As is expected the Friday before an election, we were treated with a deluge of polls at the presidential and Senate level today, making this quite a large edition of poll watch.
It is hard to make sense of 44 presidential polls from 19 different states at once, though the fact that seven of them come from New Hampshire and find a similar result makes things far easier. These polls are also important to go over, as they were almost all conducted entirely this week (many of the state surveys that we had been considering over the past few days, whether CNN/Time, AP/GfK or Quinnipiac were taken over the week-end).
Taken together, these polls detect no sign of tightening, whether nationally (Obama is at or above 50% in five out of eight national polls and McCain is above 45% in only survey) or at the state level. In fact, it is McCain’s base that keeps eroding rather than Obama’s: We have now gotten used to seeing Missouri, Indiana and North Carolina dead-locked - if not slightly leaning in Obama’s direction - but it is stunning to see that McCain can no longer muster a lead outside of the margin of error in Arizona, Montana or North Dakota. That’s right, we have now bee treated to half-a-dozen polls this week alone that have shown McCain collapsing in his home state - with Research 2000 showing him leading by only 1%.
Obama continues to dominate in polls from the Big Three states. No new survey from Virginia was released today, but two polls from Colorado suggest that McCain might already have lost the state given that nearly half of all registered voters have already cast their ballot and Obama is leading by 7% and 10% overall in those two surveys. Obama’s huge lead among independents in almost all recent Colorado polls confirm that Western independents are likely to vote Obama; that should also help him in Nevada and in the Mountain West.
However, there might be some signs of Obama’s weakening in Pennsylvania. He remains in a dominant position, but not as clearly as he did just two weeks ago. After Mason Dixon’s 4% margin yesterday, Strategic Vision has Obama ahead by 5% today after showing him leading by 14% three weeks ago and 9% last week; and while Obama is ahead by 10% in Morning Call’s tracking, it is the first time in a more than a month that McCain has reached 43%. Because there is no early voting in Pennsylvania, it remains conceivable that McCain can pull it off - but it is obviously extremely difficult to close such a gap in the final three days.
The problem for McCain, of course, is that Obama would only have to sweep Nevada, Colorado and Virginia and Pennsylvania would not matter. Or, for that matter, could he ensure victory by picking up just one of the many other vulnerable red states: Out of six polls of Missouri, North Carolina and Indiana today, McCain leads only in one - and that’s within the margin of error and based on Obama’s low 65% among blacks. And there really is no other blue state McCain can hope to pick up. He trails widely in seven New Hampshire polls today, as well as by double digits in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan:
- Obama leads 50% to 43% in a Marist national poll conducted entirely on Tuesday. Marist had not conducted a national survey since the end of September, when Obama led by 5%.
- Trackings: Obama gains 2% in Gallup (52% to 43%; he gains 3% in the RV and LVT models to seize an 11% and 8% lead, respectively), 1% in Hotline (48% to 41%), Washington Post/ABC (53% to 44%) and Research 2000 (51% to 45%). The race is stable in IBD/TIPP (47% to 43%) and in Zogby (50% to 43%). Obama loses 1% in Rasmussen (51% to 47%). Obama’s leads thus are: 4%, 4%, 6%, 7%, 7%, 9%, 9%.
- Colorado: Obama leads 54% to 44% in a PPP poll conducted Tuesday through Thursday. (Early voters make up 65% of respondents (!), and they go for Obama by 17% - meaning that all he needs is 35% of remaining voters. Obama leads 60% to 36% among independents.) Obama leads 52% to 45% in an ARG poll conducted over the same period; he leads by 13% among independents. (McCain had a 3% lead five weeks ago.)
- Pennsylvania: Obama leads 49% to 44% in a Strategic Vision poll conducted Monday through Wednesday (he led by 7% last week and by 14% three weeks ago). Obama leads 53% to 43% in the Morning Call tracking poll.
- North Carolina: Obama leads 47% to 45% in a Research 2000 poll conducted Tuesday through Thursday. The candidates are tied at 48% in an Insider Advantage poll conducted Tuesday. Obama leads 47% to 46% in the final Civitas poll taken Monday through Wednesday (down from a 3% lead).
- Missouri: McCain leads 50% to 47% in an Insider Advantage poll conducted yesterday. The candidates are tied at 47% in an ARG poll taken from Tuesday through Thursday.
- Indiana: The candidates are tied at 47% in a SUSA poll, though Obama leads by 32% among early voters. Obama led by 4% last week.
- New Hampshire: Obama leads 51% to 44% in a Rasmussen poll conducted yesterday. He leads 53% to 42% in a SUSA poll conducted over the past two days. Obama leads 50% to 41% in a Strategic Vision poll conducted Monday through Wednesday. Obama leads 51% to 44% in a Research 2000 poll conducted over the past three days. Obama leads 56% to 41% in an ARG poll taken over the same period. He leads 53% to 40% in a Suffolk poll. Obama leads 53% to 39% in the UNH tracking poll.
- New Mexico: Obama leads 58% to 41% in a PPP poll conducted Tuesday through Thursday.
- Minnesota: Obama leads 57% to 41% in a PPP poll conducted Tuesday through Thursday.
- Wisconsin: Obama leads 53% to 42% in a Research 2000 poll.
- Georgia: McCain leads 52% to 47% in a Rasmussen poll conducted yesterday (the same margin as last week). He leads 47% to 44% in a Research 2000 poll conducted Tuesday through Thursday; he led by 6% two weeks ago. He trails by 15% among early voters.
- Montana: McCain leads 48% to 44% in a Research 2000 poll. He led by 4% also two weeks ago. Ron Paul was not included. McCain leads 49% to 46% in an ARG poll taken over the same period.
- North Dakota: McCain leads 47% to 46% in a Research 2000 poll. The candidates were tied two weeks ago.
- Arizona: McCain leads 48% to 47% in a Research 2000 poll conducted from Tuesday through Thursday. Obama leads by 12% among early voters. McCain leads 50% to 46% in an ARG poll conducted over the same period.
- Michigan: Obama leads 55% to 42% in a PPP poll conducted Tuesday through Thursday. Obama leads 50% to 38% in an EPIC-MRA poll conducted from Sunday through Tuesday (Obama led by 14% the week before). Obama leads 54% to 41% in a Strategic Vision poll.
- West Virginia: McCain leads 55% to 42% in a PPP poll. That’s a 5% expansion over a poll released two weeks ago.
- Oregon: Obama leads 57% to 42% in a PPP poll conducted Tuesday through Thursday.
- Alaska: McCain leads 58% to 39% in a Research 2000 poll.
- Mississippi: McCain leads 53% to 40% in Research 2000. Obama receives 13% of the white vote.
Meanwhile, in down the ballot surveys, where we got a staggering number of surveys today:
- The Field poll of California has Proposition 8 losing 49% to 44% - that’s a slight narrowing from the September survey, and the vote certainly remains close.
- Georgia, Senate race: GOP Senator Chambliss leads 47% to 46% in a Research 2000 poll, with 5% going to Buckley. Among early voters, Jim Martin leads by 17%, however. (The poll has a problem, however: Only 12% of the sample is made up of early voters even though more than a third of registered voters have already cast their ballot.) Chambliss leads 48% to 43% in a Rasmussen poll, an improvement over his 2% lead last week; Allen Buckley gets 7%.
- An older CNN/Time poll, however, has Chambliss leading by 9% (53-44) among likely voters and by 1% (48-47) among registered voters. The CNN poll is worthless, as it is ridiculous not to include a third-party candidate when a candidate has to cross 50% to win.
- North Carolina, Senate race: Kay Hagan leads 50% to 45% in a Research 2000 poll; she led by 4% two weeks ago. 45% to 43% in the final Civitas poll. Hagan leads 53% to 44% in a CNN poll taken earlier (from the 23rd to the 28th).
- Mississippi, Senate race: GOP Senator Roger Wicker takes a 51% to 44% lead in a Research 2000 poll. He led by only 1% two weeks ago.
- Minnesota, Senate race: Al Franken leads 45% to 40%, with 14% for Barkley in a PPP poll. In this poll (contrary to those that were released yesterday), Barkley draws about equally from both parties. Al Franken also leads 41% to 37% in a new MPR poll.
- Oregon, Senate race: Jeff Merkley leads 51% to 43% in a PPP poll, with 4% going to Dave Brownlow. 59% of respondents say they have already voted, and Merkley leads by 22% among them… Merkley leads 49% to 46% in a Rasmussen poll.
- Alaska, Senate race: Mark Begich leads 58% to 36% in a Research 2000 poll conducted after Stevens’ conviction.
- New Hampshire, Senate race: Four new polls find Jeanne Shaheen poised to pick-up the seat. She leads 52% to 44% in a new Rasmussen poll. She leads 53% to 40% in a new SUSA poll (up from an 8% lead three weeks ago). She leads 48% to 41% in a Strategic Vision poll. She leads 52% to 42% in a Research 2000 poll. Shaheen leads 53% to 41% in an ARG poll conducted over the past three days. She leads 48% to 41% in the UNH tracking poll.
- Colorado, Senate race: Mark Udall leads 56% to 41% in a PPP poll; he leads 60% to 38% among those who have already voted. Udall leads 53% to 43% in a CNN poll.
- North Carolina, gubernatorial race: Bev Perdue leads 45% to 43% in the final Civitas poll. She leads 49% to 44% in a Research 2000 poll.
- Safe(r) seats: Tom Udall leads 58% to 39% in a PPP poll of New Mexico. Frank Lautenberg leads 52% to 37% in a SUSA poll of New Jersey.
- In AK-AL, Democratic challenger Ethan Berkowitz leads 53% to 44% in a Research 2000 poll. He led by 6% two weeks ago.
- In NH-01, Democratic Rep. Shea-Porter extends her lead to a 49% to 42% advantage in a new Research 2000 poll. She leads 46% to 41% in the UNH tracking poll.
In this avalanche of Senate news from a number of competitive races, most of the good news goes to Democrats. The two Udalls confirm their domination, and Jeanne Shaheen is poised to pick up the New Hampshire Senate seat as she posts leads ranging from 7% to 13% in six separate surveys. Mark Begich could join them and put Alaska in the easy pick-up column according to this second post-conviction poll, though I would still warn against underestimating Stevens.
In Oregon, Jeff Merkley appears to be closing the deal. Oregon’s mail-in voting system means more than half of the state’s voters have already sent in their ballot and Gordon Smith might already have lost his seat. Elizabeth Dole’s situation might be a bit better, and she has a few more days to recapture momentum. But early voting turnout is huge in North Carolina, leaving her with a reduced pool of voters who could still change their vote. Today’s polls (as with most surveys that have been released over the past few weeks) leave little doubt that Hagan is favored - albeit only narrowly.
That leaves us with Mississippi, Georgia, and Minnesota, three highly competitive seats where the situation still looks very confusing. In Mississippi, Research 2000’s survey is the second poll this week to find Roger Wicker opening up a large lead, suggesting that this seat is slipping away from Democrats. Sure, Musgrove could benefit from increased black turnout, but this poll already pegs it at 37%; it’s hard to see it rise far above that. Furthermore, Musgrove’s problems come from his decline among white voters (he only gets 20%).
Democratic hopes of a 60-seat majority would then rest on KY, GA and MN. In Georgia, Buckley is getting a large enough share of the vote that it is becoming difficult to conceive either Chambliss or Martin crossing the 50% threshold. Whatever result comes out of this election will clearly depend on final turnout rates; in few states as much as this one are the LV and RV models finding such disparate results. In Minnesota, meanwhile, the situation is just as confused: Who are Barkley voters? Yesterday, two polls suggested that Barkley was disproportionately drawing from Democrats; today, two new surveys have him pulling equally from both sides. If the former happens, Coleman is in a great position; if the latter, Franken is still very much in the game.