A new series of Time/CNN state polls confirms the growing trend towards Barack Obama. Obama now leads John McCain 51%-47% in Florida, 54-43% in Minnesota, 51%-47% in Nevada, 53%-44% in Virginia, and the two candidates are statistically tied in Missouri where Obama has a small 49%-48% lead.
Obama has gained four points in Florida over the last CNN poll. He has gained six points in Missouri where John McCain was ahead by five points in the last poll. McCain led Nevada by two points, and now he trails by four. The two biggest surprises are in Minnesota and Virginia. Obama has gone from a two point lead in Minnesota to an 11 point lead, but the most dramatic swing came in Virginia, where McCain two weeks ago, according to CNN, had a four point lead, now he trails in the state by nine.
Let’s throw out the numbers for a second, and look at the trends and momentum. It is likely that some of these state numbers are a bit inflated, but the trend towards Obama can’t be denied. So, how did this happen? I think the best explanation is that the economic crisis hit the news just as people were really starting to pay attention to this election. People watched the presidential debate to see what the candidates had to offer on the economy, and what they got from McCain was a lot of talk about earmarks and tax cuts.
In contrast, Obama stood there and said that people are hurting. He got caught up in McCain’s discussion about earmarks, but McCain never acknowledged that people are struggling right now. McCain’s suspension of his campaign and rush back to Washington, actually hurt him, because it made him look less presidential. The approach Obama took made him seem calmer and more presidential. This perception along polling that indicates that women have rejected Sarah Palin, and are flocking to Obama in droves is probably enough to move the state polls that we have seen today.
There are also signs that Independents and moderates are shifting to Obama, because these are groups that are usually more sensitive to problems like the economy and the message of change when they feel that things are going poorly. It is too early to read too much into any of these polls, but Democrats can see the potential for a big Obama win. McCain is sinking, and everything is trending towards Obama, but nothing is certain until the votes are counted on November 4.