Presidential Race at the end of June: Obama looking very strong

Presidential Race at the end of June: Obama looking very strong June 27, 2008

Confused over the national presidential polls? I am. We have a number of updated poll data amounting to some disparate information. Real Clear Politics has some of the major poll resuts up. The June 23-25 Gallup Poll shows Barack Obama and John McCain at a tie. Yet, the Newsweek and L.A. Times/Bloomberg polls show Obama with a 15% and 12% lead, respectively. 0%-15% is a large margin. Real Clear Politics, taking the average of eight national polls, puts Obama ahead by 6.3%. If we exclude the two extreme polls (Gallup and Newsweek), Obama is ahead by 6% nationally.

By most estimates, the General Election is a tight race nationally. But lest we forget, I will remind us all the popular vote of the United States does not elect the president. Just ask Samuel Tilden, Grover Cleveland, and Al Gore. And in rare circumstances, the House of Representatives decides. Just ask Andrew Jackson. So while some McCain devotees will cling to the fact that, nationally, the two major candidates for 2008 are in what appears to be a tight contest, what really count right now are the States’ votes. And it is there that we find that Obama is well ahead of McCain.

Like 2000 and 2004, 2008 is going to be about specific battleground. Unlike 2000 and 2004, 2008 is going to be about multiple states rather than only one (Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004). Just last month, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida were considered “toss-up” states, with McCain leading head-to-head against Obama. When Hilary Clinton conceded the Democratic nomination to Obama, the latter surged to a 12% lead in Pennsylvania. Obama also took the lead from McCain in Ohio (up 6%) and in Florida (up 4%). Those three states make up 68 Electoral votes.

Today, CNN reports that Quinnipiac University polls show that Obama now has a double-digit lead in the “toss-up” states of Minnesota and Wisconsin. Together, these two states comprise 20 electoral votes. So while some ask where Obama’s bump is, 80 Electoral votes answer loud and clear.

According to CNN’s conservative estimate, Obama is looking like he has at least 231 Electoral votes with 270 needed for victory. However, CNN is not counting New Hampshire, were Obama leads by 11%. According to Rasmussen Reports, Obama’s 11% lead is up from 5% last month. Rasmussen also shows Obama ahead 47-39 in New Mexico, a state that CNN still has as “leaning” toward McCain. Survey USA shows Obama leading McCain by 4% in Iowa, which CNN is calling a “toss-up” state. CNN is not ready to say that Michigan is “leaning” toward Obama, but Public Policy Polling has Obama up by 11% in that “toss-up” state.

If we take CNN’s conservative estimate of 231 Electoral votes for Obama and add to them the other states that he is currently leading by 4% or more (i.e., Ohio, Florida, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Michigan), then we tally 73 more Electoral votes in his column. That would give Obama 304 Electoral votes and the presidency.

States to watch:

Obama is also surging in Georgia, which was up to about a month ago considered to be a lock for McCain. Obama has narrowed McCain’s lead to 43-42. In May, McCain led Obama by 14% in Georgia, by 10% on June 10, and now by only 1% when Libertarian candidate Bob Barr is factored into the mix. Georgia is worth 15 Electoral votes. The polls that show McCain up by double-digits in Georgia present a head-to-head match-up without Barr.

Virginia (Obama by 2%), Missouri (Obama by 1%), Colorado (Obama by 2%), Nevada (McCain by 3%), and Alaska (McCain by 4%).

Granted, we have four full months of campaigning to go, so a lot can happen. But at this moment, it appears that Obama has gotten his “bump” not nationally, but in crucial swing states that will ultimately decided this election.

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  • jh

    I twill be tight that is for sure. However as history has shown the Polls in June are very problmeatic

    The pretty good Pollster .com looked at the polls in 2004 in June and today
    http://www.pollster.com/blogs/then_and_now_take_two.php

    As the link he has points outs
    “In 1992, George Bush was ahead by an average of 4.9 points in 14 June polls. In November, Bill Clinton won by 5.6 points.

    I don’t actually have any June polls for 1996 (if anybody’s sitting on a big stash of Clinton-Dole data, you know where to find me). But in Gallup’s July poll, Bill Clinton led by 17 points. In November, Clinton won by 8.5 points.

    In 2000, George W. Bush was ahead by an average of 4.7 points in 14 June polls. In November, Al Gore won the popular vote by 0.5 points.

    In 2004, John Kerry was ahead by an average of 0.9 points in 16 June polls (this was pretty much his high-water mark all year). In November, George W. Bush won by 2.4 points.

    So in four out of the last five elections, an average of June polls would have incorrectly picked the winner of the popular vote. That’s kind of a problem for anybody who is overly confident about how this election is going to turn out.”

  • Policraticus

    I found this New York Times artilce from June 1992 that showed Ross Perot leading both George Bush and Bill Clinton comfortably. When Perot dropped out in July, Clinton surged into the lead. When Perot re-entered, Clinton’s lead diminished.

    But it’s the individual states that really count in this, not the national average. In this case, Obama is looking much stronger than Kerry did.

  • Gerald A. Naus

    I think Obama will win. McCain won’t be able to get out from under the Bush 50 ton millstone. Five years of an unnecessary war is hard to overcome. Saddam would never, ever have attacked the USA. He was a monstrous tyrant, but not suicidal. He loved power. Now, the Iranian whackadoo is another story. That I was stupid enough to buy into the necessity of the war is quite embarrassing.

    Btw, after reading “Theocons”, by a former First Things guy, I am glad that they won’t be anywhere near the White House, no matter who wins.

    Obama’s a creep for sure, I do like McCain a lot better. But I think even his ‘maverick’ status can’t save him. It’s just the perfect storm – endless war, high gas prices, bad economy, screwed housing market. Republicans are going to be ‘killed’ in Congress, more so than McCain. The only problem is that the people who replace them are bastards for different reasons. But one can still take some delight in the departure of some of those drawl-ing morons, much like the departure of Santorum was fun. It’s really scary what kind of whackos get elected into Congress – in both parties. After listening to select Congressional Black Caucus members, followed by some hyper-Evangelical loon with some idiotic name (Saxby ?!?), one really doesn’t have to be hard-hearted to be misanthropic. Same goes for driving btw, you can’t drive AND love humanity.

  • Katerina

    It’s really scary what kind of whackos get elected into Congress

    You know what’s scary? Well, depressing more than scary? The House of Representatives and how empty it is when they’re voting on bills!!! C-SPAN is the most depressing network out there!

  • jh

    Don’t fear too much Katerina they do have it on TV in their offices. Yeah but it is not like people think it is.

    I think this is partly by design you get too many people in there and the Speaker has to keep interrupting and telling people to shut up and take it to the Cloak room lol

  • Gerald A. Naus

    There are lobbyists to attend to, aides to molest, the usual. Sen. Obama is one of the ‘absentest’.

  • Katerina

    Since they serve for only two years, I’m sure they’re out campaigning half of the time they serve, so I”m not going to put my hopes on their office TV!

  • jonathanjones02

    Any polling between now and October is much more irrelevant than polling from mid-Sept. / early Oct. forward.

  • Part of Obama’s strength is due to the strategic smarts of his team; rather than the Clinton/Gore/Kerry strategy of “win 50% plus one vote”, they are not writing off a single state, but rather competing in all 50.

    It also helps him hugely that Republicans have made a complete and utter mess of things in the last 8 years.

    You know, it’s worth mentioning that I started the 1980s as a Reagan Republican, and voted for him twice and Bush Sr. once – but the GOP has, since then, been welcoming to an increasingly extreme bunch of war-mongering, budget-breaking, imperialistic ideologues. I left the GOP around the time that the GOP changed the flavor of GOP campaigns in an ugly, and at times race-baiting, direction.

  • Policraticus

    Any polling between now and October is much more irrelevant than polling from mid-Sept. / early Oct. forward.

    This is true for national polling, which is what typically makes the news. State polling, on account of smaller populations, tends to hold up much better. And, in the end, the States decide.

    Oh, and I hate the Electoral College. It’s been outdated since 1824.

  • Poli,

    Have you ever thought there might be good reasons for the electoral college?

    Check this out, to start:

    http://www.claremont.org/publications/pubid.482/pub_detail.asp

  • Katerina

    Popular vote alone would Destroy the two-party system and encourage the formation of a host of splinter parties;

    I’m all for it! Let’s vote like the rest of the world votes and let the majority of the population decide.

  • Obama will never win Georgia.

    Not gonna happen.

    It’s not even going to be close.

  • Oh, and btw, I love the electoral college.

  • Sometimes I think people worship the abstract ideal of equality more than any other god.

  • Katerina

    Sometimes I think people worship the abstract ideal of equality more than any other god.

    I would also add the abstract ideal of “liberty” to that.

  • There are very few friends of political liberty left in the world.

    Libertarians are an extreme minority. They’re just louder than most people.

  • Mark DeFrancisis

    Many, many things can happen between now and November.

    But, unfortunately for McCain, his campaign staff did not take advantage of the extra time he had, before Obama finally clinched.

    More foreboding, his campaign makes him look like another Dole (primarily a war hero with much Senate experience), but with even less reason to vote for now. There was anti-Clinton sentiment in ’96; now all the anti-sentiment is with respect to Bush.

    He would do well to have a mjor, major campaign staff overhaul

  • There are very few friends of political liberty left in the world.

    I think we’re talking about two different types of “liberties”. The ACLU comes to mind as the kind I’m thinking of.

  • jh

    I am with you Freddie on the Electoral College. I

    was one of the few protection that States that do not have perhaps the Population of the urban center have. Without it I think all us folks that produce much of the food and Energy and in some cases a good bit of the military would be treated like Serfs

  • Ah yeah, the ACLU is awful. I do refer to a different meaning of liberty.

  • Policraticus

    Zach,

    Thanks for the link. I was a little disappointed by the arguments. Looking at the concerns with the abolition of the Electoral College:

    Destroy the two-party system and encourage the formation of a host of splinter parties

    I support “destroying” the two-party system. I would love to see the distillation of the Republican and Democratic platforms. Four, maybe even five, strong parties would be very favorable in my opinion. I believe more people would be motivated to vote knowing that the color of their State would not, in many cases, pre-determine its winner before the election (McCain’s got a lock on my state, Texas…that’s not going to motivate many Dems).

    Undermine the Federal system by removing the States as States from the electoral process

    How would the Federal system be “undermined”? Isn’t this begging the question?

    Remove an indispensable institutional support for the separation of powers

    How is the Electoral College “indispensible” for the support of the separation of powers? The Congress would be unaffected aside from the House no longer having a role in determing who is president in the event that a majorty of Electoral votes is not acquired by a candidate.

    Radicalize public opinion and endanger the rights of all minorities by removing incentives to compromise

    If by “radicalize” public opinion it means “diversify” and “diffuse,” then I fail to see how this would be a bad thing. In a two-party system, the incentive to compromise is quite small. We see this all the time in Congress, and we see it in the White House today.

    Create an irresistible temptation to electoral fraud

    How is this possible? There are over 40 million independent voters in the U.S. With more parties to choose from, would not many of these voters likely register for a party, thereby strengthening the ability to ensure fair elections?

    Lead to interminable electoral recounts and challenges

    Not anymore likely than the current system. The current system allows someone to be elected president without the popular vote. This has caused no small controversy in U.S. history. A top-two candidate run-off election following a general election would no doubt mitigate the potential for recounts and challenges.

    Necessitate national direction and control of every aspect of the electoral process.

    How so?

  • Policraticus

    I am with you Freddie on the Electoral College. I was one of the few protection that States that do not have perhaps the Population of the urban center have. Without it I think all us folks that produce much of the food and Energy and in some cases a good bit of the military would be treated like Serfs

    This assuming that the two-party system would hold without an Electoral College. It likely wouldn’t. In fact, you might find the reverse of your fear to be true: producers of food and energy may have similar interests and band together in a strong voting bloc where densely populated, urban regions would likely experience the greatest diversity of opinion, splintering their populations.

  • The electoral college is an anachronism. FPTP is also flawed– I would prefer a form of PR such as single tranferable vote.

  • Poli,

    I know it’s a long article and it’s Friday afternoon, but the summary bullets are not the arguments. The rest of the piece answers the questions you raised.

    Other persuasive arguments have been made by the eminent legal scholar Michael Uhlmann. An essay of his is here:

    http://www.claremont.org/publications/crb/id.1135/article_detail.asp

    To be honest though, I don’t expect you to find the arguments persuasive, because the arguments assume that Constitutional government is a good thing, a thing to conserve.

  • jh

    As to the two party system I am fan even though that though does not seem in vogue right now.

    As to compromise in the two party system it really happens more than we think. THere are of course hot button issues but the in reality the 95 percent of things are worked out.

    Some thrid parties have noble traditions. Many do not in our countries history and seem to get popular appealing to our worst instincts

  • Policraticus

    I know it’s a long article and it’s Friday afternoon, but the summary bullets are not the arguments. The rest of the piece answers the questions you raised.

    Yes, I read through the article. Seems to be more of a plea than an argument.

  • jh

    From the above linl that was just posted:

    “While it is hard to say for sure, the almost certain result will be much sharper ideological, geographical, racial, and religious divisions. And because direct election will produce a runoff election virtually every time, there will be little incentive for candidates to moderate their stands until after the first vote. Coalitions will be hastily assembled in between the first election and the runoff, but hastily assembled coalitions are also hastily disassembled. A notable and dangerous instability may thus become a permanent feature of American politics under direct election. The Electoral College is not solely responsible for inducing a spirit of moderation and compromise, but it exerts a powerfully moderating influence over candidates’ thought and behavior”

    I agree withthat and I think in a COuntry that is so diverse as the United States that would be a real danger

  • You must read very quickly!

    But it’s no big deal. I think there’s quite a lot of substance to the arguments, but I am also predisposed to think the Founders knew more about government than I do.

  • (not that you think that)

    just re-read my comment and i realized that might have been implied. sorry! did not mean to offend.

  • Policraticus

    You must read very quickly!

    Nah, it was just a slow hour at work.

    I think there’s quite a lot of substance to the arguments, but I am also predisposed to think the Founders knew more about government than I do.

    I think they knew far more than me, as well. However, the framers may not have been thinking about the Louisiana purchase, waves of immigration, and a massive population increase when they conceived of the Electoral College. Or, perhaps, they really did want a body to channel the politicals of the masses.

  • jonathanjones02

    It’s interesting that the U.S., with very weak political parties (especially after the bosses were kicked out of the decision-making process by McGovern between 68 abnd 72), has been unable to develop more than two for legitimate contentions of power.

    I expect we will see something occur on this front, but it’s unpredictable.

  • Gerald A. Naus

    Judging from what parties exist in addition to the 2 big ones in Austria, I’m satisfied with two. They got a small left kooky party and a small right kooky party, although by now the latter split into two I think – I haven’t voted in Austria since 96 or so.

  • I am also predisposed to think the Founders knew more about government than I do.

    Yeah and 18th c. doctors knew more about medicine than we do today.

  • Of course, when doctors were using leeches lawyers were drawing up the Magna Carta.

    Didn’t Mondale have a 15 point lead over Reagan at this point in the 1984 race?

  • Policraticus

    Didn’t Mondale have a 15 point lead over Reagan at this point in the 1984 race?

    It was 18 points right after the DNC. Reagan took care of that, but McCain is no Reagan and Obama is no Mondale.

  • Liturgical_Dancer

    Michael, so true! I also think what this country needs is a good ‘ole heapping helpin’ of SOCIALISM. When Obama is elected President, and mark my words he will be, Fr. Bob, S.J., and I will be organizing a day of celebration through the use of liturgical dance and other alternative forms of worship.

  • Gary N.

    As a gay Catholic and part time liturgist, I’m looking quite forward to Obama being elected president. I for one am quite inspired by the sense of hope he brings to the table, and also seem almost mesmorized by his message of change.

  • A two-party system is not necessarily a bad thing, but here and now it sets up quite the little dualism for the media to play with and keep us thinking that there is some kind of true resistance in politics instead of a cycle of business compromises…

  • Jeff C

    McCain may not actually be a warmonger, but he sure plays the part. The Republicans seem to have missed their 2006 wakeup call when they lost control of Congress because of Iraq. Now 2 years later with the war growing ever more unpopular, McCain is the candidate? The only way he has a shot is if there is another attack on the U.S.

  • Bill H

    I have mixed feelings about the electoral college, but I have to add a few points. Direct popular elections are not “how the rest of the world votes”. I’m not even certain it’s how the majority of democratic countries vote. The Electoral College was a compromise with those at the Constitutional Convention who wanted the U.S. to be parliamentary democracy, with the executive elected by the legislature. Every single country that has a parliamentary system elects their leaders indirectly by voting for a member of parliament who then votes for a prime minister. The thing that makes the U.S. system nearly unique is that it has an indirect election system combined with the possibility of voting for a divided government.

    Also, eliminating the electoral college would do squat in terms of eliminating the two-party system. As long as elections are majoritarian, first-past-the-post systems, there will always be an incentive for factions to coalesce into two parties before the elections.

  • Feddie –

    Obama will never win Georgia.

    Not gonna happen.

    It’s not even going to be close.

    Care to make a friendly wager on that?

  • blackadderiv

    Matt,

    I’ll bet. Fifty bucks says Obama won’t win Georgia.

  • BA – How about, the loser buys the winner a twelve pack of the beer of his choice? Guinness is my brand 🙂

    I’ll even give you a spread – I’ll bet Obama takes GA by 5 percent

  • Mike Petrik

    Hey, Matt. Can I get in on your action?