The Post-Convention Roadmap to the Real Knock-Out Punch
By Al Giordano
The public has access to twenty-six state polls in 16 states since the GOP convention ended. Here's a summary.
There are multiple polls available in six key states so far, and here are the averages using only post-convention surveys:
Average out of 3 polls in Michigan: Obama 47, McCain 45 (Obama +2)
Average out of 3 in Virginia: Obama 46.7, McCain 49.3 (McCain +2.6)
Average out of 3 in Florida: Obama 45.3, McCain 48.7 (McCain +3.4)
Average out of 3 in Pennsylvania: Obama 47.3, McCain 45 (Obama +2.3)
Average out of 2 in Ohio: Obama 46.5, McCain 47.5 (McCain +1)
Average out of 2 in North Carolina: Obama 41, McCain 53 (McCain +12)
And these are the results of single polls in swing states:
Colorado: Obama +3
Missouri: McCain +5
Montana: McCain +11
New Mexico: McCain +2
New Hampshire: Obama +6
Ohio: McCain +7
Wisconsin: Obama + 3
These are the results of single polls in states considered safe for McCain:
Alaska: McCain +31
Oklahoma: McCain +33
These are the results of single polls in states considered safe for Obama:
New Jersey: Obama +6
Washington: Obama +4
In the middle of the GOP convention, Iowa and Minnesota showed double-digit leads for Obama and a poll in Indiana showed McCain +2.
There is still no public post-conventions data from these swing or potential swing states:
Indiana, Oregon, Nevada, North Dakota, Georgia.
Now, the bad news for Obama: If we go only by post-convention polls (marking other states by their pre-convention numbers), New Mexico flips back into the "red" zone, and this is the map:
Yes, it's that close, so tight that flipping just one the smallest of Electoral Vote states - New Mexico, Nevada, North Dakota, or Montana - changes the national result. It's so close that flipping that Omaha, Nebraska congressional district turns it into a tie. And for either side, flipping a big state probably wins it all.
Now, the bad news for McCain: His lead is surmountable in more places than Obama has to defend. McCain has to defend 114 Electoral Votes in 11 entities: Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Indiana, Missouri, Georgia, New Mexico, Nevada, North Dakota, Montana, and the Greater Omaha Nebraska congressional district.
Obama has to defend just 62 Electoral Votes in six entities: Pennsylvania, Michigan, Colorado, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, and the Northern Maine congressional district.
So here's the post-conventions battleground map - with 15 swing states plus two swing Congressional Districts - as indicated by the color gray:
North Carolina is not included on this current snapshot of battleground states because the post-convention numbers (at least those we have access to) aren't supporting it. However, this is just a present-tense snapshot: nothing here should be taken as an excuse to surrender if you're in either of the Carolinas, or Mississippi, or Kansas, or Oregon, or South Dakota, or Arizona, or West Virginia, or even Texas or Idaho, or that you should drop the ball in Washington state, or Minnesota or Iowa, or anywhere else. I do think this is such a "change" year that one or more of those places is going to shock the pollsters and the pundits this year, (and will run counter to my own calculations, too).
(By the way, you can adjust this map according to your own weights and measures at the Washington Post website.)
On the other hand, I really don't think that Wisconsin is going to be that close. It's 10 EVs should break for Obama, just like Georgia's 15 EVs should break for McCain (it's the Bob Barr wildcard that keeps it in play). The rest are real knock-down drag-out battlegrounds. And we may see data soon putting Oregon into the gray zone, too.
All that said, I share Bob Beckel's analysis of demographic trends that the Obama campaign's field organization is targeting aggressively with a fury that can upset the pollsters:
...if primaries are indicators of fall turnout (historically they are) the youth vote will increase substantially over 2004. Millions of new voters have reached 18 since 2004. Some examples according to the US Census Bureau:
- In Ohio (which John Kerry lost by only 120,000 votes in 2004), 750,000 eligible voters between 18 and 22 who could not vote in 2004 can vote in 2008.
- In Colorado (Kerry lost by 99,000) 293,000 between 18 and 22 have become eligible to vote in 2008.
- In New Mexico (Kerry lost by 6000 votes) 145,000 kids have reached voting age.
- In Michigan 690,000 have become eligible.
- In Virginia 465,000 (Kerry lost by 260,000).
- In Florida alone over 1 million young people have reached voting age since 2004.
Then there are black voters. According to the Census Bureau there are 24 million eligible black voters in America of which 16 million (64%) are registered. In 2004 blacks cast 14 million votes or only 56% of the eligible black population. Blacks are registering to vote at historic rates in 2008 and turnout will soar above 2004 levels. Some examples:
- In Colorado there are 110000 eligible black voters. Only 50,000 voted in 2004.
- In Ohio there are 860,000 eligible black voters. Only 380,000 voted in 2004. (Remember Kerry lost by only 120,000 votes).
- In Virginia, 945,000 eligible black voters, 465,000 voted in 2004.
- Florida; 1,750,000 eligible blacks, 770,000 voted in 2004.
Not to get morbid but there is another statistic that is working against the Republicans. The Center for Disease Control estimates there have been, on average, 2.5 million deaths in America each year since 2005, the overwhelming number of whom were 65 years and older. Since it is generally conceded that John McCain will win the over 65 vote the actuarial tables present a problem. But you say millions have turned 65 since 2004. Correct, but among the people who were 61-64 in 2004 the vote split evenly between Kerry and Bush.
It really is a ground game. The 2008 presidential election is about registering those voters mentioned above, and getting them out to vote. Period. End of story. Little else matters.
So pay no mind to the armchair generals that try to get you riled up over their (mostly terribly errant) obsessions regarding "messaging" matters (the "What Obama Must Do" crowd), few of whom have any real experience managing, much less winning campaigns of any magnitude at all. To them who hold themselves up and out there as "experts" on campaign strategy and tactics, I'll borrow a line that Beckel applied to politics a quarter-century ago: "Where's the beef?"
The beef is in the ground game. And the rank-and-file volunteer making phone calls and going door to door is a hundred times more important this year than any fool shouting "'hit them' is a strategy" from the bleachers. Register someone to vote: that's the square hit to the jaw, and multiplied by millions, it's the knock out punch. This year, the boxing gloves are not in one man's hands. They're in yours.