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Why You Don’t Bluff

There’s been some discussion about whether John McCain’s announcement last week that he was pulling out of Michigan was some kind of stunt. Well, Rasmussen has the first polling out of the state since that announcement, and it gives Barack Obama a 16 point lead. This is a state that, as recently as a month ago, looked like it might be the most important swing state in the nation.

Voters really, really don’t like it when you blow off their state. That’s why Hillary Clinton romped to such huge margins in West Virginia and Kentucky in the Democratic primaries, where Obama essentially refused to campaign. It’s why Obama won by more than expected in Wisconsin and South Carolina, which Clinton pulled out of early. It’s why Rudy Giuliani’s decision to ignore every state that didn’t begin with an ‘F’, end with an ‘a’, and have ‘lorid’ in the middle was a catastrophic failure.

So even if McCain were to want to re-engage Michigan now, he’d be facing a much steeper hill to climb. In Rasmussen’s internals, independents have gone from favoring McCain by 12 points on September 21 to favoring Obama by 11 now. Nor is McCain getting any benefit of the doubt from Democrats, who now prefer Obama 95-3. If you act like you don’t care about somebody’s vote, you aren’t going to get it.

Nate Silver founded and was the editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight.