The big news over the last couple of days is Obama opting out of public funding for the Presidential Election. (Not Michelle Obama’s dress. I can’t believe this stuff gets on the air.) McCain has claimed this is evidence that Obama “is just another typical politician,” which is ironic because he’s the first to opt out of public funding since the system was established in 1972. By definition, that makes him atypical.
In fact, the biggest reason why Obama has opted out of the public funding is due to his unique ability to raise large sums of money from small donors. Truth is, there is absolutely nothing “typical” about this decision.
Of course, that is merely a point of irony, and not what McCain was referring to at all when he stated this is just an example of political expediency. Obama had famously stated that he would accept public funding if the Republican candidate and he could work out a reasonable system for doing so. But since he no longer needs to do so, McCain argues, he is going against his word and taking the path which will allow him the most money to spend come September and October.
Still, the decision to opt out of funding has few objective detractors in and of itself. And if the system is as broken as Obama believes it is, this decision may provide him with the perfect opportunity to scrap it and begin anew. Former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough presents the perfect illustration of the real issue the press has with Obama: opting out was the right decision, but he’s using the wrong explanation to justify it. Earlier this morning, he said the appropriate explanation would be to just say that due to the millions of small donors online, things have changed to a degree he just couldn’t have imagined a year ago. Dan Rather agreed, saying the reason why he did not do so is because politics at the top is like “dancing like you’re barefoot on August asphalt.”
You have to love Dan Rather.
Finally, Wednesday Quinnipiac University released an interesting poll which showed Obama ahead of McCain in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida. The margin was all below ten points so, while they were all above the margin of error, the data’s not entirely useful this far from the election. However, it has to be comforting for Obama.
But the interesting data was not the leads in these three states, but the impact that Clinton has, or more to the point has not had, on the general election. In these three points, Obama leads McCain among women . . . by ten to twenty-three points. What’s more, when asked if Obama should put Hillary Clinton on the ticket, Democrats in Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania say yes by margins of 57-33, 58-31, and 60-31 percent, respectively. However, independents in these two states oppose the idea by wide margins: 46-37, 47-31, and 49-36 percent, respectively. And the biggest Republican support she gets for the Veep nod in any state is 20%, in Pennsylvania.
So it would be safe to say the fact that Obama is not Hillary Clinton is not going to cause McCain to carry those states. But perhaps more importantly, it would actually be a detriment to him to put Hillary on the ticket.
If Obama carries all three states, it’s going to be virtually impossible for McCain to win. Quinnipiac seems to be generous to Obama in Florida. Realclearpolitics.com has an average polling line of +5% for McCain. And I’ll be honest; I don’t see Obama winning Florida. I didn’t think Kerry could win it, and I don’t think Clinton could have won it. It would certainly make things easier if Obama can grab it somehow, but I’m more than willing to concede it to McCain. However, the average line for Obama in Ohio is +5.3%, while in Pennsylvania it’s 7.3%. Ohio has 20 electoral votes, and Bush won that in 2004. If Kerry had carried Ohio he would have won. So hanging on to these two states means he doesn’t have to win Florida.
But looking deeper into realclearpolitics.com’s website reveals something even more interesting, and exciting for the Obama fan. It may not come down to Ohio after all. They list the battleground states for 2008 as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Virginia, Missouri, Florida, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada. Of these states, the only ones McCain currently have a polling lead in are Michigan and Florida. Obama and McCain are tied in New Mexico and Nevada, though several others are virtual ties (leads of less than 2%). This includes Michigan, New Hampshire, Virginia, Missouri, and Colorado.
So let’s say that the map stays the same from 2004 to 2008 with the exception of these states and Iowa, which very narrowly went to Bush but Obama is currently leading. And let’s give Florida, New Mexico, and Nevada to McCain, let him keep Michigan, and throw Colorado and Virginia to him for good measure. Under this scenario, Obama would win the election by accruing 273 electoral votes.
And if the leads all hold up and McCain takes New Mexico and Nevada? Then Obama
wins easily, 295 – 243. With ten electoral votes up for grabs in those two states, Obama could win over 300 electoral votes.
In fact, if he wins any two out of the seven “tied” states he would win the election. More interesting, though, is if he wins only Michigan he could lose all the others and still get to 270. Of course, this is all predicated upon him winning Ohio and Pennsylvania. So the big trifecta for Obama is Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. Win those three, and it’s in the bag. Win two of those, and it would be virtually impossible for McCain to win. McCain has to win two of those three in order to have a legitimate chance of winning the election (though at that point it’s unlikely he would lose).
With that in mind, I would not be willing to say at this time that any single state is going to determine the election. However, if it’s close, and certainly if McCain wins, I predict it will all come down to Michigan.
You heard it here first.