23 October 2008

Obama’s ‘Headline Lead’ Larger Than Average in Colorado, Ohio and Florida

By Glenn Fannick
Dow Jones Insight Staff

The national split of headline mentions in the most recent weekly analysis shows 54% of headline mentions for Obama and 46% for McCain. The breakdown in Red and Blue states is about the same, as it is in the Gray States when taken as a whole.

So this week we decided to focus not on the Gray States as whole but specifically on some that will likely matter most. Here we see some splits wider than the national split. In a few states, Obama’s lead is greater, and in a few it’s less. For example, Colorado, Missouri, Ohio and Florida all show Obama leads that are greater than his lead at the national level, while North Carolina and Nevada show closer races – gaps of about four percentage points.

Colorado has voted Republican three times in the past four, and now, with its influx of first-generation Hispanic voters, it becomes a state both sides think they can win. Closely watched Florida, where Obama is outspending McCain 4-1 of late according to CNN, has a 55%-45% breakdown in the most recent period. Perennial battleground Ohio and Missouri, with its surge in newly registered African American voters, are both at 57%-43% for Obama. And Nevada, with many newly registered Democrats, has Obama up a few points in the polls and a close 53%-48% split. North Carolina, also at 53%-48%, has been solidly Republican for much of the past several decades but is a dead heat in the polls.

While there is no consensus on exactly how to determine if a state is a “battleground,” one thing is generally agreed upon: the election will likely tip to the candidate who wins in most of these key states. Over the past several months, Dow Jones Insight has analyzed the nation along red, blue and gray lines, strictly defining a Red State as one that has gone for the GOP four elections in a row, a Blue State as one that’s gone Democratic four in a row and a Gray State as one that has split. Our analysis includes television and print news media based in those states.

During most weeks, Red and Blue have been at most only a few points apart. And the most recent week, October 13 to October 19, was no different. Obama led in the count of headline mentions in both Red States (53%-47%) and Blue States (54%-46%). Perhaps this shows the press is not being influenced by the voting record of its readership. Or perhaps it underscores the argument that the country is more purple than it is two crisp camps.
Blue States are defined as those that were carried by the Democrats in all four of the most recent presidential elections: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin. Red States are defined as those that were carried by the GOP in all four of the most recent presidential elections: Alaska, Alabama, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming.

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