A look at some swing-state trial heats

Following up on Wednesday’s post, the swing state trial heat matchups I was wishing for magically appeared this morning.

Quinnipiac University has just released trial heat matchups of Sen. John McCain against both Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama in the two most important swing states of Ohio and Florida, plus the potentially important swing state of Pennsylvania.

In the looming primary contests between Clinton and Obama, Quinnipiac shows Clinton well ahead among Democrats (55-34 in Ohio; 52-36 in Penn; and in Florida, which doesn’t have an upcoming primary, Clinton is preferred 52-36 among Dems).

But when voters across the spectrum are asked whom they would support in theoretical matchups against McCain, the results are far from conclusive about which of the Dem would be the stronger candidate against McCain. Here’s what they show.

In Ohio:
McCain: 44-Clinton: 43
McCain 42-Obama: 40.

In Florida:
McCain 44-Clinton: 42
McCain 41-Obama: 39

In Pennsylvania:

Clinton: 46; McCain 40
Obama: 42; McCain 41.

Here’s the complete writeup by Quinnipiac.

The polls were based on human-to-human telephone interviews (still considered the most reliable methodology) between Feb. 6-12 (a long poll that covers some days when the momentum between Clinton and Obama underwent some shifts). The sample sizes were large (well over 1,000 in Ohio and Pennsylvania, just over in Florida). The margins for sampling were Ohio: 2.3 percent; Pennsylvania: 2.6;  Florida: 3.1.

The first takeaway is that, at the moment, the emergence of McCain as the likely Repub nominee puts Repubs in a very competitive position.

The second is that Ohio and Florida, it’s impossible to judge which Democrat matches up better. In Pennsylvania, Clinton has a notable edge.

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