Welcome to the latest edition of “If the election were held today”

Using the RealClearPolitics poll averages, I’m going to post an electoral map with the results as they could happen if votes were counted today.

Now obviously, this is all based on polling, which I’m sure to have several of you grumble about. But I think this could make for an interesting, occasional snapshot of which way the tide is flowing in the battleground states.

Using the RCP averages as of today to pick winners for the battleground states, here’s the results:

Electoral Math Map 9.29.08

With the crisis in the financial sector and the post Convention bump long gone, the McCain campaign must start to face the same reality they did through much of the summer – namely underdog.

The national polls have Obama up nearly five points on average, he’s begun to tighten his old on the states he needs to retain to be competitive, and now he’s starting to look good in places no Democrat has won in a long, long time.

Virginia and North Carolina are now singing the blues in the latest RCP averages, giving Barack Obama a 301 to 237 victory in the electoral college. The North Carolina news is the big story here, as McCain is now going to have to spend more time, money, and manpower in trying to hold states that have been reliably Republican for several elections now.

Of the eleven states listed as “toss up” states by RCP, Obama leads in seven, while McCain has the edge in four. To give a sense of how critical these toss ups are, if each candidate wins the states they are currently counting as “solid” or “leaning”, Obama would have a 228 to 163 lead over McCain.

Looking at the eleven toss up states, McCain would need to win six-to-eight of the toss ups right now, depending on the state, to overcome the current Obama edge. McCain could win Ohio and Florida, as well as retain North Carolina and Virginia, and still lose the election.

At this point, I think Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, while still competitive, are now going to start to become a reach for McCain. Mainly, he is going to have to start transferring resources to North Carolina, and think about strengthening efforts in Virginia, and these resources have to come from somewhere.

The Bush Electoral College strategy is starting to become very tenuous for McCain to follow. Three states Bush took against Kerry in 2004, New Mexico, Colorado and Iowa, are on the verge of becoming locks for Obama, and two more Virginia and North Carolina, are too close to call.

Five weeks from tomorrow.