Monday general election polls: Obama improving his electability, but can he restore his Florida (and Michigan) image?

Three general election polls were released this afternoon by SUSA and Rasmussen, and they show varying electability results, with Obama polling much better in Wisconsin and Minnesota and Clinton looking stronger in Florida:

  • In Minnesota, Rasmussen has McCain narrowly leading Clinton 49% to 43% but being trounced by Obama, 53% to 38%. Rasmussen provides an explanation: "McCain narrowly leads Clinton among unaffiliated voters but trails Obama by a two-to-one margin among those same voters."
  • The previous poll from Minnesota was released two weeks ago by SUSA and had Clinton running 3 points better than Obama, though both Democrats trailed McCain (though they crushed all other Republicans).

  • Rasmussen's Florida poll shows an inverse trend, with McCain leading Clinton 49% to 43% but crushing Obama by a much larger margin, 53% to 37%.
  • Obama only gets 55% of the vote of registered Democrats in Florida, 31% of which cross-over to McCain.

  • Finally, SUSA released a poll from Wisconsin which shows Obama running much better, trouncing McCain 52% to 42% while the Republican beats Clinton 49% to 42%.
  • The previous poll from the state, also released by SUSA two weeks ago, showed Obama and Clinton both narrowly trailing McCain, so the trendlines are good for the Illinois Senator within the same polling group here.
The Minnesota and Wisconsin polls suggest that Obama has significantly improved his electability position over the past three weeks, and general election surveys have never been as consistent on whether Obama or Clinton are the strongest contender as they have been over the past month. This trend has been correlated with Obama's improving fortunes in the Democratic primary, as both him and McCain have been receiving favorable media coverage as the two candidates that are emerging from bruising nomination battles. This explains why Clinton's trendlines have been decreasing in the same polls as Obama's has been improving (for example in SUSA's Wisconsin poll where Clinton lost 4 points in two weeks and Obama gained 12. The same is true in Rasmussen's daily national tracking.)

And then there is Florida, the swingiest of swing states. While the Democratic nominee does not have to win this state to win the White House -- it's much more of a must-win for Republicans -- they cannot afford to not be competitive in the Sunshine state, as that would be considered an unmistakable sign of weakness and would concede a huge bunch of electoral votes (I was about to write delegates) to John McCain. Now, the fact that Obama only gets 55% of registered Democrats clearly implies that the controversy over the state's delegates to the DNC convention is hurting the party. Since Clinton is the candidate who is trying to seat those delegates now, Obama is perhaps starting to look bad in the eyes of Florida Democrats, some of whom might be blaming him for trying to thwart their representation.

Even if Hillary emerges as the nominee, she will have to deal with the ridiculous chaos that this situation has created in Florida and repair the rift between her party and Floridians. And consider how much worse the situation will become if the Florida delegates are not seated after all, and there are no contingents from that state during floor votes and cuts of the crowd?

In fact, the same problem holds for Democrats in Michigan, and while there hasn't been a poll taken in that state for a while, the DNC better find a way to resolve this situation without making the Democratic nominee sweat it too much, unless they want to lose the state's electoral votes as well. Michigan has been voting reliably Democratic in recent cycles, but always by surprisingly tight margins, and this is as much of a must-win for Democrats as a swing state can get.

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  • Sorry Obama but the delegates will vote to seat Fla. and Mich. to save those states. I have to give credit to the Gov. of Wisc. He stated tonight that he will flip his vote to Clinton if she pulls ahead in delegates. With the devastating press today about Obama stealing rhetoric and his wife being proud only now of her country, you'll see his numbers tumble. Personally,I think Patrick got the speech from Obama first,then Barack used it for himself. A campaign killer for sure.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 18 February, 2008 19:39  

  • To talk about Obama’s electability today, almost nine month before the November election is a futile as to be ridiculous. I remember Michael Dukakis leaving the convention that nominated him in 1988 with 17% points ahead of George HW Bush, and then go an loose by a respectable margin. This is insanity. Once the GOP start working on this guy, and folks start looking for the second act of his one pony show, his number will go south as birds on fall!! This is depressing. Leave it to the Democratic Party, on a year in which all the stars are lining up right for them, to go and nominate for president the one guy that cannot win a general election. Has everybody gone crazy in the party?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 18 February, 2008 21:09  

  • The only crazy aspect of this race is the prospect of a Clinton versus McCain. The November election is futile and ridiculous when you have the negatives of Hillary Clinton versus the experience of McCain. He will flatten her in the general election. The sure fire way to unit all conservatives behind him is to have her as the nominee, and its pretty crazy to think otherwise.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 18 February, 2008 22:49  

  • And is the Democratic Party set to select its nominee using republican spin points about Mrs. Clinton negatives? Absurd. I have a surprise for all you Obamites that just walked into the political process and now are experts. Elections are about choices, campaigning matters, and once the GOP get to define Obama as an out of touch liberal with a thin record and few accomplishments, his negative too will be very high. It is the nature of the 50-50 nation that we are today. And this divide is not, as Obama claims, just the result of the Clintons wars of the 1990s. This divide is the product of profound ideological differences, the kind that we have not seen since the Civil War. The weight of modernity and social change has hit rural America in a way that is life transforming. The republicans have taped into that anxiety and created a powerful coalition in which million of American vote against their economical interest, voting their fears instead. And you tell me that these battles harden group of people will just play nice and “all get alone”? That is so naïve. By November Obamas negatives will be as high as Clinton are today. Mark my words. He will just be the scary black liberal from Chicago and get destroyed in the south and the mountain west. He will not pick one single red state with the exception perhaps of Iowa. George McGovern.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 19 February, 2008 08:01  

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