The two-week state polling embargo seems to finally be broken! After the day’s first polling wave showed McCain enjoying a bounce nationally but the race remaining stable in the key battlegrounds of Michigan, Virginia and Colorado, more surveys released by Rasmussen confirm that neither candidate is catching a clear break in swing states. All the Rasmussen polls were conducted exclusively on Sunday (one-day polling is generally frowned upon, especially on a week-end) and carry a relatively large margin of error of 4,5%:
- In Colorado (polling history), Obama leads 49% to 46%. He leads by 10% among independents. Last month, McCain was up by 1%.
- In Ohio (polling history), McCain has a solid 51% to 44% lead. Last month, McCain led by 5%. Obama has two problems: He only has 78% of the Democratic vote and he trails by 26% among independents! (Note that this is the third Rasmussen poll in a row to find McCain with a big lead in Ohio, something no other polling outlet has found.)
- In Florida (polling history), it’s a tie at 48%. Obama has a big lead among independents, but he is here again weak among his base (79%). Last month, McCain led by 2%.
- In Pennsylvania (polling history), Obama has a 2% lead, 47% to 45%. He led by 3% last month. Here again, Obama must solidify his Democratic base: he is only at 74%.
- In Virginia (polling history), McCain is up 49% to 47%. That’s only a 1% improvement over August.
- Finally, a last state poll came from SUSA in Washington. SUSA finds Obama’s lead collapsing to only 4% - down from 8% in August and 16% in July.
- Finally, the Alaska poll commissioned by the NRSC that I blogged about earlier also contained presidential numbers, and confirms that McCain is now ahead, 55% to 34%. This also means that the NRSC’s New Hampshire poll is the only one for which presidential numbers were not released (contrary to Colorado and AK), further suggesting that the NH numbers might not have been good for McCain.
To recap: There is almost no movement in any of these states. Colorado moves by 4% in Obama’s direction, and Florida by 2%. Ohio moves by 2% in McCain’s direction, while Virginia and Pennsylvania move by 1%. All these margins (but Ohio’s) and trend lines are well within the margin of error. If anything, the most worrisome result for Obama comes from Washington, and that’s not a state in which McCain has any investment for now.
In other words, the electoral college situation seems largely unmoved after the two conventions, and there is much less movement in the key battlegrounds than in national polls. This is certainly not inexplicable: While veepstakes and convention coverage happens in a vacuum in states like Maryland or Texas (thus amplifying its impact), it is largely drowned by an army of volunteers and millions worth of ads in states like Ohio and Virginia.
Furthermore, keep in mind that if Obama keeps Michigan and Pennsylvania (and he has led in every survey from both states all summers) and lives out his advantage in Iowa and New Mexico (which are currently both leaning Democratic), any of the other four states polled by Rasmussen would be enough to put Obama over the top. That is not to say that Obama is in any way assured of victory, just to point out that the election is still being waged on red territory. That’s in some sense good for both candidates: The states McCain needs to win have leaned Republican in past elections, and Obama can concentrate on offense.
Meanwhile, we got two House polls:
- In CA-04, an internal poll for the Charlie Brown campaign has him with a narrow lead against Republican McClintock, 43% to 41%. That’s obviously well within the margin of error.
- In KY-03, a SUSA poll finds Rep. Yarmuth keeping a lead against former Rep. Anne Northup, 53% to 45%. Yarmuth led by 10% two months ago.
Neither district is considered to be in the top-tier of competitive House races, as both are currently rated lean retention. It would be nice to see independent polling in CA-04 to see how much of a shot Brown really has in this conservative district. In KY-03, Yarmuth might be the incumbent but Northup cannot be regarded as a complete challenger considering she was a longtime representative of the district and she mounted an unsuccesful gubernatorial run in 2007.