POTUS Map Shows Party Lines Hardening
With the VP picks and the conventions coming up, now would be as good a time as any to update my POTUS projections. In summary, both Obama and McCain picked up ground, but the overall movement seems to favor McCain, if he can keep it going.
White House 2008
Obama – 264
McCain – 216
Tossup – 58
Safe Republican (78) – AL, AR, ID, KS, KY, LA, NE, OK, TN, UT, WV, WY
Likely Republican (76) – AZ, GA, MS, SC, SD, TX
Lean Republican (62) – AK, FL, MO, MT, NC, ND
Tossup (58) – CO, IN, NV, OH, VA
Lean Democratic (57) – NH, MI, NM, PA, WI
Likely Democratic (54) – IA, ME, MN, NJ, OR, WA
Safe Democratic (153) – CA, CT, DC, DE, HI, IL, MA, MD, NY, RI, VT
Now, as a reminder, “Safe” for either party means a state that isn’t competitive, and likely to be a landslide for that party. The only state in this category where the margin might be modest is Delaware, but even then we’re still talking about a 10 point win. “Likely” is considered a cousin of “safe”, where one party has a clear advantage, and an upset is highly likely, but the margin might be smaller than those labeled safe. “Lean” is a competitive state where an upset is possible, and where a win by the opposing party will likely be achieved through some breakthrough in one or more states in this category. “Tossup” are the battlegrounds, where the margin is tight and victory is going to be won or lost.
The only state moving in Obama’s direction since my last update is Michigan, from tossup to Lean Democratic. Since winning the nomination, Obama has moved ahead of McCain and now leads as strongly here as in Pennsylvania – if he loses one, he is likely to be losing both, and if he’s losing both, he’s lost the election in a big way. Hence the rating change.
What other states might move his way by the next update? Alaska and Florida have seen recent polls drift toward Obama, but not enough to convince me that the states have seen a shift in their political dynamics. Begich’s expected landslide win in Alaska’s Senate race might help pull Obama across the line, but that remains to be seen. And Florida’s demographics could help, but my experience with the state party (and its inept performance in scheduling the primary) leaves me unconvinced they can deliver the state to Obama.
In contrast, six states moved in a direction favorable to McCain since my last update. Washington’s pro-Obama lead has softened, and thus merits a shift to “likely” status – but that state may drift back to “safe” like Delaware before this is over. Obama has lost his lead in Colorado, however, which has lead a number of pundits to proclaim it (along with Virginia) as this year’s Ohio and Florida.
Meanwhile, despite an incredible ground game being waged in Missouri, the airwaves have helped shift the polls toward McCain. So which method will win the election: door-to-door canvassing, or multi-million-dollar television advertisements? Bush’s comfortable wins in 2000 and 2004 in the Show Me State leads me to believe that Missouri can be competitive, but that an Obama win would be truly an upset at this point.
Recent polls show Kansas, Louisiana, and Nebraska as much safer for McCain than earlier polls would have us believe. At one point, I could be convinced about Kansas and Nebraska, especially considering the polls in the Dakotas and Montana, but they’re starting to look more like Kentucky and Tennessee, and thus out of reach for Obama. Things could turn around, and move one of these back to “likely” status, but I not only don’t believe an upset is possible in any of these states (or any of Nebraska’s congressional districts), I also think McCain’s victory margins will be large in these states.
So there you have it, 264 for Obama, 216 for McCain, and 58 tossups.