We got more down-the-ballot polls than presidential surveys today, but Republicans will surely feel enthusiastic about Rasmussen’s new Colorado poll - the second survey ever from this state to find McCain ahead (the first from Rasmussen):
- In Colorado (polling history), Rasmussen finds McCain inching ahead for the first time, 47% to 45%. With leaners, it’s 49% to 48% for McCain. That’s quite a reversal from the 7% lead Obama lead last month.
- In Minnesota (polling history), McCain posts some big gains in Rasmussen’s poll. Down 18% in June, 12% in July, McCain is now 4% behind - 46% to 42% (49% to 45% with leaners). McCain has very strong favorability rating, 60%. Obama’s is also good, at 56%.
- In Texas (polling history), McCain is up 43% to 33% with 5% to Bob Barr and 2% to Ralph Nader in a University of Texas poll. This poll was taken in mid-July but appears to only have been released now.
- An IBC/TIPP national poll shows Obama leading 43% to 38%.
McCain’s lead in the Rasmussen Colorado survey is certainly within the margin of error, but it does mark a 9% swing in the Republican’s favor in the past month. Furthermore, only a Quinnipiac poll released on July 24th had found McCain ahead by any margin in this state, and while Obama’s lead in Colorado surveys was narrow, it was also consistent. Colorado was never thought to be strongly leaning towards Obama, but that polls are now finding both men leading, suggesting that the race has turned into a true toss-up, has to be a relief for Republicans as losing the state’s 9 electoral votes are enough to put McCain in a very precarious position. However, keep in mind that the Democratic convention will be in Denver and the local coverage could help Democrats gain a narrow edge.
The Minnesota poll is the second in a row to find some dramatic gains for McCain. The late July Quinnipiac poll found the Republican closing in to a 2% deficit. This is a state that Obama looked to have put away, and that he certainly cannot afford to lose on November 4th. If the race has truly closed to such narrow margins, the Republican convention in the twin cities could help McCain close the rest of the gap. (That the Senate poll (see below) shows relatively stable numbers suggests this poll’s sample isn’t unusually skewed towards the GOP.)
As for Texas, this poll is in fact the first time since Obama won the nomination that has McCain leading by double-digits - but it is difficult to make much of the survey since it was taken more than a month ago. Obama is not airing ads in the state, and though he has volunteers on the ground, that makes it unlikely McCain can be scared enough into putting money in the state.
- In the Colorado Senate race (polling history), Mark Udall leads Bob Schaffer 47% to 41% in Rasmussen, 50% to 42% with leaners. That’s a slight improvement over his 4% lead in July.
- Another poll of this race, conducted by CBS’s Denver station, finds Udall leading Schaffer 44% to 38%.
- In the Minnesota Senate race (polling history), Rasmussen shows a toss-up, with Norm Coleman and Al Franken tied at 45%. With leaners, however, Coleman takes a 3% lead, 49% to 46%. Both candidates have low favorability ratings, but Franken’s is quite dramatic - 38% versus 48% unfavorable (and 30% of very unfavorable opinions). That’s not a good place for a challenger to be.
- In the New Jersey Senate race, a Republican poll conducted for the Club for Growth finds Frank Zimmer at 36% and Sen. Lautenberg at 35%.
- In the Texas Senate race, the University of Texas survey finds Senator Cornyn getting 44% to 31% for Rick Noriega.
- In the Virginia Senate race, Rasmussen finds Mark Warner is still increasing his lead, now up 59% to 33% (61% to 35% with leaners). Warner’s favorability rating is a stunning 68%.
Rasmussen remains the only institute to find a close race in the Minnesota Senate race. All other recent polling (from Quinnipiac, SUSA and the University of Minnesota) has found Coleman holding a substantial lead. Franken has been roughly attacked in the past few weeks, not only by Coleman but also by a low-profile but tough-hitting primary opponent. It will be interesting to see whether other polls than Rasmussen find him standing by the end of the summer.
Mark Udall retains a clear lead in Colorado, but it still hovers in the mid-single digits. Democrats were hoping to have a more solid lead in this race by now to put it alongside Virginia as a sure pick-up. Udall’s margin in the Rasmussen poll is in line with what other polls are showing in this race. And speaking of VA, it is rare to have reverse coattails in a presidential year - but at what point does Gilmore’s dismal showing start hurting John McCain?
That leaves us with New Jersey, an always puzzling state. How much stock should we put in polls taken in the Garden State before mid-October? Is there any recent statewide election in which Democrats looked good in the summer - even though Kerry, Corzine and Menendez all ended up winning by healthy margins. Other polls have found Lautenberg under 50% - and there is no doubt that the electorate does not particularly favor him. Whether or not a poll has been conducted for a Republican outlet and however much undecideds are pushed, an incumbent polling at 35% is never a good sign. But past elections have shown that uncommitted voters hold back from the Democratic Party only to realize they don’t like the opposition by the end. Republicans certainly have an opening in the state - but it is unlikely they will do much to exploit it or invest that much in this race, not after the disappointment of 2006.