Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Powell Push - Plus Border South Four Overview

Another slew of national and state polls released over the past 24 hours suggested that Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama may be having some impact on voters: My model shows that Obama's lead over John McCain has jumped by 1.0 percentage points since yesterday:

There has however been no change in the Electoral College vote breakdown:

There has also been no change in the current national electoral map:

Note that I have adjusted my model to increase the value of more current polls and lessen the impact of older polls since yesterday. I reduced the decay rates (that is, the rate at which a poll declines in value 100% to 0% in the model) for the national polls from 7 to 5 days and from 14 to 10 days for the state polls. This reduced the number of states with polls in the model to 36 and also reduced the number of polls used for states with available polls. Hopefully we will get more and broader polling as the election approaches.

It seems that these adjustments had a slightly positive impact for Obama's figures. In addition, a very strong poll for Obama in New Jersey and the addition of a very favorable poll for Obama released the other day in California (which I had somehow overlooked when it was initially released) have impacted the national figures. That said, perhaps half of the increase we have observed over the past 24 hours may be due to Powell's endorsement.

As noted above, the members of the swing state club remains stuck at three for the time being. However, Obama appears to have made solid gains in Florida and North Carolina over the past 24 hours:

Obama is closing the gap in three nominally Republican states:

All three may shortly slip into the swing state category.

Our regional series continues with an overview of four states that roughly straddle the border between north and south, states I call the Border South Four:

A closeup of these states is noted in the map below:

The Appalachian mountains dominate nearly all of West Virginia, and much of eastern Kentucky and eastern Tennessee. Although Arkansas is not part of Appalachia, much of northern Arkansas is dominated by the Ozark mountains. These four states are relatively poorer than the rest of the US and more White than the deep south states. West Virginia was formed in 1864 as the loyalist mountain people of Virginia broke away from the Confederacy. Kentucky remained a part of the Union during the Civil War while Tennessee and Arkansas were Confederate. In spite of Kentucky's not joining the Confederacy, Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas voted largely as a bloc (leaning strongly Democratic) between 1868 and 1960. During that period, Kentucky voted Democratic 19 of 24 times, Tennessee 18 times and Arkansas 22 of 24 times. In contrast, West Virginia supported Democratic and Republican candidates about equally between 1868 and 1960.

Beginning with the pivotal 1964 election, Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas became Republican leaning states while West Virginia began to lean somewhat towards Democratic candidates. However, these four states have voted as a bloc since 1992 and it seems reasonable to lump them together as one related region. It looks as if these four states will once again vote as a bloc, this time for the Republican candidate:

It is interesting to note that Kentucky and Tennessee have cast their electoral votes for the winning candidate in every election since 1964. Probably not this time.

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