After the week’s deluge of state polling (particularly yesterday), today brought a welcome drop in the number of surveys released today, so we get a chance to take a breath, remember that there are more than seven weeks left and assess how much the field of play has changed since the GOP convention.
McCain has closed the gap nationally, and after trailing in nearly every poll from May onward now has a slight lead. His gains among indies are impressive and they are lifting the entire Republican Party, as Gallup reports in its latest congressional survey. But most polls that have been released were in the field in the week after the GOP convention; and we are still getting surveys (for instance today’s Ohio poll) that were taken over the week-end.
So we will have to closely monitor polls in the coming days to see whether McCain’s bounce - and particularly his numbers among independents - start fading. Today’s Diego Hotline tracking is one of the first hints that they might be. If they do not, it might mean that the GOP has durably improved its image and that the playing field on all levels (including the House and Senate battles) should no longer be viewed as tilting Democratic.
Also, the bounce is being felt unequally in different parts of the country. In the most crucial battleground states, the numbers have not moved that much since the GOP convention. On the other hand, it is fascinating that the states in which Obama is losing the most ground are states like Washington and (perhaps) New Jersey in which campaigns are not spending money:
- The day’s four trackings split equally, with two going to Obama and two going to McCain. In Gallup, McCain slips within the margin of error for the first time since Sunday’s release, but he still leads 48% to 45%. Rasmussen finds the same numbers, a 3% improvement for McCain. Diego Hotline, however, finds a 3% improvement for Obama who captures a 1% lead, 45% to 44%; this is fueled by Democratic gains among women and independents (McCain leads by 6% in the latter group now, down from 19% a few days ago). Finally, Research 2000 finds Obama at 47% to 46% with 2% each for Nader and Barr; McCain leads by 3% among independents.
- McCain leads 48% to 44% in a AP GFQ national survey. The poll finds that 50% of respondents think that McCain would take the country in a new direction rather than follow George Bush’s policy, one of the first signs of a shift on that question.
- McCain leads 46% to 45% in an AP Ipsos national poll. Among all adults - not registered voters - Obama is ahead 48% to 42%.
- McCain leads 48% to 44% in a University of Cincinnati poll of Ohio. The poll was taken Friday through Wednesday, so mostly at the height of the post-convention bounce.
- Obama leads 49% to 47% in a Rasmussen poll of Washington. He led by 12% last month. Obama’s lead in the state similarly collapsed in the SUSA poll earlier this week.
- Obama leads 46% to 39% in an Oregon poll conducted by Hoffman Research, a GOP firm.
- McCain leads 46% to 45% in an Insider Advantage poll of Nevada, but this poll is simply not reliable: McCain leads by 73% among African-Americans, who make up 7% of the state electorate. Adjusting for that would give Obama a comfortable lead.
- McCain leads 51% to 46% in a Rasmussen poll of Missouri. He led by 6% in August.
- Obama leads 48% to 45% (LVs) and 47% to 40% (RVs) in a Marist poll of New Jersey. Another poll from the state released a few days ago showed Obama’s lead tightening to 6%. I don’t particularly trust the survey’s partisan breakdown, however (see more below). At the very least, Obama is where he needs to be in different groups, as he cannot lose in New Jersey if he leads independents by 10%.
- McCain leads 68% to 29% in a Rasmussen poll of Idaho.
- McCain leads 63% to 32% in a Rasmussen poll of Oklahoma.
The most interesting numbers in today’s release are those from the Northwestern states. Some Republicans have been suggesting that the Palin pick could play well in Oregon and Washington, and this is indeed the second poll of WA in a row to find a dramatic drop in Obama’s numbers. When Obama’s is closer to losing Washington than winning Ohio and Missouri, there certainly is a problem. This is so surprising a shift that we will certainly be looking for more confirmation before drawing any conclusions, and it will be interesting to see whether the McCain campaign decides to move in these two states. The same is true of New Jersey, a state from which Democrats are used to getting bad September numbers.
This is the second day in a row that Insider Advantage serves us a survey from a key battleground state with unbelievable numbers among African-Americans. Yesterday, Obama’s 48% among blacks in Ohio allowed McCain to lead by 1%; today, the Nevada survey has McCain at 73% in that constituency. Similarly, I have problems with Marist’s partisan breakdown: Though the exact numbers are not provided, the candidates enjoy similar party loyalty while Obama leads by 10% among independents. If the poll’s electorate partisan breakdown was the same as 2004, Obama would be ahead by 7% among likely voters, not 3%. Most people would argue that it should have improved for Democrats, but Marist’s partisan breakdown is skewed towards the GOP.
Meanwhile, we got a lot of down-the-ballot races today:
- In the Oregon Senate race, an internal poll for the Merkley campaign shows the Democrat leading the Republican incumbent 43% to 41%, with 6% for the Constitution Party candidate. In August, Merkley’s poll had Smith leading 47% to 38%.
- In the Colorado Senate race, an internal poll for the Udall campaign finds the Democrat leading Bob Schaffer 45% to 34%, with 5% going to other candidates.
- In the Washington gubernatorial race, a Rasmussen poll finds Dino Rossi surging ahead, 52% to 46%. Christine Gregoire led by 4% last month.
- In IN-09, SUSA finds Baron Hill expanding his lead against Mike Sodrel, 51% to 40%.
- In the New Jersey Senate race, Frank Lautenberg leads 51% to 40% in Marist.
- In Missouri’s gubernatorial race, Jay Nixon maintains his large lead against Kenny Hulshof, 54% to 39%.
- In North Carolina’s gubernatorial race, Bev Perdue leads Pat McCrory 40% to 39% in the latest Civitas poll.
- In the Georgia Senate race, Strategic Vision contradicts the past few polls and finds Saxby Chambliss leading Jim Martin 54% to 36%.
- In IN-03, an internal poll for the campaign of Democratic challenger Mike Montagano finds GOP Rep. Mark Souder leading 50% to 37%. That’s an improvement over April’s 55% to 28% margin, but the district does not join the vulnerable list. This is a district in which Bush received 68% of the vote in 2004.
Many interesting polls here, starting with the Oregon Senate race, where Merkley’s lead is only his second ever. The race has been heated in the past few weeks, as the DSCC has finally moved in to air attack ads against Gordon Smith - perhaps they are taking their toll on the incumbent. In Colorado, Udall’s survey is a response to a NRSC poll released earlier this week that had him leading by only 1%. Udall’s poll is more in line with other results we have been seeing from the state. And in Georgia, the past two polls had Chambliss leading by 5% and 6%, prompting Democrats to speculate that they might have an opening; I would love to see more polling in this state, but is this not one of those races that became even more of a long shot for Democrats after Palin energized the GOP base?