Monday, November 3, 2008

The Penultimate Results: Greetings From Pennsylvania!

Florida in 2000.

Ohio in 2004.

Pennsylvania in 2008?

First, a smattering of the final national polling conducted during the three-day period from October 30 to November 1:

CBS News: Obama +13 (apparently conducted from a pool of 546 Trinity United Church of Christ parishioners)

CNN/Opinion Research: Obama +7

Rasmussen: Obama +5

Gallup Traditional: Obama +8 (Matt Drudge relied on this 51-49 poll last week to show John McCain was chipping away at Obama's lead. Obama has since gained about a point each day since Drudge's "red alert." The traditional model assumes an apathetic response from newly registered voters and places more emphasis on likely voters, among other factors.).

Gallup Expanded: Obama +9

Diageo/Hotline: Obama +5

Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby: Obama +6

Pew Research: Obama +6 (Pew's poll was conducted over a four-day period beginning on October 29. I include it here because Obama enjoyed a +16 lead in the Pew poll during the October 23 to October 26 period and shows a definite trending towards John McCain. Pew essentially projects that undecideds will break evenly on election day, thereby resulting in a 52-46 Obama victory. McCain-Palin spokesperson Rick Davis bets the house that these undecideds will break heavily for McCain.).

But national polling is only part (the secondary part) of the election day equation. The true strength of the Obama campaign, as crafted by the two "Davids" - Plouffe and Axelrod, is its understanding of the electoral map.

Current polling indicates that Barack Obama maintains strong or "leaning" leads in every state carried by John Kerry in 2004 totaling 252 electoral votes. It takes 270 electoral votes to win the presidency. Obama augments this number (accounting for population shifts since the last election) using the Rocky Mountain West - Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado - showcasing a total of 19 electoral votes.

Despite the reported "tightening" of polls spouting from the right-wing punditry, these 19 Western votes solidify Obama's bid for the presidency and makes victory for John McCain a Herculean feat or, more appropriately phrased, a Sisyphean task. It is all uphill and a really big electoral boulder.

Give McCain Ohio and Florida, the most coveted toss-up jewels. Give him the traditional Republican safe harbors of North Carolina, Virginia, Montana, South Dakota and Indiana - states put in play by Obama's broad-based ground campaign. Give him Missouri and its 11 electoral votes notwithstanding a 100,000 person Obama rally in St. Louis last week and that 20% of Missouri's population resides in St. Louis county.

Scoreboard? 278-260. McCain still doesn't win if everything breaks right. And I mean everything.

McCain's advisers understand this. Thus, only one strategy remains: Pennsylvania and its 21 electoral votes. A state won by John Kerry in 2004 by 2.5 points and Al Gore in 2000 by 4.2 points. It is vital that McCain flips one of the 2004 "blue" states to "red." Pennsylvania is the only one within shouting distance and with enough electoral votes to essentially "change the math" of this election.

Want to know what's in store for Barack Obama on Tuesday night? Pennsylvania polls close at 8 p.m. EST. If McCain loses the Keystone state outside the margin-of-lawyers (i.e., more than 3%), you can practically pop the Grant Park bubbly. Something apocalyptic must befall the rest of Obama's map for McCain to wrestle the election away.

On the other hand, if McCain eeks out a Pennsylvania win, in the words of Joe Biden, "gird your loins." It may be a long night.

Most recent Pennsylvania polls (trending towards McCain after double-digit Obama leads earlier in the week. McCain and various 527 political action committees dumped millions into Pennsylvania over the past few days):

Rasmussen one-day poll (November 1): Obama +6

Public Policy three-day poll (October 31 to November 2): Obama +8

Mullenberg three-day poll (October 31 to November 2): Obama +6

One more day of the circus, kiddies! I will publish my formal endorsement for President and election day predictions tomorrow evening. Enjoy your work week, socialists!

No comments: