October 22nd, 2008
04:00 PM ET
3 years ago

McCain playing defense in states Pres. Bush won

A new poll suggests John McCain is on defense in states Pres. Bush won.
A new poll suggests John McCain is on defense in states Pres. Bush won.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – New polls suggest that John McCain is on defense in four of five states that President Bush won in the last election.

CNN/Time Magazine/Opinion Research Corp. surveys released Wednesday afternoon indicate that Barack Obama has a small advantage in Ohio, Nevada, North Carolina and a large lead in Virginia, with John McCain ahead in West Virginia.

Electoral Map Calculator: You Call The Race

Democrats last carried North Carolina in a presidential election in 1976, but the poll suggests that Obama, D-Illinois, has a 4-point margin - 51-47 percent - over McCain among likely voters. That is with within the poll's sampling error, but it is an increase over our last survey in North Carolina two weeks ago, when Obama was tied at 49 percent with McCain, R-Arizona. Fifteen electoral votes are at stake in North Carolina.

"The North Carolina poll exhibits the same gender gap and generation gap that national polls typically show," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. "McCain has a slight edge among men and voters over 50 years old; Obama has a slightly bigger margin among women and younger voters."

You have to go back to 1964 to find the last time Democrats won Virginia in a presidential contest. But the poll indicates that Obama continues to hold a comfortable lead over McCain in Virginia, 54-44 percent. Obama held a similar 10-point advantage over McCain in our poll from last week.

"Obama's lead in Northern Virginia is growing," Holland noted. "He now beats McCain 2-1 in the Washington suburbs." Virginia has 13 electoral votes.

It all came down to Ohio four years ago, with the state putting Bush over the top in clinching his re-election. And our new poll suggests that it could again all come down to Ohio and its 20 electoral votes. Fifty percent of likely voters in Ohio questioned in the poll back Obama for president, and 46 percent support McCain. Obama's lead is within the poll's sampling error.

Suburban voters could again be crucial to determining the outcome in Ohio.

"The suburban vote in Ohio is split right down the middle, 48 percent to 48 percent," Holland said. "That's a familiar pattern for anyone who follows Ohio politics. Four years ago, the suburbs in the Buckeye State went for George W. Bush 51 percent to 49 percent."

Nevada voted for Bush in the past two elections, but the survey suggests Obama retains a small advantage in the state, 51-46 percent. The lead is also within the poll's sampling error.

Bush carried West Virginia by 13 points in 2004 but the poll indicates McCain has a smaller 9-point lead over Obama, 53 percent to 44 percent.

There's an interesting trend in these five new polls.

"In every one of these states the decline in the Republican vote is larger than the gain the Democratic vote," said CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider. "One reason is there may still be uncertainty among voters about Obama, but there's no uncertainty about the loss of confidence in the Republicans.

"The two states where we see the biggest shift in the Democrats' favor are Virginia and North Carolina, which have the largest populations of African-American voters. Democrats have made a gain of 9 points in Virginia and 7 points in North Carolina from the results of the 2004 presidential election," Schneider added.

With these new polls factored in, the CNN Electoral College Map estimates that if the election were held today, Obama would win states with 277 electoral votes, with McCain taking states with 174 electoral votes. States with 87 electoral votes are still up for grabs. Two-hundred and seventy electoral votes are needed to win the White House.

State surveys, campaign advertising buys, candidate visits, and voting trends are all taken into account in calculating the CNN Electoral College map.

Likely voters questioned in the polls were also asked about whether they would support either of the three major third-party candidates, Independent Ralph Nader, Libertarian candidate Bob Barr, and Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney. But none of the three registered more than 3 percent of the vote in any of the five states surveyed.

The CNN/Time Magazine/Opinion Research Corp. polls were conducted Sunday through Tuesday, with 700 likely voters in Nevada, 644 likely voters in North Carolina, 737 likely voters in Ohio, 647 likely voters in Virginia, and 674 likely voters in West Virginia questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points in Nevada and Ohio and plus or minus 4 percentage points in North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.


Filed under: John McCain • President Bush
soundoff (118 Responses)
  1. Frank G

    Someone explain to me how a jet fighter pilot on a ship during the Cuban Missle Crisis has been "tested" in geo-political international relationships.
    Somehow, the "Etch A Sketch" toy keeps coming to mind whenever the McCain/Palin ticket spout off their nonsense irrespective of the subject matter.
    When you have nothing to say you say anything. Reading off of note cards, winking and unbecoming personal attack behavior is not going to do it. Decency is apparently not fundamental to the fundamentalists.

    October 22, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  2. Texans for Obama

    It will be a landslide for Obama/Biden. McCain/ Palin is running out of time. I just came from early voting here in Texas, and the lines are long. This is republican country but I am willing to bet Obama comes very close to winning this state.

    October 22, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  3. Rashawn

    These polls dont mean a thing if we do not go out and vote my fellow Obama supporters! PLEASE GO OUT AND VOTE!

    October 22, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  4. Cindy Nelson

    Well that is what happens when you say that the real America is only in the right leaning areas of the country. Nobody likes that kind of talk and even the right leaners are coming out against McCain.

    You and Palin are bad bad people and your evil tactics are going to come full circle round.

    October 22, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  5. Country First

    It scares me that McCain still has a chance. Americans need to wake up and realize McCain can't even run a campaign. How will he run the country?
    McCain needs to put "Country First" and realize he is not the right choice for our country at this time.

    October 22, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  6. MT, Texas

    Vote NO on socialism

    Vote NO on Barry Obama

    October 22, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  7. Steven

    Debby October 22nd, 2008 4:03 pm ET: And if the Republicans have their way, new registers thrown out.

    October 22, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  8. jfs Memhis, Tn

    I am an Obama Supporter..................BUT.................This SLY,Crusty old dog McCain will have something exotic, and Nasty up his sleeve. They are not spending all of those hard to come by dollars in Pennsylvania to lose ! These people ....hiding behind religion.....are ruthless and guiltless. These are not the Ronald Reagan Republicans of Colin Powell, or George Shultz. These creatures know how to win at all costs.....They know how to generate a base that will vote NO MATTER WHAT !!!! and TRICK you into thinking that you are ahead . WE NEED TO VOTE FOR OBAMA EARLY !!! These folks are counting on large confusing turnouts on Nov. 4th

    GO OBAMA

    October 22, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  9. Enlightened Voter

    People google "PNAC and john mccain" and you will understand why mccain received Al Queda's endorsement today.

    October 22, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  10. Amber, Centreville, VA

    Everyone in VA: Please do not feel too comfortable. We still have a lot of work to do. There are others polls out that show the race much tighter in VA so it's not a done deal yet. It's good to see that Obama is leading McCain by 2:1 up here in "fake Virginia" (as one of the McCain surrogates put it a few days ago.) But remember, every vote counts so make sure you go to the polls early. We need to turn VA blue this time. Same goes to all of you in NC, CO, MO, OH, and NV.

    October 22, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  11. Peter (CA)

    Yes Debby-or until the Diebold machines flip the vote.

    October 22, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  12. Yax

    4-point margin — 51-37 percent — ??? I dont get the calculation CNN.

    October 22, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  13. chad

    so close to the finish!
    obama voters, hit the poles hard!
    dont let them have 4 more years!
    one more $25 donation!
    one more vote for obama!

    October 22, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  14. Wade

    Typo ? – the article says Obama has a 4 point lead in N. Carolina – but then says 51 to 37 – is this supposed to be 51 to 47? – if this is true, only 2 % are undecided?

    October 22, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  15. Ronda

    I noticed the math problem too...

    "Obama, D-Illinois, has a 4-point margin — 51-37 percent — over McCain among likely voters."

    I wonder what the polls will do once everyone hears that Palin has either 1) never read the consitution & doesn't have a clue what it says or 2) wants to rewrite the constitution so that the VP "is in charge of the senate."

    It is hard to imagine that Alaskans would even want her back. She is not a good spokesperson for that state.

    October 22, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  16. dave harlow

    Nice CNN. You guys are so smooth – any chance you can get to have a photo with Bush. Very cheap shot.

    Very tricky boys, have to give you credit.

    October 22, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  17. OGA

    This is the problem, why put up this picture of Bush and McCain under this old story? Good reporting or bias support for Obama's message of trying to tie both together?. What a shame in a country that pride itself of press freedom and objectivity. Looking at the press coverage of this election thus far, I sometimes wonder if I am in Zimbabwe.

    October 22, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  18. CAW in MD

    I love the sound of the polls. I do not believe them. Obama said it best - continue playing this as if he is the underdog. Do not get complacent, do not believe that it is wrapped up. Keep that sense of urgency, and get everybody out to vote (regardless of who you support, get out and vote).

    I'll be excited on 5 November...

    October 22, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  19. Canadian POV

    Excuse my ignorance but I what I don't understand is this:

    If the "base" is such a powerful voting bloc in the Republican party but they don't like McCain, how is it that he was able to win his party's nomination so early on?

    October 22, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  20. Latino for Obama

    When is CNN planning to move VA from lean Obama to safe?

    October 22, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  21. Bill in Chicago

    The DOW just dropped 500 points. Shouldn't Johnny suspend his campaign again?

    October 22, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  22. Daveo

    Does McSame and Mcbarbie have a defense other than the same lame crap they have been spreading this entire campaign? I think not, I get ill every time I hear either of them talking. If I hear the crap about the surge, socialism, Ayers, Acorn etc. out of them one more time I am going to surge my lunch!!

    October 22, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  23. Amazed with the Polls

    Why is this race so close. I cannot believe people would still consider voting for McCain/Palin who has brain cells less than 10%.

    Now I know why these major companies are outsourcing their positions to other countries, people do not think over here!

    October 22, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  24. Jon

    It seems pretty obvious that Obama could lose Ohio and still win the election. It's a must-win, but only for McCain.

    October 22, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  25. Liz T, Tucson

    How can we believe your electoral college map if it is all going to come down to Ohio? You have Obama at 277 even now, and McCain at only 174.

    October 22, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
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