Clinton Retains Advantage Over McCain, Obama in Key Battleground States
Hillary Clinton’s few remaining arguments for why she should be the Democratic nominee include:
1) She will have won more popular votes during the Democratic primaries and caucuses (the “Al Gore 2000” argument); this assumes Puerto Rico pays off big for Clinton.
2) She will have won more “Electoral College” votes, when states are so weighted, and
3) She is in a position to do better than Barack Obama against John McCain in several key battleground states.
Recent polling data suggests Clinton can indeed make that third argument. For example, all the battleground states Clinton won during the Democratic primary are still leaning towards the junior Senator from New York in general election matchups, while Obama generally struggles when matched up against McCain.
- In Florida, the latest poll by Quinnipiac of 1,419 registered voters (May 13-20) gives Clinton a 7-point lead on McCain, 48 to 41 percent. Obama lags 4 points behind McCain, 45 to 41 percent. Clinton advantage over Obama: 11 points.
- In Ohio, another Quinnipiac poll of 1,244 registered voters (May 13-20) likewise gives Clinton a 7-point advantage over McCain, 48 to 41 percent, with Obama again trailing the Senator from Arizona by 4 points, 44 to 40 percent. Clinton advantage over Obama: 11 points.
- In Pennsylvania, a Rasmussen poll of 500 likely voters (May 22), gives Clinton an 11-point lead on McCain, 50 to 39 percent, and Obama a 2-point lead. Clinton advantage over Obama: 9 points.
- In Kentucky, Rasmussen (May 22, 500 likely voters) also finds Clinton defeating McCain, by 9 points, 51 to 42 percent. McCain trounces Obama by 25 points, 57 to 32 percent. Clinton advantage over Obama: 34 points.
- In Nevada, a Rasmussen poll of 500 likely voters (May 20) gives Clinton a 5-point advantage over McCain, 46 to 41 percent, and McCain a 6-point lead over Obama 46 to 40 percent. Clinton advantage over Obama: 11 points.
While Obama maintains his relative advantage over Clinton in some of the battleground states he won during the primary season, that advantage is much more narrow.
- For example, in Minnesota, a mid-May Star Tribune poll of registered voters finds Obama defeats McCain by 13 points, while Clinton defeats McCain by 9 points. Obama advantage over Clinton: 4 points.
- In New Mexico, a Rasmussen poll of 500 likely votes (May 14) finds Obama up 9 points on McCain, 50 to 41 percent, and Clinton up 6 points on McCain, 47 to 41 percent. Obama advantage over Clinton: 3 points.
However, Clinton has also surpassed Obama in general matchups against McCain in several states that Obama won during the primary season:
- A SurveyUSA poll of 1,523 registered voters in Missouri (May 16-18) finds Clinton up two points on McCain, 48 to 46 percent, and McCain up 3 points on Obama (48 to 45 percent). Clinton advantage over Obama: 5 points.
- In Alabama (a state neither Democrat will win), a new Rasmussen poll of 500 likely voters (May 27) finds McCain beating Obama by 28 points, 60 to 32 percent, and Clinton by 20 points, 54 to 34 percent. Clinton advantage over Obama: 8 points.
In short, polling data is almost unanimous in demonstrating that Clinton is currently better poised to win the states Obama won during the Democratic primary than Obama is poised to win the states in which Clinton was victorious. Whether Clinton can successfully demonstrate this to undecided superdelegates is another matter.
This assumes that, somehow, an Obama 2 point win in Pennsylvania is somehow less than a 9 point win for Clinton. It’s not. The question isn’t X advantage over X, it’s the electoral map (as it stands today) for each candidate.
Except a 2-point lead today by Obama over McCain in Pennsylvania puts that state much more in doubt for the Democrats (as of today) than it does if Clinton was on the ballot. (Not to mention a 2-point lead is actually within the margin of the poll’s error, whereas Clinton’s lead is not).
So, without getting into the internals of the polls, this is another way of measuring ‘strength of support’ within a state, rather than simply saying “Obama and Clinton would both win Pennsylvania.”
So, who is going to win?