Yesterday, McCain inched ahead in Colorado for only the second time ever and posted big gains in Minnesota for the second straight survey (and it’s not like polls taken earlier this week). Today, Democrats can celebrate the latest numbers from the Alaska congressional races but Republicans have reason to be happy at some sign of minor movement in NC’s presidential race and bigger momentum for Maine’s Susan Collins:
- Rasmussen’s latest poll from North Carolina (polling history) finds McCain slightly expanding his lead. He leads 46% to 42%, 50% to 44% with leaners (compared to 3% last month). As always, the true source of worry for Obama is his unfavorability rating - 48%, compared to 40% for McCain.
- In Maine, Obama leads 49% to 36%, 53% to 39% with leaners. Rasmussen does not provide a breakdown by district, but 13% should guarantee that Obama wins both districts (and all electoral votes). Obama’s favorability rating is strong here, 61% compared to 53% for McCain.
- In the Economist’s national poll, a 3% race is now a 1% race, with Obama ahead 41% to 40% - well within the margin of error.
- And while I don’t report on tracking polls most days, do note that a 6% lead for Obama two days ago is now back to a tie, confirming that the race is hovering around an average of 3% and has been stuck there for weeks.
The movement in the Rasmussen poll is within the margin of error, making it difficult to draw any big conclusions but - as I have said often - it is important to remember that Barack Obama has been on air for two months now while McCain has not been at all, but that does not appear to be helping the Democrat. ButnNot only is he not gaining in the head-to-head with McCain (confirming that the mid-40s are a ceiling Obama will have trouble breaking) but his favorability ratings is not improving. In fact, it has gone down by a point in the past month while McCain’s has gained - this despite the fact that North Carolina voters have been treated to Obama’s advertising campaign. And keep in mind that unless Obama gets NC poll to find a race consistently within the margin of error, it is unlikely McCain will feel forced to invest in the state.
The upside for Obama is that the electorate is becoming more polarized as the election is getting closer but that his numbers are not falling, so he is at least succeeding in maintaining the positive impression many voters have of him - and that was certainly not a given.
On to the down-the-ballot polls:
- In the Alaska Senate race, Ivan Moore Research shows Ted Stevens holding firm in the primary, leading with 63% against 20% for Cuddy and 7% for Vic Vickers.
- In the general election, however, Stevens trails 56% to 39% (a 4% improvement for him, but still a wide margin).
- In AK-AL, that same Ivan Moore poll shows Don Young surviving the primary 46% to 40% with 7% for LeDoux. That’s a 2% improvement for Parnell over the past 3 weeks.
- In the general election, Ethan Berkowitz leads Young 51% to 41% but narrowly trails against Parnell, 46% to 42%.
- In Maine’s Senate race, Senator Susan Collins expands her lead against Tom Allen in Rasmussen’s poll. After being ahead 49% to 42% in two straight months, she leads 53% to 38% - 55% to 40% with leaners. Collins has a great favorability rating: 65% versus 29% unfavorable.
- In the North Carolina gubernatorial race, Rasmussen finds Beverly Perdue opening a lead, 49% to 43% (51% to 45% with leaners). She led by 1% in June.
- In NC-08, an internal poll for the Hayes campaign finds the Republican incumbent leading 50% to 40% against Larry Kissell, a Democrat who lost by a few hundred votes in 2006. In this district that Bush won by 9% in 2004, McCain leads 47% to 42% - progress for Obama, but not enough.
I wrote a post centered on the Alaska primaries last night, so I will not repeat my analysis then as this poll confirms what we already know: Young is in a heated primary whose result could very well determine whether Democrats pick up the seat in November, though Berkowitz should be reassured to see that he would still have a shot against Parnell. As for the Senate race, it is fascinating that Stevens remains miles ahead of his GOP competitors despite some heavy spending.
Parnell has ruled out running for the Senate seat, but if Republicans can convince Stevens to step down and if Parnell loses the House primary (two huge ifs, of course), switching Stevens for Parnell could make the most sense! But even a Begich-Parnell race would be a toss-up at best for Republicans: if the Lieutenant Governor is managing only a 4% lead over Berkowitz, he will start at an even worse position against the Anchorage Mayor.
As for Maine’s Senate race, the Rasmussen polls from June and July were the only ones to find Susan Collins’s lead under 50%. Other polls of the race have found her at a stronger position, and now the only ray of hope for Maine Democrats is gone - with even Rasmussen showing Collins with a solid lead and above 50%. Note that both candidates have started their ad campaigns recently - with Allen launching a 1 minute biographical spot and Collins shorter ads. The DSCC has reserved $5 million worth of ad time in the fall, but how close does Allen have to be for the DSCC to follow through?