[Updated] In the clearest sign yet that Obama has rebounded and that McCain’s bounce has faded, Obama recaptured the lead in the Gallup tracking poll for the first time in 11 days and the new CBS/New York Times poll found Obama taking his first national lead outside of the margin of error since the GOP convention started.
But what is also remarkable in this latest round of state polls is that most battleground states appear to be tightening - shifting in Obama’s direction if they are generally McCain-leaning and in McCain’s direction if they are generally Obama-leaning. After ARG found competitive races in West Virginia and Montana this morning, new polls find Obama regaining his footing in Ohio, Florida and North Carolina and McCain gaining in Wisconsin and Oregon, two states in which Obama looked to be more solidly ahead over the summer.
Add to that continuing tight numbers in states like Indiana (CNN today), Colorado, Nevada, Virginia (PPP and ARG this morning), and the election has become a large collection of toss-ups. That’s good news for Obama, but also for McCain as he is now much more competitive than he used to be in a number of blue states and as it looks like Obama will also be forced to play defense. Here’s the day’s full roundup (and I apologize for the very poll-heavy past two days, as I have not had time to take a step back and consider the race as a full - which will hopefully happen soon):
- First, the trackings: Obama takes his first lead in Gallup’s tracking since September 4th and is ahead 47% to 45%. He leads 48% to 44% in Research 2000, 45% to 42% in Diego Hotline. Only Rasmussen finds him trailing, 48% to 47%.
- Update: The new CBS/NYT poll finds Obama grabbing a 49% to 44% lead, a 7% gain from last week’s poll and Obama’s biggest advantage since the Republican convention. The poll was taken Friday through Tuesday. The two groups that had swung towards McCain after the convention (white women and independents) have now gone back in the Democrat’s direction. Obama leads by 2% among white women (16% among all women) and 5% among independents. Palin’s favorability rating has gone from 44-22 to 40-30, a sharp drop. In a problematic result for McCain, only 37% (versus 60%) say he would bring change to Washington.
- Obama leads 49% to 47% in a CNN poll of Ohio. The margin stays the same in a five-way race, with Nader at 4%. All the CNN polls were conducted over the week-end.
- The candidates are tied at 48% in a CNN poll of Florida. In a five-way race, Obama leads 48% to 44%, with 4% for Nader and 1% each for McKinney and Barr.
- McCain leads 48% to 47% in a CNN poll of North Carolina. In a five-way race, McCain leads 46% to 45% with 2% each for Nader and Barr.
- Obama leads 50% to 47% in a CNN poll of Wisconsin.
- Obama leads 48% to 46% in a Rasmussen poll of Wisconsin. That’s a drop from his four point lead last month.
- McCain leads 51% to 45% in a CNN poll of Indiana. He leads by 5% in a five-way race, with 4% for Nader.
- Obama leads 51% to 47% in a Rasmussen poll of Oregon. He led by 10% last month.
- McCain leads 48% to 39% in a CNU poll of Virginia. I had never heard of CNU before, and no other pollster is showing any comparable margin in a state that is polled relatively often.
- Obama leads 58% to 39% in a Rasmussen poll of Rhode Island.
As I mentioned above, Democrats will be reassured seeing these numbers from Ohio and Florida, as McCain was leading in most polls released from those two states over the past 10 days - more often than not outside of the margin of error. The shift in Florida between the two-way race and the five-way race is also a reminder that there will be other candidates in the ballot, and that could certainly have an impact in close races. We will have to take a close look at numbers in places like Oregon, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Washington. If those states remain competitive, it could prove a major obstacle to Obama’s determination to play offense in a large number of McCain states.
Meanwhile, in down-the-ballot races:
- Gordon Smith is up 46% to 45% in a Rasmussen poll of Oregon’s Senate race. He led by 8% last month.
- Tom Udall leads 57% to 41% in a DSCC poll of New Mexico’s Senate race.
- In PA-11, Lou Barletta leads Dem Rep. Kanjorski 44% to 35% in a Franklin & Marshall (independent) poll.
- Seemingly in response, the DCCC quickly released an internal poll of PA-11 that finds Kanjorski leading 48% to 39%.
- In FL-16, an internal poll for the campaign of Republican Tom Rooney finds him trailing Rep. Mahoney 48% to 41%.
- Lautenberg leads 48% to 39% in Quinnipiac’s poll of New Jersey’s Senate race.
- Mark Warner leads 57% to 33% in PPP’s poll of the Virginia Senate race.
The Oregon Senate race is unlikely to break one way or another in the next few weeks, and will likely be decided by whichever party has the momentum heading into Election Day. A 1% margin is pretty much what we expect to see at this point. The polls of PA-11 and FL-16, on the other hand, are very interesting.
In Pennsylvania, Rep. Kanjorski is very clearly in trouble. This internal DCCC poll has him leading by 9%, but the DCCC has been spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on his behalf, a clear indication that they are more worried about him than about most Democratic-held seats. Two polls released by Barletta had the Republican leading, and the fact that an independent poll now has Barletta leading by 9% should be cause of great concern for Democrats. As for FL-16, it has long been one of the GOP’s priorities this cycle, and they are very excited about Rooney’s candidacy. That Mahoney is leading by 7% in a Republican firm does suggest that he might not be as endengered as I had thought, but Rooney just won the GOP primary and is shifting gears to the general election. This will stay competitive to the end.