Tom Jensen of Raleigh's Public Policy Polling spoke with Peter St. Onge of the Charlotte Observer about PPP's recent polling in Ohio, which found John McCain leading Barack Obama 48-44, a four-point swing for McCain since PPP's August Ohio poll. The underlying numbers will be troubling to Obama supporters, says Jensen.
The Ballot: Your new Ohio poll shows undecideds are moving toward McCain. Where is the movement coming from demographically?
Jensen: As white voters make up their minds in Ohio, they are moving toward John McCain. When we polled the state in August McCain had an 11 point lead with that group and 13% were undecided. Now, after the GOP convention and Sarah Palin joining the ticket, McCain is up 18 points with those folks and just 8% are undecided.
It seems pretty clear that almost all of those white voters are trending toward McCain. Ohio doesn’t have a huge black population, so he probably needs to get at least 42% of the white vote to win there. Right now it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.
The Ballot: Is McCain's advantage with undecided whites a trend you're seeing in other states?
Jensen: We’re finding a 4-6 point gain for John McCain among white voters this month in pretty much all of the swing states, and that’s what’s driving an average bounce of two points for McCain in our polls for September as compared to August. I think what’s happening is that many conservative leaning voters who were lukewarm toward McCain are now lining up behind the ticket because of their enthusiasm for Sarah Palin.
My guess is that most of those folks would have come out and voted for him anyway to keep Obama out of office, so this movement may have been inevitable and doesn’t fundamentally change the state of the race. We always saw this as a close election, and I think that’s what all of our peers are finding right now as well.
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