John McCain has pinned his hopes of winning the presidency on Ohio and Pennsylvania, but the final Quinnipiac University battle ground state poll shows Obama leading McCain, 50%-43% in Ohio, and 52%-42% in Pennsylvania.
Considering the time and money that the McCain campaign has put into these two states, these numbers represent very little movement in the polls from last week, when Obama led McCain by 9 in Ohio and 12 in Pennsylvania. Despite all of their efforts, the McCain campaign has only been able to pick up two points in each state. The other state included in this poll was Florida, which remains unchanged with a slight advantage to Obama, 47%-45%.
McCain’s biggest problem is that early voters and Independents are breaking big for Obama. In Florida, early voters favor Obama, 51%-38%. In Ohio the margin is even bigger. Early voters favor Obama there, 64%-26%. Independents in Florida favor Obama, 49%-39%. In Ohio the margin among Independents is much closer, 48%-44% for Obama. In Pennsylvania, Independents support Obama, 49%-42%.
The question was asked which has been more damaging to John McCain, his selection of Sarah Palin, or his association with George W. Bush. By more than a 2-1 margin, voters in each state said that McCain has damaged more by Bush than by Palin. In Florida and Pennsylvania, 58% said that McCain’s association with Bush policies was more damaging than Palin. In Ohio, the margin was even higher at 62%. If McCain loses Ohio, he can blame himself and his record of voting with Bush 90% of the time.
In Pennsylvania and Ohio, Obama has a 13 point lead (53%-40%) over McCain on the question of which candidate which candidate would be more effective in working with Congress to solve the nation’s economic crisis. The economy is still the top issue in this election, as between 54% (Florida) and 58% (Ohio) named it as their most important issue.
Obama is also poised to have the most support from white voters that a Democrat has had since 1976. Obama is getting 40% of the white vote in Florida, 48% in Ohio, and 47% in Pennsylvania. Obama doesn’t need to win the entire white vote, but his ability to lead or run even with McCain in Ohio and Pennsylvania along with his overwhelming support from women and black voters is powering him to this lead. In order for McCain to win in either state, he has to win the white vote by double digits, and he isn’t doing that.
Anything can happen when the polls open tomorrow, but these numbers show a directional trend towards Obama in a way that we have not seen in a non-incumbent presidential election in generations. It would appear that seeds of John McCain’s potential defeat were sown when he made the political decision to hitch his wagon to George W. Bush. Voters aren’t buying McCain as bi-partisan or a maverick. When they look at McCain they see Bush, and this reason beyond any other is why he is likely to lose this election.