Saturday, October 4, 2008
McNasty Might Finally Be Here, Mccain Goes on Offense Attacking Obama's Lead
LATEST PROJECTION: FLORIDA SWITCHES TO OBAMA, VIRGINIA BACK TO MCCAIN
OBAMA NOW LEADS 325-213 LATEST NATIONAL POLLS: 6% TO 8% LEAD FOR OBAMA
DAYS UNTIL THE ELECTION: 31 (EXACTLY ONE MONTH)
John Mccain now trails Barack Obama by 6% to 8% in the average of national polls. He cannot win without closing the gap. Even if we were to assume a 3% Bradley/Wilder effect (more on that later), it would be almost impossible to draw an electoral map where he loses the popular vote by 3% and wins the election. The map is all Obama -- Mccain would need to take back Nevada, Florida & Ohio AND overtake Obama in another state (most likely Colorado) in order to win.
These totals are mostly not reflective of any impact of the VP debate (more on that later as well.)
Here are the latest battlegrounds and changes:
Florida switches to Obama
Virginia -- no change
North Carolina -- no change
SERIOUS BATTLEGROUNDS Florida -- after switching to Obama, drops down to a serious battleground
SUBSTANTIAL BATTLEGROUNDS Ohio -- reduced from serious to substantial battleground
New Hampshire -- no change
Missouri -- no change
Nevada -- switches solidly to Obama, dropping down from a serious to a somewhat battleground
Colorado -- no change
None this time
Note: Indiana and Pennsylvania were dropped as battlegrounds. I have elected to leave both as potential battlegrounds as they are both still relatively close.
ANY DEBATE IMPACT?
I stated in the immediate aftermath of the Biden/Palin debate that I thought Biden would be the modest winner in the public opinion polls but that Mccain would eventually get a small bump as a result of Palin exceeding expectations. Thus far, public opinion polls appear to bear out the theory that a. Biden won (CNN poll had it 51%-35%) but that Palin exceeded expectations (66% in the same CNN poll.) So will this have any effect on the polls like I thought?
Too soon to say. The 3 tracking polls released that have at least 1 day of post-debate polling (they are all Wed-Fri with all of Friday being post-debate and a small portion of Thursday being post debate):
Gallup -- Obama +8% (up 1% from previous day's tracking poll, up 3% from 2 days ago)
Rasmussen -- Obama +6% (up 1% from previous day, up 1% from 2 days ago)
Hotline/FD -- Obama +7% (up 1% from previous day, up 2% from 2 days ago)
So, the early data favors that Biden helped. But it is early. These very small bumps (a 1% move on a poll that has a 1% standard deviation is not very significant) could just be noise. But it appears at best for Mccain, the debate was a wash and he will need to make up ground.
All of which brings us to....
McNasty to Finally Show Up
In previous blogs, I stated that I was shocked at how mild the negative advertising has been in the campaign so far, given the stakes involved. Almost all of the attacks have been mostly legitimate, issues based. None of the kind of vicious appeal to our worst tendencies that we have seen in the past (Swift Boat Veterans, Willie Horton, etc.)
No more. The Washington Post reports that Mccain is about to up the ante by "questioning Obama's associations" which is a thinly veiled way of saying they are going after Jeremiah Wright and company. The Post reports that the Mccain will start this new strategy soon. It will be interesting to see whether Mccain is going to launch the attacks himself in the second debate Tuesday night (which I think would be unwise) or wait until immediately after the last debate, which I think would probably be the smarter strategy as Mccain would not be personally on the hook to defend dubious ads on a national stage.
Obama, meanwhile, will have to decide whether to respond in kind (break out the Keating Five ads) or attempt to stay above the fray and run out the clock. It's a tough call for him -- if he fires back, he compromises his "different kind of candidate" image, if he does not, he risks being run over. My advice for the time-being would be for him to aggressively attack Mccain on the issues and leave the personal assualts to the 527's.
Speaking of the 527's, they are out with ads with more force, but so far, nothing I would consider impactful. A conservative 527 is running ads saying Obama opposed protection of babies who were born after botched abortion attempts, a liberal 527 is running an ad about John Mccain having cancer 4 times and questions why he has not released his medical records. In my opinion, both ads are too narrowly focused to have a significant impact.
The Bradley/Wilder Effect
As the first major party African-American nominee for President is Obama over performing in the polls vs. how he will do on election day? The news agencies report that in the primaries, Obama was averaging polling 3% better in exit polls than he actually performed in the final counts. Does this mean he will under perform current polls by 3%?
Not necessarily. Exit polls are very different from telephone polls. One, you have to respond to the pollster in person, which might intimidate more people into lying about their choice than a phone survey which is more private. Secondly, exit polls tend to draw MORE younger voters (who don't mind talking to people with clipboards) vs. older voters (who just want to vote and get the heck out of there), which explains part of the bias. Phone surveys have the opposite bias as many young voters do not have land lines.
So, let's assume there is a 0-3% bias in the polls, we just don't know which one! Either way, if Mccain is trailing by 6-8% right now, he needs to move the needle to win.
All Not Lost for Mccain
We have four and a half weeks and two debates to go. Think how much the polls have moved in the last four and a half weeks. I guarantee in WILL get closer by election day. Whether Mccain will turn the corner and win remains to be seen.
Mccain has shut down his operation in Michigan, implicitly acknowledging what I reported last week, that Michigan is no longer a true potential battleground. The candidates campaigning schedule reveals a lot about where they think the fight will be.
Obama is in Virginia today and has not published a schedule beyond then. In the past week, he has been in Nevada, Colorado, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
Mccain in the past week has been in Ohio, Missouri, Colorado and Iowa.
Clearly the common thread being Colorado, the candidates are seeing what I am seeing -- that if it is close, Colorado will decide the election.
Obama appears to be shoring up states he should win (Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin) while trying to pick off a few key swing states (Nevada, Virginia and Colorado)
Mccain is shoring up Missouri (which he should win in the end unless it is a rout), contending in the swing states of Ohio and Colorado. Not sure why he is spending time in Iowa -- I seriously doubt he can win there, but maybe he is hoping to make Obama defend there.