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FiveThirtyEight

Politics

Maybe the GOP can rebook its convention for Cleveland.

Quinnipiac is out with a series of polls in four swing states: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Colorado. Obama holds the lead in each one. In Minnesota, that lead is 17 points; in Wisconsin, 13 points; in Michigan, 6 points, and in Colorado 5.

Obviously, these are not the numbers that John McCain wants to see. But there’s bad news and there’s not-so-bad news for him here. The bad news in Wisconsin and particularly Minnesota, where Obama has shown a double-digit lead in multiple recent polls. Wisconsin has been extremely competitive in the past couple cycles, as has Minnesota to a lesser degree. But Barack Obama might not be the right Democrat against whom to put those states into play. For one thing, he’s from the region, and for another, he tends to do well with white voters of mainline Protestant stock like the Lutherans found commonly in the Upper Midwest. As Sean pointed out last week, the Republicans have somewhat frequently held their convention in non-competitive states — New York City in 2004 being the most obvious example — but Minnesota was clearly intended to be symbolic of an expanded red map, and one now has to wonder whether John McCain will waste resources there to make a good show when his opportunities lie elsewhere.

The not-so-bad news is in Colorado and Michigan. Yes, McCain trails there, but by the same 5-6 point margin that Obama leads in national polls. That means if the national race goes back to being a near-tie, so most likely do Michigan and Colorado. This is how the McCain people have to read the polls nowadays: willingly suspend their disbelief, and ask what the map looks like if Obama gives back three, five, seven points across the board.

Incidentally, it is great news that Quinnipiac, by way of a partnership with the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post, seems to be expanding the scope of its polling, as it had traditionally limited itself to a core of about five or six states. While Quinnipiac is not quite as strong as Rasmussen or SurveyUSA, it nevertheless has a considerably above-average track record, and it has made a determination to use huge sample sizes this year, which helps both with accuracy and in being able to break out the demographics.

Today’s other result is in Tennessee, where Rasmussen has John McCain leading by 15 points. This is actually a pretty big improvement for Obama, who had trailed by 27 in Rasmussen’s April poll of the Volunteer State. While Tennessee will not be competitive this year, the fact that Obama’s numbers are bouncing in the Appalachian region — we saw similar results recently in Kentucky — does have a bearing in some other states, including Ohio and Pennsylvania. West Virginia, which should be something like 5-10 points better for Obama than Tennessee based on its political demographics, also warrants monitoring.

Finally, you might notice that Obama’s overall win percentage has barely changed from yesterday. That is because our trend adjustment had already “priced in” this information; the actual results were quite close to its educated guesses in most of these states.

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