Battle for battleground states

October 9, 2008 6:58:20 PM PDT
The economy continues to dominate presidential politics with two key indicators going in opposite directions. As the stock market tanks, Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama's poll numbers are soaring. In the race for the White House this was a milestone day for the Democratic challenger.

For the first time polls are showing Obama with a big enough lead to win the election if it were held today, even if all the remaining toss up states go to Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain.

A map put together by RealClearPolitics.com shows Obama's current lead would give him 277 electoral votes -- seven more than he needs to win.

"Right now I would say the McCain campaign is staring into the abyss. I mean they're staring at a possibility of not just a loss, but potentially a very big loss," said ABC7 political analyst Bruce Cain who calls the polls shocking.

Look at Pennyslvania. On September 1, Obama had just a 5-point lead. McCain pulled even closer. But now Obama is up by 13 points.

"In Pennsylvania, which was supposed to be a swing state, right now it's just not within shouting range for McCain," said Cain.

In North Carolina, where McCain was up by 11 three weeks ago, Obama has a slight lead. In Ohio, considered a must-win for Republicans, McCain has gone from one point up to four points down. In Florida, where McCain held a three-point lead in September, Obama now leads by three.

"McCain, given his strong defense of Israel in Florida you would've expected him to be holding onto a lead there. That doesn't seem to be happening," said Cain.

Professor Cain says the polls are reflecting voters' feeling about the economy.

"They basically historically have always said if you're in charge of the presidency and the economy goes well, we're going to give you credit and if it doesn't go well and it goes badly, we're going to blame you. It's called retrospective voting and that's what voters do in America," said Cain.

Thursday in Wisconsin where Obama is up by eight, McCain and Republican vice presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin campaigned at a town hall meeting going after the frontrunner.

"Sen. Obama a year ago said these kinds of subprime loans are quote, 'fine with him,'" McCain told supporters.

In Ohio, Obama stayed on message

"This is about Americans here in Dayton who are losing their jobs and losing their homes and losing their life savings," Obama told the crowd in Ohio.

The slumping economy is center stage in the race for the White House, and unless that changes between now and election day, our political analyst believes it is advantage Obama.

"Financial issues matter a lot in American politics and it's very hard to change the subject when there's such bad news," said Cain.

And there are really two economic aspects to this story. The slumping economy favors Obama, but there is also the economics of the political campaigns. In the three battleground states of North Carolina, Missouri and Indiana, the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee have so far outspent McCain and the Republican National Committee by a wide margin -- $14.4 million for Obama and $5.7 million for McCain. That is money spent on TV ads which amounts to almost three Obama ads for every McCain ad.


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