A new poll released this morning by Quinnipiac University found that Barack Obama leads John McCain in Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, but the race is getting tighter in each state. In Florida, Obama’s lead has been cut in half from 47%-43% to 46%-44%. In Ohio, Obama has lost four points from 48%-42% down to 46%-44%. Pennsylvania still remains strong for Obama, but his lead dropped from eleven points in June to 49%-42% today.
In Ohio and Florida, voters are split by gender. Obama leads with women, and McCain leads with men. In Florida, Obama leads with women 47%-42% and McCain with men 47%-45%. In Ohio, Obama leads with women, 47%-44%, and men were split, 46%-45% for Obama. The story is different in Pennsylvania where Obama leads with both men and women. He leads with men, 48%-44%, and with women, 50%-39%.
In Florida (51%-41%) and Ohio (48%-41%) McCain leads with voters over 55, but in Pennsylvania these voters are tied at 45%. As expected, Obama dominates with young voters in each state. He leads McCain by 39% in Florida, 22% in Ohio, and 23% in Pennsylvania with voters 18-34. It is the middle group, voters age 35-54 that is proving critical. In Florida, McCain leads with this group, 47%-45%. In Ohio, Obama leads 48%-44%. In Pennsylvania, Obama leads 49%-41%.
All three states agree that the economy and the war are the two most important issues of the campaign, but energy policy is becoming a big topic as well. Voters are split on who has the better energy policy. In Florida, they favor McCain 34%-32% with 34% undecided. In Ohio, they favor Obama 34%-33% with 33% undecided, and in Pennsylvania voters favor Obama’s plan 36%-30% with 34% undecided.
By almost 2 to 1 margins voters in each state support McCain’s offshore drilling plan, but they believe that alternative energy is the best solution. As a solution, voters in Florida favored alternative energy to offshore drilling, 51%-22%. In Ohio, the margin was a little larger, 57%-20%. In Pennsylvania, the margin was 55%-18%. Using these numbers it is plain to see why the candidates are splitting the energy vote. Respondents in these states like McCain’s plan to drill offshore, but also like Obama’s push for alternative energy. The overall message from voters is that we need to be doing anything and everything to bring gas prices down.
Obama’s foreign trip doesn’t seem to have helped him. It seems that voters are more concerned with the economy and energy issues than they are with world affairs. Since 1960, no candidate has won the presidency without carrying two of these three states. I think Obama will carry Pennsylvania, and McCain will take Florida, so just like in 2004, Ohio will be the critical state. It shouldn’t be any surprise that this race is getting closer. Obama’s nomination bounce is over, and we probably won’t see movement in the polls until September, when the race really begins.