Sep 16 2008

Two States To Watch For Election Direction – Updated

Ever since the GOP convention and the selection of Governor Sarah Palin for the VP slot there have been numerous polls showing a pro McCain-Palin wave of various levels and duration across the nation. I have posted on these over the past few days (see below for links). What is clear is deep blue states are going light blue (e.g., New York, New Jerse), light blue states have gone toss-up gray (e.g., Pennsylvania, Minnesota), gray tossups are moving into light red (e.g., Ohio, Florida) and light red states deep red. But with all these various shifts – each unique to the nature of the state, I am going to be watching to pivotal states to see which way this race is breaking.

The first state I am watching is Pennsylvania, which is on the cusp of becoming a toss up state after months of being strongly for Obama.  In the RCP trend for PA Obama’s 9% lead has dwindled to a statistical tie with a meaely 1.6% lead. If we see PA trend anywhere need 3% for McCain then it is probably reasonable to conclude the dems are heading for a very disappoiinting November. If PA goes McCain that will mean the standard GOP states are going solid red and there is going to be trouble across the light blue and gray toss-ups.

Interestingly enough, as I was preparing this post, reader Trent Telenko refers us to what seems to be a panic move by team Obma by way of pulling valuable resources out of VA and sending them into PA:

I just got an email from Barack Obama’s campaign urging me to drive to Pennsylvania. The thing is… I live in Virginia. Virginia is supposed to be a swing state. They would rather have me knock on doors in Pennsylvania than Virginia? That sounds like they are abandoning Virginia.

First, Election Day is seven weeks from today — just 49 more days. That’s not a lot of time.

Second, you live right next door to a state that is once again shaping up to be a crucial general election battleground — Pennsylvania.

And Obama supporters from across the northeast are going to be crucial to putting us over the top in the Keystone State.

That’s why we’re organizing teams of supporters to come to Pennsylvania for Drive for Change weekend canvasses.

Look, without PA in his column VA is useless to Obama. This tells me PA is in serious trouble for team Obama.  It just happens the second state I am watching is my home state of VA, which has been sitting at a tie for months now. A look at the RCP average shows a small but brief post convention bounce in VA that has disappeared – for the moment.  

But I live in Northern Virginia, a key stronghold for Obama under nornal circumstances. But two factors are working against Obama. For one, this region is has massive numbers of working mothers on high profile career paths – they relate to Sarah Palin on many levels. And we here in the DC area are not hyper partisan by nature, but more moderate. So our voters are less likely to vote party verses issues or something else.

Second, we live right next door to the cesspool which is the dysfunctional DC politics. The elites of the Political Industrial Complex which America is rising up against is a small minority. We are also one of the most educated and cynical political voters in the country given the amount of political news we are saturated with. Obama’s lofty rhetoric is not going to work here as it does other places. And we like Mavericks who come in and give the political snobs a good boot in the butt (they are incredibly arrogant up close and personal – trust me).

Therefore I think VA is the state that will determine which way this race trends. It has stubbornly been a tie for months – meaning it is still weighing the options. If Obama had a huge stronghold here he would be in the lead, but he is not.

These two states will indicate the direction of the race in my opinion. I am also waiting to see if NM and NV go from toss up into McCain’s column as well. But these are small states – VA and PA will determine this election cycle.

Update: Great minds think alike (yeah – so what explains me?), Michael Barone is making similar observations.  

I’ve been looking at the post-convention state polls at,, and find some significant differences from pre-convention polls. They tend to suggest that the battlefield is shifting, with more states within McCain’s reach and fewer within Obama’s.

I also forgot to add the previous posts:

More State Polls Coming, Turning Blue States Purple

Minnesota Slipping From Obama’s Grip

Palin Wave Continues To Build, Surfacing In NY

More On The Building Palin Wave – Updated!

More Terrible Poll News For Obama

Even More Evidence, At The State Level, McCain-Palin Wave Continues

Update: Let me illustrate how the domino effect can be in play here. If you go over to the RCP EC Map today McCain leads by 20 with 227 to Obama’s 207. Now start shifting some states, first by moving Ohio to McCain (not unreasonable right now). Now move CO, NM and NV to McCain – optimistic but not unrealistic.

Now, move VA into McCain’s camp, which I noted would indicate the path of this election. At that point McCain wins with 289 EC votes. It is not unreasonable to assume OH, CO, NM and NV will move to McCain if VA does (they are closer to McCain now). Now, add in PA and the shocking truth comes out – McCainreaches 300 EC votes and we are now in landslide terroritory.

If VA moves right McCain is in great shape, but Obama has other targets. If both PA and VA go then it is a landslide for McCain.

8 responses so far

8 Responses to “Two States To Watch For Election Direction – Updated”

  1. browngreengold says:


    I don’t see a contact or e-mail option on your site so I’ll just put this here and hope you see it.

    Seems the Dems have yet to find a cesspool they won’t wade into.

    I saw this over at Ace’s place.

  2. MarkN says:


    Good post. I have been posting 345-193 for a week. That is my prediction and I’m sticking with it.

  3. AJStrata says:

    Thanks MarkN,

    I needed to see some movement before I went public with my suspiciions. Do you have a link to your post?


  4. MarkN says:

    I posted it here. It is in the archives. I’ll look it up. It was on 9/11 (that date should be easy to remember) under Palin is just another pretty face.

  5. AJ,

    The results of the latest Battleground poll can be found here:

    The “unaided ballot” results are 46%/40% in favor of McCain over Obama.

  6. crosspatch says:

    Last I looked, Texas has more independents than either Democrats or Republicans. Texas independents tend to lean Democrat as most of them are former Democrats. In the 1960’s, Texas was a solidly Democrat state.

    McCain leads Obama in Texas by about 10 points.

    The one who wins Texas will win the nation. I have been saying that for a couple of years and I still believe it.

  7. Redteam says:

    In the 1960’s, Texas was a solidly Democrat state.

    cross, technically true, but with a big but. more accurately, a solidly Conservative state as all southern states were back then and still are. But the Dems became liberals and the conservatives became Republican.
    beginning about 1968 all southern states swung from dem to Repub.

  8. DJStrata says:

    As a politically active Virginian I find it very interesting that Obama is trying to pull resources from VA to put in PA. The McCain campaign in VA is already on 72 hour status, which means we are acting like every day from now til the election is one of the last 3 days before election day. That does not normally happen in VA. It will be interesting to see how quick the Obama camp sends people back to VA.