Could Affluent Suburbs Give Barack Obama A Win Over John McCain?

My post earlier this week on the Pennsylvania polls and the implications thereof has gotten some attention, and so I thought I would check out one point I made: that Obama's lead in the state is largely due to an increase over previous Democratic presidential candidates in his percentages in affluent suburbs. Looking at other state polls that break down results by region, I find some confirmation, but also some qualifications.

Confirmation:

Colorado. CNN/Time says Obama has a 15 percent lead in Denver suburbs.

Minnesota. SurveyUSA shows Obama ahead statewide 50 percent to 44 percent and 52 percent to 42 percent in the Twin Cities area, which is 58 percent of the state. McCain leads in South, trails in Northeast and is tied in West; it's essentially even in the rest of the state outside the Twin Cities. Which means the affluent suburbs aren't producing much in the way of a margin for McCain.

Missouri. SurveyUSA shows a 48 percent to 48 percent tie. Obama is carrying St. Louis 55 percent to 39 percent and Kansas City 56 percent to 41 percent--margins which suggest parity in the affluent suburbs. McCain is carrying North and Southwest by wide margins, Southeast by a narrow margin.

New Mexico. SurveyUSA has Obama up 53 percent to 44 percent in Bernalillo County, 51 percent to 45 percent in the rest of the state. Evidently Obama is doing well in the Albuquerque suburbs, though Albuquerque is not a particularly affluent metro area.

North Carolina. PPP has Obama doing even better in suburbs (58 percent to 38 percent) than in urban areas (55 percent to 42 percent) and has McCain carrying rural areas (57 percent to 39 percent) and small towns (52 percent to 44 percent). This despite the fact that the rural areas and small towns probably have higher black percentages than the suburbs.

Virginia. SurveyUSA shows it 52 percent to 43 percent overall, with 63 percent to 33 percent in Northeast (essentially, Northern Virginia). It's about even, with 3 percent, in the rest of the state--which means Obama is doing better than Kerry in at least some regions. Still, affluent Northern Virginia is driving the Obama campaign toward a Virginia victory.

Qualifications:

Florida. Quinnipiac shows Obama carrying [Tampa] Bay 50 percent to 38 percent and Southeast 59 percent to 36 percent. McCain is carrying Southwest and North/Panhandle by wide margins and Central 48 percent to 46 percent. This is an improvement for Obama in metro Tampa, but not in metro Orlando or Jacksonville. His biggest popular vote margins are still in Broward, Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade Counties, a huge metro area with many affluent suburban neighborhoods; Obama appears to be doing well with the large number of Jewish voters here.

Ohio. SurveyUSA, showing Obama ahead 49 percent to 45 percent. Seems a contrary case. Obama leads in Cleveland area 56 percent to 39 percent and by 1 percent in Columbus and 6 percent in Dayton. McCain leads 60 percent to 36 percent in Cincinnati and (thanks, Joe the Plumber) 49 percent to 39 percent in Toledo. The Cleveland area appears to include the industrial Mahoning Valley, which probably is casting normal large Democratic margins for Obama, but the affluent suburbs have to be contributing too. The same is true of Columbus, the most economically vital part of the state.

Pennsylvania. The most recent SurveyUSA poll seems to show reversion to type, with Allegheny and Northeast now showing robust margins for Obama and Southeast (mostly Philly suburbs) running 57 percent to 39 percent for Obama--not quite the 2-1 margins in earlier polls. So Pennsylvania, the source of my hypothesis, is now undercutting it at least a little bit.

strong>Wisconsin. SurveyUSA shows Obama weakest in Milwaukee, leading only 49 percent to 46 percent, but leading 70 percent to 24 percent in Madison and by lesser but still impressive margins in Green Bay and Northwest. The Milwaukee suburbs, once again, as in 2000 and 2004, are sticking Republican. I'm not sure what the explanation is.

--Click here to read more by Michael Barone.


By Michael Barone
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