Poll watch: Trackings tighten (a bit), but Obama dominates in VA, CO, PA, OH, FL and NV; Wicker opens wide lead

We start, as will now be customary, with the three states that we should be watching over this closing week: Colorado, Virginia and Pennsylvania. New polls were released today in each and they find Obama in command: He extends his lead by 3% in the latest Insider Advantage poll of Colorado, leads by 9% in Virginia and has a sizable edge in three Pennsylvania surveys (7% to 12%). That said, both Insider Advantage and Rasmussen suggest that there might be some tightening in the Keystone State, and Obama is no longer enjoying consistent double-digit leads.

It is a testament to just how huge a lead he had seized that he remains so firmly in command of Pennsylvania despite shedding nearly half of his lead in Rasmussen’s survey. And it is also a testament to Obama’s remarkably strong electoral map that he has so many other options even if McCain somehow manages to pull off one of the three states listed above.

If Obama were to lose Pennsylvania, for instance, Nevada would suffice to compensate - and two new polls out today show Obama leading outside of the margin of error and by as much as 10%. Keep in mind that the demographics of Pennsylvania, Virginia, Colorado and Nevada are very similar, so a comeback in the former wouldn’t mean that McCain is coming back in the three latter ones. McCain trails outside of the MoE in two new polls of Ohio (4% and 9%) and two new polls of Florida (5% and 7%). McCain still has a lot of work to do in all of these states.

As has been the case over the past few days, the tightest contests are taking place in states that Obama does not need: Indiana, North Carolina, Montana, Georgia and… Arizona are all within the margin of error in new polls. Losing any of these would be a catastrophe for the GOP.

McCain supporters can at least take comfort in the composite of the tracking polls, as McCain continues to close the gap after already tightening the race somewhat yesterday. But he continues to trail, and a Pew national poll taken over the same period finds disastrous numbers for McCain (I don’t believe McCain had ever trailed by 16% in a poll before). On to the full roundup of the day’s polls:

  • Obama leads 53% to 38% in a national Pew poll conducted Thursday through Monday; the margin is 16% with registered voters. 74% of Obama’s supporters describe themselves as “strong” supporters, versus 56% of McCain’s. Obama leads among men, women, every age group, independents and by 19% among early voters.
  • Obama leads 50% to 45% in an ARG national poll thanks to 83% of Democrats and a 12% lead among independents.
  • McCain makes some progress in the latest tracking polls: He gains 3% in Gallup (51-44, and only 49-47 in the LVT model), 1% in Research 2000 (50-43), 1% in Zogby (49-45). The race is stable in Hotline (50-42), Washington Post/ABC (52-45) and Rasmussen (51-46). Obama gains 1% in IBD/TIPP (48-44). That means that Obama’s leads are: 4%, 4%, 5%, 7%, 7%, 7%, 8%.
  • Colorado: Obama leads 53% to 45% in a new Insider Advantage poll, based on his staggering 81% among Hispanics. Obama led by 5% last week. The poll was conducted on Sunday.
  • Pennsylvania: Obama leads 51% to 42% in an Insider Advantage poll of Pennsylvania; a separate IA poll of suburban Bucks County finds Obama leading by 3% (the same as Kerry), a 3% decline since a poll two weeks ago. This poll was conducted on Sunday. Obama leads 53% to 46% in a Rasmussen poll; that’s a drop from Obama’s 13% margin three weeks ago. No movement in the Morning Call tracking poll, however, where Obama leads 53% to 41%.
  • Virginia: Obama leads 48% to 39% in a Roanoke College poll. The poll was conducted over eight days, however, from the 19th through yesterday.
  • Ohio: Obama leads 49% to 40% in a new LAT/Bloomberg poll conducted Saturday through yesterday. (A fascinating internal: Obama wins white, working class voters 52% to 38%). Obama leads 49% to 45% in a SUSA poll conducted on Sunday and Monday. Obama led by 5% two weeks ago. He leads by 17% among the 22% of respondents who say they have already voted.
  • Nevada: Obama leads 50% to 40% in a Suffolk poll conducted from the 23rd through the 27th, with 2% for Barr and 1% each for McKinney and Nader. Obama leads 50% to 46% in a Rasmussen poll in which he led by 5% two weeks ago.
  • North Carolina: The candidates are tied at 47% in a week-end Mason Dixon/NBC poll. In a PPP poll of the 8th district, Obama leads by 6% which is a 14% swing since 2004, about what Obama needs statewide to win the state.
  • Indiana: Three polls in Indiana show a highly competitive race. Obama leads 48% to 47% in a Research 2000 poll (the candidates were tied three weeks ago.) McCain leads 47% to 45% in a Howey/Gauge poll. In a separate Research 2000 poll of IN-03, McCain leads 53% to 38% - which is great news for Obama since Bush won the district 68% to 31% (that’s a 22% swing towards Obama, essentially what he needs statewide to carry the state).
  • Montana: McCain leads 48% to 44% in a week-end Mason Dixon/NBC poll (I am not sure whether Ron Paul’s name was included).

Meanwhile, in down the ballot surveys:

  • Roger Wicker jumps to a big 54% to 43% lead in a Rasmussen poll of Mississippi’s Senate race. He only led by 2% in September.
  • Saxby Chambliss leads 46% to 44,5% in an Insider Advantage poll of Georgia’s Senate race, with 2% going to other (it looks like Buckley’s name was not included).
  • Jeff Merkley leads 45% to 40% in a Hibbits poll of Oregon’s Senate race conducted from the 22nd to the 25th. No mention of early voting, unfortunately.
  • Bev Perdue leads McCrory 47% to 44% in a PPP poll of North Carolina’s gubernatorial race.
  • In IN-03, GOP Rep. Souder leads 45% to 40% in a Research 2000 poll, with 4% going to Libertarian candidate Bill Larsen. In a Howey Gauge poll of the district, however, it is Democratic challenger Montagano who leads 44% to 41% (this latter poll has a large 6% MoE).
  • In NC-08, Larry Kissell leads GOP Rep. Hayes 51% to 46% in a PPP poll.
  • In OH-15, Democratic candidate Mary Jo Kilroy leads 47% to 41% in a SUSA poll, with 6% going to conservative independent candidate Don Eckart. 37% of respondents say they have already voted, and Kilroy leads by 16%.
  • In GA-08, Democratic Rep. Marshall leads 49% to 45% in a SUSA poll. Marshall immediately released an internal poll showing him leading 48% to 31%.
  • In KS-03, Democratic Rep. Moore leads 53% to 42% in a SUSA poll.

The most important of the day’s congressional poll undoubtedly comes from Mississippi, where Republican Senator Roger Wicker jumps to a commanding lead - suggesting that Democrats might not be as close to a Senate sweep after all (Mississippi’s Senate race is currently ranked 9th in my Senate rankings). The Insider Advantage poll from Georgia, meanwhile, is further evidence that we might not get a resolution on November 4th, as both candidate are far from the 50% mark - especially since the Libertarian candidate was not even included as an option in this survey.

At the House level, Democratic taek-over opportunities in NC-08 and OH-15 (both rated lean Democratic in my latest ratings) continue to look good for Democratic, and the IN-03 numbers are outstanding: this is a massively Republican district that voted for Bush by 37% in 2004! It was on no one’s radar screen as of the end of September, and has now become a highly vulnerable district. If Rep. Souder falls, IN-03 will be remembered as one of the great upsets of the 2008 cycle.

SUSA’s GA-08 poll, however, is a reminder that there are a number of Democratic seats at risk as well. Marshall barely survived the 2006 cycle (in fact, he looked gone for much of the cycle), and it looks like this race might keep us late yet again.

19 Responses to “Poll watch: Trackings tighten (a bit), but Obama dominates in VA, CO, PA, OH, FL and NV; Wicker opens wide lead”


  1. 1 Jaxx Raxor

    I’m not suprised that Obama’s margin in PA are slipping a bit. I was always a bit dubious over the polls showing Obama with nice double digit leads, and McCain has made some improvements thanks to his Joe the Plumber, Obama is a Socialist talk. It does seem that what McCain is doing is preventing an Obama landslide, not winning the election outright. Personally I predict that Obama will win PA by about 6%, which is double Kerry’s margin (about 3%) yet not very overwhelming. Essentially I think PA is for Obama as how Florida was for Bush in 2004. Less close now than in the previous election but close enough to warrent it being competive again the next election. There are alot of conservative Democrats in PA that McCain can hope to attract, the problem being that there seems to be too little time to make a great impact barring an external event or a massive Obama gaffe. McCain’s efforts in PA would seem naught if Obama wins either Florida or Ohio (and finished if Obama happened to win both). And of course, even if Obama lost Pennsylvania and Florida AND Ohio, but won Virginia and Colorado, he could still win another state (like Nevada) and win the election.

    On downballot news, Wickers strong showing in Rasmussen seems to be a bit of an outlier. While I don’t doubt that Musgrove is behind, to be behind by this much is very strange. On the other hand, it is clear that for 60 seats, getting the 60th seat will be the hardest, and if Musgrove is truly behind by 11 points, then there is little chance of a filibuster proof majority for Dems in the Senate.

  2. 2 Rob

    I can’t take one more week of this. I’m telling myself it all looks good for Obama but I don’t know I’m still so stressed and convinced something’s going to happen. MAKE IT ALL GO AWAY

  3. 3 Joe from NC

    Rob,
    I know how you feel!

  4. 4 Anonymous

    Exactly!!!! I wish the election will just come and go.

  5. 5 Guy

    26% of all registered voters in North Carolina have now voted with 4 days left of early voting. At this rate half of all votes will have been cast BEFORE 4 November. This certainly reduces the impact of any late October surprise.

    I am interested to see what Obama has planned for tomorrow night and the impact, if any, on the race. McCain loses another new cycle!

  6. 6 Anonymous

    It is just a couple of days to go and October 31 is this Friday, so never talk of any October surprise unless the surprise comes in the form of a Halloween gaffe. I mean, we are almost there on November 4, and at this point in the election Bush was ahead by only 3%-4% points, but Obama remains mostly above 7%. barring any significant development — and the Stevens verdict is likely to further tarnish the GOP — Obama will certainly ride a wave on November 4 regardless of what you say. In short, I am all but calling the election for Obama.

  7. 7 zoot

    Franklin & Marshall poll (PA) conducted Oct. 21-26, with polling group of 790 registered voters (555 likely) show Obama up 51-39 with registered voters, 53-40 with likely voters. MOE is 3.5% with registered, 4.2% with likely. This is virtually identical to the Morning Call data.

    Still, the McCain campaign claims to have favorable internal polling data. Funny, if it was that favorable, you’d think they”d leak it to capture the news cycle..

  8. 8 zoot

    Sorry, here’s the link for those whoa re interested.

  9. 9 zoot
  10. 10 News Tip

    Strange News Tip: Bob Barr Winning According to Official PA State Gov Site
    http://www.electionreturns.state.pa.us/

    Election results were last updated 11/2/2008 10:50 AM.

    BARR, BOB (LIB)
    144,930 50.3%
    Runningmate: ROOT, WAYNE A.

    OBAMA, BARACK (DEM)
    39,433 13.7%
    Runningmate: BIDEN, JOE

    MCCAIN, JOHN (REP)
    68,984 23.9%
    Runningmate: PALIN, SARAH

    NADER, RALPH (IND)
    35,003 12.1%
    Runningmate: GONZALEZ, MATT

    http://www.electionreturns.state.pa.us/

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