Monday, September 15, 2008

McCain's convention bounce over, time to review Obama's electoral strategy

First topic: New York Senator and Democrat Chuck Schumer appeared on Meet the Press yesterday and announced that the McCain campaign had "peaked."

I agree. There are a lot of signs this week that the nice bounce in the polls that McCain got after the convention is over, and Obama is still winning this race.

The most important development last week was the savage beating McCain-Palin took at the hands of the mainstream media. Palin was excoriated for her many, many scandals and improprieties in Alaska in this New York Times article. McCain meanwhile is trying to deal with a storm of accusations that his campaign is telling bald-face lies in its advertsing and its claims about McCain's and Palin's records. The key to these accusations is that they come from legitimate fact-checking organizations rather than partisan sources with axes to grind.

How do I know that the McCain bounce is over? First of all, I'm no longer seeing McCain gain ground in state-by-state polling. A Virginia poll released this morning shows Obama leading 50-46.

Second, McCain and Palin's approval numbers are sinking fast, no doubt due to the recent firestorm of criticism of McCain's sleazy campaign tactics and the revelations about Palin's scandal-plauged career. The change is particularly significant for Palin, with her approval rating now at only 47%, and her disapproval rating rising to 43%. This is not a good situation for a VP nominee.

Third, the numbers have now stabilized in the most accurate of all polls, the Iowa Electronic Market. The IEM is still predicting that Obama will get about 52% of the vote, McCain 49%. These numbers haven't changed siginficantly in the last four months. As long as this poll continues to show that Obama is going to win, I can sleep nights.

Fourth, McCain can't getting anyone interested in seeing him speak. This morning in Jacksonville, FL, only 3,000 people turned up to see McCain speak. About 1 million people live in the Jacksonville area.

Second topic: Obama's electoral vote strategy. The one significant change in the polls since the conventions has been that McCain has managed to shore up support in a lot of the red states. This has made the playing field look a lot more like it did in 2000 and 2004.

Here's Obama's strategy:

Obama is very likely to win all the states Kerry won in 2004, plus Iowa. That gives him 259 electoral votes, just 11 short of the number needed to win. These states are represented on the map below in blue. The states Obama can target are in white, and the McCain states are in red.

Strategy one: Obama wins by taking one of the six swing states in the East: FL, NC, VA, OH, IN and MO. Obama is pretty much even money in OH and VA, and he's trailed slightly in the other four. The point is, I think he's likely to carry at least one of these six.

Strategy two: Obama wins by taking CO and either NM or NV. Since he's consistenly had the lead in both CO and NM, his chances on this one are very good.

Strategy three: A surprise win in a red state. Obama has made it clear he thinks he can compete in Montana, North Dakota, and Nebraska-2. Nebraska and Maine are not winner take all. If Obama wins in Omaha, he gets one electoral vote. That may not sound like much, but if Gore had done it, he would have won.

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