In our long essay about the future of left of center politics, Peter Leyden and I point out that Democrats have won states worth 248 electoral college votes in each of the last four presidential elections. This group includes important states like PA and MI. It is this analysis which has led us to argue that the true battleground of this election will be in the heavily Hispanic states of AZ, CO, FL, NM and NV (and a handful of other states like OH, IA, NH and perhaps NC, WI and VA).
One of the big arguments coming from both the McCain and Clinton camps has been that Obama cannot win those northern industrial states so critical to this Democratic map, and that they can. But is this true? Can McCain, in this environment in which the GOP is weaker today than it has been since at least 1982, and perhaps the 1960s, really think about winning a general election state they have not won since 1988? I have always believed that once a Democratic nomiee was picked, those 248 Electoral College votes would begin to settle in for the nominee and the game would move to the battleground described above, which in recent years was won by the GOP.
A new Survey USA poll of Pennsylvania indicates that as Obama begins his transition from candidate to nominee, that these traditional Democratic states may be reverting back to form. This new poll has Obama beating Senator McCain in PA by 8 points, 48-40, well outside the margin of error -- and this is before Senator Obama has been officially crowned the nominee. Another poll has the uber battleground of Ohio even. I've seen other recent polls that have Obama within a few points of McCain in Texas and Arizona (driven to some degree by the Hispanic community's aggressive abandonment of the GOP).
While it is early, and these polls will bounce around, looking at the national polls (most of which have Obama up by 4-7 points over McCain) and new state polls, there is growing evidence that Obama is successfully bringing the Democratic Party together, is winning over key Clinton constituencies and that his much discussed weakness with certain white voters is not carrying over to the general election battlefield in any meaningful way.
It also means that we will be seeing an unprecedented national campaign for the Hispanic vote, a battle which Senator McCain begins in a very weakened position and without a lot he can do to change a very anti-GOP dynamic that has taken hold in the Hispanic community.
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