- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 4, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

It’s Election Day and all eyes are trained on the eight battleground states - Colorado, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, Missouri, Virginia and North Carolina. With the exception of Missouri and North Carolina, Mr. Obama is leading in all of the states, but the gap is closing. Mr. Obama needs only to win one of the battleground states to win the presidency. If Mr. Obama can hold all of the states John Kerry won in 2004 and win one state President Bush carried, he will take the White House.

The Obama campaign’s strategy is based on new voters. National estimates are that 9 million people have registered to vote in the past two years and will vote with 129 million people that voted in 2004. Many of these registrations in places like Virginia, Colorado, Nevada and North Carolina are places where Mr. Obama has campaigned vigorously and coupled that with on-site voter registration drives. No doubt the majority of new registrations are Democrat.

Mr. Obama’s strategy, as good as it is, isn’t why he is ahead in most polls. Analyst Michael Barone’s research shows that the economic downturn has suburban voters embracing Democrat regardless of his policies. Mr. Obama has consistently polled much better with educated, wealthy white voters in the suburbs than he has with less educated working-class, blue-collar white voters in Rust Belt, steel and factory small towns. Republican presidential candidates have claimed slim but sustained majorities in the suburbs, ever since Ronald Reagan won handily there in 1980.

Mr. Barone posited that it is not Mr. Obama’s appeal that has created the shift. It is that suburban college graduates with money in the stock markets, 401(k)s, who bought $400,000 homes, are angry with and blame Mr. Bush and Republicans for the fact that their home values and their investments are declining exponentially. A SurveyUSA Missouri poll shows “Obama is carrying St. Louis 55 percent to 39 percent and Kansas City, Missouri, 56 percent to 41 percent,” despite the fact that the state overall is tied. Its poll in Virginia shows Mr. Obama doing even better, 63 percent to 33 percent in Northern Virginia and 52 percent to 42 percent in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area.

Mr. Barone’s premise is sound. Even in a solidly Republican state like North Carolina, a Public Policy Polling poll shows Mr. McCain is losing suburban voters to Mr. Obama 58 percent to 38 percent. In Florida, a Quinnipiac poll shows Mr. Obama carrying Tampa 50 percent to 38 percent and in Broward, Miami and Fort Lauderdale 59 percent to 36 percent. The numbers are similar in virtually every metropolitan area.

Mr. Obama also leads Mr. McCain by 50 percent to 43 percent among women. But when you break it out among married and unmarried women you get a different picture. A Gallup poll shows Mr. Obama leading Mr. McCain 63 percent to 28 percent among unmarried women. Mr. Obama is dead-even among married women according to Gallup, long a GOP stronghold. Unmarried women represent 26 percent of the electorate even with married women. Mr. Obama bought these votes with promises of tax credits for children and increasing the earned-income-tax credit.

Mr. McCain went on an 11-state tour yesterday in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Tennessee, Minnesota, Iowa, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Florida and Missouri. All but Pennsylvania are states Mr. Bush won in 2004. He will have to capture the 5 percent of undecided voters, independents and maximize the conservative vote to win. If he can hold Virginia, which is still a very tight race, he has a chance.

The Oct. 25 editorial “In defense of Sarah Palin” incorrectly stated the proposed cost of an Alaskan natural-gas pipeline deal. The proposed cost is $40 billion.

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