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Category Archive for ‘electoral map’ at Campaign Diaries
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Archive for the 'electoral map' Category


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13th presidential ratings: One last attempt at finding McCain’s path to victory

We have been talking so much about Missouri, Indiana and North Carolina that it would also seem that Barack Obama’s electoral fortunes depend on these highly competitive states. If that were true, we would be in for quite an unpredictable Election Day indeed.

Unfortunately for McCain, a sweep of those states - even if we add Florida, Ohio, Georgia to his column - would get him no closer to the fundamental challenge he faces if he wants to reach 270 electoral votes: closing the gap in Pennsylvania, Colorado, Nevada and Virginia.

As it is looking increasingly unlikely that McCain can save Colorado given the huge share of the electorate that has already voted, all Obama needs is to hold on to Pennsylvania. The battle of Pennsylvania is sometimes portrayed as a sign McCain is still on the offensive, but this is the ultimate defensive move dictated by the need to survive.

Even if McCain can tap into the discontent of culturally conservative Democratic voters and somehow prove all Pennsylvania polls wrong, he would still face an uphill climb as he would also have to win one of Colorado, Nevada and Virginia - all states that are currently rated likely Obama. This is certainly not an easy proposal, especially in the two Southwestern states in which Obama has already locked in big majorities in early voting. And a McCain comeback in Pennsylvania would not necessarily mean that he has closed the gap in Virginia since the electoral coalitions Obama needs to assemble to win both states are different enough.

All of this suggests that Pennsylvania and Virginia are the states to watch tomorrow night, as it is difficult to imagine - though still technically possible - that Obama loses the election if he wins either of those states.

None of this is to underestimate the importance of Florida and Ohio: Both states lean ever so slightly towards the Democratic nominee, and a win in either state would surely guarantee him an electoral college majority. (The same is true in any of the other competitive red states, and the Obama organization is so dominant in some of them that for him to win there but not in other states would not surprise me.) But saying that the election’s fate is in the hands of Florida, Ohio or in states other than Pennsylvania, Virginia, Colorado and Nevada would be overstating McCain’s chances of survival.

Since the first presidential ratings I posted on June 4th, there has been an unmistakable shift towards Obama. Of the nine states that were then rated toss-ups (CO, MI, NV, NH, NM, OH, PA, VA and WI), eight are now in the likely Obama column and one in the lean Obama column; all states that were rated lean McCain are now toss-ups, and all states that were rated lean Obama are now likely Obama. And the GOP base has significantly eroded: Of the eight states that were listed as likely McCain, four are now toss-ups - as would Alaska have been had McCain not picked Sarah Palin as his running-mate.

Without further delay, here are the thirteenth presidential ratings (states whose ratings have been changed towards Obama are colored blue, those whose ratings have been changed towards McCain are colored red):

  • Safe McCain: Alabama, Alaska, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nebraska (at large + 3rd congressional district), Oklahoma, Utah, Tennessee, Texas, Wyoming (99 EVs)
  • Likely McCain: Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska’s 1st district, South Carolina, South Dakota, West Virginia (29 EVs)
  • Lean McCain: Arizona, Nebraska’s 2nd district (11 EVs)
  • Toss-up: Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota (85 EV)
  • Lean Obama: Ohio (20 EVs)
  • Likely Obama: Colorado, Iowa, Maine (at-large + 1st district + 2nd district), Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin (96 EVs)
  • Safe Obama: California, Connecticut, DC, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington (185 EVs)

This gives us the following map and totals:

  • Safe + Likely Obama: 286 electoral votes
  • Safe + Likely + Lean Obama: 311
  • Toss-up: 85
  • Safe + Likely + Lean McCain: 142
  • Safe + Likely McCain: 128

I will naturally not attempt to provide an explanation for every single one of these ratings and will concentrate instead on those that have shifted over the past week:

Arizona, likely McCain to lean McCain: This seemingly last-minute development was a long time coming: Arizona polls have shown a surprisingly tight race for months, and McCain’s first signs of vulnerability came when he failed to break 50% in the state’s primary on Super Tuesday. But no one really believed that McCain’s home state could possibly be that competitive and, despite some occasional noise about an optimistic state Democratic Party, the Obama campaign did not make a move. Until this week, that is, when a big wave of polls showing McCain’s lead within the margin of error forced Obama into action; his campaign bought air time in Arizona and mobilized state volunteers.

It’s hard to think of a scenario in which Arizona is the decisive state, but at the very least, Arizona’s yearning to be a battleground state is a very good sign for Democrats in future presidential elections, and it will pay dividends at the House level, where Democrats are poised to pick up one to two seats after the two they won over in 2006.

Georgia, lean McCain to toss-up: It’s hard to believe that we are thinking of Georgia as a battleground state - let alone as a toss-up - but until Republicans prove that they are enthusiastic enough to actually vote, they are facing a catastrophe in the state: More than half of the electorate cast an early ballot, and African-Americans make up 35% of those voters - up from the 25% they represented in 2004. If strong Republican and white turnout on Tuesday does not push that number south to 30-31%, Barack Obama will be ideally placed for a (somewhat unexpected) pick-up. His campaign had invested in the state throughout the summer but went dark in mid-September, in the aftermath of the GOP convention; they are now back, airing at least one of ad tying McCain to President Bush.

Louisiana, safe McCain to likely McCain: Merely mentioning this state in the context of presidential politics would have been unthinkable just a month ago, but in the current climate an upset cannot be ruled out in any states that have a history of voting Democratic. Of course, Louisiana’s situation is complicated by the post-Katrina migrations, and no one truly knows whether the African-American population is large enough for a Democrat to pull off victory in a competitive race here. Mary Landrieu’s fate is, of course, far more dependent on this question than Obama’s.

Nevada, toss-up to likely Obama: Different forces have conspired to make Nevada look like a likely Obama pick-up. For one, he dominates among Hispanics by margins that Al Gore and John Kerry would be jealous of, as well as among the West’s independent voters, who have always been one of his strongest constituencies. Polls released over the past 10 days by CNN/Time, Suffolk, Research 2000 show Obama has jumped to a commanding lead that rivals his advantage in Colorado. As if this was not enough, early voting is looking very promising for Obama. In Clark County and Washoe County, which together account for 87% of registered voters, the gap between Democratic and Republican early voters is far larger than that of the electorate at large; if conservatives do not vote at a far higher pace, the GOP could not only lose the state at the presidential level but also one or both of its House seats.

New Hampshire, lean Obama to likely Obama: I am weary of underestimating McCain in this state, but all polls have shown a very clear trend towards the Democrat over the past few weeks, who now leads by double-digits in most polls. The UNH/WMUR, surely the most trusted poll in the state, just released its final survey showing Obama leading by 11% and holding a big lead among independents. Who knew New Hampshire independents would prove McCain’s undoing?

New Jersey, likely Obama to safe Obama: Once upon a time, Republicans believed that the September 11th effect would swing the Garden State their way, and Bush made a lot of progress in this state between 2000 and 2004. How times have changed, as Obama has now seized a dominant lead in nearly all of the state’s polling. New Jersey typically flirts with Republicans for a while before giving itself to a Democrat reluctantly, but even that pattern hasn’t really held true this year, as McCain only came close to making the state competitive in the immediate aftermath of the Republican convention.

South Carolina, safe McCain to likely McCain: Just as in Louisiana, an Obama victory in South Carolina would mean that the Democratic nominee is on his way to an electoral college landslide of well above 400 EVs. But if Obama clinches a 10% win in the popular vote, it’s not inconceivable that states like South Carolina would fall in his column. A recent Mason-Dixon poll showed McCain leading by only 6% in a state Bush carried by 17%. The boost in African-American turnout that we have been seeing in other states’ early voting could help Obama close the gap by a few more points.

Washington, likely Obama to safe Obama: Just as he believed he could put the Northeast in play, John McCain once had ambitions in the Pacific Northwest. But Barack Obama’s uncommon strength among the region’s independents (evidenced by the fact that this was the one region in which Obama ran consistently ahead of Hillary Clinton in general election polls) undercut McCain’s potential; also helping Obama is the fact that blue-collar voters in the West are less resistant, making it easier for him to unify the Democratic base. The result is an impressive lead that would have made Al Gore jealous. The main question in this state is whether Obama’s margin of victory is big enough to guarantee that Gregoire survives.

West Virginia, lean McCain to likely McCain: The site of Hillary Clinton’s greatest triumph was the most unlikely of states for Barack Obama to score an upset; the state is filled with blue-collar white Democrats who have not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate for more than a decade. But a wave of polls in late September and early October showed a highly competitive contest, and Obama (presumably not sure of what to do with the millions he had in the bank) decided to invest in the state’s airwaves. However, Obama has been unable to make more progress over the past few weeks, and most polls that have been released over the past three weeks have McCain solidifying his position and holding a lead that hovers around the 10% mark. Obama was not even able to force McCain to spend time playing defense here. That said, that the state even got on the list of potential battleground states is a testament to how much the economic crisis transformed the presidential race.

History of Campaign Diaries’ electoral ratings:


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12th presidential ratings: Three states to watch in closing week

Forget for a minute the dozen red states that Obama is contesting. There are, at this point, only three states to watch: Pennsylvania, Virginia and Colorado.

Obama is now substantially ahead in all of these states. In fact, all three are now rated “likely Obama,” marking the first time any red state other than Iowa and New Mexico have entered that category. All Obama needs to do to win the presidency is retain his advantage in Pennsylvania and in one of the two other states. So for the next 8 days, instead of getting nervous or excited about the latest development in Ohio, Missouri, North Carolina or Florida, keep an eye on polls from these three states: As long as Obama remains in control in Pennsylvania and either Virginia or Colorado, McCain has no path to the White House.

Things get only worse for the Republican nominee if we are to look at other red states that are being contested. Even if McCain somehow manages to pull out a victory in the Keystone State, Obama could easily replace the missing electoral votes with one of six other highly competitive red states - one of which make its first entrance in the lean Obama column (Ohio).

The conclusion is obvious: McCain will not win a state-by-state battle, nor on the basis of his ground game. To pull this through, he will need to dramatically shift the national numbers in order to solidify his position in the more Republican of the toss-up states (NC, IN, MO) while pulling Pennsylvania, Virginia and Ohio back into play. The trouble, of course, is that it is extremely difficult to alter the fundamentals of a race this late in the game - not to mention that many voters in some key swing states (in particular Colorado and North Carolina) have already cast their ballot.

Without further delay, here are the twelfth presidential ratings (states whose ratings have been changed towards Obama are colored blue, those whose ratings have been changed towards McCain are colored red):

  • Safe McCain: Alabama, Alaska, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska (at large + 3rd congressional district), Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, Tennessee, Texas, Wyoming (116 EVs)
  • Likely McCain: Arizona, Arkansas, Nebraska’s 1st district, South Dakota (20 EVs)
  • Lean McCain: Georgia, Nebraska’s 2nd district, West Virginia (21 EVs)
  • Toss-up: Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota (75 EV)
  • Lean Obama:, New Hampshire, Ohio (24 EVs)
  • Likely Obama: Colorado, Iowa, Maine (at-large + 1st district + 2nd district), Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin (122 EVs)
  • Safe Obama: California, Connecticut, DC, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont (160 EVs)

This gives us the following map and totals:

  • Safe + Likely Obama: 282 electoral votes
  • Safe + Likely + Lean Obama: 306
  • Toss-up: 75
  • Safe + Likely + Lean McCain: 157
  • Safe + Likely McCain: 136

I will naturally not attempt to provide an explanation for every single one of these ratings and will concentrate instead on those that have shifted over the past week:

Colorado, lean Obama to likely Obama: Obama has moved in such a dominant position in Colorado that the McCain campaign has scaled back its advertisement in the state. Given how important these 9 electoral votes are to McCain’s chances, they certainly did not take this decision lightly, and it is telling that McCain strategists think they have a better shot in Pennsylvania than in Colorado. One explanation to this is the high pace of early voting: As of Friday, a remarkable 25% of all registered voters had already cast their ballot, making it that much more difficult for McCain to pull off a comeback since hundreds of thousands of ballots were cast during a very favorable time for the Illinois Senator.

(If there is any doubt that Obama is ahead, consider these two polling facts: McCain has led in only two polls since the Democratic convention, both of which were in September; and McCain has never led by more than three points in any poll of the state - and even that “high-point” was only reached twice.)

Florida, lean Obama to toss-up: I still believe that Florida tilts ever so slightly in Obama’s direction, but it is difficult not to take into account the fact that Florida is the one state that has been clearly trending Republican over the past ten days. After a period of Democratic dominance, the latest polls from Insider Advantage, PPP, Strategic Vision, Mason Dixon, Quinnipiac, Rasmussen, SUSA and Research 2000 have all found McCain a trendline towards McCain, sometimes with big swings. That McCain recaptured the lead in a number of these surveys (including in the very respected Mason Dixon polls) underscores that the Sunshine State is still not lost by the Republican nominee. Sure, this trend is not in line with what we are observing elsewhere in the country, but neither are Florida’s demographics. Furthermore, for all the talk about McCain’s lack of organization in Florida and about the state GOP panicking, early indications suggest that Republicans have managed to pull off strong results in their absentee voter program.

Montana, lean McCain to toss-up: Finally, a pollster included Ron Paul in a Montana trial heat, and the results showed the former presidential candidate who now appears on the state ballot on the Constitution Party line gathering more than 4% of the vote - which is exactly the difference between Barack Obama and John McCain. And it was Obama who was in the lead, confirming what we have been seeing in polls from neighboring North Dakota: The Mountain West is back in play. And while the Illinois Senator pulled out of North Dakota in mid-September, he never scaled back his investments in Montana. The state’s 3 electoral votes are unlikely to prove decisive, but they would prove to be an icing on Obama’s cake.

Ohio, toss-up to lean Obama: Ohio looked like the battleground state most resistant to swing towards Obama, but it seems to have inched away towards the Democratic nominee as he solidified his support among registered Democrats. In fact, Obama led by double-digits in three polls over the past week (Quinnipiac, Big 10 and Insider Advantage), a significant development given that he had never led by such a margin since he wrapped up the nomination. While other polls show a tighter margin (or even a narrow McCain lead in Mason Dixon and Rasmussen), most have the state trending towards Obama. The Democrats’ early voting efforts appear to be paying off (though we have less detailed information than in GA or NC). That said, Ohio is still highly competitive, and will remain so until we can be assured that Obama will not drown in Appalachian counties.

Oregon, likely Obama to safe Obama: That a state that voted for Kerry by 4% is now rated safe Obama is clear evidence of how much the political environment has changed over the past four years. Obama has not led by single-digit in an Oregon poll since mid-September, and his edge has extended to as big a margin as 17% in a recent poll. The reason that the state is now being rated in the safe category - underscoring that a McCain comeback is not even conceivable - is that Election Day is happening right now in Oregon, as the voting is conducted entirely by mail and ballots have to have arrived by November 4th to be valid. That means that even a last-minute game changer would be unlikely to take the state’s electoral votes away from Obama.

Virginia, lean Obama to likely Obama: A state that hasn’t voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1964 now finds itself at the top of Barack Obama’s pick-up list. McCain hasn’t led in a single poll conducted in July, and Obama has jumped to a relatively consistent high single-digit lead that is sometimes hitting the double-digit mark. Furthermore, this is a state in which Obama has a definite organizational advantage. Not only has his campaign registered hundreds of thousands of voters and should benefit from the boost in black turnout we are observing in Georgia and North Carolina, but the GOP focused on Virginia late and does not have the type of ground game Democrats will enjoy. (50% of respondents in a recent Washington Post poll said they had personally been contacted by the Obama campaign, far more than had been contacted by his opponent). One good news for McCain is that Virginia has limited early voting, so it would not be too late for McCain to close the gap if a late breaking development were to occur.

History of Campaign Diaries’ electoral ratings:


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Eleventh presidential ratings: Obama consolidates electoral college lead

A week after Obama surged to a dominant position, the ratings remain relatively stable, with only one state shifting in or out of a candidate’s column. There is movement under the surface, however, as McCain’s base continues to erode while Obama solidifies his hold on a number of states; a total of 26 electoral votes move from the lean Obama to the likely Obama column, giving the Democratic nominee a base of 260 electoral votes.

In my September 20th ratings - posted exactly a month ago - 18 states were listed in a competitive category (lean or toss-up). Of these, not a single one is today in a more favorable category for McCain but fourteen have shifted towards Obama. In fact, 8 of these states are no longer competitive at all - and they now all belong to the Democratic nominee. They have been replaced by four new red states that were solidly anchored in McCain’s column a month ago and are now considered competitive.

What better way to illustrate how much the electoral map has shifted towards Obama over the past month, and how most of these changes will not be erased no matter how much McCain closes the gap in the final 16 days. Unless some major event turns the campaign on its head, Michigan or Iowa, for instance, are now out of contention.

This also illustrates how narrow McCain’s electoral strategy has become: He needs to sweep nearly all of the 14 states currently rated as competitive, including all three red states that are in the Obama column. That is no small feat, and it is revealing of just how much Obama is command. That said, there is a reason these states are still listed as competitive: they could go either way, and a slight wind pushing McCain over the final two weeks could help him accomplish that.

Without further delay, here are the eleventh electoral college ratings (states whose ratings have been changed towards Obama are colored blue, those whose ratings have been changed towards McCain are colored red):

  • Safe McCain: Alabama, Alaska, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska (at large + 3rd congressional district), Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, Tennessee, Texas, Wyoming (116 EVs)
  • Likely McCain: Arizona, Arkansas, Nebraska’s 1st district, South Dakota (20 EVs)
  • Lean McCain: Georgia, Montana, Nebraska’s 2nd district, West Virginia (24 EVs)
  • Toss-up: Indiana, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio (65 EV)
  • Lean Obama: Colorado, Florida, New Hampshire, Virginia (53 EVs)
  • Likely Obama: Iowa, Oregon, Maine (at-large + 1st district + 2nd district), Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Washington, Wisconsin (107 EVs)
  • Safe Obama: California, Connecticut, DC, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont (153 EVs)

This gives us the following map and totals:

  • Safe + Likely Obama: 260 electoral votes
  • Safe + Likely + Lean Obama: 313
  • Toss-up: 65
  • Safe + Likely + Lean McCain: 160
  • Safe + Likely McCain: 136

I will naturally not attempt to provide an explanation for every single one of these ratings and will concentrate instead on those that have shifted over the past two weeks:

Alaska, likely McCain to safe McCain: Like in other red states Obama had been eying, McCain jumped to a commanding lead in Alaska in the aftermath of the GOP convention and of the Palin pick. Unlike in some of these other red states (say, North Dakota and Montana), McCain’s surge has not faded over the past month. The Sarah Palin effect is strong, and it appears to have put Alaska’s once-promising 3 electoral out of Obama’s reach for good. In fact, the GOP’s recovery is so pronounced that it could very well save Sen. Stevens and Rep. Young.

Arkansas, safe McCain to likely McCain: Arkansas is very rarely polled, but perhaps there would be some interesting results to be found. The state remains heavily Democratic, though it is made up of conservative Democrats who vote GOP in federal races. Obama was not expected to do well among conservative Democrats and blue-collar voters, but the startling finding that he is competitive in West Virginia means that he is making inroads in the type of constituency that could help close the gap in Arkansas.

Maine’s 2nd district, lean Obama to likely Obama: Despite a week of GOP advertisement and a visit by Sarah Palin, the GOP does not appear satisfied with the odds of snatching away one of Maine’s four electoral votes, as we learned this week that the RNC is moving out just as quickly as it moved in to help protect red states. The McCain campaign is staying on the state’s airwaves but a recent Research 2000 poll showing Obama with large leads in both districts and statewide suggest that the RNC’s pull-out was a wise decision.

Minnesota, lean Obama to likely Obama:  On paper, Minnesota should not have been have been as vulnerable as neighboring Wisconsin or Michigan, but the polls here tightened more than in other blue states throughout August and September. But a sign of Democratic confidence came from the two campaigns’ expenditures: Minnesota is the only state in which Obama let McCain outspend him by significant amounts, signaling that he believed Minnesota remained solidly anchored in his camp. Now, Obama is matching McCain’s spending (another sign of Democratic confidence given that Obama is outspending his opponent by massive amounts in every other battleground state but Iowa), and polls are reflecting the state’s return to its Democratic roots. Obama leads by double-digits in CNN/Time, Research 2000, Star Tribune, Quinnipiac… Even SUSA now has Obama leading outside of the margin of error. Do I need to say anything else?

New Mexico, lean Obama to likely Obama: New Mexico was the second red state to move to the Obama column - and it did so early. In fact, Obama started enjoying double-digit leads in New Mexico polls well before he did in blue states like Minnesota or Michigan. One significant factor has been Obama’s strength among Hispanics; when it was still believed (back in primary season) that Obama might have problems among that group, it looked like the Southwest could be promising territory for McCain. But it will be hard for the Republican to stay competitive in the state unless he can perform at Bush’s level among Latinos - and every indicator suggests that he is underperforming.

North Dakota, likely McCain to toss-up: Three successive polls released over the past week have found an Obama lead or an exact tie in a state that Democrats abandoned in mid-September, after McCain’s post-convention surged appeared to put North Dakota and the rest of the Mountain West out of contention. With 15 days to go until Election Day, there is increasing speculation that Obama is looking to put resources in the state in a last-minute bid to recapture its electoral votes - and polls indicate that would be a wise decision. One interesting fact about this state is that it does not have any voter registration: any one who has lived in a precinct for the past 30 days can show up and cast a ballot.

South Dakota, safe McCain to likely McCain: The latest polls from the state find a large lead for the Republican nominee, but we have had no result since mid-September. Since then, Obama has made gains in the Mountain West, and it is unlikely that he has been able to tie the race in Montana and North Dakota without also making some inroads in South Dakota.

Wisconsin, lean Obama to likely Obama:  Among the tightest states of the 2000 and 2004 contests, Wisconsin does not look like it will be decided in the early hours of the morning this year. In fact, the Badger State never emerged as a true battleground this year; only during a brief patch in mid-September did Obama’s lead descend in the mid single-digits - certainly nothing to be panicked about. Since then, Obama has recaptured a double-digit lead, and while Quinnipiac’s 17% margin might be overstating his advantage, but the Univ. of Wisconsin, SUSA, or Research 2000 aren’t that far off. And we got confirmation of the fact that Wisconsin is no longer in the top-tier of competitive races when the RNC’s independent expenditure arm pulled out of Wisconsin this week; it had been airing ads in the state since its very first wave of expenditures back in June.

History of Campaign Diaries’ electoral ratings:

  • October 20th: + 153 Obama (313 for Obama [153 safe, 107 likely, 53 lean] and 160 for McCain [116 safe, 20 likely, 24 lean])
  • October 12th: + 150 Obama (313 for Obama [153 safe, 81 likely, 79 lean] and 163 for McCain [122 safe, 17 likely, 24 lean])
  • September 27th: + 55 Obama (239 for Obama [154 safe, 43 likely, 42 lean] and 174 for McCain [122 safe, 38 likely, 14 lean])
  • September 20th: +6 Obama (222 for Obama [154 safe, 19 likely, 49 lean] and 216 for McCain [119 safe, 41 likely, 56 lean])
  • August 31st: + 16 Obama (243 for Obama [154 safe, 29 likely, 60 lean] and 227 for McCain [93 safe, 75 likely, 59 lean])
  • August 20th: + 14 Obama (238 for Obama [151 safe, 32 likely, 55 lean] and 224 for McCain [90 safe, 75 likely, 59 lean])
  • July 30th: + 38 Obama (238 for Obama [151 safe, 42 likely, 45 lean] and 200 for McCain [90 safe, 75 likely, 35 lean])
  • July 16th: +28 Obama (255 for Obama [150 safe, 43 likely, 62 lean] and 227 for McCain [90 safe, 78 likely, 59 lean])
  • July 2rd: +11 Obama (238 for Obama [143 safe, 50 likely, 45 lean] and 227 for McCain [93 safe, 78 likely, 56 lean])
  • June 18th: +22 Obama (238 for Obama [86 safe, 97 likely, 55 lean] and 216 for McCain [87 safe, 87 likely, 42 lean])
  • June 4th: +20 McCain (207 for Obama [76 base, 107 likely, 24 lean] and 227 for McCain [97 safe, 77 likely, 53 lean])

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10th presidential ratings: Obama surges past the 300 mark

There is no doubt that Barack Obama is currently in command of the presidential race, and the past two weeks have seen a dramatic shift in public sentiment. Obama has surged to a stunningly dominant position in all of the Gore and Kerry states (accounting for a total of 264 votes), as the financial crisis undercut months of Republican efforts in Michigan, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. At the same time, McCain’s position has been severely damaged in a large number of red states, most dramatically in states like Florida and Missouri that just a month ago seemed to be drifting out of Obama’s reach.

The most difficult decision in this update of my presidential ratings was not whether to lift Obama above the threshold of 270 electoral college, but which red states should be moved to the lean Obama column for him to achieve that feat. The reason the Democrat is in such a dominant position is not simply that he now looks to be slightly ahead in a number of red states (Colorado, Florida and Virginia are here being moved from the toss-up to the lean Obama column) but that he has a high single-digit lead in national surveys.

This situation is one we have not encountered in the past two presidential elections: national surveys matter just as much (if not more) than those at the state level. McCain might still be competitive in all the red states but New Mexico and Iowa, but, unless he substantially improves his position in national polls, it is highly improbable that he can pull off a sweep of all the states he needs to defend - Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Colorado, Nevada, Missouri, Indiana, Virginia. All of these states are now at best a toss-up for the McCain campaign. The loss of a single one would likely lead to an Obama presidency.

As a result of these shifts, 313 electoral votes are now rated safe, likely or lean Obama - far more than the 270 (or 269) he needs to win the presidency. There are an additional 62 electoral votes that are rated as toss-ups.

However, remember that states that are in the “lean” category are considered to be very competitive and certain to be hotly contested. That means that Obama might be favored to win in November, but his election is no lock. A shift towards the GOP over the next two weeks - perhaps because of Wednesday’s debate - could easily lead Florida, Virginia and Colorado to move back to the toss-up column and Indiana and Missouri to move back to the lean McCain category, leading to a more competitive electoral college.

Without further delay, here are the tenth electoral college ratings (states whose ratings have been changed towards Obama are colored blue, those whose ratings have been changed towards McCain are colored red):

  • Safe McCain: Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska (at large + 3rd congressional district), Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Tennessee, Texas, Wyoming (122 EVs)
  • Likely McCain: Alaska, Arizona, Nebraska’s 1st district, North Dakota (17 EVs)
  • Lean McCain: Georgia, Montana, Nebraska’s 2nd districtWest Virginia (24 EVs)
  • Toss-up: Indiana, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio (62 EV)
  • Lean Obama: Colorado, Florida, Maine’s 2nd district, Minnesota, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Virginia, Wisconsin (79 EVs)
  • Likely Obama: Iowa, Oregon, Maine (at-large + 1st district), Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Washington (81 EVs)
  • Safe Obama: California, Connecticut, DC, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont (153 EVs)

This gives us the following map and totals:

  • Safe + Likely Obama: 234 electoral votes
  • Safe + Likely + Lean Obama: 313
  • Toss-up: 62
  • Safe + Likely + Lean McCain: 163
  • Safe + Likely McCain: 139

I will naturally not attempt to provide an explanation for every single one of these ratings and will concentrate instead on those that have shifted over the past two weeks:

Colorado, toss-up to lean Obama: Colorado’s move into the Obama column was a long time coming. McCain proved remarkably resilient in the state throughout the summer, and by August Colorado looked like the ultimate toss-up. But Democrats gathered in Denver in late August, giving their party added exposure and shifting public opinion in Obama’s favor. Since the convention, at least twenty polls have been released from Colorado, and McCain has only led in two of them (both were taken before the financial crisis erupted, and McCain’s lead in both was within the margin of error). By contrast, Obama has surged to leads outside of the MoE in Rasmussen, CNN/Time, Insider Advantage, Quinnipiac - and even a double digit lead in the latest PPP survey.

One thing that McCain has going for him is that his campaign never neglected Colorado (unlike other endangered red states) and thus has enough of a ground game to stay in the game. Furthermore, Obama is only outspending McCain by 50% in the state (as of the last week of September), which is far less impressive than in other states. Thus, Colorado remains competitive - but with 23 days to go, the edge goes to Obama.

Florida, toss-up to lean Obama: Everything predisposed Florida to be tilting away from Obama: the high number of senior citizens, the importance of the Jewish vote, the fact that Florida had been far more solidly Republican in 2004 than it had in 2000. Yet, a combination of factors have led the dynamics to shift in the state: the Palin pick hurt McCain among Jewish voters, the economic crisis led Obama to surge among registered Democrats and (perhaps most importantly) Obama’s massive spending throughout the summer helped him slowly chip away at McCain’s advantage since the GOP didn’t spend anything in the state’s airwaves throughout the summer.

Even now, Obama is pouring stunning amounts of money in the state (Plouffe said the campaign had budgeted a jaw-dropping $39 million for its Florida efforts) and he outspent the GOP nearly 5:1 in the last week of September! Put all of this together, and it looks like Democrats could avenge the 2000 recount: Obama has led in the 9 most recent Florida polls, a streak that is all the more impressive because a good number of these surveys have Obama ahead outside of the MoE.

Georgia, likely McCain to lean McCain: Poll numbers are tightening after a McCain surge in early September, and early voting numbers hint at very strong turnout among African-American voters. Yet, the Obama campaign pulled out of Georgia a month ago, meaning that a Democratic win in this state would coincidence with an electoral landslide nationally and it would signify that Obama is strong enough in the southern white vote to carry North Carolina and Virginia as well.

Maine’s 2nd district, likely Obama to lean Obama: This is the day’s only rating change that favors McCain. The Arizona Senator moved some resources in Maine as he pulled out of Michigan. And recent polls that show Obama leading by mid-single digits in the state explain why: the second district’s vote is typically a few points more Republican than the statewide total, and that could allow McCain to take away this electoral vote.

Michigan, lean Obama to likely Obama: McCain’s October 2nd pull-out might have come as a complete shock, but the Wolverine State now looks to be a relatively safe Obama hold. Obama has surged to a 16% lead in the latest Rasmussen poll, and the Democrat’s lead will be further protected by the fact that the Obama campaign is not letting down its guard in the state and will continue to organize a strong ground game. But not only have the McCain campaign and the RNC left the state, but the state’s Republican leaders are now badmouthing the McCain campaign.

Missouri, lean McCain to toss-up: Republicans were hoping to have put Missouri away by mid-September as they did in 2004 to be able to concentrate their resources in other vulnerable states, and for a while it looked like the Show Me State was anchoring itself in the GOP column. Not only has Obama closed the gap in SUSA and Research 2000, but he has even taken a narrow lead in the latest CNN/Time and Rasmussen numbers (see polling history). Furthermore, Obama is keeping up a heavy investment in Missouri, outspending the GOP nearly 3:1 the last week of September. This is certainly not where Republicans were expecting to be in mid-October.

Nebraska’s 2nd district, likely McCain to lean McCain: The Obama campaign is making an active push here at the moment. Omaha residents have been seeing Obama’s advertisements for months, since they share a media market with Western Iowa, and Obama just opened a second staffed office in the district. Still a long shot for Democrats, but the McCain campaign is worried enough to have dispatch Sarah Palin to the state.

New Hampshire, toss-up to lean Obama: In 2006, in no state did the Republican Party drown as much as in New Hampshire, whose independents massively turned towards Democratic candidates. Yet, McCain had high hopes for the Granite State, whose independent voters carried him to victory in 2000 against Bush and in 2008 against Romney - and McCain looked highly competitive in New Hampshire polls… until three weeks ago. As the GOP brand has once again collapsed in the wake of the economic crisis, Democrats are more looking confident that they can repeat their 2006 sweep and polls are now showing Obama leading by substantial margins - often in double-digits.

Pennsylvania, toss-up to likely Obama: Many readers of this website criticized me for leaving Pennsylvania in the toss-up column for so long. But as long as Obama regularly polled under 80% of registered Democrats, there was no reason to move Pennsylvania in his column. After all, in few states could culturally conservative Democrats and blue-collar voters hurt the Illinois Senator as much as Pennsylvania. But the economic crisis dramatically transformed the field of play: Obama has jumped to solid levels of party loyalty, and his numbers in Pennsylvania have surged. The past five surveys all have him leading by double digits, between 12% and 15%! That said, the GOP is keeping up its efforts in Pennsylvania, McCain is still visiting the state, and his campaign is still pouring in millions of dollars, so Obama will still have to work to lock the state.

Virginia, toss-up to lean Obama: The polls have significantly shifted towards the Illinois Senator over the past two weeks. McCain did post a lead within the MoE in a Mason Dixon survey, but Obama has jumped to impressive leads in CNN/Time (9%), SUSA (10%), Suffolk (12%), PPP (8%), Insider Advantage (6%). But Virginia is Republican enough a state that I might have left it in the toss-up column if it weren’t for another factor: the McCain campaign has inexplicably neglected the Old Dominion. It was one thing to not believe that North Carolina or Indiana were actually competitive, but it was evident from the early days of the 2008 cycle that Virginia was highly competitive. Yet, Obama has basically had the state’s airwaves for himself for much of the spring and summer, as McCain invested a small fraction of Obama’s spending - and only in Northern Virginia. The RNC recently moved in the state, but Obama is still significantly outspending the GOP’s efforts. The different levels of commitment will also have crucial consequences on the ground game, and it is unlikely McCain can come anywhere near the organizational power Obama has developed in the state.

West Virginia, likely McCain to lean McCain: This is a historically Democratic state that was not supposed to be competitive this year. Nowhere was Obama as crushed by Hillary Clinton in the primaries as in West Virginia, and the Illinois Senator was hurt by his weakness among blue collar voters in Appalachia. Yet, the economic crisis has led registered Democrat to do something they don’t always want to do - vote Democratic in federal races, and nowhere has that changed the game as much as in Appalachia. ARG’s recent poll showing Obama leading by 8% might have been an outlier, but McCain can certainly not count on an easy victory in this state, and Sarah Palin has been dispatched here to fire up conservatives.

History of Campaign Diaries’ electoral ratings:

  • October 12th: + 150 Obama (313 for Obama [153 safe, 81 likely, 79 lean] and 163 for McCain [122 safe, 17 likely, 24 lean])
  • September 27th: + 55 Obama (239 for Obama [154 safe, 43 likely, 42 lean] and 174 for McCain [122 safe, 38 likely, 14 lean])
  • September 20th: +6 Obama (222 for Obama [154 safe, 19 likely, 49 lean] and 216 for McCain [119 safe, 41 likely, 56 lean])
  • August 31st: + 16 Obama (243 for Obama [154 safe, 29 likely, 60 lean] and 227 for McCain [93 safe, 75 likely, 59 lean])
  • August 20th: + 14 Obama (238 for Obama [151 safe, 32 likely, 55 lean] and 224 for McCain [90 safe, 75 likely, 59 lean])
  • July 30th: + 38 Obama (238 for Obama [151 safe, 42 likely, 45 lean] and 200 for McCain [90 safe, 75 likely, 35 lean])
  • July 16th: +28 Obama (255 for Obama [150 safe, 43 likely, 62 lean] and 227 for McCain [90 safe, 78 likely, 59 lean])
  • July 2rd: +11 Obama (238 for Obama [143 safe, 50 likely, 45 lean] and 227 for McCain [93 safe, 78 likely, 56 lean])
  • June 18th: +22 Obama (238 for Obama [86 safe, 97 likely, 55 lean] and 216 for McCain [87 safe, 87 likely, 42 lean])
  • June 4th: +20 McCain (207 for Obama [76 base, 107 likely, 24 lean] and 227 for McCain [97 safe, 77 likely, 53 lean])

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Negative campaigning, electoral map: The indecisiveness of the McCain campaign

Much was made last spring about the Clinton campaign’s organizational problems. Not a day passed without a new story popping up in which Clinton aides took their internal disagreements public, and the entire political class seemed intent on second guessing the campaign’s every single tactical decision.

When internal dissensions spill in the public domain and political obituaries get written before Election Day, it certainly means that a campaign is in big trouble - and that’s the territory Republicans have now entered.

There is a debate to be had about the effectiveness of bringing up Ayers this late in the campaign; there is no way every Republican will agree about which states the GOP should contest and which states it should concede. But the McCain campaign should have been decisive enough to make firm decisions and stick with them. Instead, they are going the Clinton way - plagued by internal quibbling, indecisiveness and incomprehensible tactical decisions.

The Wall Street Journal’s new story about disagreements in the campaign about how negative it should go contains obvious echoes to the Clinton days, as her campaign was consumed by disagreements between her top aides about whether to go all-out against the Illinois Senator. Neither side fully won that internal battle, and as a result Hillary’s tone rarely seemed consistent - and that prevented most of her attacks of really sticking.

Now, the McCain campaign has a similar problem. On the one hand, they seem committed to the idea that they should preserve some appearance of honor (for instance in McCain’s refusal to bring up Wright) and they are fearful that negativity will backfire (even though his own campaign released an ad tying Obama to Ayers this morning, McCain still refuses to talk about Ayers without being prompted).

On the other hand, they are throwing everything they have at Obama at this point to see what sticks. Both the RNC and the McCain camp have ads devoted to Ayers, and the GOP is now on the war path to tie Obama to ACORN. McCain rips into Obama using Ayers whenever he is asked about it, and Sarah Palin discussed Wright at length in an interview with Kristol this past week. And the McCain campaign is doing nothing to control the increasingly angry crowds that are populating GOP rallies - and nothing has the potential to backfire as much as these news stories from Republican events.

These are the rallies that a campaign organizes to get coverage in local news and local papers; yet, most of that coverage is now being devoted to latest soundbite coming from a McCain supporter rather than to a clip of the candidate himself, giving Democrats an opening to take the high road and dismiss attacks like Ayers as part of the GOP’s over-the-top hysterics. Obama is now blaming the Republican ticket for instilling “anger and division” in his audiences.

It doesn’t help, of course, that former top McCain strategic John Weaver is willing to blast the tactic choices of the men who replaced him any time a media outlet ask for his opinion. But how can we not come away thinking that the McCain campaign is unable to agree on a coherent strategy when Sarah Palin has been going around for the past two weeks contradicting most everything the campaign has been saying? She had obviously been charged with hitting Ayers through this past week-end, but her speaking about Wright with Kristol didn’t seem to have been planned by the campaign (she has avoided the subject since the Kristol interview even when directly asked about Wright).

Perhaps most remarkable is Palin’s questioning the campaign’s electoral college choices. It was amusing to hear her claim that she was traveling to Nebraska last Sunday simply because she wanted to see Nebraska. But for her to provide to repeatedly bring up her disappointment that her own campaign’s strategists had pulled out of Michigan was simply stunning. This is the kind of story a campaign wants to minimize as much as possible to avoid the impression that it is in a tight spot and to not anger the state’s residents any further - but Palin’s unnecessary comments kept the Michigan pull out in the news for 48 more hours and gave the impression of complete lack of communication at the top of the ticket.

In fact, McCain’s electoral map has attracted just as much second-guessing by pundits and by Republican operatives as the campaign’s offensive strategy. Michigan’s Republican Party pleaded for McCain’s return; Florida’s party officials convened an urgent secret meeting (which was quickly leaked to the press) two weeks ago to discuss the state of the campaign; many GOPers are dismayed that McCain has not put more effort into Virginia and is letting himself be outspent by truly huge margins; and the same complaint is now rising in Indiana, as most everyone is wondering why McCain has not spent any time in the Hoosier State.

The McCain campaign appears to be assuming that Indiana and Virginia will not fall unless other states like Ohio and Colorado have already fallen - making it unnecessary to defend them. This is folly! For one, Virginia has been tight since the fall of 2007 and Obama is looking strong there than in many other competitive red states at this point. Second, it might be true that Indiana would not fall before, say, Ohio if all things were equal - but that logic has to be tossed out of the window when one side is spending significant amounts of resources contesting the state and the other is (or was) nowhere to be found.

If the current situation holds until November 4th, McCain’s refusal to defend Indiana, North Carolina or Florida in the summer when there was still time will be remembered as the equivalent of Hillary Clinton not organizing in any of the February 5th caucus states.

Some of this is surely due to McCain’s financial situation, but a lot of it is just bad or/and indecisive decision-making. Nowhere is this better exemplified than by the campaign’s inexplicable decision of all (and one Republicans not affiliated with the campaign have been deriding all over the press) is the McCain campaign’s decision to continue investing significant amounts of money in Iowa.

Obama is ahead by double-digits in most recent polls of the state, and he will be able to rely on the organization he put in place in the run-up to the caucuses last year. Yet, McCain traveled there in late September, and he will be holding his only event this Saturday in Des Moines! So why is McCain spending money in Iowa when that cash could be much better used in, say, North Carolina?


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Spending, attacks and electoral map: Democrats get aggressive

2000 and 2004 led to the perception that Democratic candidates are too timid to do what it takes to win an election. But this year, it is Republicans who have had problem developing an offensive message and it is Democrats who are taking an aggressive stance - and have the financial muscle to get their message heard.

While the McCain campaign largely wasted the month of September in distracting attacks (as I explained this morning) and is now musing when and how it should use Rezko and Ayers, Obama is pushing his advantage on economic issues to paint his adversary as an out-of-touch politician and as a tax-and-spender. That’s right, the Democratic presidential nominee is attacking his Republican opponent for proposing tax hikes and expensive programs with the kicker, “Can we afford John McCain?”

First came a spot called “Spending Spree” that accused McCain of looking to raise the debt. But Democrats have been focusing in particular on health care, an issue that had disappeared from the campaign trail for months but is making a dramatic last-minute appearance in the general election. A new wave of TV advertisement and mailers is now charging that McCain is looking to tax health care benefits “for the first time ever,” in what Obama warns would cost households thousands of dollars. Here’s one version of Obama’s new health care attack, and here is another:

[youtube="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4-EBYIvwP8"]

Joe Biden devoted one of his answers in the vice-presidential debate to McCain’s tax on health care benefits, and Sarah Palin did not respond at all to his allegations. That the Obama campaign is unveiling such a large campaign on this issue and that they had entirely stayed away from discussing health care for months suggests that they were saving this attack for the last weeks of the campaign - and the timing seems very effective indeed.

The financial crisis has made voters jittery about their finances, and health care costs is obviously a big worry for them. McCain has already weakened as more voters started rating the economy as their primary concern, and these ads are a direct appeal to any voter who do so but are still leaning towards McCain. These ads could be particularly effective for older voters who have been a strong constituency for McCain and who Obama wants to bring back to the Democratic camp.

Obama’s ads are a direct response to McCain’s own tax-and-spend attacks. That Obama voted “94 times” to raise taxes was one of Palin’s main talking points on Thursday night, and McCain is airing ads accusing Obama and “congressional liberals” of being big spenders. This is McCain’s main policy-based attack against the Illinois Senator, and Obama is hoping to make himself immune from it by leveling the same charge against his opponent, and do so with no hint of being on the defensive.

And the Obama campaign is applying this strategy of preemption - essentially a defensive move that is a strong enough of an attack that it allows you to regain the offensive - in other areas as well. Politico reports that Democrats already moved on reports that the McCain campaign will start airing ads invoking Ayers and Rezko after Tuesday’s debate to craft an ad of their own that will begin airing Monday. In other words, viewers will see Obama’s response ad before Republicans release any ad of their own!

According to Politico, the ad will accuse McCain of seeking to “turn the page on the economy” by launching “dishonorable, dishonest attacks.” The ad also calls McCain “erratic in a crisis,” as direct an attack on McCain’s temperament as we have seen yet in Democratic advertising. Thus, it is important to remember that Republican efforts to paint Obama as a dangerous, untrustworthy choice will not happen in a vacuum; they will run against an equally determined effort by Democrats to do the same against the Arizona Senator and present him as a risk.

A few months ago, it would certainly have been strange for Democrats to define McCain as a risk, but recent polling indicates that voters came to view McCain’s suspending his campaign as a flippant move that spoke badly of McCain’s steadiness. In other words, the groundwork for Obama’s “erratic” attack has already been laid - which is why it could be very effective in affecting the way voters view McCain - and why the last month of presidential ads could be far more brutal than anything we have seen over the past few months.

And Democrats are better positioned to get their own attacks break through all the ad noise because of Obama’s superior financial position. The Democrat is outspending McCain by some stunning proportions. In the last week of September, the GOP only outspent Obama in Minnesota (the only state, concidentally, that recent polls have suggested might be trending Republican). In Virginia, Indiana and North Carolina, Democrats outspent Republicans 10:1… The disparity was at least 2:1 in a number of other states, including Wisconsin, Colorado, Ohio, New Hampshire, Missouri (3:1).

In fact, Republicans spent more in Iowa (a state in which Obama is leading by double-digits) than in North Carolina and Virginia combined, a truly inexplicable decision.

The most striking numbers come from Florida. It’s not just that Obama is now spending more than $3 million in the state (Republicans did not even spend $1 million in the last week of September), but the New York Times reports that since mid-September a staggering 20% of Obama’s total ad budget has gone to the Sunshine State! For anyone who doubted that Democrats would do a serious push for Florida’s 27 electoral votes, this is as dramatic a response as is possible.

Finally, this Democrats’ posture in which no Republican move is going unanswered is exemplified by the Obama campaign’s decision to be more aggressive in Nebraska’s second district after Republicans signaled their intention of going after ME-02’s electoral votes on Thursday. Both Maine and Nebraska split their electoral votes by district, and both campaigns think they have a chance to steal one vote in enemy territory (I have already outlined the likelihood and consequences of a tie vote in the electoral college, testifying to the importance ME-02 and NE-02 could have).

And here again, score the first point to Democrats, who have forced Republicans on the defensive in Nebraska before exhibiting any sign of worry about Maine. Obama just opened a staff office in Omaha (where NE-02 is located) and it was just announced that Sarah Palin will be traveling to that city to hold a rally. A campaign does not dispatch its vice-presidential candidate anywhere in October unless there is a very good reason. Time is precious, and Palin’s trip betrays GOP anxiety about losing Omaha. The only poll we have of this district for now showed McCain leading by 4% in August.


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Stunner: McCain pulling out of Michigan

In truly stunning news that underscores just how much the state of play has deteriorated for the GOP over the past three weeks, Politico’s Jonathan Martin reports that the McCain campaign is pulling out of Michigan - no more TV ads, no more mailers and staff relocated to other states. A campaign event scheduled for next week has been canceled.

There is no possible spin that could obscure how worrisome a development this is for McCain. Obama’s weakness among blue collar voters, the large numbers of Reagan Democrats in the Detroit suburbs, the racial tensions in the state and a combination of other factors conspired to make Michigan a prime pick-up for Republicans. Obama’s poll numbers were weak throughout the spring, and it looked like Michigan had replaced Pennsylvania as the most vulnerable blue state. This is the first state McCain and Palin visited after the GOP convention, after all!

But the campaign’s sudden turn to the economy has undercut McCain’s momentum everywhere in the country - particularly in Michigan, where recent polls have shown Obama jumping to large lead. Just this morning, PPP found the Democrat leading by 10%, up from a 1% lead at the beginning of September. And the reason the McCain campaign’s move is so significant is that it makes the Obama surge permanent. The GOP did not wait to see whether the economy would recede as an issue and whether McCain could regain its footing - they went ahead and cut resources and staffing for one of the hottest battleground states. (Note that nothing prevents the campaign to return to the state if the race tightens, but they would certainly have lost a lot of ground in the meantime.)

We can no longer say that the pendulum could swing back towards McCain and have everything return to pre-convention form. Even if McCain regains his footing and tightens the election, the Michigan pull-out will remain as a major consequence of Obama’s late September gains.

So why would Republicans do this? The answer is obvious: money and time. One of the most important of the 8 questions I outlined last night was whether McCain would have to cut funding to some battleground states in order to defend Indiana, Missouri and North Carolina? I didn’t expect we would get an answer within 24 hours. Republicans were not expecting to have to defend this many red states in October. Ohio, Virginia, Colorado, perhaps even Florida, sure. But having to spend precious campaign time and resources in those three other traditionally reliable red states while also keeping up investments in five blue states?

The Michigan pull-out is a direct consequence of that. The Wolverine State, after all, is an expensive investment. It spans many different media market, including Detroit’s and it requires a lot of staff. Instead, Time is now reporting the McCain campaign is considering investing in… Maine, an inexpensive state which awards its electoral colleges by district, so the GOP might be hoping to at least snatch away one vote there.

What does this mean about the electoral college map? Simply put, it makes it much more difficult for McCain to find a path to 270 electoral votes, and he has no more room for error. Obama now appears comfortably ahead in Iowa and New Mexico, which puts him one red state away from victory. So McCain needs to either sweep all remaining red states (how likely does it sound at the moment that McCain can win all CO, FL, OH, MO, NC, VA, IN and NV) or win at least one blue state. With Michigan out of the picture, that doesn’t leave McCain many options.

New Hampshire (and Maine, if McCain really decides to go there) is too small to be an answer to anything but Nevada, so Wisconsin, Minnesota and Pennsylvania remain. Neither of these three states appeared as promising as Michigan up until late August, when they all appeared to tighten. Obama has opened a comfortable lead in each of them recently - but McCain needs to stay on the offensive in them.

He also needs to beef up his defense in red states. Even if he picks up a Kerry state, he will need a near-sweep of the battleground red states, and shifting his attention away from Michigan will surely be a way to more effectively defend states like Florida and Virginia. In the latter, the McCain campaign has just opened a dozen new offices. In the former, A much discussed St. Petersburg Times article published today reveals that state Republican officials held a secret meeting this week to discuss the state of the McCain and their worries at what they see as insufficient preparation.

Update: Politico confirms that McCain is now eyeing (and moving staff to) Maine, in an effort to pick up one electoral vote in ME-02. Al Gore won that district by 3%, and John Kerry by 6%. In 2004, Bush ran 5% better in this district than statewide, and recent polls have shown that McCain is close enough statewide that he should indeed be within striking range in ME-02.


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9th presidential ratings: NC and FL’s move to toss-up column gives Obama largest lead yet

The presidential race has seen quite a few dramatic momentum swings over the past few weeks, and that is reflected in the bounciness of my presidential ratings. The margin between Obama and McCain was relatively stable from mid-June to late August, but McCain’s momentum the first two weeks of this month allowed him to close the gap to only 6 electoral votes in my most recent electoral ratings. Since then, however, the economic crisis and the natural fading of McCain’s bounce have allowed Obama to regain his footing and jump to his biggest lead yet - 55 electoral votes.

Obama’s new found advantage comes primarily from the erosion of McCain’s base. Only 174 electoral votes are rated McCain, which is by far his lowest ever (see full history). While the Arizona Senator seems to have solidified his hold on the Mountain West (Obama gave up on contesting North Dakota, and Montana polls suggest that McCain has recaptured a double-digit lead), there is little question that other states that McCain should be winning comfortably have become dead heats: Last week, I moved Indiana to the toss-up column. This week, it is North Carolina’s turn to head out of the McCain column, in what is a devastating development for McCain; Florida also returns to the toss-ups, though that is less dramatic a move, and Obama is close to erasing McCain’s advantage in Missouri as well.

What is most worrisome for McCain in this erosion is that late September is a time a candidate wants to start locking away his most secure states. Instead, the GOP has had to expand its advertisement to Florida late last month, North Carolina two weeks ago and Indiana starting next week. In fact, Indiana and North Carolina’s move to the toss-up column isn’t due to any dramatic and surprising change in those states’ numbers but rather to the fact that we have now reached the final stretch with no sign that these states’ usual partisan affiliation is kicking in.

(Also, note that Indiana and North Carolina - the two reddest states which are now part of the toss-up category - were the two states that held their primaries on May 6th. Could Obama have been this competitive in either state this late in the game had it not been for the extended primary?)

All of this does not mean that McCain is doomed, because Obama has not yet been able to expand his base. This week, 239 electoral votes are rated Obama this week - and that is more or less the level the Illinois Senator has been at for months. He has been able to solidify his hold on Iowa and New Mexico, but other states (notably Minnesota and Wisconsin) have tightened. And while Virginia and Colorado showed signs of moving towards Obama this week (with a number of polls showing Obama leading outside the margin of error in both), a few days of strong polling for Obama in one of his best weeks isn’t enough to remove either from the toss-up column. Yet, Michigan returns to the Obama camp - the only state to move out of the toss-up column this week. McCain has deployed tremendous efforts in the Wolverine State, but it seems like the financial crisis has allowed Obama to finally gain an advantage.

For Obama, the path to 270 remains far more clear than it is for McCain. With Iowa and New Mexico tilting in his direction, Obama needs to retain four endangered blue states (Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Minnesota) and pick-up one more state, with Colorado then Virginia looking like the most promising at the moment (if Obama wins either of those, he would not need to save New Hampshire since 269 should be enough). Those 6 states thus look like the most important at the moment - and take this as further proof that no, it does not all come down to Ohio or Florida this year.

Without further delay, here are the ninth electoral college ratings (states whose ratings have been changed are in bold). Remember that states that are in the “lean” category are considered to be very competitive and certain to be hotly contested, but it is possible to say that one candidate has a slight edge at this time.

  • Safe McCain: Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska (at large + 3rd congressional district), Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Tennessee, Texas, Wyoming (122 EVs)
  • Likely McCain: Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Nebraska (1st and 2nd congressional districts), North Dakota, West Virginia (38 EVs)
  • Lean McCain: Missouri, Montana (14 EVs)
  • Toss-up: Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia (125 EV)
  • Lean Obama: Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Wisconsin (42 EVs)
  • Likely Obama: Iowa, Oregon, Maine (at-large, 2nd district), New Jersey, Washington (43 EVs)
  • Safe Obama: California, Connecticut, DC, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine’s 1st district, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont (154 EVs)

This gives us the following map and totals:

  • Safe + Likely Obama: 197 electoral votes
  • Safe + Likely + Lean Obama: 239
  • Toss-up: 125
  • Safe + Likely + Lean McCain: 174
  • Safe + Likely McCain: 160

I will naturally not attempt to provide an explanation for every single one of these ratings and will concentrate instead on those that have shifted over the past two weeks:

Florida, lean McCain to toss-up: McCain was expected to have a more comfortable time in the Sunshine State than Bush did in 2000 and 2004, but the millions Obama poured in the state throughout the summer allowed him to close the gap and have forced McCain to invest in the state - something he did not want to do. But it seems that the Democrats’ goal was not simply to put McCain into a defensive position, and the Obama campaign is dead serious about winning Florida’s 27 electoral votes (and, with them, almost certainly ensuring that they get to 270 electoral votes).

Obama spent a lot of time in Florida last week - and a candidate’s time in late September is a sure sign that the race is hot. David Plouffe has said that his campaign intends as much as $39 million in Florida this fall (that’s almost half as much as McCain can spent nationally), and the Obama campaign dramatically increased its ads last week, as they are now spending about $2 million a week - more than in any other state. While McCain had a consistent edge in August and early September, both men have been leading in recent surveys, almost always within the margin of error.

Iowa, lean Obama to likely Obama: Iowa becomes the only state rated likely or safe Obama in which McCain is airing ads, but we always knew that the Hawkeye State would be very difficult terrain for McCain. He skipped the state’s caucuses both in 2000 and 2008, simultaneously angering residents and missing opportunities to introduce himself to voters. Obama, on the other hand, built an extensive organization here in the lead-up to his January 3rd victory and that network boosts his November 4th prospects. The latest polls have Obama regularly leading by double-digits, and it would surprise no one if McCain were to pull out of Iowa in the weeks ahead to concentrate in resources in states he has a better chance of winning.

Michigan, toss-up to lean Obama: Throughout the spring and early summer, it looked like the GOP was looking to replace Pennsylvania with Michigan as the biggest endangered blue state - and Obama was clearly struggling to perform at the level of a generic Democrat in a state in which his weakness among blue-collar Democrats looked like it could be fatal. And McCain and Palin’s frequent visits to the state confirmed how high it was on the GOP’s priority list. That made it particularly curious to notice earlier this month that the McCain campaign was spending significantly more in Pennsylvania than in Michigan, perhaps a sign that Republicans noticed they were losing ground here.

And as Obama has gained ground nationally in the aftermath of the financial crisis, he was boosted that much more in Michigan - taking a stunning double-digit lead in a number of recent polls (especially the major Michigan pollster EPIC-MRA). Nowhere are Democrats in a better position when the conversation turns to the national economy than in Michigan, one of the most hard-hit states. That said, McCain remains highly competitive in the state, and the race could tighten again if national security comes to occupy a greater place in the campaign in October. And the amount of legal action in the state testifies to its continuing competitiveness.

North Carolina, lean McCain to toss-up: I wrote a long post devoted exclusively to North Carolina’s tightening just two days ago, so you can read that for a full analysis. Obama’s North Carolina numbers had been stunningly strong in the Tar Heel state since the beginning of the year, but the fact that McCain kept a consistent (albeit narrow) edge in every public poll suggested that the state remained McCain’s to lose. That has changed over the past week, as PPP and Civitas released two polls that had the candidates tied (those were only the second and third surveys ever to find such a result, and the first since April) and Rasmussen had Obama narrowly leading - his first edge ever in North Carolina! And there are other indications that North Carolina is highly competitive: The McCain campaign finally went up on the air earlier this month, and the Tar Heel state was Obama’s first campaign stop after the first debate.

Oregon, lean Obama to likely Obama: Oregon was one of the most endangered blue states in both 2000 or 2004, but Obama has always looked stronger the average Democrat in the Northwest. When Clinton was still in the race, general election surveys showed that this region was one of the only ones in the country in which it seemed safe to say that one candidate looked more electable than the other. And the last few months have confirmed Obama’s strength in Oregon: He now regularly leads by double-digits in a state Gore won by only 7,000 (14% according to Research 2000, 11% according to SUSA and ARG).

South Dakota, likely McCain to safe McCain: This deeply conservative state was not rated in the safest of McCain’s columns because of Obama’s surprising strength in the Mountain West throughout the summer. While Obama had only invested in North Dakota and in Montana, some polls suggested South Dakota might not be entirely out of reach - but that door appears to have slam shut as McCain has regained his footing throughout the region.

Washington, lean Obama to likely Obama: Surprisingly, Obama is having more trouble pulling ahead in Washington polls than in Oregon, which is generally considered to be a more competitive state than its Northern neighbor. But what I wrote about Oregon applies here, namely that Northwestern independents and Democrats appear to harbor warmer feelings for Obama than those in the rest of the country, allowing Obama to hold an edge in a region McCain would have loved to contest. And while I had moved the state to the lean Obama column last week, the Democrat has since then recovered in national polls; it is unlikely McCain can contest Washington without holding a national edge.

History of Campaign Diaries’ electoral ratings:

  • September 27th: + 55 Obama (239 for Obama [154 safe, 43 likely, 42 lean] and 174 for McCain [122 safe, 38 likely, 14])
  • September 20th: +6 Obama (222 for Obama [154 safe, 19 likely, 49 lean] and 216 for McCain [119 safe, 41 likely, 56 lean])
  • August 31st: + 16 Obama (243 for Obama [154 safe, 29 likely, 60 lean] and 227 for McCain [93 safe, 75 likely, 59 lean])
  • August 20th: + 14 Obama (238 for Obama [151 safe, 32 likely, 55 lean] and 224 for McCain [90 safe, 75 likely, 59 lean])
  • July 30th: + 38 Obama (238 for Obama [151 safe, 42 likely, 45 lean] and 200 for McCain [90 safe, 75 likely, 35 lean])
  • July 16th: +28 Obama (255 for Obama [150 safe, 43 likely, 62 lean] and 227 for McCain [90 safe, 78 likely, 59 lean])
  • July 2rd: +11 Obama (238 for Obama [143 safe, 50 likely, 45 lean] and 227 for McCain [93 safe, 78 likely, 56 lean])
  • June 18th: +22 Obama (238 for Obama [86 safe, 97 likely, 55 lean] and 216 for McCain [87 safe, 87 likely, 42 lean])
  • June 4th: +20 McCain (207 for Obama [76 base, 107 likely, 24 lean] and 227 for McCain [97 safe, 77 likely, 53 lean])

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No, it does not all come down to Ohio, or to any one red state

Update: Contrary to previous reports and to a previous update, the McCain campaign now denies that they are planning to air ads in Indiana. If this is confirmed and if the RNC doesn’t move in the state, Obama will have more time to mount a full effort in a state that has become highly competitive.

Original post: Given the constraints on newsroom budgets, it’s not surprising that many election stories feel to need to identify the new Florida ‘00 or the Ohio ‘04. But what if there are no such states to be found this year?

Time’s latest article on the narrowing electoral field argues that the Obama campaign is now being forced to fall back on a narrower list of states to contest, making for a more conventional electoral map than Democrats were hoping for. Time’s premise is that Obama was hoping to run a 50-state campaign, and is now striking states off. Rather stereotypically, the article concludes that the election will come down to Ohio.

Let’s start by saying that the Obama campaign never envisioned contesting 50 states. The point of a 50 state campaign is not to win in places like Utah and Arizona but to build an infrastructure that can be useful in future elections and in down-the-ballot races. On the other hand, the Obama campaign has aired advertisements in only 18 states. It is true that it talked about contesting places like Mississippi and South Dakota and might have spent some money testing the waters there, it did not actually move in and buy air time, so it can hardly be blamed for wasting resources. Did the McCain campaign not used to boast that Connecticut would be a prime target?

Even if we were to admit that the Obama campaign feels crushed that it is no longer competitive in Kentucky or Wyoming, the long list of red states the Democrat still has a strong shot of picking up is impressive - Iowa, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, Virginia, Ohio, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Indiana, North Carolina.

Obama’s increasingly “conventional” map isn’t so conventional, and his investment in 18 states hardly looks like a case of exuberant hubris. Of these 18 states, only Georgia and North Dakota now seem out of reach for the Illinois Senator - and the latter only reconnected with its conservative roots after the GOP convention. For IN, NC and MT to still look competitive is an extraordinary feat for a Democrat to pull off and it forces McCain to make a painful choice: Either risk disaster and stay out of those red states (the campaign is finally pouring in some money in North Carolina, but it is being massively outspent in Virginia) or put in resource that will be taken out of states like Wisconsin and New Mexico.

In 2004, both camps were defending an equivalent number of states (Bush did pick up Iowa and New Mexico, after all) - and Ohio did seem to be standing at the tipping point. This year, the situation looks different, and Obama’s serious push in a number of red state genuinely gives him a number of paths to the White House.

We have talked about this numerous times before, and the math is fairly simple. Iowa and New Mexico are more than leaning towards Obama at this point. That means that Nevada is this year’s Ohio, since 269 electoral votes would probably be enough to get Obama in the White House. Or is it Colorado, where the last three polls show Obama leading outside of the margin of error? Or Virginia, where SUSA and ABC found Obama leading by 6% yesterday. Or perhaps it’s Ohio, or Florida, both of which are highly competitive in current polls. And it goes without saying that North Carolina and Indiana (where Obama has been tied or ahead in at least one poll over the past week) would be as well.

So it does not all come down to Ohio, nor to any one red state. Obama has plenty that can put him over the top, and he has enough money to not have to narrow that list down much further.

This suggests that the biggest challenge to an Obama election is defending all the Kerry states - with Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota and New Hampshire looking like the most vulnerable. By itself, NH wouldn’t do that much good, and wouldn’t block Obama as long as he wins Colorado at least; and Wisconsin and Minnesota are still leaning Democratic.

That leaves us with Michigan and Pennsylvania looking decisive this year. The more there are competitive red states that can get Obama over the top, the higher the pressure on McCain to prevail in one of those two states. It’s much easier to imagine Obama recovering from the loss of any of the toss-up red states than from letting Michigan and Pennsylvania slip.

In other news from battleground states:

  • Nevada: The New York Times goes to swing Washoe County and talks to a number of undecided voters. The Reno Gazette Journal, meanwhile, goes through the latest registration numbers and finds that Democrats are rapidly closing the gap in Washoe.
  • Pennsylvania: The Washington Post reports that while Scranton might love Biden, it does not mean it is warming to Obama.
  • Ohio: The Los Angeles Times finds that Ohio voters aren’t that interested in the financial crisis.
  • Michigan: The Detroit Free Press reveals that as much as 95% of the state’s eligible adults might already be registered vote in article that details some of Obama’s registration goals in the state. The registration deadline is approaching - October 6th.
  • Florida: The Miami Herald reports from Palin’s Central Florida event that drew the biggest crowd yet at a GOP rally this year. Palin supporters sound like Obama’s supporters have for much of the past year (”She’s the sunrise, not the sunset… She makes me feel there’s nothing we can’t do.”)

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Obama’s blue state blues

Barack Obama never looked like a sure winner in electoral college calculations; the biggest margin in Campaign Diaries‘ ratings, on July 30th, only gave him a lead of 38 EVs. But one factor gave Obama a significant advantage over his rival: contrary to John Kerry in 2004, it looked like he would not have to play extensive defense and would be able to concentrate his time and resources on picking up red states.

Sure, Michigan looked to be more competitive than it had been in the past two cycles, and New Hampshire was far from a lock for Obama. But poll numbers from Minnesota, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin looked great for Democrats, as Obama typically led by high single-digits or low double-digits. And that was also true in Pennsylvania, one of the tightest swing states of 2000 and 2004 but where Democrats gained hundreds of thousands of new voters in the past two years.

This is what made Obama’s electoral map such a powerful one: By relying on a solid base of blue states combined with Iowa (a Bush state in which Obama looks particularly strong), his electoral equation was to keep Michigan and add to it just one or two of the eight to ten red states he was contesting. And that meant Obama had a lot of roads to an electoral college majority.

But these calculations have been somewhat disturbed lately. We have repeatedly observed that numbers from the most crucial of battlegrounds - FL, OH, MI, NV, VA or CO - have not moved much despite the GOP’s national bounce and the Palin-generated enthusiasm. But deeper red states like MT and ND as well as marginally blue states Obama was counting on appear to be swinging towards Republicans.

Polls from Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Washington and Minnesota have all shown Obama’s lead collapsing within the margin of error. Quinnipiac for instance, found Obama’s lead in the Keystone State down from 12% in June and 7% in August to 3% this week; both SUSA and Rasmussen found Obama’s lead disappearing in Washington; and today’s Star Tribune poll from Minnesota found a tie at 45% a day after he only led by 2% in SUSA’s survey. Even New Jersey is showing signs of tightening, though I explained that the latest Marist poll had troubling sample problems.

Of course, McCain’s gains in these marginally blue states will be the first ones to go if his bounce fades and if Obama regains his footing among independent voters. But McCain was already on the rise in August, before the GOP convention, in a number of these states. The first real signs of Minnesota tightening, for instance, came in early August, not in early September, suggesting that Obama’s blue state blues are more than a one-week phenomenon and that Obama will have to take Minnesota seriously in the weeks ahead.

None of this is to say that the election is lost for Democrats; as I said, Ohio, Nevada, Virginia and Colorado (not to mention Iowa, of course) are as competitive as they have ever been. But the election is starting to look much more like 2004 (meaning a race in which both sides have opportunities to play offense) than Democrats were hoping it would. At least, the Obama campaign has the advantage of having more financial and staff flexibility to deal with such a changing electoral map: He has enough money to continue investing in states like Montana and North Carolina while also playing in Washington if the need arises, while it is unlikely the GOP will risk divesting resources to New Jersey or Washington unless there is more confirmation that these states are drifting towards the toss-up column.


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Battleground watch: Obama done with Georgia, McCain enters Florida

Two questions were on our mind’s throughout the summer: Would Obama reduce the number of states he invested in, and if so which states would he cut out and when would he do so? And would McCain be moved to invest in the states he had previously stayed out of?

For most of the summer, both candidates stuck to their positions, even if some were urging them to reconsider. Despite talk of Pennsylvania leaning more clearly Democratic than in past cycles, the McCain campaign is treating the state with as much determination as in past cycles. While Obama’s red-state strategy had skeptics, he is within striking distance and sometimes even slightly ahead in places like Indiana, Montana, North Carolina or North Dakota.

But there have been a few changes over the past two weeks. Of the slate of 18 states at least one candidate was contesting, only one have now been cut out: Georgia. Meanwhile, McCain has moved in two states in which he was not airing ads: North Carolina (where I noted 10 days ago that McCain had invested in two of the state’s media markets) and Florida.

Even in Alaska, the Obama campaign says that it has not yet given up, making the news from Georgia significant. We got the first noise of an Obama pull-out on Saturday in the New York Times, and it’s now being confirmed that he pulled the plug on Georgia ads. The Democrats’ investment in Georgia was no bluff: The campaign spent $2 million on ads (including a state-specific ad hitting McCain for his connection to Ralph Reed) and had 30 campaign offices with more than 100 paid staffers.

This is not a repudiation of the red state strategy. Plouffe said that the campaign is moving Georgia staffers to North Carolina and they are staying in IN, ND and MT. Of the 18 states Obama was targeting, Georgia was always the weakest link; it was also the most dependent on the success of registration drives. The Democrats were planning a push to register as many as half a million new voters in the state, a huge investment of resources and staff. Note that this is also an admission that a state like Mississippi is safely in McCain’s column despite some early noise by the Obama campaign that they might make a push there as well.

As for Florida, it remains the biggest prize of the list of battleground states. Given how large an advantage McCain held in the state in the spring, it was perhaps not surprising that McCain chose to stay out of the state through the summer. And while Obama’s massive advertising ($9 million from June onward) allowed him to close the gap, the state still has a slight Republican lean in the latest polls.

At the very least, Obama has forced McCain to move back in the state. The GOP is now airing ads in the state and is starting with a $1.1 million investment targeted at Central Florida. This was a long time coming, and if Florida looks tight in the coming weeks McCain might regret having waited until early September to spend any money in the Sunshine State.

In particular, Florida is one state in which the Palin pick might hurt McCain. Two important reasons Florida seemed to be more Republican than in past elections are Obama’s relative weakness among Jewish voters and among elderly Democratic women (a natural base for Clinton). These are two groups among which the Palin pick is not going to sit well, whatever enthusiasm she generates among Midwestern whites and conservative activists, and Obama is hoping that Palin helps him address his problem among these groups.

The battle over Jewish voters promises to be particularly interesting. Beyond the question of Palin’s relationship with Buchanan (and while the press is now reporting that she did not support Buchanan in 1996, her willingness to wear his campaign button in 1999 will not sit well with West Palm Beach residents if Democrats make a push over it as Rep. Wexler did ten days ago) and her pastor’s links with Jews for Jesus, her social conservative views and lack of foreign policy experience are sure to be factors as well.

Former NYC Mayor Ed Koch - a Jewish Democrat who supported George Bush in 2004 and campaigned for him in Florida - announced this morning that he was endorsing Obama, primarily because Palin “scared” him. Whether or not Koch’s endorsement might move numbers (some Jewish voters might take it as a reassuring sign that Obama is not “dangerous”), it could be indicative of a door closing for McCain among this key constituency.

Reminder: The current list of states Campaign Diaries rates as lean or toss-up includes:

  • Alaska, Florida, Indiana, Montana, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota (lean McCain)
  • Colorado, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Virginia (toss-up)
  • Iowa, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin (lean Obama)

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Seventh electoral ratings: Veepstakes have little immediate impact

This is not Wednesday - the usual day of my presidential ratings - but considering that the week ahead is supposed to that of the Republican convention, we will have enough to talk about then. Consider this a special veepstakes edition. McCain and Obama had an opportunity to reshape the electoral map with their vice-presidential pick. For Democrats, choosing Kaine, Bayh, Richardson could have boosted his chances in key battleground states; for Republicans, Romney would have helped in Michigan and Pawlenty could have sufficed to transform Minnesota into a toss-up.

Instead, both candidates chose a pick from states with 3 electoral vote - one of which was considered a swing state (Alaska), the other was not (Delaware). Thus, the veepstakes’ only immediate impact is to move Alaska out of the toss-up column. Democrats would surely point out that Biden solidifies Obama’s claim on Pennsylvania (the Keystone State was already rated lean Obama in my previous ratings). The Obama campaign is playing up Biden’s roots in Scranton, PA (even airing an ad only in northeastern Pennsylvania) and is hoping Biden can help among blue-collar voters who voted for Clinton on April 22nd.

Beyond this home-state phenomenon, it is very much possible Palin and Biden’s impact will be felt in some states with more strength than others. If Biden helps Obama among blue-collar whites, that could be significant not only in PA but in places like Ohio and Virginia; if he helps him with older voters by adding gravitas to the ticket, look to Florida as a place numbers could move. Meanwhile, if Palin helps McCain among undecided women, that could be particularly important in the suburbs of Pennsylvania and Michigan; if she boosts his conservative credentials, Republican turnout in conservative regions of the Midwest and the parts of the South that are contested could increase; and if she makes him look more libertarian, she could prove a boost in Western states like Montana, North Dakota and even Colorado.

For now, most states are remaining in their place, and the latest polling supports this stability. The latest from Pennsylvania continue to show Obama with a consistent edge while Ohio and Virginia surveys are among the tightest in the country. As for Florida, McCain was ahead in seven of the eight polls released in August (Obama was leading by 1% in the eight). Stability also reigns in Colorado, where polls have stabilized and find both candidates in the lead after months of Obama holding a clear lead. Results in Michigan, New Hampshire and Minnesota, meanwhile, are finding Obama ahead but by widely differing margins.

I have moved New Mexico and Indiana’s ratings this month, however. Both states were very rarely polled, but we three and two polls from these states over the past two weeks. Combined with what we know about the two campaign’s ad investments and ground game, that is enough for a change.

Without further delay, here are the sixth electoral college ratings (states whose ratings have been changed are in bold). Remember that states that are in the “lean” category are still considered to be very competitive and certain to be hotly contested, but it is possible to say that one candidate has a slight edge at this time.

  • Safe McCain: Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska (at large + 3rd congressional district), Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, Tennessee, West Virginia, Wyoming (90 EVs)
  • Likely McCain: Arizona, Georgia, Nebraska (1st and 2nd congressional districts), South Dakota, Texas (64 EVs)
  • Lean McCain: Alaska, Florida, Indiana, Montana, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota (73 EVs)
  • Toss-up: Colorado, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Virginia (68 EV)
  • Lean Obama: Iowa, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin (60 EVs)
  • Likely Obama: Maine (at-large, 2nd district), New Jersey, Washington (29 EVs)
  • Safe Obama: California, Connecticut, DC, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine’s 1st district, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont (154 EVs)

This gives us the following map and totals:

  • Safe + Likely Obama: 183 electoral votes
  • Safe + Likely + Lean Obama: 243
  • Toss-up: 68
  • Safe + Likely + Lean McCain: 227
  • Safe + Likely McCain: 154

I will naturally not attempt to provide an explanation for every single one of these ratings and will concentrate instead on those that have shifted over the past two weeks:

Alaska, toss-up to lean McCain: To everyone’s surprise, the Obama campaign had included Alaska in its list of 18 targeted states and was airing ads in this traditionally Republican state. That was paying off in the polls, as Obama had taken the lead for the first time in a survey released mid-August; Obama trailed in low-to-mid single digits in most other surveys. But Sarah Palin joining the Republican ticket makes the state even more of an uphill battle than it was before. The state’s Governor has extremely high approval ratings (80% in a recent poll) and will Alaska voters reject this opportunity for one of their own to be on a winning ticket for the first time? That said, I am only moving this to the lean column for now, because Republicans still have much to fear in Alaska in the coming weeks (the local press will focus on corruption, Ted Stevens’ scandal and troopergate) and because the Obama campaign has said that it will continue airing ads in the state. But odds that Alaska move to the likely column are much higher than its migrating back to toss-up.

Delaware, likely Obama to safe Obama: Do I really have to explain why?

Indiana, likely McCain to lean McCain: Obama did not pick Evan Bayh as his running mate, depriving himself of a sure boost in the Hoosier state, but he has been airing ads in this red state for months now. McCain has yet to invest any money here. Despite this, I had left Indiana in the likely McCain column because of the lack of evidence and polling data to support Democratic confidence. A poll back in June showed a toss-up, but the GOP deserves the benefit of the doubt in a state Bush carried by more than 20% in 2004. But two polls released in the past two weeks have shown McCain leading by only 4% and 6%. Combined with the fact that one side is organizing in the state while the other is not, this is enough to move the state to a competitive category.

New Mexico, toss-up to lean Obama: After a summer of few polls, the last two weeks have brought us three, with widely differing results. While CNN found Obama leading by 13% and Rasmussen by 6%, Mason Dixon surprised by giving McCain his first lead in the state since April (4%). However, the CNN and Rasmussen numbers are more in line with other information coming from the state. For one, Obama’s hold on the Latino vote is much stronger than was expected earlier in the general election, as most polls are showing him over-performing Kerry’s showing among Hispanics. That will have obvious consequences in New Mexico, where Kerry only got 56% of the Latino vote.

Second, the Obama campaign is  spreading its wings across the state into rural areas that Dems have neglected in the past. The Obama campaign has 17 campaign offices in the state, versus 1 for the McCain campaign (plus 5 by the RNC). Finally, most of the McCain campaign’s recent offense have been aimed at firing up the conservative base (the Palin choice) or appealing to blue-collar white voters. While both could have an impact nationally, it looks like the McCain campaign is more committed to climbing back in a state like Michigan, which is why MI remains in the toss-up column while NM is now out of it.

That said, New Mexico is certainly more tenuous a “lean Obama” state than any of the others in that category, but it is very much parallel to Florida - a state that could make its way back to the toss-up group in a heartbeat and where polling finds is not that consistent.

History of Campaign Diaries’ electoral ratings:

  • August 31st: + 16 Obama (243 for Obama [154 safe, 29 likely, 60 lean] and 227 for McCain [93 safe, 75 likely, 59 lean]
  • August 20th: + 14 Obama (238 for Obama [151 safe, 32 likely, 55 lean] and 224 for McCain [90 safe, 75 likely, 59 lean]
  • July 30th: + 38 Obama (238 for Obama [151 safe, 42 likely, 45 lean] and 200 for McCain [90 safe, 75 likely, 35 lean]
  • July 16th: +28 Obama (255 for Obama [150 safe, 43 likely, 62 lean] and 227 for McCain [90 safe, 78 likely, 59 lean]
  • July 2rd: +11 Obama (238 for Obama [143 safe, 50 likely, 45 lean] and 227 for McCain [93 safe, 78 likely, 56 lean])
  • June 18th: +22 Obama (238 for Obama [86 safe, 97 likely, 55 lean] and 216 for McCain [87 safe, 87 likely, 42 lean])
  • June 4th: +20 McCain (207 for Obama [76 base, 107 likely, 24 lean] and 227 for McCain [97 safe, 77 likely, 53 lean])


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    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

    Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55
  • Election Night results thread: Rep. Boucher’s fall first surprise of the night

  • Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

    Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55
  • Election night cheat sheet

  • Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

    Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55
  • Final ratings: Democrats brace for historic losses

  • Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

    Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55
  • What to watch for down-ballot

Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

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