Gallup Poll: Hillary Clinton’s Swing-State Advantage

Here’s the latest Gallup Poll and analysis, published yesterday, May 28, 2008. It’s been widely reported, but just in case you haven’t seen it, you can read a portion here, and go to their website for rest. The remainder of this post is courtesy of Gallup.

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Hillary Clinton’s Swing-State Advantage

Clinton says her primary wins are indicative of general-election results

by Lydia Saad

PRINCETON, NJ — In the 20 states where Hillary Clinton has claimed victory in the 2008 Democratic primary and caucus elections (winning the popular vote), she has led John McCain in Gallup Poll Daily trial heats for the general election over the past two weeks of Gallup Poll Daily tracking by 50% to 43%. In those same states, Barack Obama is about tied with McCain among national registered voters, 45% to 46%.

In contrast, in the 28 states and the District of Columbia where Obama has won a higher share of the popular vote against Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primaries and caucuses, there is essentially no difference in how Obama and Clinton each fare against McCain. Both Democrats are statistically tied with him for the fall election.

All of this speaks to Sen. Clinton’s claim that her primary-state victories over Obama indicate her potential superiority in the general election.

The results are based on aggregated data from Gallup Poll Daily tracking from May 12-25, including interviews with more than 11,000 registered voters nationwide (including Alaska and Hawaii). Across this period, Gallup has found Clinton performing marginally better than Obama in separate trial heats for the general election against McCain. Clinton has led McCain by an average of three percentage points, 48% vs. 45%. Obama has trailed McCain by an average of one point, 45% vs. 46%.

Clinton’s popular-vote victories thus far include the three biggest Electoral College prizes: California (a solid Democratic state), New York (another sure bet for the Democrats), and Texas (a solid Republican state). (Although Obama won more delegates in Texas, Clinton’s vote total exceeded Obama’s by nearly 100,000 votes.) However, her victories also include several of the largest swing states that both parties will be battling to win in November: Pennsylvania and Ohio, as well as wins in the disputed Florida and Michigan primaries. As a result, Clinton’s 20 states represent more than 300 Electoral College votes while Obama’s 28 states and the District of Columbia represent only 224 Electoral College votes.

(Note that the findings with Michigan and Florida data removed are virtually identical to those shown above. Clinton performs five percentage points better than Obama versus McCain in the states she has won (51% vs. 46%), excluding Michigan and Florida; Obama has virtually no advantage over Clinton versus McCain in the states he has won.)

The question is, do Clinton’s popular victories over Obama in states that encompass three-fifths of national voters mean Clinton has a better chance than Obama of winning electoral votes this fall? That’s the argument she and her campaign have been making, including at a campaign stop in Kentucky 10 days ago (prior to the Kentucky and Oregon primaries), where she was quoted as saying:

“The states I’ve won total 300 electoral votes. If we had the same rules as the Republicans, I would be the nominee right now. We have different rules, so what we’ve got to figure out is who can win 270 electoral votes. My opponent has won states totaling 217 electoral votes.”

As the Gallup analysis shows, Clinton is currently running ahead of McCain in the 20 states where she has prevailed in the popular vote, while Obama is tied with McCain in those same states. Thus, at this stage in the race (before the general-election campaigns have fully engaged), there is some support for her argument that her primary states indicate she would be stronger than Obama in the general election.

The same cannot be said for Obama in the 28 states and D.C. where he prevailed in the popular vote. As of now, in those states, he is performing no better than Clinton is in general-election trial heats versus McCain. Thus, the principle of greater primary strength translating into greater general-election strength — while apparently operative for the states Clinton has won — does not seem to apply at the moment to states Obama has won.

Read the rest here.

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