3.31.2008

Monday polls: McCain edges Democrats in 5 out of 6 matchups in blue states

McCain continues his strong streak in Rasmussen's general election polls. He led all four match-ups yesterday in Virginia and Wisconsin. Today, Rasmussen released 3 new general election polls, all from relatively reliable blue states -- and McCain leads in 5 out of 6 of the match-ups.

  • In Washington state, always competitive but clearly leaning Democratic, McCain stays very competitive against Obama (he trails 48% to 43%) and leads against Hillary: 46% to 43%.
  • In Michigan, also a tight state which Democrats have come to depend on, McCain looks well positioned to score a major pick-up. McCain edges out Obama 43% to 42% and Clinton 45% to 42%. While both match-ups are toss-ups, even that much is dangerous for Democrats in a state they absolutely need. And these numbers are confirmed by other states which also show McCain competitive.
  • The favorability ratings also put the Republican on top: McCain is at 55%, Obama at 50% and Clinton at 47%.
  • In New Jersey, finally, McCain also edges out both Obama (46% to 45%) and Clinton 45% to 42%. That's a stunning turn-around from last month's Rasmussen numbers, in which Clinton led 50% to 39%; Obama already trailed 45% to 43%.
  • The favorability numbers in this blue state are also noteworthy: McCain is at 61%, Obama at 58% (a 6% improvement) and Clinton at 50% (a 6% drop).
It goes without saying that McCain's strength in all three of these states should greatly worry Democrats. It is hard to imagine an electoral map for either Clinton or Obama that does not incorporate New Jersey, Michigan and Washington. While it is certainly mathematically possible to get to 270 without them, this group of state would not be the first to go and would signal that Democrats are too busy defending states that should be reliably blue to be looking into picking up Virginia, Colorado, Ohio and Florida.

As I pointed out yesterday, Rasmussen's polls tend to favor McCain more than other surveys, but that is not reason enough for McCain's chances to be dismissed in these states. The whole point of his general election strength is that his appeal to independents could endanger states like New Jersey and Michigan that have tended to vote Democratic in recent cycles but that have always flirted with the Republican nominee. Add to that the problem of the Michigan delegates and the ill-will that could create in the state against the Democratic nominee.

It's early in the game, but we have enough indications that much more states than we expected could be in play in 2008 with both sides putting in play states that weren't considered that competitive in 2004.

Meanwhile, ARG released its first North Carolina primary poll of the year:

  • Obama is leading 51% to 38%. That includes a 78% to 17% lead among black voters, while he trails Clinton among whites 49% to 37%.
Obama seems to have taken back a double-digit lead in North Carolina poll, with this survey actually on the lower-end of the 3 polls we have seen from the state over the past 2 weeks (PPP and Insider Advantage being the two others). As I have explained elsewhere, a large Obama win in North Carolina could be as hurtful to Clinton than if she loses Indiana.

Update: PPP released its new North Carolina poll and shows Obama up 54% to 36% -- pretty much where it was last week when Obama was leading by 18%. He gets 36% of the white vote and 81% of the black vote.

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