Obama Leads by 9 in Ohio, McCain Edges in Missouri

With just over two weeks left before the presidential election, voters in the key state of Ohio are giving the Democratic ticket of Barack Obama and Joe Biden a 9-point lead (51 percent-42 percent) over the Republican ticket of John McCain and Sarah Palin, according to a poll released today by Suffolk University. 

In Missouri, McCain led by 1 percent (45 percent to 44 percent) statewide. He also led the bellwether test of Platte County, Mo. 

"If Ohio goes for Obama, it may be lights out for McCain,” said David Paleologos, director of the Political Research Center at Suffolk University in Boston. "At least today, the probability of an Ohio win is supported by the high-single-digit lead in the statewide poll coupled with the Perry County bellwether, which showed Obama leading by 4 percent.” 

In 2008, Suffolk University bellwethers were 95 percent accurate in predicting straight-up winners in both Democratic and Republican primaries, and, when coupled with statewide Suffolk polls, were 100 percent accurate in predicting straight-up winners.

Voters' reasoning

What drives McCain voters is not always the man himself, but other factors, such as a vote against Obama or support for Palin.

Obama voters were more excited by their candidate, but some were voting against President George W. Bush:

Factors OH Voters for McCain-% MO Voters for McCain- %
Vote for McCain 49 66
Vote for Palin 8 4
Vote against Obama 15 21


Factors OH Voters for Obama-% MO Voters for Obama-%
Vote for Obama 71 73
Vote against McCain 10 6
Vote against Bush 12 14

"Obama's strength is two-fold: More people are driven to vote for Obama because of Obama; in addition, any anti-Obama McCain voters are offset by anti-Bush Obama voters who may not be motivated by Obama, but are motivated against George Bush," said Paleologos.

Impact of 'Joe the Plumber'

"Joe the Plumber," a spectator who asked a question at an Obama rally, dominated the last presidential debate and the media coverage thereafter. However, in both battleground states, the impact on the presidential race is minimal.

In Ohio, 68 percent of respondents said they recognized "Joe the Plumber," but only 6 percent said that Joe's story will make them more likely to vote McCain; 4 percent were more likely to vote for Obama; and 85 percent were not affected. A similar finding was recorded in Missouri, where 80 percent had heard of the presidential plumber; 8 percent were more likely to vote McCain; 3 percent more likely to vote Obama; and 86 percent not affected by his story.


The Suffolk University Ohio poll was conducted Thursday, Oct. 16, 2008, through Sunday, Oct. 19, 2008. The Missouri poll was conducted Friday, Oct. 17, 2008, through Sunday, Oct. 19, 2008. The margin of error on each study of 600 is +/- 4 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence. All respondents from both surveys were likely voters from Ohio and Missouri.

Separate from the statewide poll, there were 312 respondents from the Ohio bellwether of Perry County and 204 respondents from the Missouri bellwether of Platte County. Both sets of statewide and bellwether marginals as well as cross-tabulation data from both states will be posted on the Suffolk University Political Research Center Web site on Monday, Oct. 20, 2008. For more information, contact David Paleologos at 781-290-9310.