Quinnipiac University’s polling institute released the results of their latest poll this morning (Wednesday). But this is no ordinary, generalized, national poll. Quinnipiac specifically polled the three biggest, most critical swing states: Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Here is what the poll results showed:
Florida: Obama up 49% to 43% pre-debate and 51% to 43% post-debate
Ohio: Obama up 49% to 42% pre-debate and 50% to 42% post-debate
Pennsylvania: Obama ahead 49% to 43% pre-debate and 54% to 39% post-debate.
The news from this poll is very good for Barack Obama considering the fact that just three weeks ago, he was either down in polls, or at the very best, tied in some states. The momentum then was definitely with John McCain and it felt like McCain may start to pull away.
It is also great news for Obama considering that no one from either party has been elected president without winning two of the these three states because these three states are rich in electoral votes–a combined total of 68 (out of a necessary 270 to win the presidency).
Though the poll results show pre and post debate numbers, the debate itself was not that big of a factor, according to those who were polled in these states. When asked directly, many polled indicated that they felt Obama won the debate but quickly added that the debate was not the primary factor they considered when deciding on whom to vote for.
In Florida, there has been a dramatic 13 point shift since the presidential debate. John McCain still leads with men and white voters in the state, but his margin has shrunk to 50%-45%. Independents in Florida have shifted to Obama in a big way. They have gone from 50%-43% for McCain to giving Obama a 12 point lead 52%-40%. This along with Obama’s 20 point lead with women in the state helps to explain his turn around. Seventy nine percent of Florida voters watched the debate, and by a margin of 49%-34% they said Obama won.
In Ohio, the story was much the same as in Florida. Sixty four percent of Ohio voters watched the debate, and by a margin of 49%-33% they that Obama won the debate. It is good news for Obama that McCain has not been able to make up any ground in Ohio. Obama leads among Buckeye State Independents 46%-42%, and is tied with McCain among men, 46%-46%. Obama still enjoys a double digit lead among women, 53%-39%. Fifty nine percent of Ohio voters said the economy is the biggest issue in the election, and they trust Obama by a margin of 50%-39% to handle the economy.
Pennsylvania has reverted back to a margin that is closer to what many thought Obama would enjoy in the state. The economy is the most important issue to Keystone State voters and on this issue Obama has a nearly 20 point lead over McCain, 55%-36%. Sixty four percent of those surveyed watched the debate, and they said Obama won by a margin of 51%-31%.
McCain’s gamble on jumping into the economic crisis has really hurt him in Pennsylvania. By a margin of 51%-15% voters thought that Obama has been helpful in solving the crisis compared to 39%-35% for McCain. Voters oppose the bailout bill in all three states by double digits. It has the least amount of opposition in Florida (42%-36%), and the most in Ohio, (48%-29%).
The other factor in the shift to Obama has been the complete collapse of Sarah Palin’s approval ratings. In Florida, Palin has gone from a positive 47%-23% rating to a negative 36%-39%. In Ohio Palin has gone from a positive 41%-32% to 35%-35% tie. In Pennsylvania has gone from a 39%-26% positive to a negative 34%-37%. Palin is now hurting, not helping McCain.
This election is no longer about character or foreign policy. It is about the economy, and John McCain’s terrible performance over the past two weeks has led to him falling like a rock. It appears that the debate did not change many mind, but merely confirmed the way that people were leaning. Independents are worried about the economy, and they are leaving McCain in droves. I think that Obama’s lead is a little inflated in Pennsylvania, and probably Florida too.
The troubling number for McCain is in Ohio, where the race seems to have steadied into a solid lead for Obama. No matter what happens elsewhere in the nation, if Obama holds all of the blue states and picks up Ohio, he wins this election. I am not willing to name Obama the next president just yet, but if these numbers hold steady after the second presidential debate, then the Democrat is in an excellent position to win. With Sarah Palin hurting the ticket instead of helping it, McCain has little ammo to use to turn the momentum back to him. It is pretty simple, if this election is about the economy on November 4, John McCain will lose.