John McCain Can Still Win Electoral College, Needs 9 Battleground States

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 9, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

John McCain Can Still Win Electoral College, Needs 9 Battleground States

by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 9
, 2008

Washington, DC ( — The downturn in the economy has given Barack Obama a lead over John McCain nationwide and in virtually all of the battleground states. In the latest electoral college analysis, McCain would need to win nine of the battleground states still in play to capture the presidency.

Most political observers say there are as many as 14 battleground states in play this election and those states comprise a few Western states, most of the industrial Midwest and four states on the lower Atlantic coast.

In the latest analysis, it appears Obama has solid leads in a handful of states that have gone Democrat in the most recent elections.

McCain has hoped to compete in places like Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, New Hampshire and Wisconsin.

While McCain’s campaign has officially only given up on Michigan, he or his running mate Sarah Palin has appeared recently or will be appearing soon in Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Still, those five states appear to have returned to the Democratic column.

Polls released this week show Obama leading well outside the margin of error in Pennsylvania (by 12, 13 and 15 points in three polls), 10 points in Michigan, 7 and 12 points in Minnesota, 16 in Iowa, 13 and 8 in New Hampshire, and 10, 10 and 5 in Wisconsin.

That leaves the following states in the battleground category still in play: Ohio, Virginia, Florida, Missouri, North Carolina, Georgia, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada.

There are six reasons for McCain to find good news in this list of states:

a) These states have gone Republican in each of the last two presidential elections and have a history of embracing Republican presidential candidates.

b) McCain has enjoyed leads for most or all of the election in most of these states and, if Obama has led in any, he has never been over 50 percent.

c) Most of the recent polls in these states show McCain with a lead, the race tied, or Obama only leading within the margin of error — and they are a departure from polls as recently as two-three weeks ago showing McCain trending higher.

d) Many of the polls conducted in these states did not completely include the Vice-Presidential debate, the increased focus on the Obama-Bill Ayers connection, or the trend on Monday and Tuesday in national polls in McCain’s direction.

e) These are mostly states where the pro-life message and conservative positions on cultural issues still resonate.

f) If McCain can win each of these nine states, he will have a 274-264 electoral college lead and win the presidency.

The last point sounds far-fetched, but if McCain can come back enough during the last four weeks to put his standing in the polls back at where it was just a couple weeks ago, he can win all of those states.

Let’s look at each of those states — and they can be broken down into two categories — states where McCain either currently leads, or had a lead recently, and states where Obama has been faring better.

In Georgia, McCain has leads of 7, 9 and 7 in three recent polls and, although Obama is making a heavy push in North Carolina, McCain has a three percentage point lead there.

Ohio, Missouri and Florida are states where McCain has had consistent leads until recently and there is every expectation that he can regain those leads before next month. Latest polls in those states show a mixed bag.

McCain should be able to pull off a victory in those states, but the last four are more difficult.

Virginia is trending the wrong direction and surveys there are all over the map as polls show everything from McCain leading by two percent to losing to Obama by 10 percent.

Nevada and Mew Mexico have been pure tossup states most of the election. Obama seems to have a consistent five percentage point lead in recent polls and a smaller lead in Nevada. A change of just a couple of percentage points could easily switch them back.

Colorado has seen a wacky set of polls recently as well. Obama had consistent leads here, but three recent polls include one showing a tie.

Pro-life advocates in these battleground states need to work overtime in the next three weeks if they want to make sure McCain wins and Obama is kept out of the White House.

The analysis shows an uphill battle for McCain, but the race is far from over. The states he must keep are ones that have favored the pro-life Republican candidate in past races, so he’s battling for his own turf. But, the loss of even one of these states makes it more likely Obama will win.

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