Sunday, October 19, 2008

Did the Mccain Recover Fizzle? Obama Extends Electoral Lead, Gets Nod from Powell, Sarah Palin on SNL


Two days after I said the race was undoubtedly getting tighter, Obama adds two states (North Carolina, West Virginia) to his roster (albeit very narrowly) an has his highest electoral lead of the race so far. If you are a Mccain supporter, the one thing that you can take comfort in is that the race does appear to continue to tighten in both Ohio and Florida and Mccain is within reasonable striking distance in both. His problem is that he does not appear to be making the same inroads in Missouri, Nevada, Colorado and Virginia and he likely needs ALL 8 of the states we just talked about to win. He also has been unable to move the needle to create any new swing states (he is getting nowhere fast in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Minnesota.)

Here are the changes:
North Carolina -- flips from Mccain to Obama -- this is the first time that this site has shown Obama in the lead, although other sites have shown him leading off and on for a while. Polls showing Obama narrowly ahead plus incredibly high African-American voting turnout make this a real risk for Mccain.
West Virginia -- flips from Mccain to Obama -- this one is clearly close based on all the recent polls. Do I think this one will stay in the Obama column through Nov 4th? No.

North Carolina & West Virginia -- remain key battlegrounds after narrowly flipping to Obama
Ohio -- promoted from serious to key battleground as Mccain makes inroads.

Nevada, Indiana, Missuori and Florida all remain serious battlegrounds.

Virginia, Georgia and North Dakota all remain fringe battlegrounds.

Was it a dead cat bounce we were seeing last week as Mccain closed within a point? Obama's peak lead in national polling was October 11th, where he lead by 7.5% in our projection model. In the next week, he had a downward pattern, with Mccain closing to 4.9% by October 18th (yesterday) -- a 2.6% closure in a week is very significant (in fact, if Mccain had kept that pace, he wouldbe ahead modestly by election day.) However, there is probably some noise in those numbers and yesterday Obama added back a full point of lead. Obama being +5.9% with 100% of the polling now being post-debate is significant. He is back to right where he was prior to the debate, meaning that the debate did not appear to have any impact.

On balance, what I make of all these numbers is this: Mccain has closed slightly, but his forward progress has stalled. Joe the Plumber is past his 15 minutes of fame and Mccain needs a new message to get people to tune in and change their minds. He doesn't have it right now.

The Powell Endorsement
This morning, Colin Powell strongly and enthusiastically endorsed Barack Obama for President. This is a big development -- Obama gave the legal maximum to the Mccain campaign last year, served as Secretary of State in George W. Bush's first term and was widely thought of as a Republican presidential contender in 2000 before he decided not to seek elected office. Powell is one of the most admired and respected figures in the political world.

So does his endorsement really mean anything? Critics will say quietly (although few are likely say it publicly) that Powell's endorsement is one high-profile African-American endorsing another and that race was a major factor in this decision. Maybe. but Powell's endorsement certainly gives Obama credibility on the national security front and continues to make it difficult for Mccain to make the case that Obama is risky, when the most respected military leader in the world endorses his candidacy.

At a minimum, this will be the lead story on the news for Sunday and probably Monday as well and therefore is two more days that the lead stories will be a positive about Obama and that Mccain is not making inroads.

Palin on SNL
Sarah Palin appeared last night on SNL. She was funny and it was nice to have another laugh to go with the great stand-up comedy performances we recently saw from Mccain and Obama (who were great in a joint charity appearance, although for my money, Mccain was a little better.)

It's good not to take ourselves too seriously all the time in politics, but I don't think this will have much impact on the race.

The Road Ahead
Obama will continue to massively outspend Mccain in all the key battleground states. Some of the country will be mildly distracted over the next two weeks following the world series. After the Powell story cycles through, Mccain has basically 14 news cycles to break through with something that will change the race. Obama will also have a half hour with most of the country the weekend before the election, which could have the effect of a second convention and provide him a small bounce.

Mccain needs to be within 3 to 4 points at this time next week to be within striking distance. He has an uphill, but not yet impossible climb.


Obama is in North Carolina and Florida. None of the other candidates have published events scheduled, although all 4 will undoubtedly be campaigning.

Traveling On Business Again

I will be busy at a conference next week, traveling Monday through Thursday. It is likely that Thursday or Friday will be the next time that I will be able to make another full post. From there, I have no travel planned until after the election, so I should be with you at least every other day from then on.

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