Battlegrounds: Florida, Pennsylvania breaking for McCain?

As if the Barack Obama needed any more bad news, the St. Petersburg Times and Zogby both deliver cause for pessimism at Team O.   Florida polling shows that despite spending millions in advertising in the Sunshine State and a delay in advertising for McCain, Obama is in worse position that John Kerry at the same time in 2004.  Zogby has new polling that shows Obama now trails in Pennsylvania, a must-hold state for the Democrats.

First, the Florida breakdown:

Barack Obama could be on the verge of falling out of contention in Florida.

Despite spending an estimated $8-million on campaign ads in America’s biggest battleground state and putting in place the largest Democratic campaign organization ever in Florida, Obama has lost ground over the summer. Florida has moved from a toss-up state to one that clearly leans toward John McCain, fueling speculation about how much longer the Democratic nominee will continue investing so heavily in the state. …

He is farther behind in the state than John Kerry was at this point in 2004, even though McCain began buying Florida TV ads only last week. By this time in 2004, the Bush-Cheney campaign had spent $13-million on Florida TV. In the rolling average of Florida polls compiled by the Web site, Obama has never taken the lead over McCain in Florida, and the latest average shows him behind by 5 percentage points. They were tied in early August.

Four Florida polls came out this week, with one showing a tied race, the others showing McCain leading by 5 to 8 percentage points.

And Pennsylvania?  According to Zogby, Obama is down by five:

Updated: 9/13/2008

McCain – 49.1%
Obama – 44.3%
Not Sure/Other – 6.6%

“This is a classic case of polling as a snapshot in time. We’re turning Pennsylvania purple today, as McCain takes a small edge. But as in Ohio, we are watching this closely and things could change in this classically blue state.”

And in Ohio, Zogby now puts McCain ahead of Obama by six, a substantial enough margin to move the state from purple to red.  Zogby, of course, is one of the more volatile pollsters, so any results here should be taken with a grain of salt.  However, if McCain takes Pennsylvania and holds Ohio and Florida, it will be difficult for Obama to prevail in a national election.

Obama could hope to capture Virginia, which has eight less Electoral College votes than PA.  However, Zogby also shows McCain up by over six points there in its latest polling of likely voters.  He may do better in North Carolina than in Virginia, with two more EC votes, as Zogby has Obama slightly ahead by less than the margin of error.  McCain has moved out to a similar lead in Colorado now, and has taken a seven point lead in New Hampshire and Nevada.

Momentum appears to have definitely shifted towards McCain.  Expect the Obama campaign to focus like a laser on these battleground states and end any remaining pretense at a national effort.