News Release: Faculty Experts, Politics

Oct. 8,  2008

Election Experts

Fresh Battleground and Swing States Emerge in the Election

As the presidential campaign heads into its final weeks, Emory political scientists say the advantage for now lies with Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama over Republican John McCain based on polling data and emerging battleground states.

"Sen. Barack Obama appears to be making inroads into some states that George Bush won in 2000 and 2004," says Emory political scientist Merle Black, coauthor of "Divided America: The Ferocious  Power Struggle in American Politics." 

The Northeast and the Pacific Coast appear to be solidly Democratic. Obama is aggressively organizing and campaigning in Florida, Virginia and North Carolina, as well as in New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada, Black says. 

Georgia Going Blue?

"Georgia could be a sleeper state for Democrats," says Black. "Expectations are for a huge turnout. Campaigning by Obama or John McCain in Georgia during the last week of the campaign would probably indicate a national Obama landslide," Black says.  

What's fueling the change is "the economic crisis," Black says. "Voters are worried and angry about their economic situation. Voters disapprove of the performance of both the President and the Congress.  In our system of divided powers, however, the president – and his party – hold primary responsibility in the minds of voters.  Barack Obama and the Democratic party hold huge advantages as we head into the final month of the  campaign."

State Polls Point to Obama

Emory political scientist and polling expert Alan Abramowitz agrees that the election at this point is pointing to a Democratic win.

In a new paper, "Thirty Days and Counting: Obama Leads McCain with One Month Remaining in 2008 Campaign," Abramowitz analyzes the state polls and finds Obama is running ahead of the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, John Kerry, in the large majority of states, including the states Kerry won, and in every major demographic group with the exception of voters over the age of 65.  He continues to do far better than Kerry among two groups: voters under the age of 30 and Hispanics, Abramowitz says.

Swing States Will Sway Electoral Vote

In the 15 battleground states that will decide the outcome of the presidential race Obama has a clear advantage, he says.  These states include the 12 swing states from 2004 (Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Florida, Colorado, New Mexico, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Nevada and New Hampshire) and three new states in 2008 -- Indiana, Virginia and North Carolina. 

Although President Bush carried 10 of these 15 states in 2004, "Obama is currently leading in 13 of these 15 states, all except North Carolina and Indiana, and recent polls show the race to be extremely close in those two states which George Bush carried by 12 and 20 points respectively in 2004," Abramowitz says.    

Party Support Strong for Both

Both candidates have consolidated their support within their own parties, a trend that is good news for Obama since Democratic identifiers now substantially outnumber Republican identifiers in the American electorate, Abramowitz says. In six years the two parties have gone from near parity in voter support to a Democratic advantage of about 12 points, which is likely to translate into at least a modest Democratic advantage on Election Day. 

  • Abramowitz is a nationally known expert on national politics, polls and elections and the author of "Voice of the People: Elections and Voting in the United States." His expertise includes election forecasting models, party realignment in the United States, congressional elections and the effects of political campaigns on the electorate. Reach Abramowitz at 404-727-0108 or
  • Black, Emory's Asa G. Candler Professor of Politics and Government, is a renowned expert on national politics and the foremost authority on politics in the South. One the nation's most incisive commentators, Black is coauthor of "Divided America: The Ferocious Power Struggle in American Politics." Reach him at 404-727-6570 or


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