The Minneapolis Star Tribune released a new Minnesota poll this morning, and it contains more bad news for John McCain, as Barack Obama now leads the Republican 55%-37% in a blue state that McCain had targeted to flip.
Today’s results are evidence of the enormous shift that has taken place over the past month. In September, this same poll had the two candidates tied at 45%. Overall, more people in the state are identifying themselves as Democrats. There has been an eight point swing in those who call themselves Democrats from last month. This month, 42% of respondents called themselves Democrats, up from 34% in September. The number of self identified Republicans has dropped from 31% to 26%.
As with other recent state polls McCain’s decline can be attributed to the economy and his poor debate performance. Obama has surged to a 28 point lead on the question of who would do a better job with th3 economy, 58%-30%. As the issues of terrorism and national security have faded into the background, McCain’s lead has shrunk on these issues. By a 2-1 margin respondents said that Obama won the debate.
Trying to figure out what has powered Obama to so many swing state leads the economy or the debate is a bit of a chicken or egg argument. From my view the answer is that the economy is the issue that is powering Obama’s momentum, but McCain’s poor debate performance on the economy reinforced the direction that many people already were leaning in. Many McCain supporters will point to a recent Strategic Vision that had McCain up by a single point in Minnesota as evidence that the race in this state is a lot closer that this poll indicates.
However, looking at the trend in these state polls, along with a CNN/Time poll of Minnesota taken a week ago of Minnesota that showed Obama with an 11 point lead, I think it is likely that the Strategic Vision poll is wrong. Here is the current position that John McCain currently finds himself in. Every single toss up state on the board is a Republican state. McCain does not have a single Democratic state in play.
This means that his only path to victory is to win every single state that George W. Bush won in 2004. If he loses a single state that Bush carried, at best, he can’t win the election, at worst he loses. This new Minnesota poll is more evidence of a potential tidal wave of support for Obama, but there is still a month and two presidential debates left to go. However, it seems that the only way McCain can win is either by changing his strategy to address the economy, or he has to hope that Obama blows it. Right now, it doesn’t look like either will be happening soon.