Thursday polls: McCain inches ahead in CO, gains in MN; Udall ahead, Franken stays close

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.

Down-the-ballot polls:

  • 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.

8 Responses to “Thursday polls: McCain inches ahead in CO, gains in MN; Udall ahead, Franken stays close”


  1. 1 mikeel

    It’s increasingly clear the public is voting for divided government this year. I don’t believe that Club for Growth poll.

    Enough Democrats downballot will come out for drilling in some measure.

    The state polls are showing a nosedive for Obama. This pains me, but McCain will win this election by 6-8%. Obama is the weakest Democratic candidate for President in a long time, probably weaker than Dukakis. He just doesn’t get it on the economy.

  2. 2 Jaxx Raxor

    I don’t buy the argument that Obama is weaker than Dukasis, or that if he loses it will be by as big a margin as you state Mikeel. In 1988 Bush had the benefit of being the VP of a popular president, while McCain’ doesn’t have that luxrity, meaning a high single digit win for McCain is near impossible. I’m also not sure that the public is for divided government. They do want to vote for a Democrat, but are unsure of the actual person. This is of a reflection of the GOP choosing hier best possible candidate while the Democrats felt the enviroment was strong enough that they didn’t need to compromise on their principles to win with. By the way, Clinton would not have been stronger than Obama, as while she is better with Democrats as a whole, she is much weaker than Obama among upscale independents and would have likely boosted GOP morale to the point in which they would go out and volunteer and not just vote for the GOP candidate. If the Democrats really wanted to win this election easy, they would have picked a white southern male (except Edwards, as even before the affair broke out his populist rhetoric isn’t really emblemetic of moderaton).

    The Colorado poll is bad news for Obama because the main path to victory for Obama is holding all the Kerry States and winning Colorado, New Mexico, and Iowa. If he loses Colorado, then it becomes very difficult for Obama to win the election. Of course I believe that Rasmussen showed Obama with a 1 point lead over McCain in Virginia, and winning that would make up for a loss in Colorado. The fact that Mark Warner will be the keynote speakers seems to hint that Obama prefers Virginia to Colorado as a top target but we have to see. Not to mention the fact that Obama’s greatestest strenghts won’t really kick in until September 5th, in which McCain no longer gets unlimited funds to spend and Obama starts to really use his many devoted volunteers to get out the vote.

    The Minnesota poll is also troublesome, but Taniel forgot to mention that according to Rasmussen, Pawlenty as VP actually HURTS McCain by a few points. If the GOP governor is unable to move numbers for McCain, or even worst, against McCain, there is no way that the GOP Convention alone will help McCain close the gap and make the state a true toss-up. Lets not forget that Obama’s weakening is happening in which McCain is heavily spending his money so the money he has privately raised isn’t wasted. He will have less money to spend in September, and likely less to spend in Minnesota.

    On the senate races, Rasmussen’s MN poll is probably the only thing I’ve seen from that firm in which the Democrat is doing fairly well. However it is clear that Coleman got a gift when no promient Democratic officeholder decided to challange him, and that he instead got a Comedian who’s past can be easily used against him. DFLers must be cursng themselves for taking the race for granted and not trying to convince a top tier office holder to challange Coleman.

    In Colorado, it’s probably not going to become a sure pick-up for Democrats, mostly because of the drilling issue. Mark Udall has recently reversed himself, saying that he will now support some form of drilling. I doubt that the Democrats can take CO for granted but Udall has been doing well enough that he will probably win.

    Speaking of Drilling, I can now anticpate that the Democrats will allow a vote on offshore drilling, but only as part of a comprehensive package. If the GOP blocks a vote, then the Democrats will try to turn the tables and label the GOP as only concerned with the profits of Big Oil. Simply refuisng drilling of any kind just isn’t possible with the heavy public support for drilling right now.

  3. 3 Joe from NC

    While I’m not as pessimistic as mikeel, I am concerned that Obama’s numbers haven’t improved since he launched his counterattack, but if you consider how much McCain has been on the attack in the past month, Obama hasn’t fallen that much. In Colorado for example, last month rasmussen gave Obama a 7 pt. lead without leaners, but only a 3 pt. lead with leaners, so from that prospective, McCain has only gained 4 pts.

    What concerns me more is the increased likelyhood of a Swiftboat/Willie Horton/Daisy girl style ad, probably about Rev. Wright or Ayers. Jerome Corsi said he’s working on some for the fall and if the media points out any untrue elements of these ads, people may not believe them because people believe the media is helping Obama.

  4. 4 Guy

    I am not too worried by the MN and WA polls. Both states were weak Democratic states in 2000 and 2004 so polls showing a 10+% lead for Obama are unrealistic. Winning by say 6% would be a good showing compared to Gore and Kerry.

    Also within 3 weeks we have both VP picks and both conventions, then things get serious. McCain will also only have $42million a month to spend whilst Obama will easily have $50-60 million since he has a lot in the bank which McCain is having to spend now when everyone is focussed on vacations and the olympics.

    Also McCain’s VP picks have much weaker with both Pawlenty and Romney having serious downsides. Whereas Obama has a much bigger filed and at least four candidates who have small downsides (Bayh, Clark, Selibus and Biden)

  5. 5 Jaxx Raxor

    Guy in terms of the GOP Veepstakes, Pawlenty is the safe option while Rommny is riskier. If Rasmussen is true and Pawlenty actually hurts McCain in Minnesota, that could be a major drawback. However Minessota is a Democratic leaning state anyway, and Pawlenty is unlikely to affect anything either way in the other states. Rommney, on the other hand could have a greater effect in perhaps Michigan (althrough Rommny’s impact is probably way overblown) and definitly in some western states like Colorado, Nevada, and new Mexico, in which an increased Mormom turnout could benefit McCain greatly. The downside is that affection among the evangelical community could decrease. in terms of VOTES it will probably only affect South Carolina, the other South Eastern states are heavily against Obama even with Rommny on the ticket. However, in terms of volunteers it would be very damaging in states such as Iowa, Ohio, Pennslyavina, and the western states, in which the evangelical base are the ones who do all of the house knocking and such.

  6. 6 myspace polls

    I think texas will goto McCain, no brainer.

  7. 7 Drew

    All of the talk about VP is a big waste of space. Every election cycle is like this. So much hype over something so insignificant to the final outcome.

    At best, the VP might be able to earn either side the votes to carry a state that is already close.

    People vote for the top of the ticket without much consideration to the bottom of the ticket. Maybe we should consider that something could happen to a President while in office and thus examine VP picks more carefully, but we don’t.

    As long as either side picks a VP choice that is anywhere in the scale of reasonable for their party, it flat out won’t matter.

    Just my two cents.

  1. 1 Colorado Polls (Obama McCain) » Right Pundits

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