Missouri Looks a Lot Like a Swing State

Missouri is one of those states -- kind of like Florida -- I have generally tried not to get my hopes up about to too great a degree. Missouri seems to be the type of state that would provide electoral votes 300 through 311 for Barack Obama if he carried it rather than 259 to 270 (i.e. it would be gravy to carry rather than the one to put him over the top). But inasmuch as this election is not just about putting together the states to get to 270 but also a broader chess game to force the opposing candidate to go on defense in states he should be able to feel safe in, thus decreasing the opponent's ability to reach 270, Missouri is an important state for the Obama campaign. You can see as much in the latest polling from the state. Here's Rasmussen Reports:

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey in Missouri shows John McCain attracting 47% of the vote while Barack Obama earns 42%. A month ago, the candidates were essentially even. That survey was conducted the night that Obama clinched the Democratic Presidential nomination. McCain had the advantage in earlier surveys.

When leaners are included in the current survey, McCain leads Obama 50% to 45%. Leaners are survey participants who initially indicate no preference for either major candidate but indicate that they are leaning towards either McCain or Obama.

And here's Public Policy Polling:

John McCain 47
Barack Obama 44

Both surveys show John McCain holding his party base better than Obama -- though that's largely a function of the fact that disgruntled Republicans have left the party to become independents, making those still self-identifying with the party a more loyal bunch by comparison.

But the more exciting development out of the state, which now only leans about 2 points towards McCain according to the Pollster.com trend estimate, is this: Obama may have 10 times more organizers on the ground in the state than McCain, according to The Kansas City Star.

The Democrat's campaign said Tuesday it is tripling its paid staff -- to an unprecedented 150 workers, who will fan out from 30 field offices across the state, from West Plains to Maryville.

"It's unheard of," veteran Democratic worker Woody Overton of Kansas City said of the effort and expenditure.

"It's unbelievable."

"Desperate" is the adjective John McCain's camp uses.

"When you feel like you have to put that many people in the state to cover it, means you think you're in trouble and you have to have a surge," said Jack Jackson, McCain's Missouri co-chairman.

Recent polls indicate the race in Missouri is close.

McCain's operation expects to have 12 to 14 full-time workers and 10 offices. The Arizona Republican now has four people on the ground.

You have got to respect the chutzpah of the McCain campaign in trying to spin away their remarkable organizing disadvantage as a sign of strength by saying that the Obama campaign is only putting staff in Missouri because they think their candidate is weak there. I guess that means that McCain trailing in the polls nationally must be a good thing for his campaign, too...

Regardless of the McCain spin, this is a really exciting development. Do I think that Missouri will necessarily be in the Obama column come November 4? No. But that's not what's truly important. With a field organization like this, on top of polling showing this to be about a 2-point race, there's a strong likelihood that Obama won't be pulling up the stakes in Missouri in September -- a move that has occurred in the past, allowing the Republicans to divert money they would spend to defend the state to other states. And in the three-dimensional chess game that is the race to the White House, keeping one's opponent on his heels is a definite key to victory.

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US News: Bush to Speak at Republican National Convention

John McCain and George W. Bush might not share the same stage at the same time between now and election day, but that doesn't mean that McCain isn't going to allow the President to address the Republican National Convention.

Sen. John McCain's plans are gradually unfolding for the Republican National Convention in September as he tries to walk a tightrope between conflicting demands.

First is the question of how to give President Bush a forum as the party's two-time nominee but at the same time keep McCain at a distance from the unpopular incumbent. The answer, according to McCain aides, will be to have Bush give a speech on the first night of the convention--a Monday--and let him have the moment to himself. McCain isn't scheduled to arrive in Minneapolis-St. Paul, the convention site, until Tuesday at the earliest, after Bush leaves, which means that, at this point, the two men won't be seen with each other that week.

What a great plan -- having the most unpopular President in the history of polling address the Republican National Convention. With the networks trying their darndest to get out of covering the conventions under the theory that they do not constitute news (leaving aside, of course, the fact that the American public has given the networks the gift of free broadcast spectrum worth tens of billions of dollars in return for the promise to cover events like party conventions), an address from the stage of the convention by the sitting President of the United States (however unpopular) will have to get wall-to-wall coverage. Does anyone actually think this would be a good development for the McCain campaign?

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Further Evidence that Arizona Isn't in the Bag for McCain

Last week I noted polling out of Arizona showing that John McCain was leading in his home state over Barack Obama by just 10 points. What's more, the polling showed McCain well below 50 percent in the head-to-head matchup. Some were at least a bit incredulous upon reading this news. But lo and behold, a second poll, this one from Rasmussen Reports, finds McCain with an underwhelming lead over Obama in Arizona and polling below 50 percent to boot.

Since Hillary Clinton dropped out of the race for the White House, Barack Obama has enjoyed a bounce in the national polls and in many state polls. John McCain's home state of Arizona is no exception, though the presumptive Republican nominee still enjoys a decent lead in the state.

In April, McCain led Obama by twenty points. Now, the latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey shows McCain attracting 49% of the vote while Obama earns 40%. Six percent (6%) say they'll vote for some other candidate and 5% remain undecided. Twenty-seven percent (27%) say McCain is too old to be President while 50% say Obama is too inexperienced.

McCain leads by twenty-seven points among men but trails by six among women. The Arizona Senator is supported by 81% of Republicans and enjoys a twelve point lead among unaffiliated voters. Obama gets the vote from 75% of Democrats.

Overall, McCain is viewed favorably by 60% of Arizona voters, Obama by 47%.

These numbers don't scream "Obama opportunity" as much as they do "McCain underperforming," but they do underscore the notion that as voters get a chance to know McCain better they aren't necessarily going to like him more. In fact, the voters who know McCain the best and have known him for the longest -- those in his home state of Arizona -- don't put a huge amount of faith in him judging by the fact that the last two surveys, and three of the last four, have shown McCain unable to secure majority support from Arizonans. It wasn't so long ago that polling showed McCain feebly trailing ahead of his 2010 reelection bid.

It's not the case that both presidential nominees are struggling in their home states. For reference, the two most recent polls out of Obama's home state of Illinois, which were taken all the way back in February and January, show Obama leading by a margin in excess of 25 points with support at or approaching 60 percent. Remember, Illinois used to be a fairly Republican state, with the GOP presidential nominee carrying its electoral votes in every election between 1968 and 1988; no Democrat since Lyndon Johnson has gotten more than 55 percent support in the state in a presidential election.

So if the Democrats can figure out what's in the water in Arizona -- why they don't particularly love McCain (perhaps it has to do with his insatiable ambition, conniving cynicism, his flip-flopping, or something related -- bottle it, and send it around the country, they might be able to figure out the ticket to a real, meaningful victory in November.

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Obama Up Within Margin of Error in Latest Ohio Polling

SurveyUSA was in the field in Ohio earlier this week, and the results among likely voters look like this:

John McCain (R): 46 percent
Barack Obama (D): 48 percent

With this new poll in the mix, the Pollster.com trend estimate puts Barack Obama up 46.1 percent to 42.7 percent; the Real Clear Politics poll average puts Obama up 47.3 percent to 43.8 percent; and Five Thirty Eight projects a 4.4 percentage point victory for Obama in the state. In other words, the race in the state is tight -- though Obama appears to have a narrow, though noticeable, edge currently.

What does the map look like if Obama is indeed able to pull off a victory in Ohio? The path to victory for John McCain becomes significantly more tenuous. A win in Ohio brings 20 electoral votes, meaning that if Obama can carry the state in November and can keep the Kerry states in the Democratic column-- and he now leads in each of them, according to averages of polling from the states -- he would win the White House. Tack on states like Colorado, Iowa, New Mexico and Virginia -- additional states that George W. Bush carried in 2004 that Pollster.com now shows Obama leading in -- as well as the handful of other red states Obama is clearly competitive in, and all the sudden the map looks a lot less like a 50/50 split and a lot more like, well, something entirely different.

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Wasn't McCain Supposed to Be Competitive in New Jersey?

The Senate election in 2002. The presidential election in 2004. The gubernatorial contest in 2005. The Senate election in 2006. Every year or two the Republicans trick the establishment media into believing that they will be competitive in New Jersey, only to flame out embarrassingly. And for a while they had folks going that John McCain would be able to make a run for it in the Garden State come November. Well, not so much.

Widespread opposition to the war in Iraq has helped give Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama a double-digit lead in New Jersey vs. Republican John McCain, according to a Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll released today.

The poll of 702 registered New Jersey voters found 49 percent favored Obama, 33 percent favored McCain, 3 percent plan to vote for someone else and the rest were undecided.

At present, the Pollster.com trend estimate, Barack Obama leads McCain in New Jersey by a 12.5 percent margin. Real Clear Politics places the spread at 10.3 percentage points. The folks who wrote up the poll underscore the finding that Obama is only leading among Clinton supporters by a 64 percent to 18 percent margin, but reading these numbers, it seems that the anemic 33 percent showing from McCain -- a full 13 points behind George W. Bush's showing in the state in 2004 -- stands out a bit more prominently than the relatively low defection rate within the Democratic ranks (though perhaps that's just my vantage). Although there may be an upside to these numbers for McCain: at least he might not feel obligated to dump a few million dollars in New Jersey because he's already so far behind...

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