Friday, October 10, 2008

Stable Map, McCain's Conscience & Some National Poll Clarity

Missouri Flips Back to Mccain, Obama Lead @ 338-200

Days Until Election: 25

Almost no movement in the past two days. Missouri flips marginally back to McCain as some new polling shows him with a slim lead there. The only other change is the result of a surprising poll in West Virginia by ARG that shows Obama leading there by 8%. This is almost impossible to believe given it's trend towards the GOP and Obama's awful showing against Hillary Clinton in the primaries. For now, West Virginia gets added as a Fringe Battleground, but we will stay tuned.

Since essentially nothing has changed and I did a very thorough analysis of the battlegrounds in my last post, I won't repeat it all. Suffice it to say, Mccain still has to win every one of the battlegrounds.

John McCain, Sudden Stroke of Conscience?
John McCain increasingly pushed back today on increasingly angry and ugly crowds in town halls that accused Obama of being a lot of things, including Muslim. McCain told the crowds that Obama was a decent man and urged them to cool the rhetoric.

Is this,
1. A politician realizing his crowds are making him look bad?
2. A tactic shift to refocus on the issues since his negative campaign doesn't appear to be working?
3. An honest case of conscience?

I don't know, but I like to believe it is number three. Honestly, today was the first time in the past two weeks that I remembered why I always liked McCain throughout his career. He still has a fundamental problem that this leaves him no path to change the trajectory of the race.

National Poll Clarity

In my last post, I noted the divergence of the Gallup poll from other national track polls, with it showing a significantly larger lead for Obama than other polls. I stated I believed one of the primary reasons was the use of Registered Voters vs. Likely Voters as a methodology.

Today's polls appear to support that position. Today's national polls show:
Likely Voter Polls
Fox News -- Obama +7%
Rasmussen -- Obama +5%
Hotline/FD -- Obama +7%
Reuters/Cspan/Zogby -- Obama +5%
GW/Battleground -- Obama +8%

Registered Voter Polls
Gallup -- Obama +10%
Newsweek -- Obama +11%

Clearly a pattern there. Obama leads by about 6-7% in Likely Voter polls and 10-11% in Registered Voter polls, a 4% spread. Which methodology is right will be determined on election day and will rest on whether pollsters are actually able to accurately model turnout patterns this year.

This is worth noting because the state polls are a mix of both methodologies, although the majority are Likely Voter methodology

A legislative panel in Alaska just released the conclusion that Sarah Palin illegally fired Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan. This is bad for McCain in that it will dominate the news coverage. But then, 24/7 economic crisis wasn't helping him either and there is some chance that Sarah Palin will look like a victim of a political witch hunt. I expect in the end, this will have very little impact on the race.

Is It Over?

More and more experts are starting to say this race is over. I'm not ready to say that yet based on a 6 to 7 point lead, which could be smaller if there is some real Bradley effect in this race. We've seen bigger swings in shorter time periods in this race.

But I will say that McCains looks more and more like a man who wants to believe he ran an honest race and less and less like a man who is going all out for the win. Mccain will need a big win in the last debate, something he hasn't been able to pull off yet, to put himself back in the mix. That or a big October surprise.

Obama was in Ohio today, Joe Biden in Missouri
McCain was in Wisconsin and Minnesota, Sarah Palin on Ohio. Both Mccain & Palin are headed to Pennsylvania Saturday morning. Mccain also has a rally in Iowa.

My advice to Obama: Don't focus on Missouri, Indiana and North Carolina -- you don't need them even though they are close. Focus on the battleground that are your best percentage.

My advice to Mccain: Don't waste your time in the aspirational states on his schedule like Wisconsin, Minneosta, Pennsylvania and Iowa. You are way down there. Spend your time defending the Bush map.

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