15 October 2008

No Longer Toss-Ups

Some mainstream media outlets are still categorizing some states as "toss-ups" in the Electoral College, despite current polling that shows Barack Obama with comfortable leads in each of them. While these states can't be described as "solid Obama" (although they do come awfully close), polling margins easily put them in the "lean Obama" category.

Pollster.com plots all of the state-by-state polling and then calculates a "regression trend estimate" (rather than averages). The site's current figures for the so-called "toss-up" states?
Obama 55.8%
McCain 37.4%

Obama 52.7%
McCain 40.2%

Obama 49.8%
McCain 44.4%

Obama 51.2%
McCain 44.4%

Obama 50.4%
McCain 43.6%

Obama 50.3%
McCain 46.5%

Obama 51.7%
McCain 43.7%
CNN, NBC, and the Washington Post, among others, need to stop categorizing these states as "toss-ups." I fully understand that the numbers could change over the next three weeks, but at this point the states are not toss-ups. They are, at the very least, light blue.

Based on the Pollster.com numbers, this is how I think the electoral map looks as of this morning, with the green states falling into the "toss-up" category as I define it (both candidates under 50% and within three-points of each other):

Obama/Biden: 333 electoral votes
McCain/Palin: 155 electoral votes
Toss-ups: 50 electoral votes
(270 needed to win)

McCain could win all six of the states I see as "toss-ups" (a pretty tall order) and he would still lose the election.

Side note on Minnesota: While the Pollster.com number has Obama just under 50%, several recent polls show Obama pulling away big time. One poll has the Democrat up 51-40, another 54-40, and yet another 55-37. The last couple of elections were close in Minnesota, but this is a state that hasn't gone Republican in a presidential election since 1972. In fact, it was the only state that voted for Democrat Walter Mondale in the 1984 Reagan landslide. I would call that "reliably Democratic," wouldn't you? And with Obama's current numbers showing a rout in the North Star state, I would say it is safe to move it from the "toss-up" category and into the "solid Obama" column.