Is New York in play? Update: Obama loses 13 points since June

posted at 8:30 am on September 15, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

According to the New York Post, internal polling by both Democrats and Republicans show Barack Obama beginning to fade in New York.  Once considered an unassailable bastion for Democrats, the Empire State has narrowed to a potential catastrophe for them, all the way down the ticket.  Polls out today will show a significant gain for John McCain, and a nightmare for Obama:

BOOSTED by the selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate, Republican John McCain has experienced a surge of support among women in heavily Democratic New York state – where he has closed the gap with Barack Obama, new private polls show.

The internal Republican and Democratic polls, details of which were provided to The Post, have stunned members of both parties – and produced deep worries among Democrats. …

The private polls have consistently shown the Obama-Biden ticket still leading but with less than 50 percent of the vote in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by over 2.3 million voters.

The last Siena poll had Obama only up by eight in August.  Apparently, that margin has narrowed even further, a shocking result for a Northeastern state considered a lock for Democrats.  The McCain campaign may start spending money in New York if the results get further confirmed by public polls due out today and later this week.

What happened?  The Post credits the selection of Sarah Palin as McCain’s running mate, but the snub of their Senator by Obama for the other position may have created a backlash among New Yorkers.  The tax problems of Charlie Rangel may have contributed to the falling fortunes of Democrats, and the Post forgets that this is the first election since Eliot Spitzer’s resignation over his affairs with high-priced hookers.  If the Republican brand suffered nationally, the Democratic brand isn’t doing well in New York now, and the reform rhetoric of Obama isn’t convincing voters there.

If Obama loses his grip on New York, he can’t possibly win the election.  If he has to sink a large amount of money in New York, he’ll have to take it from his efforts in battleground states, and he’ll have to cut his face time in places like Michigan, Ohio, Colorado, and Minnesota. That’s a recipe for defeat, both financially and electorally.

Just a week ago, his campaign shrugged off the national polls by asserting that the state polls were what counted.  As this shows, the national polls provide a pretty good barometer about what one can expect in the states.  If New York becomes a toss-up, Obama can kiss his White House aspirations good-bye.

Update: The Siena poll of likely voters in New York shows just how bad Obama has fared.  He lost 13 points off his lead since clinching the nomination, and now barely leads outside the margin of error — and can’t get to a majority:

Seven weeks until Election Day, the race for President has tightened in New York, with Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) leading Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) 46-41 percent among likely voters, according to a new Siena (College) Research Institute poll released today.  Obama’s five point lead is down from eight points in August, 13 points in July and 18 points in June, when he led 51-33 percent.  On a series of  six questions concerning current issues in the campaign – economy, Iraq, terrorism, health care, America’s position in the world, and education – likely voters believe Obama will do a better job on four.  Conversely, out of six attributes voters often look at in choosing a candidate – compassion, patriotism, experience, intelligence, integrity, and leadership – New York’s electorate gives the edge to McCain on four.

“Although New York has long been regarded as a ‘safe’ state for the Democrats in presidential politics, likely voters in the Empire State are currently only giving Senator Obama a five-point cushion,” said Steven Greenberg, spokesman for the Siena New York Poll.  “The conventions are over.  The running mates are set.  And as voters begin to focus on the race, New York’s overwhelming Democratic enrollment advantage is not reflected in how voters tell Siena they plan to vote.”

McCain has made significant gains in New York largely on national security and personal attributes.  He wins on terrorism, 54-33, and edges Obama in ensuring American strength, 47-41.  McCain obliterates him on personal qualities, especially patriotism (59-21), experience (73-18), and perhaps most unsettling for Team O, integrity (43-38).

Update: Obama lost 13 points on an 18-point lead, not 18 points. My apologies for the confusion.


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