Barack Obama ahead or tied in 8 key states
Posted: Wednesday, October 29, 2008 8:34 pm
WASHINGTON (AP) — Barack Obama, gunning for a national landslide, now leads in four states won by President Bush in 2004 and is essentially tied with John McCain in two other Republican red states, according to new AP-GfK battleground polling.
The results help explain why the Democrat is pressing his money and manpower advantages in a slew of traditionally GOP states, hoping not just for a win but a transcendent victory that remakes the nation’s political map. McCain is scrambling to defend states where he wouldn’t even be campaigning if the race were closer.
Less than a week before Election Day, the AP-GfK polls show Obama winning among early voters, favored on almost every issue, benefiting from the country’s sour mood and widely viewed as the winning candidate by voters in eight crucial states — Colorado, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
“If you believe in miracles,” said GOP consultant Joe Gaylord of Arlington, Va., “you still believe in McCain.”
Despite a mounting chorus of Republicans predicting their nominee’s demise, McCain aides insist their internal surveys show victory is still within reach.
Indeed, polls are mere snapshots of highly fluid campaigns, and this race has been unusually volatile. McCain was written off prematurely last year, and Obama seemed poised for victory in New Hampshire’s Democratic primary just before Hillary Rodham Clinton thumped him.
Even this close to Election Day, racial tensions and the numbers of late-deciding voters identified by the AP-GfK polling leave room for doubt. But the surveys confirm what McCain aides acknowledge privately — their chances of winning are low.
The polling shows Obama holding solid leads in Ohio (7 percentage points), Nevada (12 points), Colorado (9) and Virginia (7), all red states won by Bush that collectively offer 47 electoral votes. Sweeping those four — or putting together the right combination of two or three — would almost certainly make Obama president.
It takes 270 electoral votes to win the White House. Obama can earn 252 by merely reclaiming states won by John Kerry in 2004. There are only two Kerry states still in contention — Pennsylvania with 21 votes and New Hampshire with four — and AP-GfK polls show Obama leading both by double digits.
Ohio alone has 20 electoral votes. Nevada has 5, Colorado 9 and Virginia 13.
In addition, Obama is tied with McCain in North Carolina and Florida, according to the AP-GfK polling, two vote-rich states Bush carried in 2004. Obama is throwing his time and money into the Sunshine State, which has 27 votes, part of a strategy to create many routes to victory and push toward a landslide of 300 or more electoral votes. North Carolina has 15 votes.
Independent polling suggests that New Mexico and Iowa, two traditionally GOP states, are out of reach for McCain. Other red states may be creeping away from him and into contention, including Montana.
The bottom line: McCain must overtake Obama in the many red states where he is trailing or tied — a tall order. Or he needs to gain some breathing room by winning Pennsylvania, where he trails by 12 percentage points, according to the AP-GfK poll.
Many of his own supporters say the race is all but over.
“I get the sense it’s shutting down,” said Tom Rath, a GOP consultant in New Hampshire where McCain trails by 18 points.
He added, “Where there’s a week, there’s hope.”
A couple of factors might cut McCain’s way.
First, there are still a good number of voters are open to changing their minds — from as low as 4 percent in Nevada to 14 percent in New Hampshire.
Second, the impact of race is a hard-to-measure factor as Obama seeks to become the nation’s first black president.
In three states — North Carolina, Florida and Pennsylvania — the number of white Democrats who said the word “violent” described most blacks hit double digits in the polling.
In those same states, Obama was having trouble winning over white Democrats — 20 percent of them in North Carolina said they were voting for McCain; 12 percent in Florida and 8 percent in Pennsylvania.