Is New Hampshire In Play For McCain Because of Palin?
by Todd Beeton, Thu Sep 25, 2008 at 02:29:31 AM EDT
Tuesday night on The Rachel Maddow Show, Craig Crawford identified New Hampshire as the Kerry state that John McCain has the best shot of winning in 2008. While I would agree with that assessment, the news is certainly mixed, particularly in light of two new conflicting polls out yesterday. Rasmussen Reports (700 LVs, Sept. 23, MOE +/- 4%) shows McCain up by 2, a swing in his direction of 3 points since August, and a new Marist Poll (604 LVs, Sept. 17-21, MOE +/- 3.5%) shows Obama up 6.
|Rasmussen 9/23 (8/18)||Marist 9/17-21||Pollster||RCP|
Interestingly, these results mirror the discrepancy between the most recent WMUR poll, which had McCain up 2, and the most recent CNN/Time poll, which had Obama up 6. In fact the reason RCP's polling average has Obama up 2 is that these 4 polls were the only ones they counted. On the other hand, Pollster included an additional three polls in which McCain led: two Zogby Interactive polls and one from ARG, all of which are generally considered suspect.
Which is a long way of saying New Hampshire is currently a big ole toss-up, which is problematic for a couple of reasons. First of all is that most roads to an Obama victory presume his winning all states that Kerry won; if Obama can't win New Hampshire, he'd have to make up those 4 EVs somewhere else, which would again mean having to rely on Florida or Ohio to put him over the top. Also, as it is right now, New Hampshire holds the key between an Obama victory and an electoral tie. Subtract NH's 4 EVs from Obama's 273 in the MyDD electoral vote tracker and you get, that's right, a 269-269 tie. Greeeat.
One reason I think some concern actually may be in order when it comes to New Hampshire, at least until we see other polls that reflect Marist's results as opposed to Rasmussen's, is the fact that McCain has actually gained ground in the Ras poll since August, even though it was in the field on Tuesday, in the midst of all the economic turmoil that has generally benefited Obama. So what could account for McCain's gains? It looks from the internals that the Palin effect is still very much in play in New Hampshire.
Take this result:
John McCain named Sarah Palin to be his Vice Presidential running mate. Was this the right choice for McCain to make?
Not Sure 10%
That's 10% more enthusiasm for McCain's pick of Palin than there is for Obama's pick of Biden. Along the same lines, Palin has the highest "Very favorable" rating of anyone on either ticket with 41% (McCain is close behind with 39%.) In other words, in its enthusiasm for Palin, New Hampshire is acting much more like an Alaska or North Dakota than a Massachusetts or Maine, which makes some sense, since there would be some demographic overlap.
Now, it's difficult to discount the power of New Hampshire's fond history with McCain over the years, but I'd argue that that gets him a tie at best, more likely a slight loss. Just look at all the polls that were conducted over the summer (after Obama won the nomination and before he accepted it) Barack was ahead in 8 out of 9 polls; post-Palin, he's ahead in just 2 out of 6.
The question is whether the Palin shine will wear off in New Hampshire as it has nationally or whether she can continue to prop John McCain up in the state.