Hmm. I was intrigued because the numbers coming out of New York and New Jersey were trending toward McCain, although he still trailed Obama but with lessening margins as the weeks tick off. Mr. Barone, however, tends to dismiss those numbers as perhaps too optimistic and is waiting to see what future polls suggest.
Mr. Barone wrote:
The big industrial states. Michigan and Pennsylvania are Obama +2, Ohio is McCain +3. In each case, McCain is 1 point better than Bush's final percentage against Kerry in each state. An old rule of American politics is that economic distress moves voters toward Democrats. Michigan, Ohio, and western Pennsylvania are in economic distress. But they haven't moved toward the Democratic nominee, as compared with 2004. The old rule isn't operating.Read the entire article because he includes other states and more statistics but these were the ones that caught my attention.
McCain was running much worse than this in pre-convention polls in Pennsylvania and somewhat worse in Michigan. His convention bounce gives him a good chance to win the electoral votes of Pennsylvania (21) and Michigan (17), while leaving him in pretty good shape in Ohio (20).
The northern tier. The Obama campaign had hoped to be competitive in some northern tier states: the Dakotas, Montana, and Alaska. Pre-convention polls provided some reasonable basis for this hope. Post-convention polls don't. Alaska, unsurprisingly, is McCain-Palin +27. Montana is McCain +11, North Dakota McCain +14, South Dakota +17. More importantly, Minnesota is just Obama +1, Wisconsin Obama +3, Washington Obama +4, Oregon Obama +7. So scratch 12 electoral votes as plausible Obama targets and add 38 electoral votes as plausible McCain targets (or, excluding Oregon, 31 electoral votes). This is a big change, and it remains to be seen if later polls will show these states to be as close as the relatively few polls we've seen so far do.
The South. Florida is McCain +5; it was Bush +5 in 2004. North Carolina is McCain +11; it was Bush +12 in 2004 (despite the presence on the Democratic ticket of the now happily forgotten John Edwards). But two North Carolina polls show McCain way ahead (+17 and +20); two others show him, as did most pre-convention polls, narrowly ahead (+3 and +4). I have more respect for the polling firms showing the big McCain margins, but this state still bears watching. Georgia, where Obama has sent scads of organizers, is McCain +16.
The Northeast. One poll shows New Hampshire Obama +6 (Zogby Interactive has McCain ahead there): inconclusive. Three polls show New Jersey as Obama +6; it was Kerry +7 in 2004. Astonishingly, one poll shows New York as Obama +5, but this is Siena, which seems to have a lot more undecideds than other New York polls, which have shown Obama well above 50 percent. The New Jersey and New York numbers may tempt the McCain campaign to start advertising on New York City media. I suspect this is a temptation that will and should be resisted, for the time being.
My overall conclusion is that the playing field has shifted in favor of McCain. He seems competitive now, where he arguably wasn't before the conventions, in Pennsylvania (21 electoral votes), Wisconsin (10), Minnesota (10), Washington (11), and maybe Oregon (7): a total of 59 electoral votes, all carried by John Kerry and Al Gore. Obama no longer seems competitive in North Dakota (3), Montana (3), and Alaska (3): a total of 9 electoral votes.
The GOP now must keep the momentum going. In Virginia, we must win big in traditionally conservative areas such as the Shenandoah Valley, a very real possibility with Sarah Palin on the ticket, to offset heavily Democratic Northern Virginia and other areas.