The Liberal Crab’s Poll of “Poll of Polls” – 26 October 2008

Popular Vote

Obama – 51.2% +7.5%

McCain – 43.7%

Electoral Vote

Obama – 363

McCain – 175

With eight days left to go in the election, the race remains relatively stable.  Slight movement to John McCain today, as Obama’s share of the vote remained identical to yesterday.  McCain ticked up .4% and independents dropped .4%.  The good news to take out of this for Obama supporters is that he remains above the 50% mark.  In the 15 days I’ve reported on the poll, he has been above 50% in each of those days.  McCain can take an overwhelming majority of the independents and still lose the popular vote.  Obama’s support at at least 50% is relatively strong.  McCain still hasn’t been above his ceiling of 46% since Mid-September.  According to Real Clear Politics, McCain has spent a total of 10 days above 46% since April 1st.  When you add Bob Barr and Ralph Nader, Obama’s support drops by 2% and McCain’s by 3% – giving Obama an additional cushion.  Per Real Clear Politics, that gives Obama a 9% lead, with 6% undecided.  As I keep saying, it will be very difficult for Obama to lose the popular vote.  Things got a little tighter over the weekend, but as you can see from the trends, not a significant difference.  At this point, McCain needs to pick up .8% per day.  McCain’s best performance, around naming Palin and the RNC, he picked up .9% per day for six days.  McCain has the end of the election looming, which will force movement.  However, on Wednesday, Obama will have his 1/2 hour network time.  It’s very evident that only an October surprise will move the popular vote dramatically.   More evidence to that fact – Rasmussen is reporting that, per their poll, about 90% of those who have made a selection WILL NOT CHANGE their vote.  In Rasmussen’s poll, that means Obama is ‘guaranteed’ 48% and McCain 39%.  Assuming Barr/Nader garner the 5% they have been polling, that would still give the popular vote to Obama.

The Electoral College map continues to be relatively static.  However, my polling sensitivity is very low.  That’s for a couple of reasons.  The first is that as a Poll of “Poll of Polls” I am two degrees away from the actual data.  This is good to toss bad polls and not get lost in the noise, but does reduce sensitivity if there is a dramatic change in the race.  Second, my model assumes throwing support to whichever candidate is leading in a poll, regardless of the size of that lead. So a .1% lead for Obama means he gets the state.  The good news is we haven’t seen much movement back and forth over the small leads.  To further make an Obama supporter feel comfortable, all pollsters are giving Obama at least 330 Electoral Votes right now.  

I did run a model today based on Real Clear Politics projections.  I gave Obama and McCain only states where they had at least 50% of the support (some barely making it, some barely missing).  The theory being if you have 50% of the vote, you have a majority of the electorate.  Under that scenario, Obama has 286 Electoral Votes and McCain 160.  Toss-ups include Nevada (5), Montana (3), Missouri (11), Indiana (11), Ohio (20), North Carolina (15), and Florida (27).  Obama is at 49.9% in Ohio.  That means that if he only wins states he has 50% of the vote or higher, he wins the election.  Most polls also give Ohio to Obama – raising his total to 306.  You can see why Pennsylvania is so important.  Without picking off a big state like that, McCain has no chance.  But even if Obama loses Pennsylvania (and Ohio), he’d only need 4 Electoral votes.  Nevada, which he has a 3% lead, would still give him the election.

To sum up – McCain needs to win Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida (along with Nevada, Montana, Missouri, Indiana, and North Carolina) to win the election.  I doubt any other combination will get him there.  A combination of Virginia, Colorado, Ohio, and Florida (along with Montana, Missouri, Indiana, and North Carolina) could also work.  With eight days to go, he has eight or nine states he needs.  Which goes back to the other point – without a paradigm shift (i.e. a massive movement of the popular vote to McCain – which is a losing cause), he can’t win.

My gut tells me the election is far from over.  But the math and logic shows it to be an extremely difficult path to justify.

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