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New York: a swing state?

Herb Boyd | 4/12/2011, 4:34 p.m.

As if the news weren't bad enough for Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential nominee, that he was falling behind in the polls charting the electoral vote tally, it is now reported that New York might be a swing state. According to a recent poll conducted by Siena Research Institute Sept. 8-10, Obama still holds a shaky 46 to 41 percent lead among likely voters, which is barely beyond the survey's nearly 4 percent margin of error. In a similar poll conducted back in August, Obama led by 8 percent and in June by 18 percent. "New York voters favor Mr. Obama on issues including the economy, health care, the Iraq war and education while Mr. McCain holds an edge on national security," the survey indicated. "Mr. McCain does better than Mr. Obama when voters are asked about attributes they look for in a president, scoring higher on questions on patriotism, experience, integrity, and leadership." Moreover, the survey revealed, both candidates have largely ignored New York since the primaries ended, focusing their energies on more traditional swing states. "The McCain campaign's New York headquarters isn't even in New York, located instead in New Jersey," it was noted in the survey. During Imhotep Gary Byrd's radio shows on WLIB and WBLS, there are invariably callers who voice a concern that Obama has neglected the Black community, particularly in Brooklyn and Harlem. There is even a quiet grumble among African American entrepreneurs that Obama's campaign has overlooked them when seeking companies to post or broadcast its ads. Many pundits attribute the latest bounce to McCain's choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate who, despite her increasing flaws, has clearly energized the Republican base and to some measurable extent may be in part responsible for the bump that has occurred in New York. Palin's favorable rating among white women--especially those who may still be smarting because Obama did not select Sen. Hillary Clinton as his running mate--is over 50 percent. One poll showed that her rating was even higher among white men at over 60 percent. Palin chided Obama, insisting that he seems to be fretting over choosing Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware and not Clinton. "I think he's regretting not picking her now," the governor told ABC News. The Palin factor or phenomenon is viewed as advantageous for McCain in other swing states, including North Carolina, Indiana, Florida and Minnesota. Among the strong Republican states, according to RealClearPolitics.com, McCain has gained more than 8 points over Obama since shortly before the conventions, turning a 14 point lead into a 22.5 point margin--a huge gain. "Among the strong Democratic states," the website notes, "the effect of the conventions is a tiny 2 point move in McCain's direction, from an Obama lead of 12 points before to 10 points now. But the rest of the states, rated lean or toss-up, have also shown movement. These swing states had a 1.5 point Obama lead before the conventions and that has now turned into a 3 point McCain lead--a 4.5 point shift." Overall, McCain/Palin have passed Obama/Biden in electoral votes with a total of 227 to 207,which marks a dramatic change since Obama and Biden had been leading by a wide margin over the last several weeks. One hundred and four votes remains up for grabs, according to the poll. Of course, polls are but a snapshot of a moment, and as we've seen since the start of this presidential race, polls are not reliable and most political commentators agree that this will be a race to the wire, although former Pres. Bill Clinton told Obama at a Harlem meeting that he will "win handily." Clinton should be careful with his predictions because it could send the wrong message, and in a close race like this one it's no time to be overconfident and think you can coast to victory.