November 2nd, 2008
11:53 AM ET
13 years ago

Even reliably red Montana in play as Election Day looms

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="CNN moved Montana to a 'toss up' state Sunday."]
(CNN) - Call it the battle for Big Sky country.

George W. Bush won Montana by 20 points in his re-election victory four years ago. But it seems the times have changed in the state.

CNN's new Electoral College map, updated Sunday morning, moves Montana from "lean John McCain" to "toss up." The move is partially based on our new CNN Poll of Polls in Montana, compiled Friday, which suggests McCain, the Republican presidential candidate, has a one-point lead over his Democratic rival Barack Obama, 46 percent to 45 percent. Nine percent of voters are undecided.

"The fact that Montana is up for grabs has to be extremely unsettling for the McCain campaign," said CNN Senior Political Researcher Alan Silverleib. "Montana's usually a reliably Republican state in presidential campaigns. It's been won by the Democrats only twice in the past half century. If you're a Republican and you're fighting for Montana in the last few days of the campaign, you're not in good shape."

Three electoral votes are at stake in Montana, a state Obama visited in late August. McCain has not campaigned in Montana during the general election.

With Montana moving to "toss-up," CNN estimates that if the election were held today, Obama would win states worth 291 electoral votes - more than enough to capture the White House

McCain would take states worth 157 electoral votes, while states worth a combined total of 90 electoral votes would still be up for grabs. A candidate needs 270 electoral votes to win.

The CNN Electoral College map uses such factors as the most recent state polling, voting trends, campaign visits and campaign advertising to estimate how a state would vote if the election were held today.

CNN is also moving Iowa, and its 7 electoral votes, from "lean Obama" to "safe Obama." Our newest CNN Poll of Polls in Iowa, compiled Sunday morning, suggests Obama now has a lead of 14 percentage points in the state, 53 percent to 39 percent.

The state narrowly voted for Al Gore in the 2000 election and narrowly voted for George W. Bush in the last presidential contest.

Iowa was the site of Obama's first major political triumph in this long presidential campaign. His victory in the Iowa caucuses at the start of this year propelled him towards the Democratic presidential nomination. On Friday, tens of thousands of supporters gathered in Des Moines, the state's largest city, to cheer on Obama at at rally.

But the state's a very different story for Sen. McCain.

"John McCain has always had a somewhat cool relationship with Iowa voters," Silverleib noted. "He didn't seriously contest the Iowa caucuses in 2000 and 2008, and he's opposed ethanol subsidies - a political kiss of death with Iowa voters. Combine those facts with the backdrop of a struggling economy, and it's not terribly surprising that Obama is pulling away at this point."

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. David Miller

    Since McCain is behind in the polls he is telling America to not trust the polls. I want to know if polls can be trusted. I want CNN to do some research and tell us the percentage of former presidential election polls that were found to be accurate after the election.

    November 2, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  2. John in VA

    It does not bode well when you're losing states, especially when the first votes will be cast in less than 48 hours. If you ask me, McCain gave his concession on SNL last night.

    If the McCain that I saw last night was that same McCain throughout this entire campaign, he wouldn't be in this situation.

    November 2, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  3. jackie

    I'm so excited about Montana! Nobody has called me yet... if they do, it will push MT to Obama!

    November 2, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  4. Perry W, Oakland Ca.

    The good folks in Montana are realizing that they don't want or need jokesters and pranksters running their SNL skits from the Whitehouse. They are quite smartly going with real professionals such as Senator Barack Obama and Joe Biden who are taking their campaigning and duties to the American people much more seriously. Now that's change that we can believe in! Thank you Montana!!! Obama/Biden 08-12!

    November 2, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  5. Tom in MT

    Lots of enthusiasm for Obama here in Montana. There are way more Obama signs and bumper stickers around than I've ever seen for any Democratic presidential candidate. I'll still be a little surprised if Obama wins the state on Tuesday, but as the story says, the simple fact that Montana is even in play does not bode well for McCain.

    Whoever you support, just go VOTE on Tuesday!

    November 2, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    that's what I'm talking about go out and vote for Ma man Obama and Biden pleaseeeeeeee Obama/Biden08

    November 2, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |

    With these poll numbers, missy there is a possibility you will be back at your day job.

    So moose(my heartfelt apologies to all mooses or meese, whichever) mom, with you being found guilty of abuse of power for trooper gate, and your mentor Stevens from whom you obviously learned your ethics in government dealings, now has 7 felony convictions under his belt, it is revealed today, that there has been another ethics violation charge filed against you. Seems the Alaskan taxpayers are a bit peeved that you spent 21K of their tax dollars flying the kiddo’s around the country on their dime, especially, now that it has been revealed the kiddos were not invited and in one case, not wanted at the event. Seems that most popular governor title is also in jeopardy, latest poll shows you down to 60% from 80%, but of course, no one can take that Miss Wasilla title away from you.

    So, was this whole VP gimmick worth it to you and your family?

    Remember, if you lose the day job, your back to being the average Alaskan fishwife, albeit, a very well dressed one.

    Which brings me to my question, just what Valentino frock does one wear to gut fish?

    November 2, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  8. Dawn

    John McCain will meet his own Little Big Horn In the state of Montana.


    November 2, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  9. Jeremy

    It is too late for Mcain to distance himself from G Bush. He got NO different plan for our ailing economy different from the current ones.......or atleast he has explained NONE if any so far. To criticize Obama plans without anything away from the BUSH disaster is why he is likely to lose.

    Bush taxed the poor to benefit the wealthy and Corporations! Then he opened up our borders to cheap imports. RESULTS: WE ARE JOBLESS CONSUMERS!

    November 2, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  10. mume

    get out and vote November 4th for Obama/Biden pleaseeeeeee

    November 2, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  11. D

    A landslide would be very helpful to get some actual legislative work done. Get out and vote!

    November 2, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  12. Texas Teacher

    I do believe that not only McCain/Palin underestimate the dissatisfication of the People with the Bush/Cheney policies! I think even the media will be surprised at the ground swell for Obama.

    What I don't like is the feeling that McCain and Palin are getting more attention as the underdogs of this campaign than Obama!

    Call me McCynic, but I can't help but give pause for thought when I see that EXXON MOBIL is bringing election night to CNN! The biggest profits for the biggest oil company makes this support just a bit ironic to me. As I said.... call me McCynic.... it makes me nervous.

    Obama has the support of the People all over this country. His alligence is to us.... but EXXON... their alligence is to Republicans/McCain right now! Who do you support, you support the man and the party you feel is looking out for you!

    November 2, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  13. teme

    This is really looking very bad for McCain. Not staying true to the McCain of 2000 is costing him.

    November 2, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  14. Winnie Hussein.... in Montana

    Having moved from Texas to Montana three years ago, I am thrilled to live in a state with a chance of going blue in this election. We have two democratic senators who are wonderful, and a democratic governor who is absolutely the best governor in the entire nation. Our governor has more energy policy knowledge and ideas than Sarah Palin.

    There are only eight major centers of population in Montana and seven of those are reliably democrat. Three of those are quite liberal (and yes, they are "real" America). In my town there are more Obama/Biden signs and bumper stickers than McCain/Palin by a margin of 5 to 1. We are working very hard to get Sen. Obama elected here in Montana.

    Montanans do not fall for B.S., we have enough B.S. from our cows, which outnumber people! We really don't fall for lies and vitriolic rhetoric here. We are not a racist state and we truly believe in hope.

    November 2, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  15. Gary T, Cleveland OH

    I switched from being a staunch republican to being a democrat this year because of the Palin pick for VP. The people of Montana aren't fools! They know when it's time for a change in this country! Apparently McCain and Palin feel that horsing around on SNL is more important than speaking about the economy and other serious issues. So much for being focused huh! Go Obama!!

    November 2, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  16. Vic

    We had eight miserable years; go vote!

    Registered Republican "voted" Obama/Biden 08

    November 2, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  17. S. Boatman

    Montana Is Obama Country! There Is Obviously A Large Group Of Intelligent People In That State!

    November 2, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  18. susanne

    OBAMA-BIDEN 2008 /2012

    November 2, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  19. NC Mom

    Don't be fooled by the McCain/Palin rhetoric. Cindy McCain will get over a $577,000 tax break under the McCain plan. Under Obama’s plan an older couple like my husband and I who are 65 year olds with $40,000 in income will see a tax reduction of $2197…nothing from McCain. Check out the tax calculator on to see what it means for your pocketbook.

    Vote Obama! Bring snacks for the long lines, folding chairs if you need them...and your patience!

    November 2, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  20. Michael watching from Canada

    The trend in Montana is another example of how upset America is with the Republicans and their deregulation policy as the main reason for the housing and economic crisis.

    November 2, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  21. katiec

    This just goes to show the intelligent voters are ready for change
    and improvement for the future of our country.
    We cannot survive more of the republican leadership.
    They have almost destroyed our country and given
    our children, grandchildren etc terrible burdens
    for years to come.
    Please VOTE for Barack Obama and Joe Biden.
    Please help to get our country back to the great
    nation we once were.

    November 2, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
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