The latest batch of CNN/Time swing state polls came out today, and they show that Obama has small leads in 3 states that George W. Bush carried in 2004 North Carolina, Nevada, and Ohio. He has a big 10 point lead in Virginia. Most telling is that the McCain campaign’s Bill Ayers and ACORN attacks against Barack Obama are not working.
Obama leads McCain 51%-47% in North Carolina. The margin is similar in Nevada where Obama leads 51%-46%. In Ohio, Obama leads 50%-46%, and the candidates are tied with suburban voters at 48%. The big prize for Obama is in Virginia where he leads McCain, 54%-44%. The key to the Democratic Party’s recent success in the state has been in northern Virginia, where Obama is leading McCain by a 2-1 margin. The good news for McCain is that he has opened up a nine point lead in West Virginia, 53%-44%.
The really bad news for McCain is that a majority of voters in Virginia, Ohio, and North Carolina say that Bill Ayers and ACORN won’t affect their votes. In Virginia, where the Obama-Ayers attacks have been their most vicious, 62% of those surveyed said that they are familiar with Ayers, and he won’t affect their vote.
Fifty seven percent said that they were familiar with ACORN, and that it won’t affect their vote. In Ohio, 50% said that Ayers wouldn’t affect their vote, and 27% said that it might. 31% said that ACORN may affect their vote, but 50% said that it wouldn’t.
In North Carolina 52% said that they were familiar with Ayers and he would not affect their vote, compared to 29% who said that Ayers might affect their vote. Fifty percent said that they were familiar with ACORN and it would not affect their vote, compared to 29% who said that it might. There a few worse positions for a presidential candidate to be in, then to have to defend your home turf less than two weeks before the presidential election.
The two most realistic possibilities for Obama on this list are Virginia and North Carolina. Ohio is a true toss up that could tip either way by a point or two. Nevada could be placed in the same category as Ohio. Barring a total collapse by his campaign, McCain will carry West Virginia, but Virginia due to its shifting demographics and North Carolina with its large youth and African American vote look ripe for the picking by Obama.
Obama has so many red states in play, and no blue states to defend that he can afford to lose Ohio and Florida, and still have plenty of ways to make the electoral math work in his favor. Nobody should be surprised if Obama wins Iowa, Virginia, and Colorado. Wins in Virginia and Iowa or Colorado, along with carrying all of the 2004 blue states, will be enough to put Obama in the White House.
McCain would have to repeat Bush’s 2004 performance to win the election by 16 electoral votes. However, this scenario looks highly unlikely. At the end of the day, it looks like this race has stabilized. Since the markets collapsed these state polls have been trending to Obama, and McCain has not been able to change the momentum. I think that it will tighten a little by Election Day, but McCain has limited cash, and has to win in too many places to have a solid chance at a comeback.