Today is a day heavy with polling posts, as I am still catching up after two days of continuous collapses in my hosting and changes to my URL and templates. After having reviewing the day’s uncommonly high Senate polls, on to the numerous presidential surveys. As I have said many times, the key to this election resides in the vote of registered Democrats. The shift of partisan identification almost ensures that Obama will be elected if he achieves high support among Democratic voters and thus make the breakdown of independents and registered Republicans quasi-irrelevant. As you will see in some of today’s polls, the vote of Democrats is key to Obama’s progressing from Kerry’s numbers:
- Missouri, first, swings back to McCain in SUSA’s latest poll. After a 2% Obama lead in the previous poll, McCain is now ahead 50% to 43%, despite a significant Democratic advantage in voting registration. The reason? Obama only gets 76% of registered Democrats.
I moved Missouri out of the McCain column to the slate of toss-ups in my latest electoral college ratings, though many polls through the spring pointed to a slight Republican advantage here. It is striking that this poll shows no improvement from the numbers of 2004 despite a partisan breakdown that is much more favorable to Obama. TPM is reporting that McCain is blanketing the state with advertising while Obama is not really doing much for now. If is true, this would obviously call into question Obama’s determination to win the state. Will he pull a Kerry and give up on Missouri way before any vote is cast?
In a series of much-discussed polls from Quinnipiac, meanwhile, Obama achieves very high support among registered Democrats and thus runs a clean sweep across four battleground states:
- In Colorado, Obama leads McCain 49% to 44%. He gets more than 90% among registered Democrats, leads by 12% among independents and has a 62% to 36% lead among Hispanics, a key constituency.
- In Michigan, Obama is ahead 48% to 42%, with 86% of registered Democrats and a 8% lead among independents.
- In Minnesota, Obama crushes his opponent 54% to 37%, with 88% of registered Democrats and a 54% to 33% lead among independents!
- In Wisconsin, Obama is also ahead by double-digits, crushing McCain 52% to 39%, with 88% of registered Democrats and a 13% lead among independents.
While a representative from the institute does warn that Obama’s lead “is not hugely different from where Sen. John Kerry stood four years ago at this point in the campaign,” it is undeniable that Obama has a key advantage: The dominance of Democratic voters and the fact that he needs independents less than Kerry did. McCain will have to get Obama under the 86%+ range he is in the Quinnipiac polls. As to these particular states, it is looking increasingly evident that Obama is looking to secure the “Dukakis 5″ and his lead in MN and WI is much more consistent and substantial than Kerry’s were four years ago.
As for Colorado and Michigan, there are sure to be some of the most disputed states this fall. In fact, Colorado looks to be as favorable a Bush state as any, with Rasmussen and Quinnipiac finding slight leads for the Illinois Senator. Keep in mind that the state brings 9 electoral votes, a significant number that would get Obama an electoral majority if coupled with New Mexico and Iowa. That would entail holding on to all the Kerry states, and Michigan looks to be one of the toughest for Obama. But after a series of disastrous polls this spring, it looks like the increase in Democratic unity is allowing Obama to create some space
Other presidential polls released today:
- In California, Obama crushes McCain 58% to 30%, the double of the 14% lead he enjoyed last month. There is a stunning difference in favorability rating in a state that Bush had respectable showings in: 63% for Obama and 43% for McCain.
- A Lyceum poll from Texas finds McCain only ahead 43% to 38%.
- A Mississippi survey released by Rasmussen finds McCain leading 50% to 44%, which is the same lead as last month. There is however a clear difference in favorability rating, with McCain enjoying 58% and Obama 48%. Furthermore, 37% have a very unfavorable opinion of the Democrat.
- In Tennessee, McCain’s lead is closer to what we would expect, 51% to 36%. He led 58% to 31% last month.
- In Nebraska, finally, McCain is ahead 52% to 36%, with a huge advantage in favorability rating (68% to 48%). Keep in mind that NE divides its electoral votes by CD, with the 1st and 2nd being much more favorable to Democrats than the 3rd. Rasmussen did not release district-by-district breakdown.
None of these numbers are particularly surprising, though there are two important observations to be made: (1) This Texas poll is not particularly reliable, as no one really knows much about Lyceum. But this is not the first poll showing a tight race in the Lone Star State. Obama is not running ads here, but he is sending a few staffers and has a huge army of volunteers. Forcing McCain to play defense in a state he cannot afford to even think about would be devastating for the GOP.
(2) Combine the tightening of Texas over the past four years with the huge lead Obama has in California and the result is obvious: If November results are anything close to this, it is impossible to imagine Obama losing the popular vote… though he won’t gain any electoral vote in the process. A 28% lead in California means increasing Kerry’s margin by many millions — and the same is true in Texas.