Monday polls: The Barr effect and the difference between the Northeast and the Northwest

There will be a lot more discussion of the general election map in the coming days, as the primary season wraps to a close. For now, we get a few interesting state polls, including our first look at the potential Barr effect. While Georgia is the Southern state in which the former congressman and current Libertarian candidate should have the most impact, PPP released a poll of North Carolina in which it included Barr's name:

  • Barr gets 6% of the vote in both match-ups and helps Democrats draw close to John McCain, as Barack Obama trails 43% to 40% and Hillary Clinton is behind 39% to 34%.
  • Note that it is rare to have the match-up including Clinton have such a higher proportion of undecided voters.
In 2004, Ralph Nader was not always included in polls but he ended up being a non-factor anyway, as voters who might have been hesitating between the Democratic Party and Nader remembered the lesson of 2000; also, Nader was not running as the Green Party's candidate so his spot was not guaranteed on state ballots. Will this year be different? Third-party candidates included on the ballot sometimes tend to appear stronger than they actually are (remember Rasmussen's strange poll that showed Stephen Colbert at 13%?), but there is no question that Bob Barr polling anywhere near 5% would make it very difficult for McCain to hold on to a number of states, as Barr would pull from disaffected Republicans who would be choosing between him and their party's nominee.

Complicating the picture for Republicans is the fact that the Libertarian Party has an automatic spot on the ballot in most states, so there is very little room for the GOP to maneuver and keep the former Republican congressman off the ballot, as Democrats did to Ralph Nader in 2004. PPP is the first pollster to include Barr in its poll but it would be good to have more match-ups try his name if he has the potential of being a disruptive force.

The second interesting poll of the day comes to us from Connecticut, where Rasmussen finds a close presidential race:

  • Obama is only ahead of McCain 47% to 44% while Clinton is leading 48% to 42%.
Even more than fellow Tri-State Area state New Jersey, Connecticut could surprise us this year by hosting a competitive race. It is no secret that McCain believes he can appeal to independent voters and plans to campaign accordingly. Connecticut should be a good target for him as it is is much less of an automatic Democratic state than people think. Kerry won by 10% in 2004, and McCain will probably point to Lieberman's victory in 2006 as evidence of what he could accomplish. But ultimately, it would be a huge surprise to have any of the solid Kerry states shift this year given how toxic the national environment has become for the GOP since then.

Finally, SUSA released three general election polls from states that Democrats won in both 2000 and 2004, albeit not without trembling:

  • In Minnesota, Obama is leading by a narrow 47% to 42%. McCain leads in a number of match-ups that include vice-presidential candidates, by as much as 8% if he selects the state's governor Pawlenty.
  • In Washington, McCain is crushed 52% to 36%. The best he can muster is trailing by 5% if he selectes Romney and Obama selects Hagel.
  • In Oregon, Obama also dominates, ahead of McCain 49% to 39%.
Washington and Oregon have long been two of the states in which Obama has polled the most strongly in the general election. Just as he is looking in the direction of the Northeast, McCain is also determined to put the two relatively swing states of the Northwest in play (Oregon and Washington). But the Western independents have become one of Obama's strongest constituencies, so much so that it appears that the Illinois Senator could be competitive in a number of Mountain West states. Unlike Northeastern independents among which McCain has strong appeal (see New Hampshire), Washington and to a lesser extent Oregon are clearly starting out in Obama's camp.

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  • Q&A How can McCain SIMULTANEOUSLY attract both Hillary AND Bob Barr voters? Answer: PALIN Veep!

    By Anonymous Ted, At 07 June, 2008 13:12  

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