Dukakis Watch

October 1, 2008

Quinnipiac’s post-debate polling numbers, based on interviews conducted from Saturday through Monday, are pretty ugly for John McCain (h/t Ben Smith). They put Barack Obama up 8 points in Florida and 15 points up in Pennsylvania. The upshot of the PA number is that I feel silly for ever giving up my opinion that it isn’t really a swing state anymore; the upshot of the other two numbers is that McCain is completely screwed.

Quinnipiac is a fairly good pollster which hasn’t demonstrated a statistically significant pro-Obama slant in its polling thus far. There is almost no way for McCain to win this election without taking both Florida and Ohio, and even then he would have to regain the lead in Virginia and then either take Michigan or both of Nevada and Colorado. Whereas if Obama were to win Florida, say, he could lose Ohio, Virginia, New Hampshire, Nevada, Colorado, and Michigan and still win in the Electoral College. (Determined, as always, with a little help from this essential toy.)

If future polls confirm these latest results, McCain is going to have to move a way from tame tactics like suspending his campaign and picking an incoherent compulsive liar with no information about issues outside of Alaska as his running mate; from here on out, he needs to make some really Maverick decisions.

UPDATE 11:18AM: It’s probably worth making explicit that the title of this post shouldn’t be taken seriously. It would take a major scandal for McCain to fall down to Dukakis country, though a Bob Dole performance seems pretty likely at this point.

UPDATE 11:44AM: When I said before that Quinnipiac’s polls hadn’t shown a statistically significant lean, I was relying on Silver’s article on poll house effects. His early rundown of today’s polls seems to contradict this. I’m going to try to get an explanation out of him; perhaps the lean has become statistically significant over the last month. In any case, even with a 1-2 point correction, these are some pretty bleak numbers for McCain. Here’s Nate’s take on Quinnipiac:

Quinnipiac’s polls have shown a slight Democratic lean this cycle — they’ve been 1-2 points more favorable to Dems than contemporaneous polls of their states. From what I can tell, their head of polling (Peter Brown) has fairly conservative politics, so I don’t know that it can be called a partisan lean. But that is the side that the polls have tended to end up upon nevertheless.

At the same time, they are highly-rated polls, use large sample sizes, and have plenty of rich trendlines for comparison. Is it possible that they are outliers to a certain degree? Possibly — maybe even probably — but as I intimated yesterday, with Obama’s surge nationally it was inevitable that we were eventually going to get an oh sh*t set of state polling for Obama. There clearly seems to have been some movement toward Obama in Florida, as well as in Pennsylvania, where the Morning Call tracker has had him gaining a point literally every day since its inception. Ohio, I am somewhat less convinced about, but InsiderAdvantage also gives him the lead there (as well as a 6-point lead in Virginia).

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