New Swing State Numbers (and What We Can See In Them)

By Al Giordano

As usual, Nate offers a must-read on the first round of post-convention surveys from six swing states. Sometimes I just read 538 and say "me, too." Tonight I actually have some things to add to the cogent analysis there.

Here's how Nate breaks it down:

State/Pollster     WAS            NOW               SWING

OH  Rasmussen  McCain +5    McCain +7       McCain +2

MI  PPP            Obama  +3    Obama  +1      McCain +2

PA  Rasmussen  Obama  +3    Obama  +2      McCain +1

VA  Rasmussen  McCain +1    McCain +2      McCain +1

VA  SurveyUSA  McCain +1    McCain +2      McCain +1

FL  Rasmussen   McCain +2    TIE                Obama  +2

CO  Rasmussen  McCain +1    Obama  +3      Obama  +4


AVERAGE       McCain +0.6   McCain +0.7    McCain +0.1


An advantage of 0.1 percent overall at what will likely be the height of the McCain convention "bounce" is about what we've been expecting all along. Let's repeat some of what we said two days ago:

- That the Obama campaign needs to build a firewall around Michigan through greater voter registration.

- That The Field has seen Ohio as "likely McCain" all along, which this poll reinforces somewhat (although hardly definitively).

Let's look at the others, now:

Pennsylvania - Rasmussen has Obama up by two - that's tight, but it's also one of the states that has led in new voter registration this year, particularly in the growing southeastern part of the population which is the Democratic base.

The Field believes that pollsters are having a hard time picking up new voters in their data. Pollsters will argue that their methodology doesn't work off registered voter lists but random dialing, so no problem. But random dialing misses many of the kinds of voters - transients (young professionals, students), minorities, the poor - that don't have or aren't near a landline, and it's especially hard to reach college students that way. At this hour which may turn out to be McCain's high point, those numbers indicate that Pennsylvania is still a swing state but swinging more "blue" than "red." The ground game, plus native son Joe Biden, plus key demographics should keep Pennsylvania in Obama's column if the grassroots organization doesn't ease up. Also, among moderate Republican and Independent women in places like Bucks and Montgomery counties, the bloom will come off the rose of McCain's vice presidential candidate as her extremist right wing views on social issues filter out into public knowledge. Palin's favorability and celebrity factor is at its zenith right now, but what goes up does come down.

Virginia - Thank goddess for Survey USA (SUSA) and its ethical providing of more detailed data than Rasmussen (even as both show similar results).

SUSA has it McCain 49, Obama 47 in the Old Dominion. But African-Americans constitute only 19 percent of its survey sample, and it has them voting 84 percent for Obama to 14 percent for McCain. In the 2004 presidential election, Virginian African-Americans made for 21 percent of the statewide vote, and voted 87 percent Kerry to 12 percent Bush. Does anybody really believe that Obama won't do better than that and won't exceed the 2004 turnout among AAs? Also, whereas Kerry got only 32 percent of the white vote in Virginia, Obama is already at 37 percent.

If you re-weight the poll to reflect the more likely AA turnout of at least 21 percent, the result of that same poll would be Obama 47.7 to 44.6 for McCain (Obama +3.1, and that's conservatively estimating that Obama gets only 60 percent of the Hispanic vote when I think he'll do better than 65 percent there). Presuming about two percent of the vote goes to third-party candidates like Nader, Barr and McKinney, that leaves only 5.7 percent undecided (some of whom will simply stay home). More than half of those are Independent white voters that were unmoved by the conventions. That's the battleground in Virginia and where virtually all "messaging" and advertising ought to be pitched.

Florida - Obama gains two points to tie up the Sunshine State at the peak of McCain's convention bounce? Like I wrote on Sunday, it's the one swing state where "the choice of Palin could come back to bite McCain in the ass." (Still very much an issue there, though, is "voter caging" and other suppression tactics; expect a battery of lawyers from the Obama campaign spending the first days of November in Florida.)

And finally, comes this very interesting data point...

Colorado - Despite the McCain convention bounce Obama's up three points for a 4+ percentage point lead. Colorado is going blue. Why? It's the ground game, stupid! The way that the Obama campaign parlayed the convention in Denver to be a field organizing tool, particularly in using so many of the 84,000 stadium tickets to bring opinion leaders and organizers more deeply into the fold has created a firewall against the McCain convention bounce. It also may indicate that the Palin pick is bombing with Hispanic voters, which would, if true, bode well for Obama in New Mexico and Nevada, too.

Finally, how might these trends impact our previous question over where The Field should report from later this month and in early October?

Michigan's stock is going up. So are Virginia's and Florida's. And some readers here have been very convincing that Indiana may be a place to be.

(In addition, Field Hands that are active, organized and strategically located in Michigan, Indiana and Florida have offered very impressive logistical support, both in the comments and via email.)

So, crunch those numbers and keep your advice coming. Soon we'll come up with a game plan, a budget of how much reporting from each chosen state will cost, and turn to you to make it happen (and I have zero doubt that you will).

In the meantime, these state by state numbers are much more relevant than the national numbers, and we anxiously wait for more data - not merely polling, but even more so new voter registration numbers - from more swing states.

Update: And for ye numbers junkies, DemConWatch has the final Democratic Convention delegate vote tallies!


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About Al Giordano


Publisher, Narco News.

Reporting on the United States at The Field.

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