First things first: Yesterday, the day after Texas and Ohio, Survey USA show Clinton beating McCain 48-46; Obama tying, 46-46.
With that in mind, check these:
Fifty State Survey: Clinton 276 Electoral Votes, McCain 262
Fifty State Survey: Obama 280 Electoral Votes, McCain 258
As you might guess by those numbers, there are some complexities. Quite a few states shift one way or the other depending on which candidate gets the Democratic nomination.
CLINTON WINS, OBAMA LOSES: Arkansas, Florida, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey
OBAMA WINS, CLINTON LOSES: Washington State, Oregon, Virginia, North Dakota, Nevada, Michigan, New Hampshire, Iowa, 2 of 3 districts in Nebraska
As you can see, each candidate drops states the Democrats should be able to rely on. Neither one is, by this measure, better or worse than the other- although the fact that Obama picks up more states is a point in his favor.
Let's look at the states each candidate brings "in play"- that is, a difference of 5% or less between the two candidates.
OBAMA'S IN PLAY (AHEAD): Michigan (+1), Nevada (+5), New Hampshire (+2), North Dakota (+4), Virginia (+<1)
OBAMA'S IN PLAY (BEHIND): Alaska (-5), Florida (-2), Nebraska (-3), New Jersey (-<1), North Carolina (-2), Pennsylvania (-5), South Carolina (-3), South Dakota (-4), Texas (-1)
CLINTON'S IN PLAY (AHEAD): Delaware (+5), Hawaii (+4), Minnesota (+4), New Jersey (+5), New Mexico (+<1), Pennsylvania (+1), West Virginia (+5), Wisconsin (+4)
CLINTON'S IN PLAY (BEHIND): Iowa (-5), Michigan (-<1), Missouri (-4), Oregon (-5), South Carolina (-3), Tennessee (-<1), Washington (-2),
... hm, that doesn't show much, except that each candidate defines different battleground states, depending.
Put it another way: let's eliminate all the states listed as "in play" and compare only the states that show a preference for a candidate stronger than 5%. What are the electoral votes then?
OBAMA 236, MCCAIN 129, the remainder up for grabs
CLINTON 180, MCCAIN 198, the remainder up for grabs
And that brings things into focus. Yes, Obama threatens Democrat victory in battleground states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Florida... but he also brings a lot of red states into play. Clinton, on the other hand, puts a few blue states into play, if not all the way into the red category.
Obama's coalition, in other words, is stronger and broader than Clinton's, which is really not much more than the old Democratic party machine.
There's a talking point for my fellow Obama supporters: the media may claim that Obama is the riskier candidate, but the polls say that Hillary Clinton is the true gamble.