Are Obama and McCain ‘Virtually Tied'? | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Are Obama and McCain ‘Virtually Tied'?

I saw this notion pop up in another thread here on the JFP site and I thought it was worth a little more examination. (With apologies to Donna, this is pretty much all "horserace.")

Here's the quote: Have you not seen the recent polls? They are virually tied, in a year they shouldn't be.

This is a persistent meme, but it's one that's tainted by on over-reliance on nearly meaningless "national polls" that, at best, are a "guestimate" of the popular vote for the coming election.

Firstly, it's arguably not true even on the national level -- Gallup, which is a three-day tracker, has Obama 49; McCain 42 as of yesterday...that'll probably tighten.

But after Kerry's DNC in 2004, Bush lead him 50-46 in Gallup polling. And, for reference, the final "national vote" for Bush v. Kerry was 50.7 for Bush and 48.3 for Kerry. That's "virtually tied" in terms of polling margin-of-error.

In 2000, Gore got 48.4 and Bush got 47.9. (And we know what happened there.) In recent elections, the "national vote" or popular vote has tended to be within the margin in error of "tied" for these polls.

But, secondly, this "they're virtually tied" thing actually doesn't play out in any meaningful way, anyway. If you're serious about it, you can get a much better sense of what's actually going on with this election by visiting sites that are tracking the Electoral Vote count such as Pollster.com.

What you'll find is that, in Pollster's estimation, Obama has a "lock" on 231 electoral votes and another 29 that are leaners. That's 260. One more "toss up" state (of 10 EVs or more) and that's the presidency.

McCain has 115 electoral votes locked and 64 leaning. Not only must he avoid losing all of his leaners (Missouri, Indiana, Minnesota and, believe it or not, Arizona) but he's got to win 91 of those 99 electoral votes in toss ups like Florida, Colorado, Nevada.

In other words, if the "polls" are to be believe as of today, Obama needs to win only one more sizeable state, or 10 of the 99 remaining electoral votes, and he's only risking 29 leaners (Michigan, New Mexico and Oregon).

What would that take? If Obama won Viriginia, Ohio or Florida, that would seal it. Or, he could win Colorado (which is on a huge Dem trend) and *any* other state -- North Dakota, Montana, New Hampshire -- and win *without* Florida, Ohio, Virginia and North Carolina.

Or, Obama could just win Indiana, hold his leaners and he's in.

McCain has to hold every single one of his Red states. He must hold *all* of his leaners (64 EVs) and he has to win 91 of the remaining 99 available electoral votes.

Not impossible...but not "tied." (Based on trends prior to the RNC, some analysts had suggested he had about a 15% chance...now, with the surprise Palin pick, *maybe* that goes up -- depending on whether he keeps or loses more than 8 toss-up EVs and/or steals a state that leans Obama.)

And THAT'S why McCain threw a Hail Mary...in the third quarter.

Previous Comments

ID
135334
Comment

Very well said. Simple, clear and honest. Obama has a nearly insurmountable lead. Why can't the rest of the media write and present like this? Oh, that's right, because the media wants to have a close election. And so a close election we will have. McCain's Hail Mary has been caught by all of the networks and they'll keep that ball from touching the ground for two more months.

Author
damuelle
Date
2008-09-05T11:37:56-06:00
ID
135337
Comment

Pollster.com has a great platform for simply illustrating political trends. The site would be more useful if they had current polls today and not ones from the middle to end of august. Post convention polls should be more telling of the closeness of the race.

Author
Concerned in Jacktown
Date
2008-09-05T12:10:14-06:00
ID
135339
Comment

Besides a quick glance at the rasmussen and gallup polls show the race really tight. Looks like 48% obama and 46% mccain for rasmussen and 48% obama and 44% mccain for gallup. I belive these are post convention so should be more telling. I wouldnt be so quick to claim victory and would seriously keep fighting for your candidate.

Author
Concerned in Jacktown
Date
2008-09-05T12:22:11-06:00
ID
135340
Comment

Oooo, the iTodd is so smart. ;-)

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-09-05T12:22:16-06:00
ID
135343
Comment

I wouldnt be so quick to claim victory and would seriously keep fighting for your candidate. posted by Concerned in Jacktown on 09/05/08 at 01:22 PM I wouldn't either. I see another 2000 election on the horizon.

Author
Jeff Lucas
Date
2008-09-05T12:27:03-06:00
ID
135347
Comment

The polls post-McCain speech will not be released until Monday. Yes, they got a slight bounce from Palin and we'll see what sort of bounce they may or may not get from McCain. "Obama has a nearly insurmountable lead" that is the most ridiculous statment I've seen. Here is another poll site with maps, a bit different than yours. Obama is leading. But in some of the big swing states and some of the "toss up" states, McCain is currently leading, such as Ohio(barely), Florida, Indiana, North Carolina and Nevada. Virginia is a tie but went to Bush the last two elections. Colorado is under 1% Obama and went to Bush the last two elections. Remember, these are pre-McCain speech polls, he may get closer in some of the 4% and under states going to Obama. http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/maps/obama_vs_mccain/

Author
eagle1
Date
2008-09-05T12:50:48-06:00
ID
135348
Comment

Great analysis, itodd. As the 2000 election showed, in the end, it's the electoral vote that really matters.

Author
Kacy
Date
2008-09-05T12:57:58-06:00
ID
135349
Comment

Rasmussen's new poll is showing that McCain's supporters, and the base, are doing for Palin, but she's not gaining for him where he needs it. Predictable results so far, before any probable Convention bounce (although it seems unlikely that McCain's lackadaisical speech will bounce them much over where Palin had left it the night before). And they really, really need to stop outright lying. Otherwise, it's going to be downhill as the newness of Palin wears off, and voters start thinking about her and the Dude in the Oval Office.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-09-05T13:00:34-06:00
ID
135350
Comment

"Obama has a nearly insurmountable lead" that is the most ridiculous statment I've seen. If that's the most ridiculous statement you've seen then clearly you didn't watch Mitt Romney's speech. ;-) That said, it is not supported; Obama's lead is not "nearly insurmountable." It's just not as close as the national polls suggest...that's really my point. McCain has a clear uphill battle in the Electoral College; that shows even on Real Clear Politics, where Obama basically needs to hold his leaners and get one "big" state plus change. McCain has to hold leaners, and either run the table on every state but a big one (he could lose Ohio and still win the election, but not Florida) or run all the big ones. That's assuming states are as close as AZ, MI and IN are reported at RCP; I have a feeling this is more of a worse-case scenario for Obama. Is there hope for McCain? Sure. But these maps show clearly why he needed a "game changer."

Author
Todd Stauffer
Date
2008-09-05T13:01:15-06:00
ID
135352
Comment

So far, though, she doesn't seem to be changing the game, just helping make sure his "base" show up at the polls, which is useful, of course, but not very helpful where he needs it the most. Did he *really* think she was going to draw Clinton supporters? I'm still reeling at the suggestion that McCain could be so out of touch with women's concerns to think that. She's drawing a certain type of man, mostly, and frankly those guys weren't going to vote for Obama anyway.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-09-05T13:04:29-06:00
ID
135354
Comment

And this is something from the Rasmussen poll Donna linked above: But just 40% think that she would be able to take over as President, a lot less than the 58% who give her at least a somewhat favorable rating. What does it say when 60% of the country doesn't think your VP could take over as president? And I'd wager that it will only go downhill from here; Palin's record as a "maverick" is under scrutiny (I really don't get how folks can hold up her flip-flop on the Bridge to Nowhere story as a sign of her independence) and the McCain camp's strategy is to keep her out of the limelight and -- reportedly -- use her for fundraising (I assume while they school her for the debate). Hmm.

Author
Todd Stauffer
Date
2008-09-05T13:11:19-06:00
ID
135358
Comment

Oh, and damuelle -- I didn't mean that as a take-down on your position. I think you're right to notice that Obama does have a lead in the EV and it's impressive...and, yes, mainstream media prefers to keep it close. Helps ratings and spending. ;-) But I think the trouble McCain has in the Electoral College is why we're seeing this thing play out the way it is. Obama COULD lose it -- no point in getting cocky on anybody's part. But, Obama is supposed to have a good ground game -- if it stays energized and his ticket doesn’t make too many mistakes, then Obama/Biden is in pretty good shape. McCain/Palin is the big gamble right now.

Author
Todd Stauffer
Date
2008-09-05T13:42:23-06:00
ID
135360
Comment

This from Rasmussen also..... "While Republicans and Democrats predictably favor their party’s candidate by overwhelming margins, the experience gap among voters unaffiliated with either party is even narrower than the national totals. Forty-two percent (42%) say Obama has better experience to be president, but 37% say Palin does. The potential problem for Democrats is that Obama, the junior U.S. senator from Illinois and a former state legislator, is the party’s standard-bearer, while Palin, an ex-mayor and now governor of Alaska, is number two on her party’s ticket. Palin’s highly successful debut on the national stage Wednesday night at the GOP convention is sure to impact these numbers, too. Her speech repeatedly highlighted her experience versus Obama’s, something she is expected to focus on from now until Election Day."

Author
eagle1
Date
2008-09-05T13:47:31-06:00
ID
135361
Comment

We need to also remember that many of the YOUNG people do not have land line phones which are predominantly how polling companies poll - IF the young folks turn out, then it just might not be that close

Author
John Sawyer
Date
2008-09-05T13:56:08-06:00
ID
135362
Comment

Yes, they thought the "young" people would help Kerry win, wrong. "Obama leads 55% to 37% among 18-to-34 year old likely voters, according to the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News Poll." Palin's youth also played a part in her being chosen. She may cut into the "youth" vote also.

Author
eagle1
Date
2008-09-05T14:04:43-06:00
ID
135399
Comment

Yes, they thought the "young" people would help Kerry win, wrong. You're confusing the years, eagle. This is 2008. Things are changin' mighty quickly. ;-) Palin's youth also played a part in her being chosen. She may cut into the "youth" vote also. Hmm. But as the sarcastic, conservative "hockey mom" of a passel of kids, I kinda have to wonder how well she'll relate to the 18-to-29 set. I think she's a "base" choice...and Republican base tends to be older (witness CSPAN the past four days ;-). Not only will the 18-to-29 go in Obama's favor at 60% or better, but the influence that 18-to-29 has in this election will be much greater than 2004 because Millennials (25 and under) are coming of age this cycle: 1. Millennials are engaged and excited. Their parents are Boomers. That's a lot of folks diggin' the "Camelot" vibe from Obama. 2. Obama is much cooler than Kerry. 3. The 18-to-25 demo is growing. Quite a bit. The sleeper development that was widely overlooked in the 2006 election was the 22-percentage-point margin of support given to Democrats by 18-29 year-olds, almost all of them members of the up-and-coming Millennial Generation. This was just the latest piece of evidence about a generation that has been trending progressive and increasingly voting Democratic in large numbers. But a comprehensive review of available data from a range of polls and surveys in recent years shows just how fortuitous this generation is for progressives. Millennials are emerging as an enormous asset for progressives going forward – as enormous as the sheer size of this, the largest American generation ever. (Emphasis mine.).

Author
Todd Stauffer
Date
2008-09-05T17:57:26-06:00
ID
135570
Comment

What young person in his or her right mind is going to vote for the Republican ticket of Elmer Fudd and Miss Piggy? Well, okay, maybe Miss Piggy. The Muppets are a huge draw.

Author
gwilly
Date
2008-09-10T12:28:20-06:00

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