Tuesday polls find tight Senate races, large number of competitive red states

So much for that tightening. Not only does Barack Obama extend his lead in four out of the seven major tracking polls (the three others show no movement), he also hits a double-digit lead in two major national polls, Pew and NBC/Wall Street Journal.

What is most problematic for McCain is that he is stuck in the low 40s in most national survey that are being released. Of the nine national polls released today, only three have him above 42%, with McCain hitting a low of 38% and a high of 46%. This is certainly not a good range for a presidential candidate to be stuck in, especially as Obama comes in at 50% or above in seven of these polls. With 13 more days of campaigning left, John McCain is not closing the gap nationally.

The electoral college situation remains highly precarious for McCain, though taken individually a number of polls show signs of life for the Arizona Senator. In today’s polls from red states, Obama only has a lead outside of the margin of error in Insider Advantage’s survey from Colorado - and his advantage there has decreased in each of the past three polls from the institute. Polls in Florida, Indiana, Nevada and (three different surveys) in North Carolina all show the race within the margin of error - underscoring that they are still very much in play.

However, it is remarkable that McCain doesn’t have any sort of lead in any of these states, not even within the margin of error, not even in one of the three North Carolina surveys. Florida, Indiana, Nevada and North Carolina are not states Obama needs to prove himself in, they are states McCain needs to sweep before he can even think of playing catch-up in Colorado - and today’s surveys once again show that for McCain to win them all will require him to recover enough nationally for such a sweep to be plausible. On to the full roundup of the day’s polls:

  • Obama opens a wide 52% to 38% lead in Pew’s national poll of registered voters; he leads 53% to 39% among likely voters. The poll was taken Thursday through Sunday, and it is a 4% gain for Obama over the previous week. Obama has opened a 21% lead over who would best handle the economy.
  • Obama leads 52% to 42% in an NBC/Wall Street Journal national poll. Sarah Palin’s favorability rating hits negative territory (-9%) for the first time. The poll was taken Saturday through Monday.
  • Obama gains in four out of seven trackings, the three others stable. Obama gains 0.7% in IBD/TIPP (47% to 41%), he gains 2% to lead 50% to 42% in Zogby, and he gains 1% to lead 47% to 41% in Diego Hotline. He also gains in Gallup’s likely voter models, so he is now up 52% to 41% among registered voters, 52% to 42% among likely voters expanded and 51% to 44% among likely voters traditional. Rasmussen (50% and 46%), Research 2000 (50% to 42%) and WaPo/ABC (53% to 44%) have the race stable. To recap, Obama’s leads in the tracking are: 4%, 6%, 6%, 8%, 8%, 9%, 10%.
  • Obama leads 48% to 46% in a PPP poll of Florida. Obama led by 3% three weeks ago.
  • Obama leads 46% to 41% in an Insider Advantage poll of Colorado. Obama led by 6% two weeks ago and 9% a month ago, however.
  • Obama leads 48% to 46% in a PPP poll of Indiana.
  • The candidates are tied at 47% in a SUSA poll of North Carolina. Obama trailed by 3% two weeks ago. This is the first SUSA poll of NC in which McCain has not led.
  • Obama leads 48% to 45% in a Civitas poll of North Carolina. Without leaners, his lead is 47% to 42%. Among voters who have already voted, Obama leads 64% to 32%.
  • Obama leads 51% to 43% in a SUSA poll of Wisconsin.
  • McCain leads 52% to 43% in a Rasmussen poll of West Virginia. He led by 8% in late September.
  • Safe states: McCain leads 59% to 35% in a SUSA poll of Oklahoma. McCain leads 58% to 37% in a SUSA poll of Wyoming (Bush won the state by twice as much). Obama leads 56% to 32% in a Chicago Tribune poll of Illinois. McCain leads 54% to 43% in a Rasmussen poll of South Carolina. McCain leads 54% to 41% in a SUSA poll of Kentucky.

Meanwhile, in down-the-ballot polls:

  • Jeanne Shaheen leads 50% to 43% in a Research 2000 poll of New Hampshire’s Senate race. She led by 9% last month.
  • McConnell and Lunsford are tied at 48% in a SUSA poll of Kentucky’s Senate race.
  • Kay Hagan leads 44% to 41% in a Civitas poll of the North Carolina Senate race.
  • Hagan leads 46% to 45% in a SUSA poll of North Carolina’s Senate race. She trailed by 1% two weeks ago.
  • Al Franken leads 39% to 36% with 18% to Barkley in a Star Tribune poll of the Minnesota Senate race. He led by 9% three weeks ago. There are no indications as to which candidate Barkley is drawing the most votes from, and that could be important given how week Barkley’s support is (only 18% of his supporters say they strongly back him); on the other hand, Barkley could surge if voters come to think he is electable.
  • Inhofe leads 51% to 39% in a SUSA poll of Oklahoma’s Senate race. He led by 16% two weeks ago, but 22% six weeks ago.
  • Three polls of North Carolina’s gubernatorial race: Bev Perdue leads 48% to 44% in a PPP poll, and 41% to 40% in a new Civitas poll. But McCrory leads 46% to 43% in SUSA poll.
  • Gov. Daniels leads 57% to 36% in a PPP poll of Indiana’s gubernatorial race.
  • In WY-AL, GOP candidate Cynthia Lummis leads 50% to 44% in a new SUSA poll.
  • In ID-01, Democrat Walt Minnick leads 51% to 45% against Rep. Sali in a new SUSA poll.
  • In NH-01, Rep. Shea-Porter leads 48% to 43% in a Research 2000 poll. She led by 1% last month.
  • In NH-02, Rep. Hordes leads 49% to 43% Research 2000 poll. He led by 13% last month, so quite an improvement for his Republican challenger.

These polls underscore just how wide the range of possible Senate scenarios is. While Hagan has inched ahead and while an incumbent stuck in the low 40s is not a good sign, Hagan has not put the race ahead yet; and a number of seats (including Minnesota and Kentucky, as revealed by these polls) are complete dead heats at the moment. As for New Hampshire, Shaheen has not widened her lead over the past month, but Sununu is no longer gaining either, something he seemed to finally be doing in mid-September. With two weeks to go, it looks increasingly unlikely that the incumbent Senator can pull off an upset in the Granite State.

0 Responses to “Tuesday polls find tight Senate races, large number of competitive red states”


  1. 1 Patrick

    I live in Rochester NY, and the NRCC is now up on the air here in NY-26, hitting Alice Kryzan as a tax and spend liberal. I know they’re strapped for cash, so they must be feeling pretty scared to spend money up here.

  2. 2 Jarret

    Are there any indications that we may see a surprise from Indiana? Given Obama’s focus there, I wonder…

  3. 3 Taniel

    Jarret,

    Would the surprise be an Obama victory? That is certainly a huge upset by our spring standards, but at this point no one doubts Indiana is highly competitive. It is rated a toss-up in my latest ratings.

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