Swing States Moving To Obama

Outside of the economic troubles on Wall Street, one of the top news stories in the second half of last week was John McCain’s suspension of his presidential campaign.  But it’s important to note that mere hours before the ill-fated maneuver, a single Washington Post poll was released showing Obama with a ten point national lead at 52-42.

The McCain campaign’s immediate response was that the poll was merely an outlier.

It is now one week to the day of that poll, and if anything, that specific data has been confirmed; it wasn’t an outlier, it was an early indicator of a massive trending towards Obama.  As Pollster’s poll aggregation has continued to show over the past seven days, there has been a remarkable shift in public opinion towards the Democratic candidate, giving Obama an aggregated lead of about five and a half points with a strong upwards trend.

But, as anyone with a basic understanding of the electoral college will eagerly point out, the national trends do not necessarily predict the winner (though, it’s hard to comprehend a scenario wherein a candidate wins the popular vote by more than five percent but still loses the electoral college).  When push comes to shove, the state by state polling is far more significant in predicting the winner.

To this degree, swing state polling has yet to show as dramatic a shift in as the national trends.  That is until now.

Keep in mind that this is early data, and therefore carries with it the potential to be statistical noise, but the fact that this only seems to confirm the national trends we have seen over the past week or two is itself significant:

  • Florida: Obama up 49 – 43 percent pre-debate and 51 – 43 percent post-debate;
  • Ohio: Obama up 49 – 42 percent pre-debate and 50 – 42 percent post-debate;
  • Pennsylvania: Obama ahead 49 – 43 percent pre-debate and 54 – 39 percent post-debate. Pre-debate surveys ended at 8 p.m. Friday with post-debate surveys Saturday-Monday.
  • Traditionally state by state polling lags national polling due primarily to a reduced frequency of snapshots, but what we see here is that prior to Friday’s debate, all three of the crucial swing states were already looking in Obama’s direction, and since then there has been a more concerted push in that direction.

    Each state brings with it its own interesting observations.  I find it difficult to believe Pennsylvania really opened up that much in Obama’s favor, but if this poll is even closely accurate, that would suggest that the state is no longer even in play which greatly hampers McCain’s road to the White House.  Likewise, Florida, which tends to be more red than a lot of people give it credit for, was one of those states that some felt Obama shouldn’t even bother to target, bypassing the state by focusing on Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and a few other smaller but vulnerable states such as Colorado and Virginia.  One thing we have seen in recent weeks, though, is that in this state the Vice Presidential selections were indeed significant as Biden tends to play well there, while Sarah Palin does not.

    And Ohio.  I’m not sure what to think about Ohio as of this moment.  It seemed to be the slowest responding of the marquee swing states.

    In any case, I still caution folks that this is early data, and it would be at a minimum of a week before we can rightly say this is confirmed.  But if it is confirmed…

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