Saturday, September 27, 2008

No Changes to the Map -- Too Soon to Measure Debate Impact


No changes to states since yesterday. Since it has only been a day, I won't completely redo my battleground section -- there is only 1 Change. Virginia moves from Substantial to Serious Battleground as the polls show an increasingly unclear picture as to whether John Mccain can hold on to that state -- it remains in the Mccain column for now.

As a reminder -- the battlground states (with the party predicted to win at this point) are as follows:
Key Battlegrounds -- None at this point
Serious Battlegrounds -- Virginia (Mccain)
Substantial Battlegrounds -- Ohio (Mccain), Nevada (Mccain)
Somewhat Battlegrounds -- New Hampshire (Obama), Colorado (Obama), Pennsylvania (Obama)
Fringe Battlegrounds -- Florida (Mccain), Indiana (Mccain), Minnesota (Obama), Wisconsin (Obama), North Carolina (Mccain)
Potential Battlegrounds -- Michigan (Obama), Missouri (Mccain), New Mexico (Obama)

John Mccain's problem continues to be although he is only modestly behind, the top 3 battlegrounds (Virginia, Ohio and Nevada) are all already in his column. He would need to take either Colorado (recall that I said this state was the key to the whole election) or Pennsylvania to win at this point. New Hampshire doesn't do it as that gives a 269-269 tie, a likely Obama win in the House of Representatives.

Debate Scorecard
I believe based on watching the debate and initial polling data that this debate ranked somewhere between a draw and a narrow win for Obama. His most important goal was to show he belonged on the stage discussing foreign policy at Mccain's level and he achieved that. Both men showed an impressive command of the facts (probably Mccain slightly more so than Obama) and I have to say it was one of the most substantive debates I have ever seen in a Presidential race. There were really no gaffes but also no great one-liners and I suspect the poll impact of the debate will be minimally -- I think when the polls cycle through, things will not have changed a ton except to maybe very slightly solidify Obama's lead. This is not good for Mccain in that I believe his campaign hoped for a breakthrough performance that would vault him back even, but it is not the end of the world for him either -- he is still certainly in the hunt and there are 3 more debates including the VP debate next Thursday, which I have to say after the Couric/Palin debacle I wrote of yesterday, I am going to watch with extreme interest.

Here is my point by point on what I said yesterday:
For Obama:
(1) Mitigate the experience gap by showing an equal command of the facts as Mccain
Mostly achieved -- he certainly showed he belonged on that stage although Mccain leveraged his experience at several critical junctures effectively.

(2) Come off as more decisive than in the past
Achieved -- very little waffling or deferrment of answers

(3) Hammer Mccain for supporting deregulation of the lending industry
Mostly unachieved -- he made mention of it but never made it a central point as he should have.

(4) Keep saying "Bush 44" 100 times an hour
Mostly achieved -- he talked a lot about "Bush policies that Sen. Mccain supported".

(5) Make people comfortable that you can handle national security
Achieved -- hard to paint Obama as risky and inexperienced based on that snapshot.

(6) Let us know you want it -- get nastier if you need to
Not achieved -- was far too deferential to Mccain.

Unscientific Score Out of 100 for Obama = 87% = Grade of B+

(1) Come off as a populist rather than a member of the old guard
Partially achieved -- spoke about how Main St is hurting, get asked about the economic crisis and your answer is government is spending too much??? Talk about how you are going to help the people, John! Worst section of the debate for Mccain.

(2) Hammer Obama for being indecisive -- on Georgia, on mortgage bailouts, etc.
Mostly achieved -- was all over him about his initial reaction to Georgia, his statements about Iran.

(3) Convince voters that you really do have the kind of economic chops to handle the financial crisis that we are in
Partially achieved -- showed a pretty good command of the facts, but again, failed to talk about what he would do for people who are hurting.

(4) Present yourself as the agent of change that has actually done it
Achieved -- clearly presented the best qualities of his record.

(5) Let us know you are a nice guy too -- be complimentary of Obama while you tear him down
Not achieved -- came off as a little nasty in a few exchanges.

Unscientific Score out of 100 for Mccain: 80%, Grade = B

New Feature! -- The Probability Matrix
To help everyone better understand exactly how decisive each state is, I will be publishing a ranked order of the states from most Pro-Mccain to most Pro-Obama along with a probability that each candidate would win if the election were held today. This is a pretty exhaustive statistical exercise, so I won't update it every post, but I will make sure that it is up to date for election night along with a guide I will be publishing on how to follow the race from East Coast to West Coast to understand who is likely to win it all.

Note that because the probability matrix uses a statisical base, the numbers may not exactly tie to the battleground designations -- the battleground designations survey other projection sites and historical trends to make their calls. The picture here looks slightly better for Obama than the "poll of projections".

Here is the first cut:
Super Safe Mccain States in Rank Order(Mccain > 99%)
Utah, Alabama, Idaho, Wyoming, Kansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Alaska, Texas, Georgia, Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota, Arizona, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Arkansas

Pretty Darn Safe Mccain States
West Virginia -- Mcain = 99%, Obama = 1%
Louisiana -- Mccain = 97%, Obama = 3%

Potential Battleground Mccain States
Missouri -- Mccain = 96%, Obama = 4%

Fringe Battleground Mccain States
Florida -- Mccain = 86%, Obama = 14%
North Carolina -- Mccain = 85%, Obama = 15%
Indiana -- Mccain = 84%, Obama = 16%

Substantial Battleground Mccain States
Ohio -- Mccain = 81%, Obama = 19%
Nevada -- Mccain = 77%, Obama = 23%

Serious Battleground Mccain States
Virginia -- Mccain = 68%, Obama = 32%

Somewhat Battleground Obama States
New Hampshire -- Obama = 73%, Mccain = 27%
Colorado -- Obama = 89%, Mccain = 11%
Pennsylvania -- Obama = 92%, Mccain = 8%

Fringe Battleground Obama States
Minnesota -- Obama 93%, Mccain 7%
Wisconsin -- Obama 95%, Mccain 5%

Potential Battleground Obama States
New Mexico -- Obama 98%, Mccain 2%
Michigan -- Obama 98%, Mccain 2%

Pretty Darn Safe Obama States
Iowa -- Obama 99%, Mccain 1%
Maine -- Obama 99%, Mccain 1%

Super Sate Obama States (Obama > 99%)
Washington, Orgeon, Connecticut, Maryland, Illinois, California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Delaware, Vermont, Rhode Island, Hawaii, District of Columbia

I will publish this in graphical form along with my guide prior to election night.

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