5.21.2008

Presidential polls: Obama weak in Florida, strong in CO, as Clinton posts surprising NC numbers

A lot of presidential polls to digest today, as SUSA, Rasmussen and two other polling groups released new match-ups for a total of 8 states with some surprises and some expected results. The most interesting come from the pair of Southern states that the Obama campaign believes it can put in play:

  • In North Carolina, SUSA finds surprising results: Hillary Clinton is leading McCain 49% to 43%, while Obama is trailing 51% to 43%. As usual, Clinton's advantage is derived from women (she leads McCain by 19% while Obama trails by 1%) and by registered Democrat, among whom her lead is 20% superior to Obama's.
  • In Virginia, a VCU Commonwealth poll shows that McCain is leading both Democrats, 44% to 36% against Obama and 47% to 38% against Clinton. One puzzling internal is that Obama only gets a 41% to 36% in Northern Virginia, a region he will have to win by a much bigger margin to make the state competitive.
With all the talk of Obama putting the Carolinas and Virginia (some even add other Southern states to the list) in play, it is easy to forget that until February Clinton polled systematically better than Obama in the South and in non-Western red states. This was true in Kentucky, surely, but also in states like Virginia. It is still surprising to see Clinton poll that much better than her rival in North Carolina, a state in which Obama trounced Hillary and a state which his campaign is prompt to put on the competitive list. There is no question that a race in single-digit is already a victory for Democrats, since they had difficulty reaching that point in 2004 even with that Edwards on the ticket; the same is true in Virginia. But to prevail in one or both of these states Obama will have to improve his showing among registered Democrats: They should be his base, but he often has trouble solidifying it.

Another important poll that was just released is Rasmussen's latest from Florida:

  • McCain leads Obama handily, 50% to 40% (this is actually a 5% improvement for Obama). But he trails Clinton 47% to 41%.
Rasmussen's poll from Ohio found a very similar set of results a few days ago, prompting me to write early musings on Obama's electoral map and the fact that he appears constantly weak in Ohio and Florida polls. Whatever the reason -- McCain looks to be stronger than most Republicans among elderly, Hispanics and possibly Jewish voters while Obama has possible weaknesses among these groups -- Florida does look like one of the states where Clinton could have fared better, as Rasmussen's poll suggest and as the latest Quinnipiac poll confirmed (Clinton beat McCain by 8% while Obama trailed by 1%). This means that Obama will rely on an alternative electoral map, one based on states in which he appears stronger than Clinton, for instance Colorado:

  • The latest Rasmussen poll from Colorado finds Obama besting McCain 48% to 42% while McCain beats Clinton 47% to 44%.
Colorado's 9 electoral votes are even more within reach considering that the Democratic convention will be held in Denver. Kerry got surprisingly close in 2004, and Obama strongly appeals to the Western independents whose support is key to changing the state's allegiance. If Democrats carry the state this year, Colorado will have gone through a very rapid switch from reliably red to blue state within 3 election cycles. And in other polling news:

  • Missouri is another red state that will be very hotly contested in the coming months, certainly more than Kerry went for it in 2004. SUSA finds Clinton faring a bit better, besting McCain 48% to 46% while Obama narrowly trails 48% to 45%.
  • The differential between the two Democrats is mainly due to the registered Democrats vote, as Clinton gets 82% to Obama's 72%.
  • In the day's least interesting poll, Deseret confirms that McCain has no reason to worry about Utah's electoral votes. He leads 65% to 20% against Clinton and 62% to 27% against Obama.
Finally, SUSA released two polls from blue states testing potential veepstakes. I am not particularly interested in the VP match-ups in that most of the names have very low name recognition and the test is mostly a measure of that. There seems to be little question that John Edwards and Mike Huckabee help their party's nominees the most, but that is also a reflection on the other tested names not being very well known. So I am here only providing the hard matchup numbers:

  • In Pennsylvania, Obama is ahead of McCain 48% to 40%. View more VP match-ups here, as I will only say that it is interesting that the inclusion of Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell does not help the Democratic ticket at all.
  • In California, Obama leads McCain 49% to 41%. View the numbers with VP match-ups here.
The first margin is strong for Obama, though there is no question that he would rather lead by a larger percentage in California to ensure that he will not have to spend a single minute or a single dime defending the country's largest state, and one without which no Democrat can reach the White House. Finally, Democracy Corps released a national poll that shows both Democrats leading McCain by 2 percent.

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10 Comments:

  • I think it's important to remember that we're in a heated primary campaign. It's hardly a surprise for one candidate's supporters within a party to say they won't support the other in such a situation. The unspoken truth is that it's almost always a lie.

    Independents are another matter. They genuinely have a choice whom they aren't bound to by party. That's why I've always thought Obama stood a much better chance no matter what the General elections polls said. The idea of a significant number of Democrats staying home or voting for McCain given the poisonous partisan atmosphere (especially when the tension of the primary election will have been over for several months by November) is slightly absurd.

    It's like asking a focus group if they like negative campaigning: their answers are distorted by present circumstances.

    By Anonymous Chris, At 22 May, 2008 04:20  

  • Whether Clinton does well against McCain in NC or any state that has completed its primary is as revevant as McCain vs Edwards or Dodd in those states. Because she is still in officially in the race pollsters are obligated to include her in their polls and only when she has finally withdrawn from the campaign, and the news has settled in with her supporters, will the McCain/Obama head to head matchups will begin to reflect the real state of the campaigns in those states.

    By Anonymous fritz, At 22 May, 2008 07:06  

  • I'm not very surprised about NC's numbers, except that Clinton is leading McCain by 6. I don't believe that Clinton would ever win NC's electoral votes because of her reputation within the state.

    What I'm not surpised about is that Clinton is doing better in the general election than Obama as it relates to NC. The eastern and western portions of the state would be hard pressed to support Obama (remember, Helms was NC's senator for 30 years). The central piedmont of NC will be Obama's best showing.

    I've lived in NC all my life. NC has not gone for a Dem since 1976 (Carter, Southernor), and has been only close 3 other times in its recent past (1980-Carter, 1992--Clinton, 1996--Clinton). A democrat winning NC would have to be a populist in the mold on Edwards.

    By Anonymous Jim W, At 22 May, 2008 08:46  

  • I am very surprised by the NC poll, SUSA have a good reputation but I would want to see further polling to confirm this poll. Other polls had shown Obama and McCain to be tied so we will see.

    The Colorado poll shows Obama has a very good chance of winning that state come November.

    What is really surprising is how well Obama does in PA. Clinton likes to say because she on the primary she would win the state but Obama also wins it by 8% which is a great margin when you consider in the past two elections the Dems have barely kept PA in the blue column. Also interesting that Rendell doesn`t add to the ticket, although with an 8% lead he is not really needed. This at least means Obama can focus on Ohio, Florida, Virginia and winning any of those (with Iowa in VA's case) would mean he wins the election.

    The CA poll could be good news for Obama since it might make McCain spend precious time and money in CA and still lose.

    By Anonymous Mike, At 22 May, 2008 09:01  

  • Dismal foreshadowing of an Obama nomination. I think it might take months of polls confirming this until the obvious will shatter the Obama mythology.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 22 May, 2008 09:20  

  • keep waiting anon 9:20. That which you are waiting for will never happen.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 22 May, 2008 09:27  

  • I wonder if these polls are actually the best Clinton can possibly get - she is being left alone in the press and from being attacked. Any mention of her in the press is usually positive, in that she has been a dogged, hardworking candidate etc. What would happen to her numbers if she was either the front runner or the nominee subject to regular attack - would you expect her numbers to go down?

    Also if McCain choose Governor Crist then Florida could be lost anyway.

    By Anonymous Mike, At 22 May, 2008 09:36  

  • Mike--

    One reason Clinton is polling so well, I think, is that she's the beneficiary of the "unity bounce" that Obama has as of yet not received. Now that we know Obama is the nominee and Clinton isn't much of a threat, most Obama supporters are forgiving her and are willing to say they'd support her in the general. Hillary supporters, on the other hand, are still bitter because Obama is winning. It's always easier to forgive the person who lost the fight than the person who won the fight.

    But make no mistake, if Clinton managed to become the nominee via superdelegates, Obama supporters would feel cheated and her numbers would plummet. Conversely, once Clinton drops out and supports Obama, most of her supporters will fall in line and Obama will bounce up, too.

    By Blogger Stephen, At 22 May, 2008 10:00  

  • I have to call BS on Rasmussen. All of their polls tilt Republican. Almost every other polling outfit shows a Democratic advantage, relative to Rasmussen's results. Just look at Rasmussen's national polls for Hillary v. McCain and Obama v. McCain:

    http://rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/election_20082/2008_presidential_election/general_election_match_up_history

    McCain has been TIED WITH, or LEADING, both Democrats in the national poll for going on a week now. This is directly contradicted by every other poll I am familiar with.

    What is up with Rasmussen's Republican tilt???

    Cheers.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 22 May, 2008 16:24  

  • Rasmussen's always been that way, and you just need to read their selection of syndicated analysts to see it. Michelle Malkin, Robert Novak, and Dick Morris make regular appearances. Their selection on the left is generally poorly-sourced puffery by Froma Harrop and Susan Estrich, too. Rasmussen's polls actually don't suck, but the tilt is obvious.

    By Blogger Stephen, At 22 May, 2008 17:11  

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