Oct. 17 absentee ballot for overseas voters

Obama 352   McCain 171   Ties 15
Senate Dem 59   GOP 41  
House Dem 248   GOP 185   Ties 2

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strong Dem Strong Dem (250)
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Presidential polls today: CT GA NY OH OR VA RSS
Dem pickups (vs. 2004): CO FL IA MO NV NM ND OH VA GOP pickups (vs. 2004): (None) PDA SMS

PW logo Bush on Broadway Bonus Quote of the Day
The 2012 Race Begins Back-to-Back GOP Train Wrecks?
Obama Expands Lead in Tracking Poll Is Powell Ready to Endorse?

News from the Votemaster

McCain Campaign Strategy Appears Muddled

John McCain is campaigning vigorously in Iowa, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin--states he has no chance of winning barring something very unforeseen. But he is ignoring states like Virginia and North Carolina, that he has a chance of winning but is currently behind in and which he can ill afford to lose. It appears the campaign has completely lost its compass. Obama meanwhile, flush with cash, is campaigning in many red states, but with leads in virtually all the swing states, he has the luxury of going after states like Georgia and Indiana. McCain has no such luxury. He's 7 points behind in Virginia, and a loss there would be absolutely fatal to him as would be losses in Ohio and Florida, other states in which he is behind. So what is in doing stumping all over Iowa and Wisconsin? He should be in Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, and Ohio pretty much full time. It makes no sense at all.

Meet the Real Joe the Plumber

At the debate Wednesday, John McCain kept bringing up the "fact" that Joe the Plumber would be taxed more under Obama's tax plan. The trouble with making Joe a national hero for conservatives is that the national media descended on Joe. They learned a couple of things, like (1) his name is Sam, not Joe, (2) he does not have a plumbing or contractor's license, items required by city ordinance, (3) the taxable income from his plumbing business would qualify him for a tax cut under the Obama plan, not an increase, and (4) he has an outstanding lien for over $1000 in backtaxes he owes. Maybe he wasn't such a great choice as role model for McCain after all.

Black Vote May Help Downticket Democrats

John McCain has strongly supported the surge in Iraq, but there is another surge coming up he may not support so much--the expected surge in turnout among black voters this year who want to tell their children and grandchildren that they voted for the first black President. Black voters are overwhelmingly Democrats, probably 90-95% this year and most are likely to vote a straight Democratic ticket. That could have enormous implications downticket. For example, in 2006 in NC-08, an unknown high school teacher, Larry Kissell (D), decided to make a completely pointless run against a well-entrenched, multimillionaire Republican congressman, Robin Hayes (R). The national party completely ignored Kissell and he had to run his campaign on a shoestring. But somehow he came within 329 votes of defeating Hayes. He is running again this year. DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen certainly took notice of Kissell this time and has pumped over $300,000 into ads attacking Hayes. Furthermore, and perhaps the determining factor, 25% of the population in the district is black and Obama has run a massive voter registration effort in North Carolina, especially targeting blacks and young voters. Polling has been scarce there and in many similar districts around the country, but there is a good chance that Kissell not only wins, but wins in a landslide.

McCain Gives the Best Speech of His Campaign--To Rich New York Democrats

At the 63rd annual Alfred E. Smith dinner in Manhattan, John McCain gave a witty and clever speech poking fun at himself, winning smiles from the rich and powerful Democrats assembled there. He said that people who don't think Joe the Plumber will face a tax increase under Obama are wrong, adding: "What they don't know is Joe The Plumber recently signed a very lucrative contract with a wealthy couple to handle all the work on all seven of their houses." When McCain is left to his own devices, he does pretty well. He can be funny and authentic. If he loses, he may later come to realize that his biggest mistake was hiring Lee Atwater's ghost dressed up as Steve Schmidt. If he had run a positive campaign, chosen Joe Lieberman as his Veep, and just focused on his experience and maverickness (mavericity?) he might have come across as the real thing and attracted all the independents now rapidly gravitating to Obama. Surely it wasn't his idea to hang his campaign on attacks on Obama's tenuous connection with a "washed up old terrorist," as he put it Wednesday. One of the lessons of this campaign may end up being: Be yourself.

Obama Continues to Lead in the National Polls

The National polls are now starting to get some post-debate data. Obama has a lead in all of them, with the average being 6.3%. By Monday we should know how much the third debate changed the national picture.

      - Battleground (Obama +6)
      - Diageo (Obama + 8)
      - Gallup (Obama +6)
      - IBD (Obama +3)
      - Rasmussen (Obama +4)
      - Research 2000 (Obama +11)
      - Zogby (Obama +6)

Charlie Cook Changes 25 House Ratings

Political guru Charlie Cook has changed his ratings on 25 House seats. Every change favors the Democrats. One seat he hasn't changed yet, and surely will before long, is Tim Mahoney's seat in FL-16. Mahoney is involved in a sex scandal and will probably go down in flames. Here are the 25 new ratings. The incumbent party is marked with an asterisk, even for open seats.

CD PVI Democrat Republican New Rating
CT-05 D+4 Chris Murphy* David Capiello Solid Democratic
GA-12 D+2 John Barrow* John Stone Solid Democratic
IL-08 R+5 Melissa Bean* Steve Greenberg Solid Democratic
NH-02 D+3 Paul Hodes* Jennifer Horn Solid Democratic
PA-08 D+3 Patrick Murphy* Tom Manion Solid Democratic
TN-04 R+3 Lincoln Davis* Monty Lankford Solid Democratic
AZ-01 R+2 Ann Kirkpatrick Sydney Hay* Likely Democratic
AZ-05 R+4 Harry Mitchell* David Schweikert Likely Democratic
AZ-08 R+1 Gabrielle Giffords* Tim Bee Likely Democratic
IL-14 R+5 Bill Foster* Jim Oberweis Likely Democratic
IN-09 R+7 Baron Hill* Mike Sodrel Likely Democratic
PA-04 R+3 Jason Altmire* Melissa Hart Likely Democratic
VA-11 R+1 Gerald Connolly Keith Fimian* Likely Democratic
KS-02 R+7 Nancy Boyda* Lynn Jenkins Lean Democratic
MS-01 R+10 Travis Childers* Greg Davis Lean Democratic
OH-16 R+4 John Boccieri Kirk Schuring* Lean Democratic
MD-01 R+10 Frank Kratovil Andy Harris* Toss Up
MO-09 R+7 Judy Baker Blaine Luetkemeyer* Toss Up
CA-04 R+11 Charlie Brown Tom McClintock* Lean Republican
CA-50 R+5 Nick Leibham Brian Bilbray* Lean Republican
IN-03 R+16 Michael Montagano Mark Souder* Lean Republican
OH-02 R+13 Victoria Wulsin Jean Schmidt* Lean Republican
CA-46 R+6 Debbie Cook Dana Rohrabacher* Likely Republican
SC-01 R+10 Linda Ketner Henry Brown, Jr.* Likely Republican
CA-03 R+7 Bill Durston Dan Lungren* Likely Republican

CQ Politics has also changed its ratings on two dozen House races, also all in the direction of the Democrats

Today's Polls

We have six presidential polls today. The most important one is Virginia, where Barack Obama continues to lead. Christopher Newport University ran a poll showing him to be ahead of John McCain 49% to 43%. McCain absolutely must win Virginia. Without it, he's finished, no matter what happens in the other swing states. In Ohio, it is a tie, 49% to 49%.

State Obama McCain Start End Pollster
Connecticut 56% 39% Oct 14 Oct 14 Rasmussen
Georgia 43% 49% Oct 14 Oct 15 Research 2000
New York 57% 37% Oct 14 Oct 14 Rasmussen
Ohio 49% 49% Oct 14 Oct 14 Rasmussen
Oregon 54% 41% Oct 14 Oct 14 Rasmussen
Virginia 49% 43% Oct 11 Oct 14 Christopher Newport U.

We also have only two Senate polls, but both are in key races. Oregon is an exact tie, with Jeff Merkley (D) and Gordon Smith (R) both at 47%. In Georgia, Saxby Chambliss (R) holds a narrow lead over Jim Martin (D), 47% to 45%.

State Democrat D-pct Republican R-pct Start End Pollster
Georgia Jim Martin 45% Saxby Chambliss* 47% Oct 14 Oct 15 Research 2000
Oregon Jeff Merkley 47% Gordon Smith* 47% Oct 14 Oct 14 Rasmussen

We also have three House polls. One of them is an ominous sign for the Republicans. Contractor Jim Himes (D) is leading 11-term congressman Christopher Shays (R). Normally, rich businessmen don't defeat entrenched incumbents, especially ones who are relatively popular, like Shays. In fact, Shays' only real problem is that pesky (R) after his name in a year when that is going to be toxic. If Himes wins, the Democrats will control every single House seat in New England.

Cong. Distr. Democrat D-pct Republican R-pct Start End Pollster
CA-11 Jerry McNerney* 52% Dean Andal 41% Oct 14 Oct 15 SurveyUSA
CT-04 Jim Himes 48% Chris Shays* 45% Oct 13 Oct 14 SurveyUSA
KY-03 John Yarmuth* 57% Anne Northup 41% Oct 14 Oct 15 SurveyUSA

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