The Quinnipiac-inspired widget

Quinnipiac released a round of polls this morning, and the results were stunning. Not only is Obama polling ahead of McCain in Pennsylvania, he's also leading him in Ohio and Florida.

Everyone's going to be focusing on Ohio, but the real story here is Florida. The Sunshine State is key to any McCain presidency scenario. To illustrate this, here's a picture of the electoral map from the 2004 election, with Iowa (who's clearly going to switch to blue in 2008) and Florida switching sides (thanks to 270towin for giving me yet another gadget to play with):

So if Obama were to take Florida, McCain's going to have to do some serious scrambling. Not only would he have to hold serve in all the other Bush 2004 states (which isn't very likely), but he's also going to have to switch over Pennsylvania (where he's currently trailing by 12 points), or he needs to take multiple Kerry 2004 states. Michigan alone wouldn't do it; that would leave it as a 269-269 tie, and the House would likely give the vote to Obama.

But we know that it's not realistic that McCain is going to get all the Bush 2004 states. He's going to lose at least one of the three mountain west swing states (New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado), and there's a solid chance that Obama will take either Virginia or North Carolina, with the former more likely. So, let's just say that he takes Virginia and New Mexico, to be conservative:

This map gets really ugly for McCain if that happens. Heck, with this map he could take Florida and still lose. With a Florida loss, McCain would need to pull off some sort of multi-state concotion (I came up with Michigan, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and either Wisconsin or Minnesota as the "most likely" scenario) to put himself over the top. And realistically, he's probably not winning Colorado, and at that point McCain would need to flip New Jersey - there's really no other good option.

So, for yet another election, it looks like the central characters are going to be Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and most importantly, Florida. Florida is McCain's firewall; if he doesn't win there, there's no reasonable path to the presidency for him.

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