Saturday, September 13, 2008

McCain Turns The Table

There is no mistaking the magnitude of the shift in this year's presidential race away from Sen. Barack Obama and towards Sen. John McCain. Until recently, Obama has had a distinct advantage in the electoral vote projections, in additional to a clear lead in the popular vote based upon national and state-by-state polling data. By some counts, Obama had enough electoral votes to win the race with those states leaning in his direction. Today, Real Clear Politics puts McCain ahead 227-217 with just 8 states with a total of 94 electoral votes categorized as toss-up states. Those states include Colorado, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Obama started this race with a 50-state strategy. Polls taken in recent months and weeks showed Obama running competitive in red states like Georgia, Montana, North Dakota, Missouri, North Carolina and Indiana. Most of those states now appear to be out of reach for Obama, and the race is looking more and more like the traditional blue state versus red state match ups in the 2000 Bush v. Gore race and the 2004 Bush v. Kerry race. Recent polls show McCain up 18 in Georgia, 11 in Montana, 17 in North Carolina, 14 in North Dakota, 5 in Missouri and 2 in Indiana. The lead McCain is building in traditional red states in the South and the West is quite impressive. He's up 31 in Oklahoma, 19 in Wyoming, 31 in Alaska, 39 in Idaho and 18 in Mississippi. McCain has maintained a consistent, single-digit lead in battleground states like Florida and Ohio. At the same time, Obama is struggling with small leads in big blue states. He's only up 3 points in New Jersey, 1 point in Michigan, 3 points in Pennsylvania and 2 points in Washington. Obama, however, is running neck and neck with McCain in Colorado, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Virginia.

It was hard to imagine just weeks ago that McCain stood a chance of making this year's presidential election as competitive as the 2000 and 2004 elections. Recent polls consistently are showing him more popular than new-comer Obama. While Bush's popularity continues to hover around a mere one-third of the electorate, Congress' approval rating is even worse. Only one-fifth of the American public approves of the job Congress is currently doing. More shocking is the loss of the generic ballot advantage Democratic candidates for Congress have held througout this election year. The latest polls suggest the Democrats have about a 4-5 point advantage compared to the big double-digit advantage they've held throughout most of the year. That suggests to me that you're going to see a lot of Democratic congressional candidates start to put distance between themselves and Obama. The turnaround for McCain can be clearly traced to the advantage McCain now has over Obama with independent and white voters and, in particular, white female voters.

I have to believe that circumstances still favor Obama simply because of the great angst most people have over the U.S. economy right now and the tendency of the electorate to blame the cause of their dissatisfaction on the party in control of the White House as opposed to the party in control of Congress. The financial markets seem to be on the brink on almost any given day with the Federal Reserve working 24 x 7 to avert one crisis after another. What happens if there is a complete financial meltdown before the election? Would that make Obama a shoo-in? Or would people turn to the older, more seasoned McCain in a time of economic crisis? Could things turn so bad that a national emergency has to declared and the election is suspended? I think almost anything is possible between now and election day. There are days I wonder whether either McCain or Obama are really sure they want the job. Whoever is elected will face the greatest challenges of any president since the Civil War.

1 comment:

M Theory said...

Good analysis Gary. And it should also be pointed out that neither candidate is addressing the economy, what is causing the slow motion free fall, and what sacrifices Americans need to make to put America back on track.

Why aren't they meeting with the former comptroller David Walker who is travelling the country to warn Americans of what is coming? Walker knows the real numbers of America and we're a sinking ship if we don't get our priorities in order.