October 22nd, 2008
04:00 PM ET
2 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. Darrel from Denver

    Keep pushing ahead....go, go, go Obama!

    October 22, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  2. Rob Johnson

    There just isn't any way to make the math work for McCain.

    Even if he wins Florida and Ohio, which is looking less and less likely as this point, if Obama wins Virginia and Colorado, plus the states Kerry won, hello President Obama!

    I once predicted Obama would win between 300-320 electoral votes. I'm starting to think I was too modest in my prediction. 350?

    October 22, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  3. Leslie

    Please send this poor woman back to Alaska from whence she cometh so the rest of us can be put out of her misery!

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

    4-point margin — 51-37 percent — ??? I dont get the calculation CNN.
    51 – 37 is not equal to 4.

    October 22, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  5. Super D

    Obama's going to lose all these states. I can't wait until you stupid Liberals/socialists/Commies/Losers are all crying foul!

    We aint gonna elect a messiah.....you idiots!

    Sorry that your welfare utopia is not going to happen.

    Change......baloney.......

    October 22, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  6. American Pride

    I'm a very prideful American. What I can't stand is all of these people wanting the rich to pay for the poor. I'm a broke hispanic college student who pays for everything. I think that there is money to be made, people just don't want to get out and make it. I think that most people who make alot of money deserve it. Obama is not going to show up and rescue everyone from their financial problems. All of the lazy people who think Obama is going to save them will have a rude awakening. GO OUT AND GET A JOB!!!! Also if you don't want to have a baby...well then you know what to stay away from. No child should be punished for an Adults careless mistakes. I think all of you people are crazy for following Obama like a bunch of sheep. Especially a man who doesn't have the American Flag on his campaign!!

    October 22, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  7. Mickie in PA

    And I quote, from McCain's own lips: "I voted with President Bush 90% of the time. More than many of my republican colleagues." What could be more straight talk than that? And let's face it, Sarah "Bara-clueless" would be terribly scarey replacing the quickly deteriorating McCain with her finger on the nuclear response button. She would push it and then ask, "oh, what was that for, it didn't do anything".

    October 22, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  8. ez

    Do not get complacent about the lead for the Democrats. Go vote early.......

    Registered Republican "voted" Obama/Biden 08

    October 22, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  9. Debbie, Lindenhurst IL

    Go on the defence. Unlike Ms. Palin, I can't afford a $150,000 wardrobe and I don't have a sugar daddy or his handlers to pay for it. So much for the hockey mom and joe six-pack.

    I'm lucky just to have a job and a roof over my head. What an elitist bunch they are.

    October 22, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  10. Shari, NY

    To N.S. Even though the economy is in the muck and mire there are people who are not comfortable with Sen. Obama even though he makes sense while his counterpart and his winking doll are tripping over themselves. Issues don't matter – physical appearances do.

    October 22, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  11. Steve

    McCain keeps saying he has the Democrats "Right where we want them." Could it be that the Republicans, behind closed doors, know that the last 8 years have been disasterous for this country, and they actually do not want to be in power for the next 4 to 8? Who ever gets elected will have incredibly difficult challenges during his term(s) in office. If Obama takes the election, the Republicans may very well have an opportunity to blame everything on him (people have incredibly short memories, as evidenced by this blog), and then sweep triumphantly back into power in the next cycle. Setting Obama up to win can be the only logical explanation for the abysmally incompetent way McCain and Palin have run their campaign. Certainly it can't be that seasoned and tempered politicians like these two could be so idiotic, unethical, childish, and apparently terminally stupid. Certainly these two are smarter than they appear. Certainly these two cannot be the best the Republican Party has to offer. What an absolute train wreck!

    October 22, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  12. I Gave Money To Palin To Fight Obama, Not To Buy Clothes

    I'm so mad, I decided to vote for Bob Barr

    October 22, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  13. O8bamaWins

    The comments on almost all the CNN articles are 20-1 in Obama's favor. He pulls 100,000 in St Louis just to see him. This thing will be a landslide.

    October 22, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  14. Richard

    The polls show that McCain's negative campaign is deservedly hurting him. Good for us!

    October 22, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  15. THE WATCHER

    It's almost over folks. Just do your part and vote.

    October 22, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  16. tricias_mind

    Sarah Palin was not wrong on the youtube video. The VP is the President of the Senate.

    How absurd to see people raging about her when she was RIGHT!

    Sheesh, people! Way to come off like idiots to the rest of the globe!

    October 22, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  17. mr canada

    The more Obama's chances of a win go UP ; the more the stock market goes DOWN . strange

    October 22, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  18. John in Ohio

    "Playing defense" = He's losing. Lost.

    October 22, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  19. Chuck

    McCain and Palin stump speeches.....1 noun, 1 verb, and Obama!

    All they do is attack, attack, and attack Obama.

    They can no longer focus on the real issues.

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

    It is theses states that we need to be most adoment about election fraud in. enough of this Acorn crap, voter fraud amount to didly b/c the fake voters never cast a vote anyway. We need to make sure the election fraud is what does not happen. refer to the article on CNN.com front page about GOP election fraud schemes involving call centers. this is the real fraud.

    October 22, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  21. Hillary now for Obama

    Washington State here, already voted for Obama, and so did my republican husband.

    October 22, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  22. Jim Schimmer

    We'd be stupid to vote McSame and Cariboue Barbie –

    C'ON HOW STUPID CAN YOU BE????

    October 22, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  23. Nice balance

    Why is it that virtually all coverage of McCain by CNN has a negative slant? Really pathetic.

    October 22, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  24. I can see Alaska

    He's old and losing.

    You don't win a boxing match with low blows.

    General Powell's resume;
    Four Star General
    Secretary of State
    Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
    Republican

    He's voting for Obama, shouldn't you?

    October 22, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  25. Elle

    These polls keep showing a close race, but they're only conducted in a few states – not all of them. I think there will be a shocking amount of people in red states voting blue, and I do think there will be a landslide victory in the popular vote. BUT, electorals are the only ones that count, so we'll see how that pans out.

    October 22, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
1 2 3 4 5