Presidential polls: The solidifying Democratic base

Today is a day heavy with polling posts, as I am still catching up after two days of continuous collapses in my hosting and changes to my URL and templates. After having reviewing the day’s uncommonly high Senate polls, on to the numerous presidential surveys. As I have said many times, the key to this election resides in the vote of registered Democrats. The shift of partisan identification almost ensures that Obama will be elected if he achieves high support among Democratic voters and thus make the breakdown of independents and registered Republicans quasi-irrelevant. As you will see in some of today’s polls, the vote of Democrats is key to Obama’s progressing from Kerry’s numbers:

  • Missouri, first, swings back to McCain in SUSA’s latest poll. After a 2% Obama lead in the previous poll, McCain is now ahead 50% to 43%, despite a significant Democratic advantage in voting registration. The reason? Obama only gets 76% of registered Democrats.

I moved Missouri out of the McCain column to the slate of toss-ups in my latest electoral college ratings, though many polls through the spring pointed to a slight Republican advantage here. It is striking that this poll shows no improvement from the numbers of 2004 despite a partisan breakdown that is much more favorable to Obama. TPM is reporting that McCain is blanketing the state with advertising while Obama is not really doing much for now. If is true, this would obviously call into question Obama’s determination to win the state. Will he pull a Kerry and give up on Missouri way before any vote is cast?

In a series of much-discussed polls from Quinnipiac, meanwhile, Obama achieves very high support among registered Democrats and thus runs a clean sweep across four battleground states:

  • In Colorado, Obama leads McCain 49% to 44%. He gets more than 90% among registered Democrats, leads by 12% among independents and has a 62% to 36% lead among Hispanics, a key constituency.
  • In Michigan, Obama is ahead 48% to 42%, with 86% of registered Democrats and a 8% lead among independents.
  • In Minnesota, Obama crushes his opponent 54% to 37%, with 88% of registered Democrats and a 54% to 33% lead among independents!
  • In Wisconsin, Obama is also ahead by double-digits, crushing McCain 52% to 39%, with 88% of registered Democrats and a 13% lead among independents.

While a representative from the institute does warn that Obama’s lead “is not hugely different from where Sen. John Kerry stood four years ago at this point in the campaign,” it is undeniable that Obama has a key advantage: The dominance of Democratic voters and the fact that he needs independents less than Kerry did. McCain will have to get Obama under the 86%+ range he is in the Quinnipiac polls. As to these particular states, it is looking increasingly evident that Obama is looking to secure the “Dukakis 5″ and his lead in MN and WI is much more consistent and substantial than Kerry’s were four years ago.

As for Colorado and Michigan, there are sure to be some of the most disputed states this fall. In fact, Colorado looks to be as favorable a Bush state as any, with Rasmussen and Quinnipiac finding slight leads for the Illinois Senator. Keep in mind that the state brings 9 electoral votes, a significant number that would get Obama an electoral majority if coupled with New Mexico and Iowa. That would entail holding on to all the Kerry states, and Michigan looks to be one of the toughest for Obama. But after a series of disastrous polls this spring, it looks like the increase in Democratic unity is allowing Obama to create some space

Other presidential polls released today:

  • In California, Obama crushes McCain 58% to 30%, the double of the 14% lead he enjoyed last month. There is a stunning difference in favorability rating in a state that Bush had respectable showings in: 63% for Obama and 43% for McCain.
  • A Lyceum poll from Texas finds McCain only ahead 43% to 38%.
  • A Mississippi survey released by Rasmussen finds McCain leading 50% to 44%, which is the same lead as last month. There is however a clear difference in favorability rating, with McCain enjoying 58% and Obama 48%. Furthermore, 37% have a very unfavorable opinion of the Democrat.
  • In Tennessee, McCain’s lead is closer to what we would expect, 51% to 36%. He led 58% to 31% last month.
  • In Nebraska, finally, McCain is ahead 52% to 36%, with a huge advantage in favorability rating (68% to 48%). Keep in mind that NE divides its electoral votes by CD, with the 1st and 2nd being much more favorable to Democrats than the 3rd. Rasmussen did not release district-by-district breakdown.

None of these numbers are particularly surprising, though there are two important observations to be made: (1) This Texas poll is not particularly reliable, as no one really knows much about Lyceum. But this is not the first poll showing a tight race in the Lone Star State. Obama is not running ads here, but he is sending a few staffers and has a huge army of volunteers. Forcing McCain to play defense in a state he cannot afford to even think about would be devastating for the GOP.

(2) Combine the tightening of Texas over the past four years with the huge lead Obama has in California and the result is obvious: If November results are anything close to this, it is impossible to imagine Obama losing the popular vote… though he won’t gain any electoral vote in the process. A 28% lead in California means increasing Kerry’s margin by many millions — and the same is true in Texas.

0 Responses to “Presidential polls: The solidifying Democratic base”


  1. 1 zoot

    Texas Lyceum: http://www.texaslyceum.org/aboutus.aspx.

    Seems to be a long-established bi-partisan civic organization dedicated to identifying and training community leaders across Texas. While the Lyceum has been around since 1980, its relatively new to polling.

    From the website:

    “The Texas Lyceum has committed to annual probability samples of the state of Texas to bolster its understanding of public opinion on crucial policy issues. The professional rationale for the Texas Lyceum Poll is straightforward: a non-partisan, high quality, scientific survey designed to provide (1) specific data points on issues of interest, and (2) a time series of key demographics, attitudes, and opinions. Towards this end, we hope the trademark of the Texas Lyceum Poll will be transparency. Top-line and detailed cross-tabular results of each poll will be made available on the Texas Lyceum website, and the weighted data sets will be made available to the user community around the time of the Lyceum’s annual public conference. ”

    One Dem blog says that both Dems and Hispanics were over-sampled, and that the poll should be taken ‘with a grain of salt’. http://theold18.typepad.com/the_old_eighteen/2008/06/texas-lyceum-po.html

  2. 2 Jim W

    I don’t think the United States has had a candidate with such a broad appeal and leadership since Ronald Reagan. Reagan and his cronies used the same strategy in 1980 and 1984 to appeal to the entire electorate instead of limiting their resources to a select few areas.

    However, comparing now to Reagan’s years are like comparing apples and oranges, but the premise was that the US wanted change, and change is what it got.

    Obama looks like he’ll flip NM, IA and CO. OH should also flip. I think MO will end up flipping too. I do not believe FL or any other state in the South will flip once the Republican machine starts spinning facts and placing blame on the US congress for “perceived failures”. However, the 50 state strategy is the way to go, and Obama will end up expanding the playing field for the Dems in a way we haven’t seen since LBJ. We will see about 25 house seats flip, and I think when it’s all over the Dems will definitely pick up VA, CO, NM, and NH in the senate, and will end up taking 3 more from places such as OR, MN, NC, TX, MS, AL, KY, ME and NC.

    To sum it up, Obama takes the White House, the Dems will have a 58-42 advantage in the Senate, and a 261-174 advantage in the House, which is about where we stood in 1992.

  3. 3 Jaxx Raxor

    Ronald Reagan, despite me disagreeing with him strongly politically, was truly a trasformative figure. I know why the GOP idolizes him at every turn. However Reagan probably had it easier in 1980 and 1984 than Obama has now. For one, in 1980, Reagon was running against a unpopular incumbent, which overturned any fears that the electorate had that he was too much of a cowboy or too dangerous to be commander in chief. If Obama was running against George Bush he would probably win by the same eletoral margin that Reagan won against Jimmy Carter, but Obama is not running against an incumbent but against a “maverick” Republican so his own weakeness are more apparent than what Reagan had. Of course, in 1984, Reagan was an incumbent and he faced an extremely weak Democratic candidate and a booming ecnomny despite record deficits.

    While the electoral vote only leans slightly to Obama, I do think that it is likely that Obama will win the popular vote, as he doing much better than previous Democrats in safe GOP states like Missisipi, Lousisana, and even Wyoming and doing much better in light democratic states like Washington and Minnesota. There is a very good chance that if Obama loses the election that he would have done so despite winning the popular vote.

    On a third note, we probably going to want to see how hard the GOP hits Obama on gun rights now that the Supreme Court has decided that there is an individual right to bear arms. We all know how this issued bedeveled both Al Gore and John Kerry (althrough both men came very close to winning the presidency) and if McCain can paint Obama as extremely hostile to gun rights then Obama will have a hard time winning the election no matter how unpopular Bush and the Republican party is. This is one issue in which Democrats have to cave in to if they want to win in the midwest and moutain states.

  4. 4 Jim W

    jaxx raxor,

    Your points are well taken. The comparison with Reagan/Obama is a bit of a stretch, but I don’t mind the stretching. McCain is being seen by many as Bush III, which is unpopular to about 65% of the nation. I think Carter’s popularity was not as bad, but Reagan was able to maximize it to his best of ability. McCain is definitely a maverick, and I believe he’s an improvement over Bush because he’s willing to listen and compromise. So again, I agree with your position.

    Gun rights vs. Gun Control is not mutually exclusive, although both extremes will say it is. I’m definitely for gun control due to a personal family tragedy, but I also believe that the main culprit is a lack of education on gun safety.

  5. 5 fritz

    As mentioned by someone in an earlier post we should look at current polls from flooded states (IA & MO) with some caution. To me an even more interesting question is the impact of what the Bush administration will do to rebuild after the flooding ends. If they poor a ton of money into these states to avoid the image problem they suffered post Katrina then other states that suffer natural disasters this summer will expect the same treatment and states that have been treated badly in the past, i.e. LA, will be angry and assume (correctly?) the aid is to help McCain.
    As Obama moves to the center, i.e. the FISA vote, the left will feel abused but it’s his best move to compete for those pesky independent voters. I agree Obamas vote is solidifying and McCains is not. I think this is because of McCains truely awful campaign and not Obamas speechmaking or great image.

  6. 6 Big Tex

    Just wanted to chime in regarding the Texas Lyceum poll - Zoot mentioned my concerns about the possibility that Dems and Hispanics were oversampled for that poll. Hispanics are about 35% of the state’s population and growing, but unfortunately don’t turn out in the same proportions on election day. That may be partly because the state has a relatively large illegal immgrant population that isn’t eligible to vote, but also possibly due to voter apathy. That could change in this election cycle with Rick Noriega running for US Senate, and the immigration issue at the forefront. But going by previous election cycles, the Lyceum poll, which had Hispanics at 35%, probably oversampled them by several points at least. And Democrats appeared to have been oversampled by at least 10 points, possibly more, unless there has been some dramatic change in party affiliation since the last election. Things are starting to turn around down here for Democrats, but probably not to that extent yet.

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