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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Gallup: Dems Leading in Battleground States

This is big, especially considering the fretting the punditocracy (and the blogosphere) is doing about how this interminable Democratic nomination battle could be hurting our general election chances. According to Gallup's April polling, both Democrats are winning the purple states (NH, PA, OH, MI, WI, MN, IA, FL, CO, NV, NM and OR) where the margin separating Kerry & Bush in 2004 was less than 6 points. Obama and Clinton both beat McCain in these critical battleground states by a 47-43 margin.

OBAMA More Competitive in Red States: It's in the Red States where Obama outperforms Clinton against McCain. Obama trails McCain by eight points (49-41) in these states while Clinton trails by ten (51-41). Gallup doesn't break out these numbers by state, but it seems Obama may be able to make a state or two competitive and force the Republican candidate to play defense on his home turf more than Clinton.
In Blue States, Obama also outpaces Clinton. Obama beats McCain by thirteen (52-39) while Clinton only leads by nine (50-41). This belies the New York Senators claim that she has demonstrated she can win the "Big Democratic" states that are critical to a Democrat's chances in November. Obama is going to be able to win these more handily than Clinton, if these numbers are to be believed.

Obama's Numbers:

Clinton's Numbers:

The pollsters at Gallup include this analysis:

It's likely that the 2008 election will be fought in the battleground states, just as in prior elections. Gallup's election polling to date suggests that the presidential election could be very close, because neither McCain nor his Democratic rivals have maintained much of a lead in recent weeks.

The analysis of competitive states adds insight into how the candidates are doing beyond the overall vote figures. A candidate must do reasonably well in those states to have a chance at winning. For example, McCain could open up a significant lead in the national vote based on a very strong performance in the red states, but that would not mean he was better positioned to win than if he were not doing as well in the red states but doing better in the more competitive states.

As of now, Obama and Clinton have an advantage over McCain among voters in the competitive states. Given that more states fall into the Republican column than into the Democratic column, the Democratic nominee probably needs to maintain that advantage in order to prevail in enough purple states to gain the electoral vote advantage in November.

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