kerry states, which gives Obama an automatic advantage. Assuming nothing catastrophically horrible happens, we can almost guarantee Obama most, if not all of Kerry's states. We absolutely cannot say the same for McCain.

Edit: There are a total of 19 Bush '04 states in play, and only 7 Kerry states in play.