The presidential campaigns were engaged in such a furious ad war yesterday that my day was taken up monitoring the newest ads they were releasing - and it’s been 2 days since my last polling roundup. So here we go. Not many polls were released in the interval, and here are the five six presidential polls of the past two days, including 3 national polls finding the same margin for Obama (5-6%):
- [Update: CBS News just released its national poll, finding Obama leading 45% to 39% - the same margin as last month. Voters name the economy as their top issue, 2:1 over Iraq. Obama's supporters are "three times more likely to be enthusiastic" than McCain's - something that could have a key impact on the election. CBS also talked to the undecided voters from its July polls and found that they were still undecided and that they were now less interested in the campaign.]
- The AP-Ipsos national poll, released yesterday, finds Obama ahead 47% to 41%.
- The Time national poll, released today, has Obama ahead 46% to 41% - the same margin as late June. The problem for McCain: Bush’s approval rating is at 29%, and McCain only gets 20% among those who disapprove of the president. The problem for Obama: Voters trust his opponent more on the issues. Obama has a 4% advantage on the economy; McCain has a 15% advantage on Iraq and 27% on terrorism. Another key difference: Obama’s supporters are much more enthusiastic, just like in the CBS poll.
- In Florida (polling history), PPP finds a 5% swing towards McCain, who is now narrowly ahead 47% to 44%.
- In New Jersey (polling history), Rasmussen finds Obama expanding his lead from 5% to a 48% to 40% margin (52% to 42% when leaners are included).
None of these polls find surprising results. At the national level, there have been two national polls (Gallup and Zogby) as well as two days of Rasmussen tracking to find McCain narrowly ahead, but most surveys still find a narrow Obama lead, somewhere in the low-to-mid single digits. The latest tracking polls (+1 Obama in Rasmussen, +2 Obama in Gallup) confirm that the race has been remarkably stable since the beginning of June.
One state in which numbers have moved, however, is Florida. This is the third straight poll to find a small trendline in favor of McCain (after Quinnipiac and SUSA) but McCain’s lead is within the margin of error and the only thing we should remember at this point of the campaign is that Florida is perhaps the only state in which the two candidates keep exchanging the lead with remarkable regularity. Since June 18th (when Obama was ahead in his first FL poll), Obama and McCain have each led in 6 state surveys. Compare that to other states where the margins are often within the MoE but where a candidate generally comes ahead, whether New Mexico and New Hampshire (all Obama leads, albeit narrow ones), Ohio (McCain has only been ahead in Rasmussen, twice), Missouri (Obama has only been ahead in Research 2000) and Colorado (McCain has only been ahead in Quinnipiac, once).
On to down-the-ballot surveys:
- In Oregon’s Senate race, SUSA finds a big lead for Senator Gordon Smith - 49% to 37%. The big problem for Jeff Merkley is that 28% of Democrats are crossing-over to vote for the Republican incumbent.
- In the Washington gubernatorial race, Elway shows Christine Gregoire with her first substantial lead: 52% to 36% - up 8%.
- In the New Jersey Senate race, Rasmussen finds Lautenberg building on his lead, now ahead 51% to 33% against Frank Zimmer. Lautenberg’s favorability rating isn’t great (48% to 45%), but this is New Jersey and his opponent’s isn’t much better (37% to 41%).
- In OH-15, the two candidates are locked in a toss-up in a SUSA poll. Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy gets 47% to 44% for Steve Stivers.
- In IL-06, an internal poll for Rep. Roskam shows the GOP incumbent crushing his opponent, Jill Morgenthaler, 59% to 29%. In a district Bush carried by 6% in 2004, Obama is ahead 49% to 41%.
- In LA-04, an internal poll for the campaign of Democrat Paul Carmouche - the DA of the county in which the district is located - finds him ahead by double-digit against all 3 of his potential competitors.
The last Oregon poll to be released was a mid-July Rasmussen survey that gave Merkley his first lead of the campaign. The SUSA poll is worrisome for Democrats, however, because its internal polls correspond to their greatest fear that Gordon Smith’s last few ads touting his bipartisan credentials and his ties with John Kerry and Barack Obama might be working at offsetting the year’s Democratic lean. Smith has much more cash-on-hand than his Democratic opponent, and the DSCC might have to up its investment to help Merkley get more than 68% of his party’s vote.
A few notes on the House races, starting with IL-06 which was one of the most expensive races in 2006 (Roskam won by 2%) but which looks like it will be much less competitive this time around. This is an internal poll, and Roskam’s margin might be overstated, but the incumbent’s large lead is not a surprise. LA-04, however, is a conservative district (Bush got 59% of the vote), but Democrats have been upbeat about their chances to pick up this district following Cazayoux’s win in more Republican LA-06 and MS-01. Carmouche’s advantage in early polls may be amplified by his good name recognition, and we will need to see independent surveys. At the very least it seems clear that the GOP ought to worry about this seat.
Finally, OH-15 was supposed to be one of the Democrats’ strongest pick-up opportunities when the Republican incumbent announced she was retiring last year. Kilroy came close in 2006 and she seemed to be favored in her second attempt. But the GOP is as happy with state Senator Stivers as with any of its candidates this cycle and they point out that Kilroy isn’t the strongest candidate. She was favored to win in 2006 and her loss was a surprise, and Republicans are getting hopeful that they can snatch victory once again. SUSA’s poll suggest the race is closer than we would have expected it to be a few months ago.