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Time to switch polling focus
Posted by: McQ on Saturday, September 20, 2008

It is getting down to the part of the election where national polls really don't mean much. By that I mean it is pretty clear how a majority of the states are going to go.

For instance, GA. In GA, McCain is 12 points ahead of Obama. He's not going to make that up. GA is solidly in the McCain camp, and its 15 electoral votes are going to go to him.

On the other hand, Obama has CA locked up. It is a solid 12 point lead and CA's 55 votes are going to go to him.

The weight all of these solid red or blue states have in a national poll misrepresents where the action is. This contest isn't going to be won by a percentage of the popular vote nationally as was proven in 2000. It is going to be settled by a few states that haven't given either candidate a solid lead and have shown a propensity to vary within the margin of error for polls.

When all is said and done, GA and CA and all of their voters aren't really going to be the deciding factor.

It is going to come down to 10 battleground states. Real Clear Politics lists them as NV, CO, MI, WI, MN, IN, OH, PA, NH, and VA.

It is those states that this election will be decided and it is the polls in those states you ought to start paying more attention too. A 2, 3 or even 5% lead for a candidate nationally doesn't mean a thing if that same lead isn't reflected in those 10 states.

As it stands right now, Obama leads in MN (+1.3), WI (+2.3) PA (+2.0), MI (+3.3), CO (+2.5) and NH (+3.3). McCain leads in OH (+1.2), IN (+1.9), VA (+2.3) and NV (+1.0).

Believe it or not, at this time, FL isn't considered one o the battleground states with polling averages showing a fairly consistent +4.5 advantage for McCain. Of course that could easily change throwing FL into this mix as well.

Electoral totals excluding the 10 states considered tossups have Obama at 202 (157 solid/45 leaning) and McCain at 216 (157 solid/57 leaning).

These are the races to begin watching in earnest. Obviously some of the leaners could come back into play, especially with the problems on Wall Street dominating the news. But my guess is most will stay in the column you now find them. The tossup or battleground states are where the action is - not national polls. The fun for now is monitoring them and essentially ignoring national averages.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

I’m looking for some clear breaks during the debates.
Written By: John
URL: http://
You can probably even narrow it down further if you want. You can probably assume which of these states will stay in the column, and which ones are the real tossups, the ones the opponent has to flip to win. I mean lets be real, MI and PA are probably going Obama for example.

States like CO for example, are the real battlegrounds within the battlegrounds
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Yeah, the debates may change things. Obamanation doesn’t think well on his feet. He won’t have his teleprompter.
Written By: Don
URL: http://
If you guys are not factoring in the financial meltdown you are kidding yourself. Polls or no, I think the Democrats will be mostly successful in blaming it all on the "republican policies of the last eight years", and that will mean a fatal 2 to 3 percent shift away from McCain.

Only if McCain gets very aggressive and tags Obama on his ties with Freddie Mac and Fannie mae will he be able to fight this.
Written By: kyleN
Many of the battleground states are in the heartland. My wife and I talked about this, and our hope that residents of those states will vote their conscience. How do people in those states feel, we wondered? (We’re live in rural New York, and are conservative.) A bumper sticker we just bought sums up our feelings:

"I believe in small government, free markets and God"

We found it on, searching for "Small Government."

Let’s hope that idea prevails in the election!

Written By: Ely
URL: http://
KyleN is correct.

The financial crisis has the focus but standing behind that is the non-recession recession. Both are being blamed on the Republicans.

And Obama is making gains because of it. It will also likely mean a slaughter for incumbent Republicans in Congress, again.

McCain and Republicans need to make sure people remember who’s run Congress for the past two years. But, Mr. "Reach Across the Isle" probably won’t do it like he should. Its up to others to do it.

Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
If what WizBang has written about the national polls is applicable to state polls in his post linked to below, then Mr. Obama may not be leading since the polling internals give a larger Democratic lean than has been historically correct based on actual voting. I also know of many elderly Democrats who have always voted Democratic that will not so vote this election for president. WizBang also has a good point about the trolls who are making the Democrats looks bad. The new ACORN revelations will not help either. (
Written By: AMR
URL: http://
I realize it’s just an anecdotal observation in the middle of flyover country - but I’ve driven past several union halls recently (Teamsters, Bricklayers, other AFL-CIO trade unions) and while they have big signage for state and local democrats I’ve only seen one Obama sign and that was very covertly placed between two other local candidates signs. I wonder about the depth of support for Obama amongst non-Progressive Democrats (Bradley effect anyone).
Written By: Bob Feighner
URL: http://
I also know of many elderly Democrats who have always voted Democratic that will not so vote this election for president.
My mother (72) is one of those. She told me last week. That will be the first time she has not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1984, and only the second time ever. (All this with no prodding from me. I’ve learned not to discuss politics with her, because the fact that Democrats are better has been a matter of faith/fact/whatever with her for her whole adult life.)
I mean lets be real, MI and PA are probably going Obama for example.
Shark, I think you’re probably right about MI, though I’m not so sure about PA.
(Bradley effect anyone)
That’s one of the biggest wildcards. Plus the fact that in the current topsy/turvy political and economic world, polling is a real challenge. Plus the polling organizations’ cell-phone-effect problem and the supposed corrections they make to compensate.

The Democrats certainly ought to be dominating, given conditions in general and their in-the-tank media support. But on the negative side, they have gaffe-a-minute Biden, and a presidential candidate that encourages supporters to persuade independents by "getting in their face". What a maroon.

How all these opposing factors will balance out is really impossible to guess. Some will predict one way or the other, but it has about the same skill rating as predicting a coin flip.
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
The financial crisis has the focus but standing behind that is the non-recession recession. Both are being blamed on the Republicans.
Yeah, I noted that:
Obviously some of the leaners could come back into play, especially with the problems on Wall Street dominating the news.
We’ve seen Obama go up in the polls nationally. However my point is that really doesn’t matter unless the same effect is seen in the tossup states.

Picking up another 1,000,000 votes in CA and a percentage point in the natinal polls while losing ground in, say, MI, doesn’t do him a bit of good.
Written By: McQ
Something I have been thinking on - speaking of the "Bradley Effect."

It’s highly unlikely that a Republican - Unless they are of the Jeffords/Snowe/Etc type - would vote Democratic. Period. Ergo, their votes are lost to Obama no matter what.

So ...

If Obama is defeated because of "racism" it will be because of the racism of white DEMOCRATS who can’t bring themselves to vote for a black guy.


Written By: The Gonzman
URL: http://
Sean Oxendine, writing over at The Next Right, has cast doubt on the supposed cell-phone effect. If there’s a problem, it’s not apparently causing the polls to be less favorable to Democrats.

He’s also said that, to the extent that there is a Bradley effect, it’s about voters who self-identify as "undecided" when really they aren’t. But yes, Gonzman, you’re not alone when you say that it would be Democrat voters who would be called into question on this one. Well, them and independents. I can’t wait for Democrats to start calling all of them racists.
Written By: Bryan Pick
The polls have been wrong since 2000. They over represent democrats and under represent republicans, so a dead heat in the polls is actually a republican win.
Written By: arch
URL: http://

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