Ahead in CO and IA as he always has been, Obama now only needs… South Dakota?

First, my latest feature: the new Polls page, accessible from the bar at the top of the website. It is a compilation of every presidential, congressional and gubernatorial poll released from June 24th onward and provides a link to the poll and to the post in which I analyzed the survey. It is not meant to replace the excellent websites that aggregate polls (Pollster, RCP) but I thought it was a useful and necessary addition. While these websites’ presidential aggregates tend to be up-to-date, it’s often hard to find all the down-the-ballot polls.

Meanwhile, as the usually-prolific SUSA remains silent and has not released a poll since July 1st, Rasmussen continues to dominate our daily poll roundups and has released five of the day’s six presidential polls. PPP joined the party to bring us a survey from Colorado:

  • In the institute’s first numbers from Colorado, Obama leads 47% to 43%, just outside of the margin of error.
  • In Michigan, Rasmussen brings good news for Obama who increases his lead to a 47% to 39% advantage. A month ago, Obama led by 3% — and he trailed by 1% the month before that.
  • Rasmussen also confirms that Iowa is Obama’s best Bush state, as he has now opened a 10% lead against McCain, 51% to 41%. That’s up from a 7% lead last month.
  • In Minnesota, Obama has opened a huge lead in a state I moved to the “likely Obama” column two weeks ago: He is now up 52% to 34% with a 65% favorability rating! That’s up from a 13% lead last month.
  • In Louisiana, McCain increases his lead in the latest Rasmussen survey, 54% to 34%. He was ahead by 9% in the previous poll. Obama’s favorability rating (43%) is almost equal to the percentage of respondents who have a very unfavorable view of him (39%)!
  • Finally, Rasmussen delivers the shocker of the day from South Dakota: McCain is leading only 44% to 40%. In a Rasmussen poll four months ago, he was ahead by 10%.

While Colorado remains undoubtedly a toss-up, it is hard not to notice that the latest few polls have found Obama slightly ahead. In fact, I believe Iowa and Colorado are (the only) Bush states in which McCain has not led in a single poll (though it’s always been much closer in the latter). As for Iowa, he has a massive organization left over from the primary while McCain, who skipped the caucuses both in 2000 and this year, has nothing to start from. Iowa was long a Democratic state before going red in 2004 and it looks like the shifts in partisan affiliation combined with Obama’s organization in the state could be enough to get the state blue again.

Add those two states to Kerry’s 252 electoral votes and Obama would reach… 268 electoral votes, one short of a tie and two short of a majority. That gives you an idea of how important any other state is for Obama, not matter the size, not matter how few electoral votes it might have: even Omaha’s 1 electoral vote could complement the Iowa and Colorado combination.

This explains why even South Dakota’s 3 electoral votes are essential. George Bush beat John Kerry in 2004 by 22% but the Rasmussen poll confirms one of the most startling developments of this election: the Mountain West is looking up for grabs. Obama is actively contesting Montana and North Dakota: he is visiting and running ads in both states. South Dakota is not part of his list and is not expected to become a battleground state, but it seems that the entire region is less Republican than it used to be, and while truly Republican states like Idaho and Utah should remain out of reach, there are a lot of electoral votes that are slowly migrating towards the toss-up column.

To ND, SD and MT, also add two of Nebraska’s electoral votes. There is now enough to suggest that the Mountain West is more in play than 4 years ago and there will be a few changes to reflect that in my next electoral college ratings (this Wednesday). Note that while we have had multiple institutes/polls find tight races in ND and MT, this South Dakota finding still demands confirmation.

And Obama is on the offensive while defending his turf increasingly well: The Minnesota poll does not come alone, and it confirms that states like Washington and MN that McCain wanted to contest are getting out of reach for the GOP. And Michigan’s numbers are especially interesting: This is the Kerry state that the McCain campaign seems the most intent on picking-up and a wave of polls released from February and April looked like they ought to worry Democrats as McCain was regularly ahead in a state carried by both Gore and Kerry. But Obama’s numbers have been trending upward ever since, and while it is unlikely that Michigan will ever be a state he will have a comfortable lead in, it looks like Democrats are on the right track here.

0 Responses to “Ahead in CO and IA as he always has been, Obama now only needs… South Dakota?”


  1. 1 Tatiana

    Obama winning because of Omaha would be cool but who cares about Nebraska or the Dakotas: if he wins any of these states is there any way he wouldn’t win Ohio or New Mexico or Virginia or Nevada? I think he’s wasting his money spending it in these red states, he needs to make sure he can get to 270 not 470.

  2. 2 Jim W

    Tatiana,

    Excellent point, and a very interesting question. Obama winning these states will plant seeds for future Presidential elections, and his immediate success will provide coattails for other Democratic candidates. If you look at the LBJ landslide of 64 or the Reagan landslide of 80, you will see that both candidates helped their party. Of course, Nixon’s landslide of 72 and Bush’s victory in 88 provided limited success.

    I feel that Obama needs to have the GOP play defensive this election to show the American people that the Dems do care for them, even if they live in the Dakotas or Montana.

  3. 3 Phrank

    If you want to look at a three electorial vote state where McCain may have REAL problems, check out Alaska Take a look at the number of people who will be receiving less money from the Exxon-Valdez settlement because of the Republican’s pro-business Supreme Court. Then look at the total number of voters in the state. You’ll get a recipe for disaster for the Rs.

  4. 4 mpd

    Does it matter? Obama and McSame have both made it quite clear they are ready to sell out the working class to the highest corporate bidder.

  5. 5 Brent

    Phrank, I agree. I mentioned Alaska before as one of the important 3 vote states (notably, added to CO’s 9). I’d bet a visit (especially and overnighter) by Obama early on would really force the issue. I’m 58 years old and still can hear the remnants of some old song “North ! to Alaska,….”

  6. 6 Joe from NC

    The issue of drilling in ANWR could hurt all Democrats in AK. The issue has the state sharply divided, but those in favor have a slight majority due to the increased annual oil fund. This could cancel out any benefit to Obama due to the Supreme Court decision.

    As for Colorado, if it weren’t for the extremely conservative city of Colorado Springs, the state would be firmly in Obama’s column.
    Of course removing one city from most states would drastically change that states politics!

  7. 7 dannity

    The problem for McCain is that despite his flipping on offshore drilling, he’s still against drilling in ANWR. I applaud him for this as drilling is just a naked profit grab by the oil companies which Republicans are trying to turn into a wedge issue, but I have no doubt that he’ll flip on that as well if he feels he needs Alaska’s EV’s.

    The key for Obama is that if he is able to put enough pressure on McCain in Alaska to force him to go back on his position, Obama can make McCain pay a political price for flipping. That is, of course, provided anyone actually cares to cover another McCain policy shift, which so far hasn’t been the case at all.

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