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New polls show Obama and McCain tied everywhere (almost)

By Jimmy Orr / September 22, 2008

Jake Turcotte

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As we ramp up to the first presidential debate of the season, it feels a bit like 1999. The Americans win the Ryder cup. Brian Griese is a starting quarterback. And John McCain is running for President.

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New polls are out everywhere. You could make a career out of interpreting them.

Sabato-mania

One person who has done just that is the ever-present University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato. Sabato seems to going for a personal record -- make an appearance in every news outlet worldwide -- by the end of the year.

Today he can scratch the BBC from his list, penning a very interesting column on that site on the possibility of an electoral college tie.

Ugh, a tie

A possibility? Not likely. But Sabato says to keep an eye on seven key states: Colorado, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

"If you mix and match states on the map, in fact, you will quickly see that it relatively easy to produce a tie in the electoral college," Sabato writes. "So what happens if one occurs? In two words: a mess."

No kidding. Under the constitution, through something called the "unit rule," the selection of the President would go to the House of Representatives -- with one caveat. Instead of each Representative having a vote, each state gets a vote. The candidate with the majority gets the win.

Another tie

What if it's a 25-25 tie? The new Vice President would select the President. The selection of Vice President is easier. The 100 members of the U.S. Senate each get a vote.

The result of such a mess?

"If the public reaction to the Supreme Court's Bush v Gore decision in 2000 was bitter, one can scarcely imagine the outrage that would greet a modern application of the unit rule," Sabato writes.

Is it really that close? A look at many of the recent polls show the battleground states are indeed real battlegrounds.

The perpetual battleground states -- Florida and Ohio once again -- show McCain and Obama nearly deadlocked.

Florida

A new Miami Herald poll shows McCain with a scant two-point margin in Florida (47 to 45 percent). The poll was conducted from September 14 - 17, so the full impact of the week's financial problems haven't been factored in.

On the economy, Obama has the clear edge -- a 49 to 40 percent lead. In terms of foreign policy questions, McCain has the lead.

If terrorism is your main concern in Florida, it's literally all McCain - getting 92 percent of those voters. Who could better deal with the war in Afghanistan and Iraq? McCain gets that nod by a 54 - 40 percent margin.

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