The latest Quinnipiac University swing state poll of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania was released today. It revealed little surprise as McCain leads in Florida, 47%-43%. Obama leads in Pennsylvania, 49%-42%, and the race is a virtual tie in Ohio with Obama leading 44%-43%.
In general, Florida has flipped into the McCain column. Obama has lost six points in the state, which should be no surprise to anyone. All three states voiced the desire to have a Democrat in the White House. By a margin of 44%-39%, Florida voters want a Democratic president. In Ohio the margin is even bigger, 44%-35%, and in Pennsylvania the margin is 50%-32%. There is also a direct relationship between the desire for a Democrat and President Bush’s approval rating. In Florida, Bush’s approval rating is 32%, in Ohio its 30%, and in Pennsylvania it is 25%.
John McCain’s base of support is men, and white voters. In Florida, McCain leads Obama 50%-41% with men, but among whites, his margin grows to 55%-35%. In Ohio, McCain leads with men 50%-37%, and with white voters, 49%-38%. In Pennsylvania, McCain leads both men and white voters by a much smaller margin of 47%-43%. The trend here is that the margin the between the candidates in each state is dictated by the degree of support he gets from white voters and men.
Another key demographic in this race is age. Obama dominates with young voters (age 18-34). McCain leads with older voters (age 55+). The critical group in each state is voters age 35-54. In Florida, this group goes for McCain, 48%-42%. In Ohio, the two candidates are tied at 43%, and in Pennsylvania, Obama leads 49%-41%. As you can see there is a direct relationship between who this middle age group supports and the overall race in each state.
Overall, at the state level, the general election is turning into a replay of the Democratic primary between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. I think that the GOP would be overjoyed to have this race at 50/50 on the morning of November 4. The economy was listed as the most important issue by 52% or 53% in each state. This combined with the fact that voters in each state want a Democratic president, makes it safe to conclude that the voters aren’t sold on Obama.
I think the conventions will help each candidate, but this race might be the first one since 1960 that will be decided by the presidential debates. In 1960 John F. Kennedy had to convince voters that he could handle the job of being president and he did so in the first presidential debate with the, at the time sitting vice president, Richard Nixon. Obama will likely be in a similar situation this fall. He is going to have to stand beside John McCain, and convince voters that he is ready to be president.