The Liberal Crab’s Poll of “Poll of Polls” – 25 October 2008

Popular Vote

Obama – 51.2% +7.9%

McCain – 43.3%

Electoral College

Obama – 364

McCain – 174

Saturday is a slow polling day, but the limited polling news continues to be positive for Obama.  His popular vote gap continues to increase.  Going deeper in the numbers, the amount undecided has remained steady for the last eight days at 5.5%.  What that means is one of two things.  Either McCain supporters are switching to support Obama or undecideds are flocking to Obama.  Why?  Under the theory that McCain supporters are going to Obama – if the undecided percentage remains steady, it means that candidates are trading the same voters back and forth with each other.  For example, if there are a total of 10 voters – 5 for Obama, 3 for McCain and 2 undecideds.  That means 20% are undecided.  If the vote switches to 60% for Obama (or 6 votes) and the undecideds remain at 20% (or 2 votes), that means McCain now only has 2 votes.  This scenario isn’t bad for Obama.  It means that independents are not breaking for McCain – at least not yet.  It does, however, mean that some of Obama’s support may be soft and the gains and losses by McCain and Obama will be exaggerated (a voter switching candidates has an impact on both candidates’ numbers).  This would mean the polling numbers are a bit more volatile.  If Obama’s support dropped to 49%, it would mean McCain’s would be up to 45% – a net 4% change (or Obama’s lead would be 3.9%, rather than 7.9%).

Under the second scenario – undecideds are flocking to Obama.  How would this work?  Obama’s total is going up, if McCain supporters are taking there vote away, but the undecideds remain steady – it means previous undecideds would have to be making up their mind and going to Obama, to keep the undecided % the same.  This means the polling is much less volatile, as changes are only affecting one candidate.

So which scenario is more accurate?  The truth is, without further analysis it’s difficult to determine.  My gut tells me that it’s the second – Obama is picking up the undecideds.  I believe it would be rare for a McCain supporter to drop McCain and go immediately to Obama, without a stop as an ‘undecided’.  Additionally, some undecideds must be making up their mind at this point.  The stats show no change in the undecided population size.  It’s much easier to believe that independents are trending to Obama and McCain is having difficulty maintaining his support.  Finally, there is always ‘soft’ support in a candidate’s numbers and this is probably what is driving McCain down.

My guess is that 1-2% of McCain’s support will come back as we move through the last nine days.  I am also going out on a limb and saying he’ll probaly garner 40% of the undecideds, as many typically break toward the candidate in the lead.  That being the case, I think the numbers will eventually firm up like this: Obama 52%, McCain 46%, Third Party 2%.

As for the Electoral College, no noticeable change and the map has basically remained constant over the last couple of weeks.  Florida is looking more and more like it could go to McCain, but the rest of the polling seems to be muddled with no real discernible change.  My guess last night was Obama would end up with about 330 Electoral Votes if things remain status quo over the next nine days.

Nine days is an eternity in politics, and much can happen.  But the final frame is coming into focus.  The only way things change at this point is through some rapid event that changes the dynamics of the race.  It’s basically out of McCain’s hands at this point.


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