That SurveyUSA general election polling is interesting, and it may be significantly skewed in each state in different ways, but the results are still rather puzzling. SUSA shows the same Obama weakness in New Jersey that the Rasmussen poll I discussed earlier this week already showed, so there really may be greater resistance to Obama in the state. However, it also asks us to believe that the Democratic candidate who loses New Jersey and Pennsylvania wins New Mexico and Virginia. In other words, safe Democratic states are switching sides, but traditional swing states are supposedly falling into the Dem column. That doesn’t strike me as evidence of the map getting “scrambled” so much as it points to the potential for Democratic meltdown in their core states. Compared to other New Mexico polling I have seen, Obama’s 50% is quite high.
I disagree with SUSA’s overall method of assigning tied states to one column or the other, which exaggerates the strength of the candidates. The oddness of the results in New Hampshire also stands out: we’re supposed to believe that Clinton, who actually won the Democratic primary there, will run eight points behind Obama and lose a state that has been trending dramatically Democratic, but that both win Ohio in a walk? This polling doesn’t show McCain necessarily winning New Jersey, but it does show Obama’s limited appeal there as of right now. This is an important point: McCain isn’t the one making New Jersey a battleground state in this match-up. In any other cycle and with almost any other match-up that we could have had, New Jersey would have likely been solidly Democratic. Obama does rather badly in his current polling in Massachusetts: he wins the state, but receives just 49%? I guess being frequently likened to Devall Patrick really doesn’t help him.
If we can rely on any of this, Obama’s total of 280 electoral votes is almost identical to Clinton’s 276, which suggests at the very least that talk of realignment or new trajectories was always the stuff of fantasy. Whatever else it may tell us, it does tell us that the election will be very close and will still be decided in a relative handful of states, even if the particular states involved are different than they have been. The ”new era” has not yet dawned.