A Gallup Poll released on May 28 gave a last-minute boost to the central claim of the Hillary Clinton campaign that she would make a stronger general election candidate than Barack Obama against John McCain, prevailing in swing states that have twice as many votes as those in which Obama trounces her.
In a conference call for reporters, Howard Wolfson, Clinton's strategist and communications director, read key paragraphs from the Gallup report entitled "Hillary Clinton's Swing-State Advantage"
The Gallup report found:
"In the 20 states where Hillary Clinton has claimed victory in the 2008 Democratic primary and caucus elections (winning the popular vote), she has led John McCain in Gallup Poll Daily trial heats for the general election over the past two weeks of Gallup Poll Daily tracking by 50% to 43%. In those same states, Barack Obama is about tied with McCain among national registered voters, 45% to 46%.
"In contrast, in the 28 states and the District of Columbia where Obama has won a higher share of the popular vote against Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primaries and caucuses, there is essentially no difference in how Obama and Clinton each fare against McCain. Both Democrats are statistically tied with him for the fall election."
The Gallup findings were music to Wolfson's ears, so much so that he reread the first graph aloud to make sure it sank in.
Gallup presented the survey findings in a set of charts:
The Gallup analysis becomes more complex when it focuses only on "swing states" - those that George W. Bush or John Kerry won by less than five percentage points in 2004.
Clinton won primaries or caucuses in eight swing states, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Arkansas, and disputed contests in Florida and Michigan. In surveys of those states, which have a total of 105 electoral votes, Gallup found that a hypothetical general election matchup put Clinton ahead of McCain by an average of six points, 49 to 43, while Obama runs an average of three points behind McCain, 43-46.
Conversely, in the swing states that backed Obama -- Colorado, Oregon, Minnesota, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Missouri with a total of 54 electoral votes - Obama holds a solid eight point lead over McCain, on average, while Hillary is nearly tied, 45-46.
The Gallup report concluded: "Clinton's main advantage is that her states -- including Florida and Michigan -- represent nearly twice as many Electoral College votes as Obama's."