Quinnipiac: Obama Rising In Ohio
by Todd Beeton, Thu Sep 11, 2008 at 08:37:33 AM EDT
In the wake of the emergence of Sarah Palin, one thing becomes clear: we are reverting to an electoral map far closer to that of 2004 than many anticipated a few months ago. At least for now, Palin seems to have singlehandedly consolidated voters in the south and mountain west behind the Republican ticket, drawing the traditional red/blue divides that Barack Obama had threatened to shatter. What we've seen is McCain showing far more Bush-like numbers in states like North Dakota and North Carolina and as a result, the 50 state strategy became a little less so as Barack dispatched ground troops out of Georgia. If this trend holds, one net effect I suspect we'll see is that Ohio -- the state where Joe Biden is stumping today -- may once again be the crucial battleground. And that may not be such a bad thing.
The new Quinnipiac poll (1367 LVs, Sept. 5-9, MOE +/- 2.7%) shows Barack Obama rising in Ohio since their previous poll just prior to the Democratic convention (August numbers in parentheses.)
Obama/Biden 49 (44)
McCain/Palin 44 (43)
If the trend is that Sarah Palin consolidates red states behind McCain, then we can only draw one conclusion from these numbers: despite its recent presidential tendencies, Ohio, at its core, is not a red state. Certainly most observers would have hoped that in the wake of electing a new Democratic governor and senator that Ohio would follow with a vote for the Democratic presidential candidate in 2008 and while some feared the worst after the contentious primary there, the trend throughout the year looks extremely promising.
For me, it's been somewhat puzzling to see evidence of voters switching to McCain because of Palin since my own anecdotal experience is that her extremism is freaking out some Republicans I know into either voting for Obama or not voting at all. The common thread among them though is that they are northeast moderates. McCain clearly made the calculation that the increase in enthusiasm among the base that Palin would bring to the ticket would outweigh any loss in support among moderates, who are largely concentrated in states McCain had already written off. But the one exception -- and this could very well be McCain's downfall -- is Ohio, which has been acting of late more and more like Pennsylvania and its northeast neighbors.
So, is this the reason for Obama's rise in Ohio since Palin? My theory is hard to test since the Quinnipiac poll since doesn't break voters down ideologically, although Palin does seem to have shifted independents to McCain (from Obama up 4 to McCain up 4.) This would appear to be a hole in my theory, although independents and moderates, while often conflated, are not the same thing. I'll be watching for other polls to track this trend.
The reason Ohio is so crucial, of course, is its 20 vote electoral prize. Recall in 2004, John Kerry needed just one of Ohio or Florida to win; George W. Bush needed both. The same essentially goes this year, although the beauty is that Barack really doesn't need either Ohio or Florida. If he wins Kerry states plus New Mexico and Iowa, he'll only need 6 more EVs to win (Colorado or Virginia, for example.) But now that Palin is on the GOP ticket, New Mexico and Colorado are looking more and more tenuous, which brings us to the importance of Ohio: Kerry states plus Ohio alone = victory.