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New Mexico

Since I’ve been talking about Obama’s problems in some eastern states, it’s only fair that I acknowledge that he is now polling considerably better in my home state.  There he leads 50-41 [1], which marks a six-point improvement for him and a three-point drop for McCain since February.  Most of the movement in the last three months [2] has come from uncommitted Democrats and a few McCain-supporting Democrats coming back to Obama.  McCain used to receive the backing of 25% of Democrats, and now has just 21%, and he has seen his advantage among married voters shrink from 10 points to a one-point deficit.  McCain has made some inroads with unmarried voters, but not enough to offset his other losses.  McCain can’t be counted out here, thanks to the large military and defense industry presence (I doubt there is much of a benefit to coming from Arizona) that tends to bolster Republican candidates, and Obama may lose a larger share of the Hispanic vote to McCain.  New Mexico is one of the essential swing states where Obama has to do well, and right now he is, probably aided by the general disarray of local Republicans and a strong Democratic Senate candidate in Tom Udall, who leads both his potential GOP opponents by embarrassingly wide margins [3].  These margins may narrow after the June 3 primary, but not enough to overcome Udall’s almost 20-point lead.  Barring some disaster, we can assume New Mexico is all but in the bag for the Democrats.  We could be looking at a Democratic sweep of the Congressional delegation.  Instead of coattails aiding Democrats in House and Senate races, Democratic strength in the Congressional races may be boosting the presidential ticket.

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5 Comments To "New Mexico"

#1 Comment By kitstolz On May 17, 2008 @ 12:42 pm

By “some eastern states” maybe you mean Appalachia. But realistically, almost any Democrat’s chances in Appalachia aren’t great, as Charles Blow shows today in his interesting new graphics column:


#2 Comment By Daniel Larison On May 17, 2008 @ 12:53 pm

No, I also mean Michigan and New Hampshire and possibly Wisconsin and New Jersey. I have dwelt on Appalachia a lot recently, because they have had or will be having primaries that give us more information, and I also found the Arkansas numbers fairly remarkable, but the problem is not strictly limited to Appalachia. If we count Ohio and Pennsylvania as part of the Appalachian “problem” area, because of certain parts of those states, and we determine that any Democrat would have difficulty there, Obama is quickkly running out of sources of electoral votes. The New Mexico numbers are one of the first positive signs of fundamental improvement for Obama that I have seen in the last several weeks. The same is not happening elsewhere so far.

#3 Comment By conradg On May 17, 2008 @ 3:26 pm


I’m just not getting where your numbers are coming from. It increasingly seems like you are off in your own little world on this.

For example:

In 2000 and 2004 Dems carried PA by only 3-4 pts. Recent polls have Obama leading McCain by 7-9 pts. (Quinnipiac and Survey USA) How is this weakness in the Appalachias translating into weakness in PA?

Bush carried Ohio in both elections by 3-5 pts. Recent polls put McCain’s lead in OH at only 1-2 pts. (Again, Quinnipiac and Survey USA). It sounds like Obama has an opportunity to take away a state McCain absolutely can’t win without, in spite of his recent bad press there and hard hits from the Clinton campaign.

Dems won Michigan by 3 pts in 2000 and 2004. The only recent poll there has McCain +1, which is within the range of eventual Democratic victory once more. Not hard to see this state coming back to the Dems by fall.

The only recent (late April) New Jersey poll has Obama +24. Not exactly a sign of collapsing support.

The only recent (mid-April) Colorado poll has Obama +3. Not exactly a sign that he’s falling out of contention.

New Hampshire split parties in 2000 and 2004 by very close margins. McCain is ahead by 6-10 pts in recent polls, which isn’t good for Obama, but hardly a harbinger of doom either, considering that NH has only 4 electoral votes.

Also, the only recent Florida poll (which is a must-win for Republicans) has McCain leading Obama by only 1 pt. Not a good sign in a state dominated by elderly people most likely to be sympathetic to McCain’s age and experience.

Likewise, Virgina, which Bush carried by 8 pts in both elections, has McCain ahead by only 3 pts with a declining trend line. Not good for McCain.

Iowa, which was split by tiny margins in 2000 and 2004, has Obama +2, though on a recent decline.

North Carolina, which Bush carried by 12 and 9 pts, has McCain leading by only 3-7 pts.

And of course, none of this takes into account the huge voter registration and turnout drive Obama is creating, using both grass roots and internet support, to drive up the numbers of his core constituencies. This is clearly a guy who has demonstrated an ability to create huge Democratic turnouts, and that is not even reflected in the polling numbers.

So exactly why should Obama supporters feell that his opportunities to win are dwindling, and the states he can win are slipping away? It looks like he’s already doing pretty well, and his numbers are more likely to go up rather than down now that he’s the presumptive nominee and not facing withering criticism from his own party. McCain has some pretty huge weaknesses that Obama has barely begun to exploit, but count on him to do just that.

Not wishing to be idealistic, but your pessimistic take on Obama’s electoral chances just doesn’t stand up to realiistic criticism. Ask yourself this question: who would you rather be right now, McCain or Obama? I think the question answers itself, but you might want to ask yourself why.

#4 Comment By conradg On May 17, 2008 @ 3:31 pm

Also, Minnesota, which Dems carried by 2-3 pts in 2000 and 2004, has Obama leading by 6-14 pts. Again, not a sign of weakness, but strength.

Also, while tracking polls have Obama and McCain in a dead heat, independent polls put Obama up by 5-7 pts. Not sure which is more accurate, but neither poll seems like trouble for Obama.

#5 Comment By conradg On May 17, 2008 @ 4:13 pm

and btw, the solid south ain’t so solid anymore.

McCain is leading in Mississippi of all places by only +1. If this continues, and Obama is able to turn out Mississippi blacks in greater than expected numbers, it’s just plain over.

In Louisiana, McCain is only +3. This in a state Bush carried by 8 in 2000 and 14 in 2004. Again, turnout could shift this to Obama.

Likewise, the Midwest can also be cracked.

McCain is leading in Montana by only 5, Missouri by 6, and Alaska by 7. Bush carried these states by 21, 7, and 26 pts in 2004. Until the Wright controversy and the attacks by Clinton, he was even carrying the Dakotas. These are all longer shots, but clearly McCain is underperforming in places that should be taken for granted, and will require him to run around the country putting out fires rather than focusing on Obama’s weaknesses.