Poll watch: Both parties have results to celebrate

After two weeks of relatively few state polls, the pace has undoubtedly quickened and should continue to do so over the next two months. Given that the race is close, that means that both parties should have numbers to celebrate in each day’s polling wave, and today is a clear sign of that. With all eyes on NC after yesterday’s disastrous (but suspicious) SUSA poll, two new surveys from the state find the race remaining very tight; Obama can also be comforted by CNN surveys finding him ahead outside of the MoE in NH and MI, and by a curious poll finding a tighter-than-expected margin in WV. All these polls from crucial states were taken in the aftermath of the GOP convention but find little evidence of a McCain bounce.

But McCain has some good numbers as well, including a (narrow) lead in the crucial state of New Mexico, where most recent polls were finding Obama up by large margins, and surges in ND (where yesterday’s . He also posts leads outside of the MoE in MO and VA and gets dangerously close in Pennsylvania. Except for NM and ND (both polled by Rasmussen), the numbers are in line what we have been seeing through the summer and here again there is little post-convention shift at the level of the key battlegrounds.

Before going on to the full rundown, it is important to point out once again that McCain does seem to be enjoying a big bounce among independents. It’s now Fox News’s turn to find McCain jumping to a big lead in that group, and that happens because undecided independents made a choice rather than Obama bleeding support. In a sense, this should reassure Obama that the bounce certainly has the potential of fading - what group is more susceptible of changing its mind than independents who stopped being undecided in the immediate aftermath of a convention?

On to the long list of the day’s presidential polls, where Obama leads in every state won by Kerry in 2004 and McCain leads in every state won by Bush in 2004:

  • First, the trackings: Rasmussen finds the bounce fading, with Obama recapturing a small advantage, 48% to 47%; similarly, Diego-Hotline has the race back to a tie at 45% (the gender gap is shrinking on both sides, independents still favor McCain). Gallup, however, shows McCain’s lead holding at 5% for the third straight day, 48% to 43% - albeit the number of undecideds has slightly risen.
  • McCain leads 45% to 42% in a Fox News national poll taken Monday-Tuesday. This is largely due to a 16% bounce among independents. In August, indies broke 31-30 for Obama, now 46-31 for McCain. Also, independents are split when asked which ticket will bring more change to Washington, but a lot of them refuse to answer.
  • McCain leads 49% to 47% in the crucial state of New Mexico (polling history). This is McCain’s first lead in a Rasmussen poll. Obama led by 4% in August, 5% in July and 8% in June.
  • McCain leads 48% to 45% in another poll from North Carolina, an internal survey for the Perdue campaign. The survey’s partisan breakdown is 46% Dem, 35% Rep (that mirrors the actual numbers).
  • Obama leads 51% to 45% in a CNN poll of New Hampshire (polling history). This poll (like the 3 other CNN surveys listed below) was taken Sunday through Tuesday, in the aftermath of the GOP convention.
  • Obama leads 49% to 45% in a CNN poll of Michigan (polling history). A very worrisome sign for Obama, however, is that McCain leads by 18% in the Detroit suburbs that were the home of Reagan Democrats. Bush won those counties by 1%.
  • McCain leads 50% to 46% in a CNN poll of Virginia (polling history). This is his biggest lead since May… though it’s a narrow one. Very interestingly, Obama does much better than Kerry in the Norfolk area, but not in Northern Virginia - that’s obviously the region Obama needs to build up margins, and given the elections in 05 and 06 he is likely to do so.
  • McCain leads 55% to 41% in a Rasmussen poll of North Dakota. This is a big jump (they were tied in July), just as in Montana yesterday.
  • McCain leads 44% to 39% in a MBE poll of West Virginia. I have not heard of this group; the only other recent WV poll is a Rasmussen survey from early June that found McCain leading by 8%.
  • McCain leads 64% to 33% in Rasmussen’s first post-Palin poll from Alaska.

It is striking that the tightest numbers from a blue state come from Pennsylvania and not from Michigan and New Hampshire; it will be very interesting to see whether other surveys find a similar tightening in the Keystone State, and whether we are back to the familiar situation of PA looking more crucial than MI.

It will also be crucial to find out whether McCain can capitalize on his gains in North Dakota and New Mexico. The latter was moved in the lean Obama category in my latest ratings, and Democrats were hoping to feel relatively confident about that state and Iowa. While Virginia’s numbers are also troubling for Obama, they remain tight and two other polls released in the past two days find the race well within the MoE.

Finally, this leaves us with North Carolina. All polls have shown a 2-5% race for months now, and here two more polls find the same margin. The key difference with SUSA’s poll is the partisan breakdown. PPP and the Perdue poll have a large advantage for Democrats while SUSA had shown a massive shift towards the GOP for a 41-40 edge. But Democrats do actually dominate the state’s registration numbers: 45.3% of voters are registered Democrats, 32.7% are registered Republicans. If the GOP can over-perform, it would certainly be in a strong position but we will need to see more evidence of that.

Meanwhile, in down-the-ballot polls:

  • Three polls from North Carolina’s gubernatorial race. In the suspicious SUSA survey, Pat McCrory leads Beverly Perdue 49% to 41% - his first lead. In PPP’s latest poll, Perdue gets 41% to McCrory’s 40%. And in Perdue’s internal poll, she leads 46% to 40%.
  • Three polls as well from North Carolina’s Senate race (polling history). In SUSA, Dole retains an advantage, 48% to 40%. In PPP, Hagan is up 43% to 42%. (PPP’s previous survey released two weeks ago found Hagan leading by 3%.) In Perdue’s internal poll, Dole is up 48% to 46%.
  • In Alaska, yet another poll finds Ted Stevens climbing back (polling history). Rasmussen shows that he is within 2% of Mark Begich (48% to 46%) after trailing by 9% right before his indictment and 13% right after.
  • In New Mexico, Rasmussen continues to show tightening results in the Senate race. Tom Udall now leads Steve Pearce 51% to 44%. The 10% lead Rasmussen had found in mid-August was already considered a disappointing result for Udall.
  • In the Oklahoma Senate race, Jim Inhofe crushes Andrew Rice, 56% to 34%.
  • In Washington’s gubernatorial race, Dino Rossi has his first lead in many months in SUSA’s latest polling, 48% to 47%.
  • In PA-04, an internal poll for the Hart campaign shows the former Republican congresswoman trailing 49% to 44% against current Rep. Jason Altmire.

Here again, it is hard to know what to make of the NC polls, though we can probably agree that both the gubernatorial and senatorial races are presently too close to call. In Alaska, this is now the third poll to find a significant Stevens bounce, and it does look like that race is once again too close to call. But the result of that match-up is almost entirely dependent on Stevens’ trial, which will be starting shortly.

Also, PA-04 is rated toss-up in my latest House ratings, and for an incumbent to be under 50% is always sign of trouble (though less so when the challenger is a well-known former representative). New Mexico’s Senate also is showing interesting trendlines, though Rasmussen is the only pollster to find that Udall might not be as favored as he used to be. Remember that the NRSC looked to be pulling the plug on Pearce two weeks ago.

5 Responses to “Poll watch: Both parties have results to celebrate”

  1. 1 Joe from NC

    It looks to me like the main result of the conventions was that the red states got redder and the blue states got bluer. Given that the red states have slightly more electoral votes, this should help McCain, but most of the swing states still seem evenly divided.

  2. 2 felipe

    I agree with Joe’s statement, although I think still the fight is in Red territory, which still favors Obama slightly. I would say that Obama is closer to 270 than McCain but after ~250 (Kerry + Iowa) then it looks tough. I guess in the following weeks we’ll see where the focus will be. My guess and what I think it might be the way to win is that Obama defends MI, PA, NH and then focus on CO, NM, NV & FL where he has more chances. VA, OH & NC might be a close second-tier of states.

  3. 3 Cindy

    Taniel, did you possibly reverse the results in a couple of today’s polls? Other sources show Missouri as McCain 50/Obama 45 and Virginia as McCain 50/Obama 46 which is the reverse of what you have. Love your site BTW.

  4. 4 Taniel

    Cindy, you are absolutely right.
    I apologize for that mistake, and I have corrected that!

  5. 5 Mike McNally

    In PA-04, most observers agree that this poll, which was done by Melissa Hart’s own campaign, is way off. A recent independent election watch moved this race from LEAN DEMOCRAT to SAFE in favor of Congressman Altmire.

    Not surprising really, as Melissa Hart has a record that is for wild spending big government, protecting corrupt politicians, and a laissez-faire atttitude that contributed to the massive corporate failures, bailouts, and credit crisis that we see today.

    Voters in PA-04 might consider a Republican with great character who would reduce spending and increase accountability in government, but that’s not Melissa Hart.

    Congressman Altmire’s record of voting for tougher ethics, middle class economics, and common sense energy plans will be more than enough to defeat a liberal Republican. It won’t be close, and the Republicans know it.

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