Monday, September 1, 2008

State of the Race

Two new polls put the Obama Biden ticket between 7 and 8 points ahead of McCain-Palin. A new USA Today/Gallup poll taken over the weekend has the election at 50%-43% for Obama-Biden, while a new CBS News Poll has the election at 48%-40% for Obama-Biden.

A look inside the CBS numbers reveals the fault lines in the electorate for the next 60 days and gives some clues as to why Mccain made the selection of Sarah Palin for vice president. All of Obama's lead appears to be coming from Women. Bush won this demographic is 2004, but according to CBS, Obama is winning this group by 14 points.

Ideologically, Obama is winning a greater share of independents. For all the talk of Democrats reluctant to vote for Obama, both candidates are pretty even in their base support. However Obama has a six percentage point lead among those described as independents.

Another interesting tidbit is that, according to the CBS poll, the effect of Palin as VP on support for McCain is a pretty break even proposition. But as Nate Silver pointed out yesterday, support for the Palin choice is stronger among Men than among Women. Whereas the Palin choice helps McCain among the constituency in which he's already strong, it seems to have no effect among the constituency in which he needs the greatest help. 17% of Men said they were more likely to support McCain because of the Palin pick while only 10% of women were similarly inclined. Nate Silver attributes it to ideology:

it may simply be a matter of ideology. Men are generally a bit more conservative than women, and opinions of Palin are very strongly determined by ideology. Conservatives have a favorable impression of her by a 79-8 margin, but this falls to 43-35 among moderates and 26-46 among liberals. Likewise, by a 48-22 margin, conservatives think she's ready to be President, but she loses this question 23-54 among moderates and 9-67 among liberals.

This is the problem with the Palin pick, locking down the base with this selection comes at the expense of turning moderate women off. These numbers can change but the initial roll out appears not to have significantly moved the needle for McCain. If this was supposed to be a great "game changer" pick, the game is still waiting to be changed.

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