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Survey USA created quite the buzz the other day when they released the results of general election polls for all 50 states.  People have already feasted on the overall results; here, I will focus on the data for gender, age, income, and party.

First, the main results in a more subtle form besides the red/blue released by Survey USA, and a comparison of each candidate's performance.  Red shows McCain leading, and blue shows the Democrat leading.  In the comparison, green shows Clinton outperforming Obama against McCain; purple for Obama.

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Of course, we have the standard caveats: these polls are a great snapshot, and it will be very interesting to follow changes over time, but they do not predict outcomes in November (although they are not entirely unrelated).  Let me repeat that: these polls are great for following the effects of campaigning, but do not take them too seriously for predicting the outcome of the election.  They do not tell us who has better 'electability.'  Polls taken next month could easily show Clinton winning far more states than Obama.  Also note that these polls are of all registered voters, and about 10% are undecided, a pretty high number for Survey USA polls.

The lightest colors in the maps for Clinton and Obama (left and center above) show states that are essentially tied.  The map of Clinton vs. McCain looks very familiar; we first saw it in 2000 and 2004 and have been staring at it ever since.  However, Clinton is (at this point) clearly pushing into Republican territory, such as West Virginia, Tennessee, Missouri and Florida.  

The map of Obama vs. McCain looks very, very different compared to 2000 and 2004.  Obama makes substantial inroads throughout the West, solidifying the Pacific Northwest, and solidifying parts of the Midwest.  He loses ground, however, in a swath of states stretching from Pennsylvania down through the Appalachians and over into Oklahoma.

Comparing the two Democrats helps illustrate their strengths and weaknesses as of last week.  Where Obama does better, states are colored purple.  Where Clinton does better, states are colored green.  For example, if Clinton gets 60% against McCain in a state and Obama gets only 51%, that state has a result of 9 and is colored light green.

Obama outperforms Clinton in 37 states.  Clinton tends to do better in the same parts of the South discussed just a bit ago, and parts of the Northeast.  

Let's take a break and review the primary results:

Primary Results by County

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Also available are Texas and Ohio and New England.

The strongest areas of support for Clinton are from western New York, south through the Appalachians, and then west over into Tennessee, Oklahoma, and parts of Texas.  We're going to see this pattern over and over, so I'm going to call it the Clinton Corridor.  

Why these regions of support?  Perhaps because Obama has not campaigned much if at all in the Clinton Corridor (yet).  Clinton, on the other hand, has not campaigned much in one of Obama's areas of strongest support, the Mountain West.  The other data point we have come from demographics: poblano has shown that the percentage of Southern Baptists has an effect on general election support, hurting Obama and helping Clinton.

We do see a relationship, albeit not an especially strong one, between performance in the primaries and performance in the general election matchups:

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Back to our feature presentation...


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The regional patterns are clear here.  On the right, we see Obama does better than Clinton among men in the Mountain West, and slightly better than Clinton everywhere else except the Clinton Corridor; Clinton does much better than Obama among women in the Clinton Corridor, and slightly better in neighboring states and the Southwest.

On the left, we see Obama winning among women or tying everywhere except the Clinton Corridor, some neighboring states, Florida, Idaho, and Wyoming.  Clinton ties or wins except in the Deep South and Mountain West/Northern Plains.  Clinton loses among men by five points or more in 43 states.  Clinton does better with women than men in every state, with the biggest gender gap of 31 points in Colorado.  Obama does better with women in 47 states, with the biggest gender gap of 17 points in New Yo


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Younger voters: Obama loses 9 states by five points or more, and wins 29 by six points or more.  Clinton loses 17 by five points or more, and wins 18 by six points or more.  The geographical patterns we've talked about already are not as apparent here.

Both candidates do worse among voters aged 35-54, and Obama still outperforms Clinton.  Obama does worst among voters 55+, while Clinton does best.  The same geographical patterns are seen here too.  Clinton does better among older voters in the Northwest, and younger voters in the South.

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Again, the same Clinton Corridor effect.  We also see that Clinton handily wins among the poorer voters in almost the entire country.  Obama still outperforms her in the Mountain West though.  Clinton, on the other hand, has little support across the country among those making more than $80,000, while Obama has decent support outside of the South in this category and outperforms Clinton in 43 states.  In other words, Obama has an income gap in the South, but Clinton has a large income gap nationwide (but especially in the South).

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Here we switch color regimes, because the differences are well beyond 30 points.  Now, the maps on the left show absolute levels of support.

We see the most dramatic differences in African-American support.  Clinton's support among African-Americans is as low as 50-60% in many states, or about 20-30 points worse than Obama.  A large number - about 20% - are undecided if it is Clinton vs. McCain.  Only about 5% have no preference if the nominee is Obama.

Among Hispanics, it is a mixed bag; in some states Obama does better than Clinton, some the other way around.

Among whites, we see the effects of the Clinton Corridor extending to many neighboring states, especially in the South, where Clinton outperforms Obama.  Obama, as usual, outperforms Cliton out West.  Note that these maps are 'redder' than they would be if we used percent of the two-party vote, as there are about 10% undecided in each state.


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Clinton tends to do better than Obama among Democrats, especially in the Clinton Corridor.  Obama does a little better than Clinton among Republicans in almost every state, and outperforms her to an even greater extent among Independents.


These polls look great for Democrats, but as Republicans have not yet begun to fight, this could be the high water mark for both Democrats.  The snapshot at the end of February shows the following:  Obama does much better than Clinton (or Kerry) in the West and Northern Plains; Clinton does better in the Clinton Corridor in Appalachia and the Southern Plains.

Obama manages to snag a fair number of Independents and Republicans as of last week, while Clinton better holds Democrats.  Clinton has an income and gender gap, while Obama has an age gap.  Clinton has major problems with African-Americans, but tends to do better with Hispanics.  

Cross posted at Open Left.

Originally posted to Daniel Donner on Sat Mar 08, 2008 at 07:52 AM PST.


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