Four presidential polls today, all states (OH, VA, MI and CO) that are crucial to election, and their results reflect the overall state of the race: too close to call. In addition, Zogby conducted 10 new online/interactive polls to update its July numbers. As usual, I will list these online polls here but I will not include them in my polling page as their methodology remains suspicious. As you will see below, Barr receives high numbers in all these polls (at least 5% in 9 out of 10, at least 8% in 4), raising questions as to who is part of this “online panel.”
- In Ohio (polling history), a poll released by the Columbus Dispatch finds McCain up 1% - 42% to 41%. Obama leads among independents, but only gets half of Clinton supporters. The poll was conducted via mail (as usual for the Columbus Dispatch), and as usual this is sure to spark controversy.
- In Michigan (polling history), an EPIC-MRA poll finds the same results as mid-July: Obama leads 43% to 41%. The favorability ratings of both men was down, 49% for Obama and 52% for McCain.
- In Virginia (polling history), a PPP poll shows Obama up 47% to 45%, here again within the margin of error. He led by the same margin last month.
- In Colorado (polling history), Obama is out of the margin of error in a Suffolk poll. He leads 44% to 39%, 2% each for Nader and Barr. Without leaners, Obama leads by 8%.
- As for Zogby, he provides good news for… Bob Barr in this release: Obama leads by 6% in Colorado (Barr gets 8%), 9% in Michigan, New Mexico and Pennsylvania (Barr gets 5% in al 3 states); 5% in Ohio (Barr gets 8%); 8% in North Carolina; 2% in Virginia and 1% in Nevada (Barr gets 10% in the latter). McCain is up 4% in New Hampshire (Barr gets 11%) and 3% in Florida.
Despite a number of polls showing McCain improving his positions in Colorado, that state remains the second best hope for a pick-up (after Iowa). But its 9 electoral votes would not get Obama anywhere if he were to lose Michigan, a Kerry state that has remains one of the tightest states in the country - and one Republicans are determined to contest. The latest poll had Obama leading by 7%, but that was certainly the higher end of Obama’s lead here. As for Virginia and Ohio, they are among the ultimate toss-up of this election, and picking up either while saving Michigan could virtually guarantee Obama a victory.
Before going on to the day’s congressional polling, let’s take a look at Joe Klein’s post on a focus group of 21 (truly) undecided voters, conducted by Frank Luntz. Of course, it’s not clear whether these independent voters will matter as much this year, since the key to the election is more likely to be Obama’s strength among registered Democrats. Yet, the focus group does contain a few interesting findings:
- No surprises as to why these voters were undecideds, as they were torn between their reluctance to vote for another Republican and Obama’s inexperience. More surprising (though not for former Clinton supporters and for McCain voters) is that these voters distrusted Obama’s rhetoric and his ability to energize a crowd. “At least one member of the focus group compared [the big chanting crowds] to a Nazi rally,” writes Klein - and others (who are not McCain supporters) demanded that Obama give them more specifics in his speeches. As I have said before, this is why the Obama campaign’s decision to move his acceptance speech to a football stadium could backfire, transforming the night into just another speech in the series he delivered in the spring.
- The focus group responded more to more hard-hitting, more character-centric negative ads. This would be an argument for Obma dialing up his attacks - and their reaction gives us an explanation as to why the race tightened over the past few weeks.
Meanwhile, in down the ballot polls:
- In KS-02, SUSA has Nancy Boyda leading Lynn Jenkins but the race is tight - 50% to 43%. In a Republican district, Boyda survives with strong support from Democrats, 22% of Republicans and a 9% lead among independents. Bush defeated Kerry by 20% in this district, SUSA finds McCain leading by 13%.
- In a Suffolk poll from Colorado’s Senate race (polling history), Mark Udall leads Bob Schaffer 39% to 31%, with 4% for the Constitution Party, 2% for the Green Party and a high 22% undecided.
- In another poll from Colorado, Mason Dixon finds Udall up 47% to 37%, with 3% for the Green Party’s Bob Kinsey.
- In the Virginia Senate race, Mark Warner dominates in PPP, leading Gilmore 55% to 32%.
- In the Texas Senate race, the situation remains stable in Rasmussen: Sen. Cornyn is under 50% (thus vulnerable) but continues to dominate Rick Noriega, 48% to 37%. Cornyn does jump up to a stronger lead with leaners, 52% to 38%.
- No surprise in Michigan’s Senate race, where EPIC-MRA finds Sen. Levin crushing his challenger 59% to 27%.
The House race in KS-02 is sure to be one of the most heated in the nation. Nancy Boyda refusing the DCCC’s help ensures that the GOP will keep attacking her, knowing that she will be on her own to defend herself. The key to Boyda’s election will be solid numbers among independents and a good cross-over from Republicans - something Jenkins’s victory complicated since she was the more moderate Republican. The determining factor here could be whether more conservative Republicans skip the House race.
The Colorado Senate race, meanwhile, seems to be back where it was earlier in the summer, before Udall’s advantage shrank in a series of polls. Democrats have long been convinced that Udall would open a comfortable lead and never look back and he finally did so in June and again now. For Republicans, the variation in Udall’s numbers suggests he is weaker than Democrats believe; GOP-leaning independent groups advertising in the state are looking to make the most of his vulnerabilities.