McCain moves to the lead in Michigan, tied in Pennsylvania

So far, the burden of the early clincher hasn’t done much to damage John McCain. In a sign that the increasingly bitter Democratic primary campaign may provide some assistance to the Republican nominee, Rasmussen shows McCain ahead of both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in the normally blue state of Michigan. And in worse news, McCain has pulled even in Pennsylvania as well:

In Michigan, John McCain has a very modest advantage over both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton during the early stages of Election 2008. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey found McCain leading Clinton 46% to 43% and Obama 44% to 41%.

McCain leads both Democrats by double digits among men and trails by single digits among women. …

Michigan has cast its Electoral College votes for the Democrats in four straight Presidential elections and it would be difficult for Obama or Clinton to reach the White House without carrying the state. However, the economically devastated state has been trending Republican in recent elections—Bill Clinton won Michigan by thirteen points in 1996, Al Gore won by five in 2000, and John Kerry won by just three points in 2004.

In Pennsylvania, the news gets bad for Obama. He had a 10-point lead over McCain a month ago in Pennsylvania as well as the eight-point lead in Michigan. His favorable ratings have dropped nine points, and now he trails McCain by a single point in the Keystone State. The driving forces in PA? Those who believe the situation in Iraq has improved lead those who don’t by 9 points, and in the overall war on terror, optimists outstrip pessimists by 27 points, 52-25.

Michigan looks like it might go for the candidate most palatable to centrists. The youth vote, surprisingly, comes out strong for McCain. While Clinton beats him 54-41 among 18-29 year olds, McCain beats Obama by 56-33. He only trails Obama among Michigan women by seven points, less than the average gender gap for general elections, and he leads among men by 15 points. Interestingly, the data does not include ethnic demographics.

The sharp trend downwards suggests that Obama may have a problem overcoming the harsh campaigning from the Hillary Clinton campaign. If he loses Michigan and Pennsylvania, that takes 38 Electoral College votes that went to John Kerry in 2004 and puts them in the McCain column. If all other states broke out the same as in 2004, McCain would win by over 120 EC votes. It also portends difficulties in other states such as Wisconsin and even Washington, where Rasmussen indicates McCain could be the first Republican since Reagan to contend for the state.

Obamamania appears to have slowed to a halt. McCain can hope that the Democratic primary lasts as long as possible.