Battleground watch: Pennsylvania, Arizona, Iowa (and, perhaps, Nebraska)

In the weeks leading up to the April 22nd closed primary in Pennsylvania, both Democratic campaigns undertook a massive registration campaign to get as many independents and registered Republicans to become registered Democrats in order to vote for their candidate. The numbers that came out of that effort confirmed what we had been seeing through 2007 as well as in many other states: Democrats were gaining a significant registration edge over Republicans — making the shift in partisan identification their most obvious advantage in this election year.

But news reported by the Philly Inquirer that Democrats have gained even more ground just since April 22nd is truly remarkable news that should make the Obama campaign even more confident that it will keep the state’s 21 electoral votes in the blue column (I switched the state to lean Obama in my latest ratings). In a state that has plenty of very Republican counties (check CNN’s map of the 2004 results), Democrats have added more voters than Republicans in 62 of the 67 counties. In the 5 districts in which the GOP gained more, the largest difference was 23 voters — versus a gain of more than 3,000 in some counties of Democrats.

Overall, Republicans lost 1,500 registered voters in the past 2 months, allowing Democrats to increase their edge by 40,000 voters! In a state that John Kerry only won by 150,000 votes, this is a very significant addition — especially when you add it to the Democrats’ previous gains — and could be enough to make the state much less competitive than it was four years ago.

Meanwhile, Radio Iowa provides us some interesting data of the two campaign’s spending in the state of Iowa. For now, the two spending reports I had highlighted was TPM’s discovery that Obama was not spending in Missouri while McCain was blanketing the state and Marc Ambinder noticing that McCain was spending in working-class parts of battleground states. Now, Radio Iowa is noticing that both campaigns are spending very heavily in the different markets reaching Iowa but notices two very interesting differences:

  • Obama is spending in the Omaha market whereas McCain is not. This market reaches parts of Iowa in addition to parts of Nebraska and is necessary for a total blanketing of Iowa. But it also allows Obama to be up in air in a region that some Democrats are murmuring could give them an electoral vote! Nebraska distributes its EVs by congressional district and the 1st congressional district, based in Omaha, is kinder to Democrats than the rest of the state. McCain not investing in this market is a sign that Obama has not yet forced the GOP to play defense in the states that they want to make competitive (Alaska, Texas, Montana or the Omaha part of Nebraska).
  • McCain is spending in Cedar Rapids whereas Obama is not. Why is this significant? The region covered by this market has been badly hit by flooding over the past few weeks, and it is very unlikely that many people have television presently — nor will they have it for a while. An example of the McCain campaign not paying attention to details?

Finally, a Rasmussen poll of Arizona confirms that McCain’s home state isn’t as solidly anchored in the red column as it ought to be:

  • McCain leads 49% to 40%, down from a 57% to 37% lead in April!
  • McCain’s favorability rating is much superior to Obama’s, however, 61% versus 47%.

This is not the only poll that has shown McCain only up single-digits in the state he represents in the Senate. Combining these polls to the troubles he has with the state’s conservatives and with early suggestions that Obama will enjoy strong support from Hispanics led me to move this state out of the safe and into the likely McCain column in my latest rankings and this poll confirms that move. Still a long shot for Obama — but it would uncomfortable for McCain to have to play defense here.

0 Responses to “Battleground watch: Pennsylvania, Arizona, Iowa (and, perhaps, Nebraska)”


  1. 1 C.S.Strowbridge

    I doubt McCain will have to spend money in Arizona, nor do I think Obama should spend cash to force him to. Unless Obama can help the Dems win a couple of house seats.

  2. 2 Taniel

    C.S,
    Indeed, Arizona has a number of important House seats: AZ-01 (a GOP-held open seat), AZ-05 and AZ-08 (two seats Democrats won in 2006).

  3. 3 Jaxx Raxor

    I definitly agree with you C.S. If McCain wasn’t from Arizona, then I believe that Obama would have a much bigger shot in that state. McCain is probably performing only slightly worse than a generic Republican but much worse than what a favorite son should be doing. The favorite son status is enough to keep Obama from winning the state, but if Obama can keep his margin of losses down it will be of great help to congressional seats over there that Taniel as mentioned. Unlike in Obama’s Illnois, McCain will likely not have strong cottails in his home state that would help Republicans in the the marginal seats in that state.

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