Is Pennsylvania Tightening? Does It Matter?

Earlier today I saw on CNN that John McCain had closed Obama's 11 point lead to 8 points. Add that to today's Rasmussen poll that shows Obama up by just 4 points in Pennsylvania (down from 7 points on 10/27) and you have some very real evidence of narrowing in Pennsylvania. But looks can be deceiving.

Nate Silver:

And the Pennslyvania polls have probably tightened by more than one point, although it is important to note that the four polls that show the state in the mid- single digits (Rasmussen, Mason-Dixon, ARG and Strategic Vision) have all had Republican leans so far this cycle. Pennsylvania is still an extreme long shot for John McCain -- Obama is more likely to win Arizona than McCain the Keystone -- just not quite the long-shot that it had looked like a couple of days ago.

The fact that there is tightening should not come as too much of a surprise considering how much time McCain and Palin have spent in the state. It is their only and final hope. As Bowers makes clear, the only way McCain can win is to win Pennsylvania.

McCain has to win Pennsylvania in order to win the election. Period. He has no other path right now. So, effectively, when I am calling the election for Obama, I am really just calling Pennsylvania for Obama. It's the same thing. Pennsylvania is the win state.

But even that does not guarantee a win. CNN today showed that even if you give McCain all of the toss-up states plus Pennsylvania, McCain still loses 268-270.

Nate Silver looks at the most likely scenario if there is a real tightening at the national level and sees the race coming down to 5 states, Pennsylvania included. Look at what Obama would need to win the presidency:

1. Win Pennsylvania and ANY ONE of Colorado, Virginia, Ohio, or Nevada.
2. Win Ohio and EITHER Colorado OR Virginia.
3. Win Colorado AND Virginia AND Nevada.

In other words, even if McCain wins Pennsylvania, Obama would need to accomplish either #2 or #3, both very plausible scenarios.

This is all to say that while the likelihood of a McCain comeback is still very slim, they've begun the ole final 72 hours kitchen sink strategy. So, we should all heed a wise man's words from a speech in Henderson, NV today:

Don't believe for a second this election is over. Don't think for a minute that power concedes.  We have to work like our future depends on it in these last few days, because it does.

But I know this, Nevada, the time for change has come.  We have a righteous wind at our back.

And if in these last few days, you will knock on some doors for me, and make some calls for me, and go to and find out where to vote - and remember, you can vote early here in Nevada.  If you will stand with me, and fight by my side, and cast your ballot for me, then I promise you this - we will not just win Nevada, we will not just win this election, but together, we will change this country and we will change the world.

Tags: Barack Obama, John McCain, Pennsylvania (all tags)



you forgot Florida

Is Nate Silver ruling out the possibility of an Obama victory in FL?

Because if Obama wins Kerry states minus PA, plus IA, NM and FL, he wins even without CO, NV, VA, or OH.

by desmoinesdem 2008-11-01 06:17PM | 0 recs

If Obama loses PA, but wins all of the other Kerry states and IA, NM, NV, CO, and VA, he would have 270EVs, which would be enough to win the presidency.

by CommentsOfReason 2008-11-01 08:49PM | 0 recs
Re: Is Pennsylvania Tightening? Does It Matter?

Truth is if Obama loses Penn he loses the Presidency. Because that type of swing will be reflected across the board. But, the chances are he won't lose Penn. Remember Kerry didn't lose Penn and his lead was 0.8% in the final RCP average.

So don't worry about Penn. The only way McCain wins if Obama only takes Iowa and New Mexico from the red states. That's his ONLY path to victory in my opinion.

by Graham1979 2008-11-01 06:33PM | 0 recs

because of the early voting factor.

Let's say Obama makes some catastrophic error on Monday that turns PA against him.

In many other states, like CO and VA, huge numbers of early votes have been cast and Obama has racked up a big lead. So even if McCain won election-day voters by a significant margin, he might not be able to overtake Obama.

PA has no early voting, so theoretically, that state could swing against Obama without the swing being reflected across the board.

by desmoinesdem 2008-11-01 06:40PM | 0 recs
Re: disagree

Chances of an election changing event on Monday are probably around 0.01% right now. Nothing is going to get through the news cycle noise of the voting day build up other than a terrorist attack. Friday it could have happened, but Monday is too late IMO.

Also remember this is the state that voted 58 - 41 in the 2006 Senate race in favor of the Dem. Yes it was for an institutional political figure, but that result still reflects the dynamics in the state to an extent. If Kerry can beat Bush in 04 with his weaker poll numbers against Karl Rove's GOTV machine then Obama can beat McCain.

Even at the height of McCain's support after the Republican convention he did not have a lead in Penn in the RCP average. I am a terrible pessimist, but just being rational, there is no hope for McCain in Penn. It's just the reality of the race being so far in Obama's favor that McCain has to focus there and Virginia. Even if there are polls that show McCain within 2 or 3 points I don't think he'll win.

Here are the Kerry Bush polls: ntial_04/pa_polls.html

by Graham1979 2008-11-01 06:56PM | 0 recs
Re: disagree

amazing - the most optimistic poll back then was Kerry +4. Now the most pessimistic poll shows Obama +4. We've come a long way.

by bushsucks 2008-11-01 08:20PM | 0 recs
Pennsylvania; A State With No Early voting
If the unthinkable happens, McCain wins PA, then it will be because the Obama campaign took the state for granted, which they probably should not have done (but their ground game there looks great and a lot of other surrogates have covered the state quite well for Obama).
But even If McCain wins PA and all of the gold states; ND, NC, FL, OH, MO, and ND, he would still lose the election assuming that Obama wins the other blue states of VA, CO, NV, NM, and IA in addition to everything that Kerry won in 2004.
More likely the McCain campaign's efforts in PA will make PA closer (but they still won't win it), but has cost them NV, all of the gold states, and possibly MT, GA, and AZ.
by CommentsOfReason 2008-11-01 08:46PM | 0 recs
Selling the drama

Pennsylvania is in play because the McCain campaign said it was in play.  In keeping with corporate press/media policy, anything McCain's campaign says is repeated, whether it is true or not true.  

It sells the drama.  That's what the corporate press/media want, that's what they get.  Even Nate Silver said Pennsylvania was "in play" when he was on TV.  Why?  I have no idea, but it was definitely what the people who run the show would want a guest to say.  

The McCain/Palin campaign should have been over the day after the ethics investigation found that Palin violated the code and abused her authority.  If it had been a Democrat, there would have been no other story until she resigned. Instead, not one interviewer asked her about it and no one pressed McCain on it.  Why not?  Because it would have ended the contest in the third quarter.

The corporate press/media has been keeping the McCain campaign alive for about a month now.  I do not think it is because they want him to win.  It's because they want to keep the illusion of a contest alive.

by James Earl 2008-11-01 09:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Is Pennsylvania Tightening? Does It Matter?

Obama or at least Biden need to get their butts over there.

I'm not a fan of this tightening.  I think the spreading the wealth meme has gained some traction with the mouth breathers.

OTOH, I am pretty sure the Republicans can't get out any more votes than they did in '00 and '04.  The Republican voter is notoriously reliable, how many new voters could they possible  find?

So, while I'll believe PA would go to McPalin when I see it, I still prefer the largest polling margin going in.

by nintendofanboy 2008-11-02 03:34AM | 0 recs
Re: Is Pennsylvania Tightening? Does It Matter?

Three new PA polls show the edge at 4, 6, and 8 points.  Far more importantly, they all show Obama at 51%-52%.  It doesn't matter how "close" the state is, if Obama's over 50% he wins.  

You know, all along Obama's people said the state was closer than the polls indicated.  Recently, a McCain advisor said it was about a 6 point state.  So I suspect that the polls are finally moving towards the true condition in the state, that is, a mid-single digit lead for Obama.  I've seen absolutely nothing to suggest that McCain will win the state.  I don't think anyone actually thought Obama would win by 13, did they?

by LanceS 2008-11-02 03:45AM | 0 recs
Screwing themselves

PA voters would only be screwing themselves big time if they vote for McCain.  
Look, It is extremely probably that Obama would still win even if he lost PA.  At this point PA is not being influenced by the national trends because the GOP is throwing everything it has into one state.    They need to win PA and then pray that the other states like Virginia and Nevada magically come back to their side.

So, if Obama does win without PA, it proves that Democrats will no longer have to rely on that state for national elections.   Add to the fact that it is a rapidly dying state that will lose another electoral vote or two by 2012, and the state becomes even less influential.  Especially if the Democrats start to win in Virginia and North Carolina.  Heck, based on Demographic movement even Texas should be a competative state by 2016.

by gavoter 2008-11-02 05:08AM | 0 recs
I wouldn't rush to see

long term effects on the basis of one election.  This is a unique election because of the economy collapse.  It does not mean that NC, for example, is likely to become a Democratic-controlled state.  Furthermore, the 50 state strategy is based upon the belief that all Dem voters in all states matter.  It seems to me that you feel at some level that states that do not go Dem deserve to be punished.  That's not the Dem party I believe in.  Of curse, this is somewhat moot because Obama will win Pa, although I think it will be closer than the polls indicate.

by orestes 2008-11-02 06:40AM | 0 recs
Re: I wouldn't rush to see

Sorry, but this election is not just about the 'Economy stupid'  It is about millions of people finally realizing that the GOP has become a party of Christian Nationalist Zealots intenet on turning America into a Christianist version of Iran.

It is just that it took the economic crisis to finally convince enough of them to admit it.

The GOP is rapidly losing its grip on the Libertarian type of conservatives who realized that it abanded small government at the financial level while expending government into every bit of our personal lives

This is why the Democratic Party is becoming so resurgent in the Mountain West.   This is also why the Democrats are having so much trouble in places like Tennessee and West Virginia and the Deep South.

This is a realignment election because people are finally waking up to what James Dobson and Karl Rove have done and they are rejecting it big time.   And yes, if PA wants to follow the model of James Dobson and let the voters in the T determine their fate, they should not get rewarded.   Punishment does not have to be active, but can also be passive.

by gavoter 2008-11-02 08:03AM | 0 recs
Your position assumes

that most Americans follow politics closely enough to draw the conclusions you attribute to them.  I don't think they do.  It is easy to think this if you move solely in circles which include those interested in politics.  I would venture that at least almost half of the country does not follow politics in any meaningful sense.  And how would the economic collapse lead to a realization that the Republican party is a prty of "Christian Nationalist Zealots"?  The Republican party has been right wing and run huge deficits since the time of Reagan and you believe that all of a sudden the economic collapse hit people on the heads and made them see this?  It just doesn't make logical or political sense.

Your desire to punish voters who don't vote the way you desire is not at all progressive.  In fact, it is the same approach adopted by the right wing.  But, it's different because you're right and the right wing was wrong, eh?  The voters in Pa who vote for Obama are not responsible for those who will vote for McCain- except to the extent they "let the voters in the T determine their fate." What would you have them do, prevent the McCain voters from csting ballots?  Take your hostility elsewhere- it does not belong in the progressive movement.

by orestes 2008-11-02 01:37PM | 0 recs


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