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McCain’s Momentum: A State-by-State Overview of Recent Polls

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After trailing Barack Obama in virtually every national matchup poll from mid-May through late July, John McCain is now running even with Obama or has taken the lead outright, according to several recent national surveys – including a brand new Reuters / Zogby poll that gives McCain his largest advantage in more than four months
(5 points).

But how is McCain’s national momentum playing out in the most important polls – those 50 individual states that will cast electoral votes?

To gauge McCain’s momentum at the state level, Smart Politics examined 19 states in which polling had been completed within the last two weeks by a non-partisan survey organization, provided that organization had also conducted a similar poll in the state since late June. The 19 states are Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Virginia, and Washington.

Smart Politics then compared the net difference between McCain and Obama from the most recent poll (all conducted from August 7 to August 18) to the previous survey from that same polling organization (most conducted in mid-July).

The news is not good for the Obama camp.

· Of these 19 states, 13 saw a net change between the candidates of more than two points in either direction.

· Of these 13 states, 9 saw a meaningful bump up for McCain: New York (+10), Washington (+9), Indiana (+7), Iowa (+5), Nevada (+5), Florida (+4), Michigan (+4), Colorado (+4), and North Carolina (+3).

· Only 4 states indicated momentum for Obama: Kansas (+9), Maine (+6), Ohio (+5), and Illinois (+4).

The most troubling part of this snapshot for the Obama campaign is not simply that McCain appears to have momentum in more than twice as many states as Obama, but the particular states where this momentum is taking place.

Obama’s positive movement appears in three states where the outcome was virtually certain before the campaign even began: two Obama states (Illinois and Maine) and one McCain state (Kansas). Obama’s only real uptick in a battleground state came in Ohio.

McCain’s momentum, however, is seen across several battleground states: Indiana, Iowa, Nevada, Florida, Michigan, Colorado, North Carolina, and Washington. Although Obama is still leading in the most recent Iowa, Michigan, and Washington surveys, he has lost his advantage over McCain from previous polling in Indiana, Nevada, Florida, and Colorado.

There will be little opportunity for Obama to sustain a bounce from either his forthcoming VP pick or his elevated profile at the Democratic National Convention, as McCain’s VP pick and the Republican National Convention will take place shortly thereafter. Obama will likely need to acquit himself well in the upcoming autumn debates to see a return to his pre-August standing.

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Political Crumbs

Final Four Has Presidential Approval

By edging Michigan in the final seconds Sunday, the University of Kentucky guaranteed that one school in the Final Four this year would be located in a state that was not carried by President Barack Obama in 2012. (Connecticut, Florida, and Wisconsin had previously earned Final Four slots over the weekend). Across the 76 Final Fours since 1939, an average of 3.1 schools have been located in states won by the president's ticket during the previous election cycle. All four schools have come from states won by the president 29 times, with the most recent being the 2009 Final Four featuring Connecticut, Michigan State, North Carolina, and Villanova. On 30 occasions three Final Four schools have been located in states won by the president, with two schools 11 times and only one school six times (the most recent being 2012 with Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, and Ohio State). There has never been a Men's NCAA Division I Final Four in which no schools were located in states carried by the president's ticket.


Three for the Road

A new Rasmussen Poll shows Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in a dead heat with likely 2014 Democratic nominee Mary Burke. Walker is seeking to win his third consecutive election after prevailing in 2012's recall contest. Eight of his predecessors accomplished this feat: Republicans Lucius Fairchild (in 1869), Jeremiah Rusk (1886), Robert La Follette (1904), Emanuel Philipp (1918), John Blaine (1924), Walter Kohler (1954), Warren Knowles (1968), and Tommy Thompson (1994). Three others Badger State governors lost on their third campaign: Democrat George Peck (1894), Progressive Philip La Follette (1938), and Republican Julius Heil (1942). One died in office before having the opportunity to win a third contest (GOPer Walter Goodland in 1947) while another resigned beforehand (Democrat Patrick Lucey in 1977 to become Ambassador to Mexico). Overall Wisconsin gubernatorial incumbents have won 35 of 47 general election contests, or 74.5 percent of the time.


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