Swimming in a Deep Blue Sea


I’d been meaning to touch on this, and a new poll gives me a reason to. We spend most of our time tracking the campaigns in the battleground states and analyzing poll data there. And across the board Obama is doing very well in the states that will decide the election.

But what about the states where Obama is a cinch to win? How well is he doing there compared to historical norms? Margin of victory in individual states (and believe me, I don’t want to count chickens prematurely) is a factor in measuring the size and strength of the mandate Obama looks poised to win.

I have in mind in particular California, where Obama is wildly popular, but where there is a record of Republican presidential candidates having done very well, too. So how does Obama’s lead there stack up to Reagan’s victory margin, for example? Very well, it turns out.

The latest Field Poll gives Obama a 22-point lead in California, which would be an unprecedented margin of victory in modern times:

Barack Obama appears destined for the largest California victory of any presidential candidate since World War II, potentially boosting prospects for Democratic candidates statewide.

In a new state Field Poll, the presidential ticket of Obama and Delaware Sen. Joe Biden leads Republican John McCain and running mate Sarah Palin by 55 percent to 33 percent.

If the margin stands on Nov. 4, Obama will rack up a California landslide more lopsided than that of Democrat Lyndon Johnson in 1964 or Republican Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984.

The Field Poll isn’t exactly an outlier. The Pollster.com aggregate for California gives Obama an 18-point lead, which is slightly larger than Reagan’s 1980 victory margin there. (The Pollster.com aggregate doesn’t yet include the new Field Poll, and it should be noted that there has been relatively little polling in California because the state is not in play.)

How’s Obama doing in other deep blue states? Again using the Pollster.com aggregate: New York (+24) and Massachusetts (+21). In 1988, Michael Dukakis only won his home state by 8 points.


David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.