With recent polls showing that John McCain leads in Indiana and North Carolina and Barack Obama leading in Pennsylvania and Michigan the electoral map is starting to look just as it did in 2000 and 2004. The question is will Virginia be the state that decides the election in 2008?
The latest projection over at electoralvote.com has neither candidate projected to have the required 270 Electoral College votes to win the White House. Obama leads McCain 264-261 with Virginia being a tie. However, this map gives like Nevada and Colorado to the Republicans.
What can’t be denied is that three red states that Obama had targeted have swung to McCain. In Georgia, McCain has opened up a nine point lead. A recent North Carolina poll has McCain leading Obama 46%-40%. The interesting note in that poll is that Independents are going for McCain in the state. A Survey USA poll of Indiana released yesterday has McCain leading Obama by six points, 50%-44%, with voters age 35-49 giving McCain a 17% advantage.
The good news for Obama is that he is holding the standard Democratic advantage of five points in Pennsylvania according to the Susquehanna poll. Obama has also been able to maintain a small 3-4 point lead in Michigan, so it looks like we may not see a mass flipping of states to one candidate. In fact, the margin of victory in November could be as small as a single state, and right now that state is Virginia.
The state race between McCain and Obama has been a statistical tie since June. There has been very little movement in this race. In some polls Obama has been up by one, while in others McCain is up by one. The most recent Insider Advantage poll is probably the most accurate. It shows the race as tied at 43%.
These numbers make it easy to see why Obama is so seriously considering Gov. Tim Kaine as his running mate. If the Obama camp has crunched the numbers and determined that all they need to do is hold on to the Democratic base and pick up Virginia, then they might be very tempted to select Kaine. However Kaine is having some problems of his own as the economic downturn has caused budgetary problems in the state of Virginia for a second straight year.
It is too early to expect the electoral map not to shift before November, but we said the same thing in 2000 and 2004, and the map never moved. If Virginia does end up being the state that decides the election, Democrats have the advantage. Demographics and voting patterns in the state are trending younger and more left, which means that 2008 might be the year that the Democrats win a squeaker of an election.