Swing state poll shows McCain doing better than he should

Voters want to elect a generic Democrat, polling in three key states shows, but that doesn't mean they'll choose Obama over McCain.

Published August 26, 2008 4:40PM (EDT)

DENVER -- Interesting results from a group of polls conducted in key swing states by Quinnipiac University were released Tuesday. Mostly, they seem to emphasize just why it's so important for Democrats to work to introduce Barack Obama, the person, to voters during the convention this week.

When respondents were asked which political party they'd like to see take the White House, the surveys showed that voters in Florida prefer a Democrat 44 percent to 39 percent, Ohio voters go for the Democrat 44 percent to 35 percent, and Pennsylvania voters favor a generic Democrat by a wide margin, 50 percent to 32 percent.

Insert the names Barack Obama and John McCain, though, and the results are not so favorable for the Democratic Party. In Florida, McCain actually leads Obama, 47-43; in Ohio, Obama is ahead, but by just 1 percentage point -- 44 percent of respondents favor him, while 43 percent give the nod to McCain. And in Pennsylvania, Obama leads 49-42. In both Florida and Ohio, Obama's numbers are down since July.

"Eight weeks ago, Sen. Barack Obama was on top in all three of these key swing states and that would make his election almost a sure thing ... Sen. Obama needs this convention to give his campaign a jump start," Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said in the release announcing the poll results. "Sen. Obama needs to close the sale with voters who want a Democrat, but because of Sen. McCain's strength at this point, they don't want this Democrat ... In fact, McCain is running an average of 9 percentage points ahead of the 'generic Republican.'"

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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2008 Elections Barack Obama John Mccain R-ariz.