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September 2008
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Electoral College: Colorado Swings Again, Montana Stops Swinging

Three changes today, two of which are highlighted in the title, both of which are bad news for Obama. The third is good news for Obama, but less likely to matter.

Colorado (9 ev): Just a few days ago Obama’s lead in Colorado topped 5%, moving the state out of swing state status. Well, his lead sags back below 5% in the five poll average today, so Colorado once again moves from “Weak Obama” to “Lean Obama”. This may be a state like New Mexico though, where the reality is that we are right on the edge between these two categories, so new polls will cause the state to bounce back and forth.

Oregon (7 ev): This is the one piece of good news for Obama today. His lead in Oregon hits 10%, moving the state from “Weak Obama” to “Strong Obama”. He looked pretty secure in Oregon anyway though, so this probably won’t make much difference to anything.

Montana (3 ev): Another state in this part of the country that Obama had hoped to be able to flip to blue, or at least make competitive which now looks like it is not to be. McCain’s lead in the five poll average grows to over 5%, making Montana no longer a swing state as it moves from “Lean McCain” to “Weak McCain”.

New Summary:

McCain Best Case – McCain 319, Obama 219
Obama Best Case – Obama 375, McCain 163

If everybody gets their leans – 286 Obama, 252 McCain

The movement over the last couple of weeks is still in Obama’s direction, but this is a reminder that things are still quite unsettled. And we still have 12 states and 156 electoral votes essentially up for grabs. Obama has an edge right now. But things can change drastically in just days.

By the way, of those 12 states, three have their candidate ahead by 4% or more in my five poll average… meaning that one new poll in the right direction could very easily push those states out of swing status. Those three states are Pennsylvania (21 ev) with a 4.6% Obama lead, Wisconsin (10 ev) with a 4.6% Obama lead and Colorado (9 ev) with a 4.0% Obama lead. If all three of those went over 5%, it would leave Obama 10 ev away from being able to win with only states he was ahead by more than 5% in.

Along the same lines, there is currently only one state where the lead the last five poll average is 1.0% or less. That would be New Hampshire, where Obama has exactly a 1.0% lead at the moment. One good poll for McCain could very easily move this back to McCain’s side of the fence.

Edit 22:08 UTC – A few minutes after posting the above, I decided to also check on weak states that were most likely to move into swing category. In the process I started to look at the margins for all of the weak states. Almost immediately I looked at Tennessee… and discovered to my horror that although McCain’s margin in Tennessee has *always* been over 10%, I have *always* had it listed as one of the “Weak” states… from the very beginning! I had never caught it before because the state is sparsely polled and had never changed categories. My apologies for the error. All current charts (including the one in this post) have been corrected, not just from now going forward, but retroactively. Charts in previous update posts remain how they appeared previously, with the “Strong McCain” red line 11 electoral votes lower than it should have been. All other lines were not affected. Because this was a weak/strong change, none of the best case scenarios were affected at all, so this in no way would have effected any of the analysis. (But the look at states likely to move from weak to lean will wait for another day.)

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