Clinton v. Obama in GE State Polls

A large number of general election polls for various states have come out recently and I wanted to analyze them in some way, whereby the standing of the leading Democrats can be compared to that of the Republicans.  


I thought that doing this via map format may be the easiest and most understandable way.
In order not to overwhelm with a large number of maps, I decided to narrow down their number by averaging the Republican results from the individual polls.  For example, looking at results for Virginia (where SurveyUSA poll is used) the data included:

Clinton 45 - Giuliani 45
Clinton 48 - Romney 41
Clinton 50 - Huckabee 40
Clinton 42 - McCain 51

The Clinton "number" is derived by averaging the four Clinton numbers above (46.25), while the Republican "number" is the average of the four Republican candidates (44.25).
We can then derive the number by which Clinton leads the "average" Republican (2.0), and then compare this to John Kerry's 2004 percentage in Virginia (Clinton doing 10.2 points better than Kerry).  The same process is repeated for Obama.

"Averaging" the Republicans also makes sense, as the Republican field is now in such disarray that it's hard to tell who their nominee will be.  It should be noted that, depending on the pollster, different Republicans were matched.  For example, SUSA last used the four Republicans mentioned above, while Rasmussen has recently tended to match against Giuliani, Romney, McCain, and Thompson.

I tried to make this analysis as objective as possible.  I included each and every state poll I found from the month of November.  If a state was polled by more than one pollster, the polls are averaged.  I also included data only from polls where at least two Republicans were polled, in order that the data not be skewed by, for example, matching a Democrat only against Giuliani and getting a more favorable Republican number, as Giuliani has often been their strongest candidate.  In some cases, you will see that a state has data only for Clinton, but not Obama.  Again, this is because some polls have included a lot more matchups for Clinton than for Obama (a case in point is the recent Quinnipiac poll from Connecticut, where Obama ties Giuliani, and no other Republicans are matched against Obama; meanwhile, Clinton is matched against four different Republicans).  Therefore, a vast majority of the state polling data here includes matchups of Clinton or Obama versus an "average" of three or four different Republicans.  The Clinton and Obama numbers are then compared to each other, as well as to John Kerry's numbers from 2004.  The numbers were rounded to the nearest percentage point in map format.

I wanted to look only at recent polls, and decided to limit these only to polls from the month of November.  However, a significant number of states did not have polls from this month, so I used numbers from previous months for those states.  All in all, approximately 70% of the data here is from November; 15% is from October; and 15% from September and August (bottom of diary lists all polls, dates, and links).  Again, only Clinton and Obama are compared.  There has been a virtual dearth of polls which include Edwards, and one has to go back all the way to mid-September to get a good feel for Edwards's standing in state polls (yes, approx. 15% of the data goes back that far, as I've said before, but the older data is there mostly to complement the newer November and October data, ie., I tried to include swing states which were not polled recently.  Nevertheless, to include Edwards here would be like comparing apples to oranges as the timeframes are so way off.)

[I have double checked my numbers, btw, but if anyone finds any discrepancies, please let me know and I will correct any errors and update the diary.]


State Poll Results:

The first thing that jumped out at me from these general election state poll matchups is how well Clinton and Obama are doing.  Compared to John Kerry's 2004 numbers, the Democrats are wiping the floor with the Republicans.

Clinton appears to have large leads on the Republicans not only in the northeast, west coast and upper midwest, but also across parts of the upper south.   She beats the "average" Republican by 10-11 points in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota -- all three states where Kerry beat Bush by only 1-3 points.  Hillary is also ahead by 10 points in Kentucky and 22 points in Arkansas (although that's one of the older polls included).  She rather comfortably carries Ohio and Missouri (by around 5 points, which is comfortable when it comes to those two states), and puts Virginia and North Carolina into play for us.  Compared to Kerry, Hillary does very well almost everywhere (including doing better than Kerry in Massachusetts by approximately 4 points).  She does very well, in relative (and absolute) terms, in places ranging from California, to much of the Midwest, and especially well in parts of the south, running an incredible 30 points better than Kerry in three southern states.  As you can see, she does only slightly better than Kerry only in parts of New England (where the Democratic performance levels may be maxed out) and in parts of the southwest (could it be the immigration issue ?).  The only states where she polls worse than Kerry are:  Illinois (the Rasmussen poll there probably indicates a bias for native son Obama and an accompanying bias against Hillary, his leading competitor), Oregon (which often seems contradictory), and my homestate, Maryland (for reasons beyond me ?, but perhaps the Democratic percentage here has become so high where it's becoming somehow maxed out also).  

If the election were held today, and these numbers proved valid, Hillary would likely win the election with a "guesstimate" of 342-352 electoral votes (with, ironically, Florida going very narrowly to the Republican).

Like Hillary, Obama does very well in the northeast, west coast and upper midwest; he leads very comfortably in those regions (despite his tie result with Giuliani and only a 6-point lead against McCain in a SUSA New York poll released yesterday, his lead over the "average" Republican is still 14 points in New York due to Obama's relative strength against Romney and Huckabee in the same poll).  He is also leading or competitive in a number of recently red states like Nevada, Missouri and Virginia.  Obama also does relatively better than Kerry in a number of southern states.  His margins across most of the south (except Virginia) nevertheless do not come anywhere close to Hillary's numbers, and he therefore does not appear competitive in much of that region.  Ohio looks like one trouble spot for Obama.  He is behind the "average" Republican there, and it's the only state, other than New York and Massachusetts, where Obama actually performs worse than John Kerry.  Hillary's Ohio numbers are much better in comparison.  Interestingly, Obama does better than Hillary in a number of states.  In California, Nevada, Kansas, and Missouri, it's almost a statistical tie (Obama doing 0.25, 1.75, 0.25, and 0.875 points better than Hillary in those four states), while in Iowa and Oregon his lead compared to Hillary seems statistically significant.  One kind of odd thing I noticed here is how both Hillary and Obama are not doing that well in Florida even though they are doing relatively good in other purple states and even in certain red states.  I have a strong hunch that the DNC decision penalizing Florida delegates is at least partly responsible, and can only hope that we can recover in Florida in the near future.

All in all, if the election were held today, and these numbers proved valid, Obama would likely win the election with a "guesstimate" of 288-298 electoral votes.

A number of persons have cited the Iowa numbers as indicative of Hillary somehow doing (progressively) worse and conversely Obama doing (progressively) better in the high-profile, high-intensity environment of Iowa, where the candidates have campaigned over all these past months.  But if you look at some of the earliest state polls -- from April, seven months ago before the campaign really got off the ground -- you will see that, when comparing the relative strength of Clinton vs. Obama, the situation was very similar back then, with Iowa, Oregon and Kansas being the only states where Obama was performing better than Hillary against the Republicans; Washington state was tied (compare MAP 7 to MAP 6).

Therefore, the hypothesis that Hillary is doing worse in places where voters have taken a good look at her is false.  The Iowa numbers, instead, have something to do with the inherent nature of Iowa voters.  Iowa has historically been a very contradictory state in elections - both primary elections [e.g. Iowa Democratic caucus winners: Muskie (1972), "uncommitted" (1976), Gephardt (1988; with Paul Simon in second place), Harkin (1992; with Tsongas in second place); Iowa Republican caucus winners: Bush (1980), Dole (1988; with Pat Robertson in second place)], and general elections [e.g. Nixon (1960), Ford (1976), Dukakis (1988) -- this bizarre general election voting pattern mimicked only by Oregon and Washington state, btw].  This inherently contradictory nature may also say something about the relative effect (or lack thereof) of the Iowa caucus on subsequent state primaries.

I have tried to be as objective as possible in doing this analysis, and I hope that is reflected in the work.  I am happy that my candidate, Hillary Clinton, is performing so well in state match-ups (contrary to the BS put out by the MSM), but I am also happy that Obama for the most part stands his ground in these polls as well.  I sincerely hope that these numbers remain this way throughout the following year and, like the rest of you, look forward to a Democratic inauguration in January 2009.

Polls utilized:

Alabama (Rasmussen - November)
Alabama (SUSA - September)
Arizona (Rasmussen - October)
Arkansas (Rasmussen - August)
California (SUSA - November)
Colorado (Rasmussen - August)
Connecticut (Quinnipiac - November)
Connecticut (Rasmussen - November)
Florida (Mason-Dixon - November)
Florida (Palm Beach Post - November)
Florida (Rasmussen - November)
Florida (SUSA - October)
Georgia (Rasmussen - November)
Illinois (Rasmussen - October)
Iowa (SUSA - November)
Kansas (SUSA - November)
Kentucky (SUSA - November)
Maryland (Rasmussen - October)
Massachusetts (SUSA - September)
Michigan (Rasmussen - October)
Minnesota (SUSA - November)
Missouri (Research 2000 - November)
Missouri (SUSA - November)
Nevada (Reno Gazette - November)
New Hampshire (SUSA - September)
New Jersey (Quinnipiac - September)
New Jersey (Rasmussen - October)
New Mexico (SUSA - November)
New York (SUSA - November)
North Carolina (Rasmussen - October)
Ohio (Quinnipiac - November)
Ohio (SUSA - November)
Oklahoma (SUSA - September)
Oregon (SUSA - November)
Pennsylvania (Quinnipiac - November)
Rhode Island (Brown Univ. - September)
Tennessee (Middle TN State Univ. - November)
Tennessee (Rasmussen - November)
Virginia (SUSA - November)
Washington (SUSA - November)
Wisconsin (SUSA - November)

Polls utilized for April analysis:

Alabama (SUSA)
California (SUSA)
Florida (Quinnipiac)
Iowa (SUSA)
Kansas (SUSA)
Kentucky (SUSA)
Massachusetts (SUSA)
Minnesota (SUSA)
Missouri (SUSA)
New Mexico (SUSA)
New York (NY1)
New York (Siena College)
New York (SUSA)
Ohio (Quinnipiac)
Ohio (SUSA)
Oregon (SUSA)
Pennsylvania (Quinnipiac)
Virginia (SUSA)
Washington (SUSA)
Wisconsin (SUSA)


SurveyUSA: spx
Mason-Dixon: cfm
Research 2000 (via St. Louis Today): ories.nsf/politics/story/F9C2BDEAD0FF525 88625739600212529?OpenDocument
Brown University:
Middle TN State Univ.: 007/MTSUPoll_Fall_2007_national%20report .htm
NY1: ?stid=1&aid=68562
Palm Beach Post: nt/state/epaper/2007/11/11/m1a_PREZ_POLL _1111.html
Reno Gazette (via My Silver State): aryId=372
Siena College: Apr_NYPoll.htm
Another good link to assorted state polls:

Tags: clinton, general election, obama, State polls (all tags)



Re: Clinton v. Obama in GE State Polls

wow -- did u do all that work? thats amazing

by sepulvedaj3 2007-11-29 04:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton v. Obama in GE State Polls

crunching the numbers was tedious, but doing the maps was rather fun ...

by silver spring 2007-11-29 04:44PM | 0 recs
Moral of the story...

Support your candidate on the merits and stop trafficking in electability arguments.

by General Sherman 2007-11-29 04:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Moral of the story...

based on this analysis, I think both Hillary and Obama are electable (I didn't include Edwards, as there were just very few polls over the last month or so where he's included, but based on the few recent polls i saw where he's included as well as based on older data, he was doing well also -- so all three of our candidates seem electable at this point in time) ...

i was actually surprised myself by some of what i found ... main thing was that our Democratic candidates are currently doing better in reality than in the "story" the MSM seems to be writing.

by silver spring 2007-11-29 05:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Moral of the story...

oh another johnny come lately on this site

by sepulvedaj3 2007-11-29 05:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Moral of the story...

Moral of this story is also when somebody does a lot of work that creates a lot of interesting data not only for people supporting candidates but for people interested in building up the democratic brand we should thank them for it.

good diary

by Ernst 2007-11-30 01:47AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton v. Obama in GE State Polls

Wow! This is a fantastic diary silver spring. Very comprehensive. Absolutely love the analysis. You spent a heck of a lot of time on this one. Great diary!

by lonnette33 2007-11-29 04:40PM | 0 recs

Very excellent diary. Good work, must of taken you a lot of time.

When people mention Iowa as an example of Clinton inelectability, I find it odd. Why? In the beginning of the year, Clinton polled 3rd or even 4th when Vilsack was included. Today, she either polls 1st of 2nd, which tells me the more people know her, the more they like her.

by RJEvans 2007-11-29 04:42PM | 0 recs
Re: Nice

I might add, the only problem I have here is the fact that you added all Republicans together. Each Republican has their strenghts and weaknesses and these maps does not show that. Other than that, nice job.

by RJEvans 2007-11-29 04:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Nice

I know ... I thought about doing separate maps for each Republican, but that would be a lot of maps ... and at this point it's kind of hard to know who will emerge out of the cesspool on the other side ... this at least gives kind of an unscientific, temporal glance at how we compare ... thanks.

by silver spring 2007-11-29 04:54PM | 0 recs
Holy crap Batman!

That was an awesome display of effort.  Congratulations.

by Its Like Herding Cats 2007-11-29 04:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton v. Obama in GE State Polls

Chris Bowers would be proud!  Good points all the way around.

Obama lags in the Northeast and South (we're not going to win much there), but does better where there are more independents (OR and IA).  With Romney more likely to be GOP nominee, we'll see how this changes.  

In the end, my thinking is that Hillary is slightly more electable than Obama.

by mikelow1885 2007-11-29 05:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton v. Obama in GE State Polls

Spectacular!  The only thing this diary is missing is a PowerPoint.

by Steve M 2007-11-29 05:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton v. Obama in GE State Polls

Bob Casey, being pro-life,  blew Santorum out of the water in Pennsylvania.  That being the case, if you want the best general candidate possible, you're asking for a pro-life candidate for president... By your logic of course.  

Somebody said it best up thread.  Say you have the best candidate on merit, not by electability.  You're asking for some ugly answers when all you want to talk about is electability.  

by JeremiahTheMessiah 2007-11-29 05:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton v. Obama in GE State Polls

There are enough diaries on merit. Dairies on the technical side of election like these should have their place as well.

by Ernst 2007-11-30 01:52AM | 0 recs

because Casey being pro-life is not why he beat Santorum. A pro-choice democrat would also have beat santorum by huge numbers.

by MollieBradford 2007-11-30 03:46AM | 0 recs
Re: nope

What makes you say that?  There is a large voting group in the US of rural voters that are economically liberal but socially conservative.  We split that vote with Republicans, but when a pro-life Democrat runs, we sweep that voting block.  

by JeremiahTheMessiah 2007-11-30 08:31AM | 0 recs
Re: nope

"There is a large voting group in the US of rural voters that are economically liberal but socially conservative."

Jeremiah, meet Mike Huckabee's constituents.

by the mollusk 2007-11-30 10:29AM | 0 recs
I appreciate the work

that went into this diary.

I regret that so many polling companies are only polling Clinton and Obama against the Republicans. I would like to be able to compare the Edwards v Republicans maps too.

by desmoinesdem 2007-11-29 05:27PM | 0 recs
Re: I appreciate the work

there was just a dearth of polls for Edwards, but, as a Hillary supporter, I must say that based on the few that were available, as well as some of the older data I looked at, Edwards was doing OK also (better than Hillary & Obama in some states, worse in others) .. so our whole field looks good right now when matched against the Republicans ... hope it stays that way for another year :)

by silver spring 2007-11-29 05:42PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton v. Obama in GE State Polls

Kudos Silverspring.  A very informative diary.

by Kingstongirl 2007-11-29 05:41PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton v. Obama in GE State Polls

wow, impressive diary. it's true that i won't personally vote on the 'electability' theme, and I don't think others should, either, but it has been raised repeatedly, so good to address it in-depth.

by CalDem 2007-11-29 05:52PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton v. Obama in GE State Polls

Isn't it odd how states seem to have these personalities?  My brother in Oregon likes Edwards.  My sister in California loves Hillary.  My sister in Florida hates Hillary and wants Al Gore to enter the race.  Its just interesting.

by FarWest 2007-11-29 06:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton v. Obama in GE State Polls

I have to give you a cyber salute....that was quite a read, so I thank you for delving into and working through all the data.

Good post.

by rikyrah 2007-11-29 07:07PM | 0 recs
Watch out. Republicans want to steal California

We have to fight back hard against this proposal to split the electoral districts in CA.

by kingsbridge77 2007-11-29 08:52PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton v. Obama in GE State Polls

Extremely useful diary, good work.

by AC4508 2007-11-29 10:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton v. Obama in GE State Polls

I used to live in Silver Spring -- now I live about an hour south of there.  I think Maryland is kind of like New Jersey -- it usually polls better for the Republicans than it ends up.  Just look at what the polls were saying for O'Malley and Cardin this last cycle for example -- both of them ended up hammering their Republican opponents despite 'neck-n-neck' polling.  Thanks for all the effort!

by frankies 2007-11-30 01:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton v. Obama New ARG Polls

The American Research Group released new polls from Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. In the Democratic presidential race:

Iowa: Obama 27%, Clinton 25%, Edwards 23%
New Hampshire: Clinton 34%, Obama 23%, Edwards 17%
South Carolina: Clinton 45%, Obama 21%, Edwards 12%
Key findings: Since the last ARG survey, Clinton has dropped 10 points among women in Iowa and she has dropped 17 points among men in New Hampshire.

She is losing ground in the key primary states

by BDM 2007-11-30 04:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton v. Obama New ARG Polls

in South Carolina, looks like Hillary is rising though .... last ARG poll was Clinton 41; Obama 19; Edwards 18.

by silver spring 2007-11-30 04:55AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton v. Obama New ARG Polls

NEW rcp avg: has Obama ahead by .04% 27.2 to 26.8 FOR CLINTON IN IA.

by BDM 2007-11-30 05:05AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton v. Obama in GE State Polls

Great diary. You should cross post it at Swing State Project.

by X Stryker 2007-11-30 04:47AM | 0 recs
This is an OUTSTANDING diary which I

throughly enjoyed reading and have marked on my hotlist for future reference,  as it is a ready reference of hoards of useful information.....WTG

by Sandy1938 2007-11-30 07:07AM | 0 recs
Something's wrong with Map 6

Obama is not ahead of Clinton in California or Nevada, and I have a hard time believing that Clinton leads in FL by only 0-3 points. And when has Obama ever led IA by 8-11 points? Looks like something is really wrong with this map, you might want to check it out.

by LakersFan 2007-11-30 09:37AM | 0 recs
re. Map 6

it's actually comparing how Clinton performs against an "average" Republican vs. how Obama performs against an average "Republican" ... NOT a comparison of Clinton v. Obama in the primary.

by silver spring 2007-12-01 03:32AM | 0 recs
Re: re. Map 6

Huh? Obama is doing better than Clinton against the "average" Republican in CA? How is the possible? I've seen lots of CA polls and have not seen anything that indicates this.

by LakersFan 2007-12-01 08:18AM | 0 recs
I want my shot at platitudes too!

Great, great post.  Thanks.

I'm not sure I believe it though.  Dukakis was ahead by 17 pts nationally until the Willy Horton deal.  It's all about Republican dirty tricks and who can respond to them.  As far as that goes, I have no ability to predict who would be better.  But I see the main questions as this:

1) "What will the Republicans dig out of Hillary's past?"  I have no worries about her toughness and her strength is that there couldn't possibly be too much more dirty laundry.  Then again, campaign tricks almost never depend upon truth.  Anything can be said as long as it evokes the right response from voters.

2) "Can Obama be tough when he needs to be?"  If he gets the nod, the attacks are coming.  It's just a matter of when and how dirty.  He can't play nice guy to these attacks.  Kerry could have stopped the Swiftboat thing by blaming Bush squarely and pointing out his failings as a member of the National Guard.  There is no high ground.

by the mollusk 2007-11-30 10:25AM | 0 recs


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