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September 2008

Electoral College: MN weakens for Obama and Swings

Those hoping for an end to the McCain bounce… not so fast!

In today’s set of polls, there is only one category change. In Minnesota, it seems Obama peaked in July with a 13.2% lead. His lead there has been declining ever since. Today that lead slipped below 5%. That moves the state from “Weak Obama” to “Lean Obama”. Minnesota is now therefore a swing state. This brings us to FIFTEEN swing states representing 181 electoral votes. I can’t emphasize enough how huge that number is, and how much it means that this race is in a completely unpredictable position at the moment.

New Summary:

McCain Best Case – McCain 341, Obama 197
Obama Best Case – Obama 378, McCain 160

If everybody gets their leans – 269/269 ELECTORAL COLLEGE TIE

While it is true that McCain “peaked” in national polls and things have been moving more in Obama’s direction… and it is true that a number of “Weak McCain” states that he moved out of Lean status in the post convention period have moved back to “Lean McCain status” and are back int eh pool of swing states. But Obama has NOT stopped leaking “Weak Obama” states into “Lean Obama”. What has been happening in the last week or so can best be described not as an end to McCain’s bounce, but rather as more states from BOTH sides moving toward the uncertain middle.

Also, it is useful to compare to how things were immediately before both conventions. Using August 24th (the Sunday before the Democratic convention started) as a baseline to compare to today here is what we have:

McCain Strong States: Gained 60 electoral votes
McCain Strong+Weak States: Gained 6 electoral votes
McCain Strong+Weak+Lean States: Gained 22 electoral votes

Obama Strong States: Lost 5 electoral votes
Obama Strong+Weak States: Lost 60 electoral votes
Obama Strong+Weak+Lean States: Lost 19 electoral votes

(The Strong+Weak+Lean numbers don’t represent a zero sum and differ by three because we got the first poll for DC in that time period.)

I note that Obama’s position improved in the few days after the baseline I selected, although those polls reflected pre-convention changes. If I’d picked a baseline a few days later all of the above would look even worse for Obama and it might more accurately represent where he really was right before the conventions. But even as is the picture above is clear. In the wake of both VP picks and both Conventions, McCain is still the big winner.

So yes, you see some Obama momentum in regaining some swing states that McCain had pulled to his side right after the Republican convention. But the rest of the “lines” I track have continued to be neutral or in McCain’s direction. People keep saying the bounce has peaked, but so far, really, we just have a race being blown wide open. We have gone from a pre-convention situation that was very favorable to Obama, to a very very even race.

We have a few more days (perhaps a week) more of polls representing the post-convention pre-debate period. We have the first debate at the end of this week. Then starting next week we’ll start to see what kind of effect the debates have on this race.