Archive for the 'AL-Pres' Category

Poll watch: Dems still far from 60, and is NV in the same tier as CO and VA?

The presidential race remained remarkably stable. If the tracking polls showed McCain gaining slightly yesterday, they have Obama regaining some breathing room today; he is at 50% or above in 6 of the 9 national polls. McCain is once again stuck in the low 40s, with a margin ranging from 41% to 46%. Sure, the New York Times and Fox News national polls came out with differing results, but at least there is no mystery behind the discrepancy: the partisan breakdown has narrowed in the Fox poll.

McCain got one of his most promising polling results in days today as Mason Dixon found him trailing by only 4% in Pennsylvania - the tightest the state has been since a mid-September poll. We should not dismiss this poll, even though surveys taken over the same period show a larger advantage for Obama. Mason Dixon has been consistently releasing results that are better than average for McCain. The Republican nominee led in Virginia when other surveys found him trailing, and trailed only narrowly when other surveys found a large gap; the same was true in Florida and now Pennsylvania. The consistency of these narrower results suggests that it is due to Mason Dixon’s methodology and turnout models, which means that we should not throw these out as outliers: There is a turnout model out there employed by a respected pollster like Mason Dixon that yields results that are better for Republicans, and we won’t know until Tuesday whose assumptions were flawed.

All of this said, there is no discussion to be had that Obama retains an extremely strong position in the electoral college. For one, he remains ahead in the Big Three sates: 3 polls of Pennsylvania show him in the lead (though Mason Dixon has a 4% race), and he is also ahead in Colorado and Virginia. While two polls of Virginia show him with narrower leads than we have seen of late, both surveys were taken over the same period as the CNN and SUSA polls that had him leading by 9% - so these new polls are not picking any new tightening.

To make matters worse for McCain, we might now be getting a third competitive red state where an Obama pick-up appears increasingly likely: Nevada. After posting two double-digit leads earlier this week, Obama leads outside of the margin of error in two new surveys (Suffolk and CNN/Time). This is a very important development: Even if McCain were to save Virginia and Colorado, Obama would become president by winning Nevada alone; if McCain can somehow snatch Pennsylvania, an (not at all improbable) Obama sweep of Virginia, Colorado and Nevada would offset the loss of the Keystone State.

As if this was not enough, Ohio and North Carolina are slowly moving in Obama’s column as the Democrat is accumulating good results in both. Today, he leads in all five polls from these two states, and four of them have him ahead outside of the MoE. Given that a huge number of North Carolina voters have already voted, it is starting to get late for McCain to turn the tide. And while Obama is showing no sign of trembling in blue states (he has huge leads in Wisconsin and Minnesota), McCain is now locked in highly competitive races in a number of staunchly red states - including his home state of Arizona, South Dakota and Montana.

  • Obama leads 52% to 41% in a New York Times/CBS News poll, a very small tightening from Obama’s 13% lead last week. 51% say Obama is ready to be president, and McCain’s favorability has collapsed to 41% (!). So has voters’ estimate of whether Palin is able to deal the job (only 35% say so). Obama leads among men and women, and has a 17% advantage among independents.
  • Obama leads 47% to 44% in a Fox News national poll conducted over the past two days. Obama led by 9% last week, so the race has substantially tightened. The partisan ID has tightened from a 6% gap to a 2% gap (though this does not seem to be an arbitrary imposition like Zogby’s).
  • Tracking polls: Obama gains 2% in Zogby (50% to 43%) and in Rasmussen (51% to 46%). He gains 1% in IBD/TIPP (48% to 44%). The race is stable in Washington Post/ABC (52% to 44%), Gallup (51% to 44%, though Obama gains 2% in the LVT model, 50% to 45%). Obama loses 1% in Hotline (48% to 42%) and in Research 2000 (50% to 45%). Obama’s leads are thus: 4%, 5%, 5%, 6%, 7%, 7%, 8%.
  • Pennsylvania: Obama leads 47% to 43% in a Mason Dixon poll conducted Sunday and Monday. Obama leads 54% to 41% in Morning Call’s tracking, the highest percentage Obama has ever received in this poll. Obama leads 55% to 43% in a CNN/Time poll conducted Thursday through Tuesday (Obama leads by 15% among registered voters!).
  • Colorado: Obama leads 51% to 45% in a Marist poll (52% to 43% among registered voters) conducted Sunday and Monday; his lead comes entirely among the 44% of registered voters who say they have already voted. Obama leads by 23% among independents and has strongest party loyalty (leading me to question why he is only ahead by 6%). Obama leads 48% to 44% in a National Journal poll of registered voters with a small sample and a large MoE conducted Thursday through Monday; Obama leads by 22% among independents.
  • Virginia: Obama leads 51% to 47% in a Marist poll (by 6% among registered voters) conducted Sunday and Monday; McCain takes a 12% lead among independents. Obama leads 48% to 44% in a National Journal poll of registered voters with a small sample and a large MoE conducted Thursday through Monday. Both polls were taken over the same period as SUSA, Rasmussen and CNN poll showing larger Obama leads.
  • Nevada: Obama leads 50% to 45% in a RGJ/Research 2000 poll (he led by 7% earlier in October); McCain leads by 3% in crucial Washoe County, though the RGJ points out that (unreleased) private polls for both parties have Obama leading that county. Obama leads 52% to 45% in a CNN/Time poll conducted Thursday through Tuesday, an improvement over his 5% lead last week (he leads by 11% among registered voters!).
  • Ohio: Obama leads 48% to 41% in a National Journal poll of registered voters with a small sample and a large MoE conducted Thursday through Monday; Obama’s lead is outside of the MoE. Obama leads 51% to 47% in a CNN/Time poll conducted Thursday through Tuesday (Obama leads by 10% among registered voters!).
  • Florida: Obama leads 45% to 44% in a National Journal poll of registered voters with a small sample and a large MoE conducted Thursday through Monday.
  • North Carolina: Obama leads 50% to 48% in a Rasmussen poll taken yesterday (McCain led by 2% on Sunday). Obama leads 47% to 43% in a National Journal poll of registered voters with a small sample and a large MoE conducted Thursday through Monday. Obama leads 52% to 46% in a CNN/Time poll conducted Thursday through Tuesday (Obama led by 4% last week, he is ahead by 3% among registered voters).
  • Indiana: McCain leads 49% to 46% in a Rasmussen poll taken yesterday (he led by 7% three weeks ago). Obama leads 46% to 45% in a Selzer & Co poll conducted Sunday through Tuesday; he is ahead 2:1 among early voters and gets “only” 82% of African-Americans (remember Tuesday’s polling memo released by the McCain campaign?). The candidates are tied at 47% in a Research 2000 poll taken from Friday through Tuesday.
  • Wisconsin: Obama takes a giant 55% to 39% lead in a SUSA poll taken Tuesday and Wednesday, up from 8%. Obama leads by 28% among early voters.
  • Iowa: Obama leads 55% to 40% in a SUSA poll taken Tuesday and Wednesday.
  • South Dakota: McCain only leads 45% to 40% in an internal poll for Democratic Senator Johnson’s campaign.
  • Montana: McCain leads 50% to 46% in a Rasmussen poll. He led by four weeks ago.
  • Safe(r) states: McCain leads 61% to 36% in a SUSA poll of Alabama. McCain leads 58% to 37% in a SUSA poll of Kansas. Obama leads 56% to 39% in a SUSA poll of Massachusetts. Obama leads 55% to 33% in a Field poll of California. Obama leads 54% to 38% in a Research 2000 poll of New Jersey. McCain leads 53% to 42% in a NBC News poll and 52% to 44% in a SUSA poll of South Carolina (but only by 6% among registered voters). McCain leads 55% to 43% in a Rasmussen poll of Kentucky.

Meanwhile, in down the ballot polls:

  • Louisiana: Two polls have differing results. An internal poll for the Kennedy campaign has Mary Landrieu up 45% to 44%, while a Loyola University poll has Landrieu ahead 49% to 34%; the latter poll does not seem very reliable, however, as it only shows McCain leading by 3% and implying an oversampling of Democrats.
  • Mitch McConnell leads 51% to 44% in a Rasmussen poll of Kentucky’s Senate race. (McConnell led by the same margin last month.) A Lunsford internal has McConnell leading 47% to 45%, however.
  • Norm Coleman leads 42% to 36% in a Mason Dixon poll of Minnesota. Barkley is now at 12%, and he is hurting Franken: He draws 17% of Democrats and only 4% of Republicans - a hugely consequential disparity.
  • Safer seats: Tom Udall leads 56% to 41% in a Rasmussen poll of New Mexico. GOP Senator Pat Roberts leads 60% to 33% in a new SUSA poll of Kansas. Democratic Senator Lautenberg leads 56% to 39% in a Research 2000 poll of New Jersey. Sen. Cornyn leads 45% to 36% in a University of Texas poll, with 5% going to Libertarian candidate Adams-Schick. GOP candidate Jim Risch leads 45% to 33% in a Harstad poll of Idaho.
  • In MO-06, perhaps the most disappointing House race for Democrats, GOP Rep. Graves leads 54% to 36% in a SUSA poll. He led by 11% last month.
  • In KY-02, GOP candidate Brett Guthrie leads 53% to 43% in a new SUSA poll. Guthrie led by 9% last month but trailed over the summer.
  • In OR-05, Democratic candidate Kurt Schrader leads 55% to 33% in a SUSA poll.
  • In NY-26, Republican candidate Chris Lee has a large 48% to 34% lead against Alice Kryzan in a SUSA poll. He led by 11% last month.
  • In ID-01, Democratic challenger leads 48% to 41% in a Harstad poll, though the poll has a large MoE of 6%.
  • In PA-12, Rep. Murtha only leads 46% to 44% in a GOP poll conducted by Dane & Associates.
  • In Massachusetts’s question 1 to repeal the state income tax, the “no” is far ahead, 64% to 29% in a SUSA poll.

Democrats have their share of very good news in these wave of surveys - especially the two North Carolina polls showing a Hagan lead and the NV-02 survey confirming that Rep. Heller is in real danger - Republicans got uncommly positive numbers over the past 24 hours. In the Senate, Republicans appear to be solidifying their hold on the four Senate seats that are not yet leaning Democratic - KY, MN, MS and also GA because a runoff should help Chambliss. McConnell has not slipped further after his race fell into a competitive race in early October, and Coleman has improved his situation over the past three weeks.

Minnesota should be particularly worrisome to Democrats because Franken’s slippage is due to the fact that Barkley is starting to draw disproportionately from Franken’s base. If that is confirmed by other polls, it is hard to see Franken pull this off. This is a reminder that, however much progress Democrats have made over the past few weeks, the path to 60 still requires picking-up two out of these 4 seats - and that remains a tall order.

The latest House polls should also be a reminder that Democrats will certainly not win everything on Tuesday, and that a fair number of Republicans appear to be making progress in this hostile environment. The latest poll of MO-06 has to be crushing to Democrats as former Kansas City Mayor Barnes was once one of their top recruits. And while the DCCC is still investing in NY-26, the polls have not been very promising ever since Kryzan won the Democratic nomination.

Poll watch: Opposite trends in OH and FL, Bachmann in trouble, GA Senate heading to runoff

Today’s polling roundup is certainly not as favorable to Barack Obama as yesterday’s, but there is still no sign that the tide is turning - with only 10 days of campaigning left before Election Day. The national polls, for one, remain where they have been for most of the past two weeks: Obama is above 50% in six of the seven tracking polls (a remarkable showing that confirms McCain has to do more than appeal to the undecided) while McCain is, once again, stuck in the low 40s (from 41% to 45%).

The one state in which McCain has not only stopped the bleeding but appears to be making up ground, however, is Florida. Over the past week, new surveys from Politico, Mason Dixon, Quinnipiac, PPP, Rasmussen, SUSA and Research 2000 all showed some movement (between 10% and 1%) towards the Republican nominee. That said, Obama remains ahead in a number of these surveys, and the best McCain can muster remains within the margin of error. The day’s second good news for McCain is a Rasmussen survey from North Carolina in which he is narrowly in the lead; this survey breaks a stunning series of 16 North Carolina polls without a McCain lead.

The overall picture that comes out of the day’s polling has little to suggest that McCain’s position in the electoral college is any less precarious than it was yesterday. That grabbing a 2% lead in North Carolina amounts to good news for McCain tell us all we need to know about the current dynamics and where the electoral battle is being waged. Besides North Carolina, the tightest states in this polling roundup are Indiana (where two polls find mirroring results) and… Georgia, where Obama grabs his first lead ever!

All three of these states were won by Bush by double-digits in 2004 - and they are the ones that look highly competitive today! The states that were expected to be tight continue to tilt towards Obama - and that is starting to include Ohio. Yes, McCain posts a 3% lead in a Strategic Vision poll, but Insider Advantage gives Obama a 10% lead which is very significant: No poll taken since the general election started had found Obama up by double-digits… until yesterday. Insider Advantage’s poll is the third poll in two days to have Obama leading by such a margin. On to the full polling roundup:

  • The tracking polls once again seem to converge towards the 7% mark, a margin that appears to be the epicenter of the race. Obama gains 3% in IBD/TIPP (46% to 42%), 2% in Research 2000 (52% to 40%) and Hotline (50% to 43%), 1% in Gallup (51% to 44%). Rasmussen remains stable, 52% to 45%. He loses 2% in Zogby (51% to 41%) and in Washington Post/ABC (53% to 44%). Thus, Obama’s leads today are: 4%, 7%, 7%, 7%, 9%, 10%, 12%
  • Ohio: Contrasting results and a wide gap in two polls: Obama leads by 10% in an Insider Advantage poll, his third double-digit lead in two days (there have been no others since he wrapped up the nomination), and he led by 5% in IA two weeks ago. However he trails 48% to 45% in a Strategic Vision poll of Ohio (he led by 2% two weeks ago).
  • North Carolina: McCain captures his first lead in a Rasmussen poll since September 18th, 50% to 48%. The poll was conducted last night, and it is a five point shift towards the Republican over a poll conducted on Saturday. This poll breaks a stunning series of 16 NC polls in which McCain had not led a single time.
  • Indiana: Contrasting results from two good pollsters: Obama leads 49% to 45% in a SUSA poll. McCain led by 3% three weeks ago. McCain leads 48% to 43% in a Mason Dixon poll.
  • New Hampshire: Obama leads 50% to 46% in a Rasmussen poll taken yesterday. He led by 10% three weeks ago, however, so there is some tightening.
  • Georgia: Obama leads 48% to 47% in a stunning Insider Advantage poll (this is the fourth IA poll in a row to find Obama gaining since McCain’s 18% lead in early September). McCain leads 50% to 44% in Strategic Vision.
  • Iowa: Obama leads 52% to 44% in a Rasmussen poll, maintaining his 8% lead from late September.
  • Michigan: Obama leads 54% to 40% in an EPIC-MRA poll (up from 10%).
  • Winthrop/ETV released three Southern polls today, all taken over an inexplicably long period of time: September 29th through October 19th! This means that these polls have very little value, but here they are nonetheless: Obama leads by 1% in Virginia and North Carolina and McCain leads by 20% in South Carolina.

Meanwhile, in down-the-ballot polls:

  • Georgia Senate race: Three polls show a tight race, all with GOP Sen. Chambliss leading within the MoE. He is ahead 44% to 42% in Insider Advantage (there was a 45% tie two weeks ago). Chambliss is also ahead 46% to 44% in a Strategic Vision poll, with 5% for Libertarian candidate Buckley.
  • North Carolina gubernatorial race: Pat McCrory leads 51% to 47% in a Rasmussen poll. He led by the same margin two weeks ago.
  • In MN-06, Elwin Tinklenberg leads GOP Rep. Michelle Bachmann 47% to 44% in a SUSA poll. He also leads 45% to 43% in a University of Minnesota poll, in which 40% of respondents say Bachmann’s rants makes them less likely to vote for her.
  • In IL-10, Dan Seals leads 49% to 44% against GOP Rep. Kirk in a Research 2000 poll. He trailed by 6% two weeks ago.
  • In KY-03, Rep. Yarmuth (D) leads 57% to 41% in a SUSA poll.
  • In FL-08, Alan Grayson leads 52% to 41% against GOP Rep. Keller in a DCCC internal. The Keller campaign responded by releasing an internal poll of their own taken over the same period and showing the incumbent ahead 47% to 43%.

The Georgia Senate race is in a category of its own at this point. Not only is it highly competitive (and the DSCC has already poured in more than $1 million), but the candidacy of Libertarian candidate Buckley could guarantee that the race goes in the runoff because of Georgia’s two-round of voting system. We can discuss another time who a runoff would help (and in my opinion it would clearly boost Chambliss), but for now an important metric is to look at how distant those candidates are from 50%.

In House races, meanwhile, the 5 independent polls all bring good news for Democrats - particularly the two from MN-06 that confirm that Bachmann’s comments have endangered her hold on the district. The polls were taken before the DCCC and Tinklenberg’s heavily funded ads had any chance to make an impact, so things could get worse for Bachmann.

Poll watch: Obama remains in command in national and state surveys; tie in Georgia’s Senate race

Barack Obama’s large lead in the latest Newsweek national poll (52% to 41%, up from a tie in mid-September) confirms the current strength of the Democratic nominee, who would win in a landslide if the election were held today. At this point, the McCain campaign is not even close to being competitive - neither in national polls nor in state surveys (McCain trails by big margins today in Florida and Colorado, neither of which he can afford to lose, while Obama continues to crush McCain in Iowa, a state Republicans actually still believe is competitive since McCain keeps traveling there).

This might not be what we have grown used to over the past few cycles, but national polls now look to be much more important than state surveys: McCain will only have a shot at getting a majority in the electoral vote if he substantially improves his national standing, and every day the tracking polls show Obama up double digits is one more wasted day for the GOP.

What is most problematic for the McCain campaign is that Obama’s surge has come first and foremost among registered Democrats. Obama had trouble consistently getting 80% in that group, but surveys (starting with the Newsweek poll) now regularly show him with high levels of party loyalty - Newsweek even finds that 88% of Clinton supporters are now voting for Obama versus only 7% for McCain, a startling change from summer numbers. I have long explained that Obama would be guaranteed victory if he captured the Democratic vote in a year in which Democrats vastly outnumber Republicans, and that is exactly what has happened over the past three weeks because of the financial crisis.

That McCain’s path to salvation requires reversing Obama’s gains among his base rather than among independents and Republicans is just one sign of the difficulty of McCain’s task. And with that, on to the full roundup of the day’s polls:

  • Obama retains his dominant position in the tracking polls, taking his biggest lead ever in Hotline (50% to 40%), ahead 52% to 40% in Research 2000, 50% to 41% in Gallup (-1%), 52% to 45% in Rasmussen (+2%) and 48% to 44% in Zogby (-1%). Zogby remains the tightest of the five due to its partisan weighting, but the trend lines have shown no movement over McCain over the past week. [Update: Zogby's October 13th release is already out, and it shows Obama jumping to a 6% lead, 49% to 43%.]
  • Obama leads 52% to 42% in a PPP poll of Colorado on the strength of getting 71% of the Hispanic vote! He led by 7% three weeks ago.
  • Obama leads 54% to 41% in a SUSA poll of Iowa.
  • McCain leads 62% to 35% in a SUSA poll of Alabama.

Meanwhile, in down-the-ballot polls:

  • A stunning Insider Advantage poll finds Saxby Chambliss and Jim Martin tied at 45% in Georgia’s Senate race.
  • Mark Udall leads 49% to 39% in a PPP poll of Colorado’s Senate race. He led by 8% three weeks ago.
  • Kay Hagan leads 45% to 42% in a Civitas poll of North Carolina’s Senate race. She trailed by 2% three weeks ago.
  • In AZ-03, Research 2000 finds Rep. Shadegg leading 48% to 39% while a DCCC poll finds Democrat Bob Lord ahead 45% to 44%.
  • In WV-02, Research 2000 finds Rep. Capito leading Anne Barth 53% to 39%.
  • In VA-02, Research 2000 has Rep. Drake leading Glenn Nye 51% to 37%.
  • In VA-05, an internal poll for the Perriello campaign finds the Democratic challenger trailing Rep. Goode 48% to 40%.
  • In IN-03, an internal poll for the campaign of Mike Montagano finds GOP Rep. Souder leading 44% to 39%. A month ago, Souder led 50% to 37%.

Senate: All three of the day’s polls bring good news for Democrats, who first and foremost solidify their leading Colorado’s race. Udall has not been able to put the race away, but a 10% lead in mid-October looks far more solid than the same margin in late spring. Hagan, meanwhile, continues to inch ahead of Dole in most polls, and while the situation might not be as catastrophic for Dole as Repubican operatives seem to believe, the incumbent is clearly in big trouble. What is stunning, meanwhile, is to see Chambliss and Martin tied in what is the first poll of the Georgia Senate race to not find Chambliss leading - though a number of surveys over the past two weeks have shown the race dramatically tightening.

House: The polls are far more disappointing on the House side for Democrats, as Research 2000 brought very disappointing news for the DCCC’s efforts to expand the map in WV-02 and VA-02. Both seats are GOP-leaning, and while Drake and Capitlo have been looking relatively safe, Democrats had some hope of contesting both races. Another interesting race is AZ-03, where it is hard to know what to make of the DCCC’s internal numbers. The DCCC’s polls have been finding some suspiciously good results for Democrats over the past few days (an 11% lead for Peters in MI-09?).

Poll watch: Dead heats in Michigan, Florida as NC poll finds second tie ever; Hagan leads

There are now enough polls released every day that it becomes difficult to find a consistent trend out of all the noise. Or perhaps there is no trend to be observed other than the race’s continuing tightness. Of the four Florida and Michigan polls that were released over the past 36 hours, all are well within the margin of error.

That said, both candidates have good news in today’s poll delivery. For McCain, staying so close in Michigan in polls taken during the financial crisis is a testament to how big an opportunity this state continues to be for him. And McCain has leads outside of the MoE in Ohio and Missouri today, though the latter is not such an unqualified blessing: the GOP was hoping to be close to closing the deal by late September, but a 4% margin is not going to dissuade Obama from competing in the Show Me State. And yet another poll finds that McCain can breath easier in North Dakota.

For Obama, staying so close in Florida is a relief given that numerous polls have found McCain gaining since early August. We saw last week that McCain is now spending more than a million dollars a week in the Sunshine State, something the GOP once thought it could avoid. And Obama’s double-digit lead in Iowa confirms that the state’s 7 electoral votes are increasingly solid in his column: This is the third poll in the past two weeks to find Obama leading by double-digit (after SUSA and Selzer & Co). Finally, North Carolina’s PPP poll is only the second ever (after Rasmussen’s April poll) to find a tie. At the very least, this forces the GOP to continue pouring money in the state - something they have been doing this month.

On to the day’s full roundup:

  • The tracking polls are showing a stabilizing race: Obama took a 48% to 47% advantage in Rasmussen yesterday (his first lead in 10 days) and maintained it today; Research 2000 found Obama up 8% yesterday, and up 7% (49-42) today. Diego Hotline has Obama leading 45% to 44% for the third straight day, and Gallup showed Obama increasing his lead to 6% yesterday (hitting 50 for only the second time ever) but back down to a 49% to 45% advantage today.
  • Obama leads 43% to 42% in an EPIC-MRA poll of Michigan. Obama led by 2% in July and August. When respondents are presented with a full-ticket match-up, Obama leads 45% to 42%. The poll was conducted Sunday through Wednesday.
  • Obama leads 48% to 46% in an ARG poll of Michigan. He leads among independents but is relatively weak among Democrats.
  • McCain leads 47% to 45% in a Miami Herald poll of Florida. It was conducted Sunday through Wednesday. Obama has a 9% edge on the economy. McCain gets 17% of former Clinton supporters.
  • McCain leads 48% to 42% in a Ohio News Organization of Ohio. The poll is somewhat dated - it was taken the 12th to the 16th. 19% of independents are undecided.
  • The candidates are tied at 46% in PPPs poll from North Carolina. Bob Barr gets 5%. Only once before had there been a tie in North Carolina (Rasmussen’s April survey). 58% of respondents rate the economy as their biggest concern. The poll was conducted from the 17th to the 19th.
  • Obama leads 53% to 39% in a Research 2000 poll of Iowa. Obama leads by 18% among independents.
  • McCain leads 49% to 45% in a Research 2000 poll of Missouri. In the July poll, Obama led by 5% - but that was somewhat of an outlier.
  • McCain leads 53% to 40% in a Research 2000 poll of North Dakota. He led by only 3% in July.
  • Obama leads only 50% to 46% in a Rasmussen poll of Maine. There is no breakdown by district, but if Obama cannot win statewide by a larger margin he would be in danger of losing the first district’s EV.
  • McCain leads 51% to 45% in a Rasmussen poll of South Carolina, a surprisingly close result.
  • Obama leads 54% to 43% in an ARG poll of Connecticut.
  • Obama leads 54% to 39% in an ARG poll of Maryland.
  • McCain leads 59% to 36% in an ARG poll of Tennessee. Obama gets 27% of the white vote.

Meanwhile, in down-the-ballot polls:

  • Kay Hagan leads Elizabeth Dole 46% to 41% in PPPs poll of North Carolina’s Senate race. She led by 1% last week.
  • Chris Shays and Jim Himes are tied at 45% in an internal poll for the Himes campaign in CT-04.
  • Sam Graves leads Kay Barnes 51% to 42% in a SUSA poll of MO-06.
  • Jim Risch leads Larry LaRocco 56% to 33% in a Research 2000 poll of Idaho’s Senate race, a clear improvement over his 10% lead in July.
  • Lindsay Graham leads 50% to 41% in a Rasmussen poll of South Carolina’s Senate race. This was accompanied by an improbably tight presidential survey, so take the tightness here with a grain of salt as well.

This is the second time Hagan is posting a 5% lead, testifying to how unpredictable that Senate race has become given that other surveys are still showing Dole ahead. This is a race in which the presidential coattails will play a crucial factor. It’s unlikely Hagan can win if McCain wins in a blowout, but she would look very strong if Obama is within 2-3% of McCain.

Today’s polls also find more worrisome news for down-the-ballot Democrats, starting with Graves’ expanding his lead in MO-06, in what is one of the Democrats’ most coveted seats. We have seen this trend for a few weeks now: Democrats are not improving their position in the second-and-third tier races, the ones that would transform a strong congressional night into an amazing one.

Poll watch: Obama leads in IA, PA, MI while IN remains very tight; Dems lead in AK-AL and CO-04

Another day of strong polling results for Obama - this time at the state level. SUSA confirms that the Illinois Senator can feel more confident about Iowa than about many Kerry states, Marist finds larger leads than we have seen lately for Obama in the crucial states of Michigan and Pennsylvania (two states that are quasi-must wins for Obama) and two surveys from Indiana find the race within the margin of error. Who knew the Hoosier State would be polled so much?

What is fascinating about the Marist polls is that the surveys were taken over the week-end (thus before the financial crisis exploded) in Ohio and Pennsylvania, and at the beginning of this week in Michigan. The share of voters who say that they are most concerned about the economy is far greater in the Michigan poll (51%), which explains why Obama has such a large lead and confirms that the dominance of economic issues this week is helping fuel Obama’s comeback. Here’s the full roundup of today’s polls:

  • First, the trackings, where the movement is less uniform than it was yesterday: Obama gains one in Research 2000 (leads 49% to 42%) and in Gallup (leads 49% to 44%). Rasmussen doesn’t move (tied at 48%) and McCain gains 3% in Diego Hotline (but still trails 45% to 44%).
  • Obama leads 47% to 45% in a Marist poll of Ohio. The two are tied among registered voters. Those who say that the economy is the most important issue for them vote Obama by 14%. Obama gets 90% of Democrats. This poll was taken Thursday through Sunday.
  • Obama leads 49% to 44% in a Marist poll of Pennsylvania. The margin is 3% among registered voters. Obama gets 87% of Democrats and leads among independents. This poll was taken Thursday through Sunday.
  • Obama leads 52% to 43% in a Marist poll of Michigan. The margin is the same among registered voters. Obama gets 92% of Democrats, leads by 14% among those who say the economy is the most pressing issue. This poll was taken Tuesday and Wednesday, after the Wall Street collapse.
  • McCain leads 49% to 47% in a Rasmussen poll of Indiana. He led by 6% in August.
  • McCain leads 47% to 44% in an ARG poll of Indiana.
  • Obama leads 54% to 43% in a SUSA poll of Iowa. He gets 89% of Democrats and leads by 11% among independents. Among voters who are sure of their vote, he leads by 15%.
  • McCain leads 53% to 42% in an ARG poll of North Dakota.
  • Obama leads 50% to 44% in an ARG poll of Washington.
  • McCain leads Obama 64% to 31% in a SUSA poll of Alabama.
  • McCain leads 61% to 34% in an ARG poll of Oklahoma.

There is good news for McCain as well in this batch of surveys, most notably his strong margin in North Dakota (a state Obama has been contesting). A Rasmussen poll last week had found McCain jumping to a strong lead there after struggling through the summer. Republicans will also be satisfied to see that Obama is struggling in yet another poll from Washington - confirming that the Northwestern state is far less safe than people thought a few weeks ago.

Meanwhile, in down-ballot:

  • Betsy Markey leads Rep. Marilyn Musgrave 47% to 38% in a Grove Insight poll for Emily’s List of CO-04.
  • Andy Harris and Frank Kratovil are tied at 36% in a DCCC poll of MD-01.
  • Mark Begich leads Ted Stevens 50% to 44% in a Research 2000 poll of Alaska’s Senate race.
  • Susan Collins leads 55% to 42% in a Rasmussen poll of Maine’s Senate race.
  • Mitch Daniels leads Long Thompson 56% to 40% in a Rasmussen poll of Indiana’s gubernatorial race.
  • Daniels leads Long Thompson 46% to 42% in a Selzer poll of that same race.
  • Dino Rossi inches ahead 48% to 47% against Gregoire in a Strategic Vision poll of Washington’s gubernatorial race.
  • Lautenberg leads 49% to 42% in a Rasmussen poll of New Jersey’s Senate race.
  • Chambliss leads 52% to 33% in an internal poll conducted for his campaign in Georgia’s Senate race.
  • Inhofe leads 55% to 39% in a Rasmussen poll of Oklahoma’s Senate race.

The House races bring some excellent news for Democrats. Musgrave and Young are among the most vulnerable Republican incumbents, and those are not isolated polls. The CO-04 survey, for instance, confirms what SUSA found a few weeks ago. Democrats have been trying to kick Musgrave out for a few cycles, and it looks like this could be their year. As for MD-01, it has a very high percentage of undecideds, and in a heavily conservative district they are more likely to vote Republican. But it remains remarkable that Democrats are competitive in a district the GOP should be safe in.

As for the Senate races, Democrats will be satisfied that Begich is holding on to a lead, though the race is undoutedly much tighter than they would like it to be. There isn’t much else for the DSCC to get excited about here. Tom Allen, Bruce Lunsford, Jim Inhofe and Jim Martin are making little to no inroads in their respective Senate races, making it increasingly unlikely that Democrats will be able to contest more than the 9 races they have already put in play.

Morning polls: ARG releases wave of state surveys, PPP polls Virginia

American Research Group just released an unusually large collection of state polls. Though some of the most competitive battlegrounds (FL, PA, MI, NH, VA) are missing, this certainly gives us a good idea of the field of play heading in the final run. Overall, more swing states favor McCain (he narrowly leads in Colorado and Nevada, more comfortably in Ohio and by double-digits in North Carolina), but most numbers are well within the margin of error and Obama gets some good results as well (he leads in New Mexico and is very competitive in both Montana and West Virginia).

First, some other presidential polls that have been released since last night - including a new poll from Virginia:

  • Obama leads 47% to 45% in a national poll released this morning by Reuters/Zogby. This is a 7% shift in his favor since the August poll. The poll was taken from Thursday through Saturday. Both candidates get 89% of their party’s vote.
  • There is a tie at 45% in another national poll, released by AP Ipsos. The poll was taken Thursday through Monday and is a one point gain for Obama since last week’s survey that found McCain up 1.
  • Obama leads 48% to 46% in a PPP poll from Virginia. This is the 4th PPP poll in a row to find Obama leading by 2%. Obama gets 91% of Democrats but trails among independents by 17%.
  • Obama leads McCain 52% to 36% in a Field poll of California. Sarah Palin’s favorability rating is by far the worst of the four candidates.
  • Obama leads 55% to 42% in a Rasmussen poll of New York. McCain had 32% in August and 28% in July.

No surprises, nor anything particularly stunning in those surveys, though they confirm that the race has moved back to a dead heat nationally. Democrats will also be reassured by PPP’s Virginia poll, as McCain seems to have gained ground in other swing states (PA, OH, MN) but not Virginia. Now, on to ARG’s polls, starting with those from competitive states. All polls have a margin of error of 4%, and they have not all been taken at the same time:

  • McCain leads 50% to 44% in Ohio. The poll was taken the 10th to the 13th. Obama only gets 79% of the Democratic vote. (The partisan breakdown is much more Republican than most polls that have been released of late; SUSA’s poll last week had a 9% edge for Democrats but this one is equal.)
  • McCain leads 46% to 44% in Colorado. The poll was also taken the 10th to the 13th. There are more Republicans than Democrats, and Obama leads by 14% among Democrats.
  • McCain leads 49% to 46% in Nevada. Here again, more Republicans are polled than Democrats but Obama leads among independents. The poll was taken over the week-end.
  • Obama leads 51% to 44% in New Mexico. Democrats make up 51% of the sample (40% in 2004) and Obama leads among independents.
  • McCain leads 49% to 47% in Montana. Ron Paul was not included, and neither were Barr and Nader in a state in which third party candidates could make a difference. The poll was conducted early, the 7th to the 9th.
  • McCain leads 49% to 45% in West Virginia.
  • McCain leads 52% to 41% in North Carolina, a disappointing result for Obama who only gets 25% among white voters. The poll was conducted over this week-end.
  • McCain leads 50% to 45% in Missouri. The poll was conducted Thursday through Monday.
  • Obama leads 51% to 41% in Maine.
  • McCain leads 58% to 36% in Alabama, 55% to 39% in Alaska, 56% to 39% in Arizona, 68% to 25% in Idaho, 63% to 31% in Kansas, 57% to 37% in Kentucky, 50% to 43% in Louisiana, 57% to 36% in Texas, 65% to 29% in Utah and 66% to 28% in Wyoming.
  • Obama leads 82% to 13% in DC, 51% to 40% in Delaware, 63% to 32% in Hawaii, 51% to 45% in Illinois, 55% to 38% in New York, 59% to 33% in Rhode Island.

It is remarkable how few surprises there are in these polls, with most results - including those in Ohio, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico - tracking the average of recent polls from these states. Colorado and Nevada confirm that they are among the ultimate toss-ups of this year’s contest. The least expected results are surely those from West Virginia (this is the second poll in a row to find a competitive race), Illinois (does anything think Obama has something to fear there) and North Carolina, where pollsters seem unable to find a coherent model and where numbers are all over the place - from a 2% race to a 20% race.

Obama will also be reassured by the Montana poll, as the only recent survey we had seen (from Rasmussen) had McCain surging to a lead in the aftermath of the convention. The question facing his campaign now is whether to invest in West Virginia, a state that had long been ruled out for Obama because of his problems in Appalachia. There have been rumblings of that as of late, but no sign for now that Democrats will move in there. [Update, and partial correction: As Ben points out in the comments section, Obama ads are running in many of the state's markets because of overlap with advertising in neighboring states. The same is true for McCain in New Jersey.]

Poll roundup: 4th tracking poll, 15 state surveys show highly competitive electoral college

A few months ago, both candidates were talking about radically transforming the electoral map. Georgia, Mississippi, New Jersey and Connecticut were going to be put in play, rendering any comparisons to the 2004 numbers meaningless. But two months from Election Day, polling results are fairly in line with the red/blue state divide. Of the 11 states polled yesterday, Obama leads in every one won by Kerry and McCain leads in every one won by Bush ‘04.

The situation is not as dramatic today - Obama led by 5% in Ohio this morning’s Quinnipiac poll - but the GOP’s convention bounce looks to have helped McCain a great deal in red states that Democrats were eying, perhaps too optimistically. After Montana and North Dakota over the past two days, it is Georgia that now looks completely out of reach. But one exception is North Carolina: SUSA found McCain gaining two days ago, but since then four polls have found contrasting results. Today alone, one has found Obama gaining and one has found McCain opening a big lead.

In states that are more obvious battlegrounds, there hasn’t been much movement - suggesting most of McCain’s bounce is coming from red states. But polls from the most crucial swing states are starting to look all over the place - and that’s the surest sign that the race is a toss-up that either candidate could win. Democrats should not panic, nor should they dismiss this tightening. McCain has not taken a lead in the electoral college, but he now looks to be definitely in the race, to an extent few would have predicted a few months ago:

  • First, the trackings: In Rasmussen, the race is back to a tie (Obama led by 1% yesterday); in Gallup, McCain loses one point but stays ahead 48% to 44%; in Diego Hotline, McCain seizes a lead, 46% to 44%.
  • And there is now a fourth tracking poll. Conducted by Research 2000, it finds Obama ahead 47% to 45% with 2% each for Nader and Barr. The poll is sponsored by Daily Kos, but that does not mean it is biased: R2000 is an independent pollster. Just scroll down to the results it found in Kos-sponsored polls of ME-Sen and NC-Pres today: they are very favorable to the GOP.
  • McCain leads 48% to 46% in another national poll, conducted by Democracy Corps. That’s a 7% bounce for the Arizona Senator.
  • McCain leads 50% to 42% in an Insider Advantage poll from Florida (polling history). Obama is weak among registered Democrats. One relief for him: He can expect higher support among blacks than this poll finds.
  • McCain leads 48% to 47% in an Insider Advantage poll of Ohio, but Obama only has 48% of the black vote. I am not one to throw a poll out because of a problem with one internal, but given that African-Americans make up about 10% of the electorate and that Obama should get at the very least 80% of that vote, this survey has an obvious problem. McCain leads by 17% among independents.
  • McCain leads 45% to 44% in an Insider Advantage poll of Michigan. McCain leads by 18% among independents.
  • McCain leads 47% to 44% in a Civitas poll from North Carolina (polling history). Without leaners, McCain is only ahead by 1%. McCain was ahead by 6% in the August survey. 19% of the sample is black, about where it was in 2004 - that’s the number that could put Obama over the top if he can boost it to 22-23%.
  • McCain leads 55% to 38% in a Research 2000 poll of North Carolina. He led by 4% in late July.
  • Obama leads 47% to 46% in a PPP poll from Colorado (polling history). He led by 4% in August and his lead survives thanks to a large advantage among Hispanics.
  • Obama leads 49% to 46% in an Insider Advantage poll from Colorado.
  • McCain leads 56% to 38% in an Insider Advantage poll from Georgia. That’s his largest lead ever from this state.
  • McCain leads 52% to 39% in another poll from Georgia, released by Strategic Vision.
  • McCain leads 55% to 35% in a Capital Survey Research Center poll from Alabama.
  • McCain leads 52% to 39% in a Research 2000 poll from Mississippi. Obama gets 14% of the black vote.
  • Obama leads 52% to 38% in a Research 2000 poll from Maine. There is no breakdown by district.
  • McCain leads 58% to 39% in a Rasmussen poll from Wyoming. Bush won by 20% more, and what coattails McCain has could be important in the House race.

To recap the most important findings: Q-pac’s Ohio survey finding Obama gaining is contradicted by two afternoon polls (though one of which finds Obama at a ridiculously low 48% of the black vote, and he would have been in the lead otherwise). Insider Advantage released the first poll from Michigan that shows McCain leading by any margin for months now, but Rasmussen shows Obama gaining and leading outside of the margin of error - just like CNN found yesterday. And Obama leads in two Colorado surveys, though the margins are tight.

As a group, this round of poll looks slightly better for McCain, who is putting Georgia away, surviving in Florida, essentially tying in Colorado and even taking the lead in one Michigan survey. But this also underscores that Obama has many more combinations to reach 269. If he saves Michigan and Pennsylvania (and he looks better in those than McCain does in a number of red states), McCain will be forced to play defense and save a large number of vulnerable red states.

Meanwhile, in down-the-ballot races:

  • In Mississippi’s Senate race, Research 2000 finds Senator Wicker leading Ronnie Musgrove 48% to 43%. That’s a 4% improvement for Wicker since July. 18% of blacks are undecided, versus only 4% of whites, so there is more of a reserve for Musgrove - but if that is because these respondents are not sure who the Democrat is, they will not be helped by the ballot since it will not list any partisan identification.
  • In the North Carolina Senate race, Research 2000 finds the race tightening since late July but Dole remaining on top, 48% to 42%.
  • In the gubernatorial race, Research 2000 finds Pat McCrory leading Beverly Perdue 47% to 42%. That’s a similar result as SUSA’s poll.
  • In Maine’s Senate race, Tom Allen is making no inroads whatsoever according to Research 2000. He trails 57% to 36% against Senator Collins.
  • In the Idaho Senate race, Jim Risch has a large lead in Rasmussen’s first poll of the race, 58% to 30%. The poll does not include conservative independent candidate Rammell about whom the GOP is reportedly worried.
  • A poll of MN-02 conducted for the Alliance for a Better Minnesota finds GOP Rep. Kline leading challenger Steve Starvi 37% to 33%. But take the poll with a grain of salt, as it also finds Obama leading McCain by 11% in a district McCain carried by 9%. (The poll was taken at the end of August.)

No surprises in Maine’s and Idaho’s Senate race, though it would be more interesting to see whether Rammell is gaining any traction in the latter. The MS race is of course the most interesting, and Democrats definitely still look to be in striking range. But it is undeniable that Wicker is in a better position than he was a few months ago. More analysis about this race in this post I wrote yesterday and in my upcoming Senate rankings.

As for North Carolina, there is a very interesting divide between pollsters at the moment. On the one side, there is Research 2000 and SUSA, on the other PPP and Bev. Perdue’s pollster (both Democratic firms) and Civitas (a Republican firm). They are finding diverging results in all three statewide races.

Thursday polls: Tight races in Oregon and Wisconsin, Dem incumbent in trouble in PA-11

Tomorrow is the opening ceremony of the Olympics and the start of Barack Obama’s vacation. The electorate’s attention will be further diluted during the next two weeks, making it unlikely that anything but the vice-presidential picks will change the race’s dynamics. But consider how little poll numbers have changed since Obama became the presumptive nominee at the beginning of June. A lot has happened - including massive, expensive and often negative media buys - but neither the national nor the state polls have changed much.

The tracking polls make that the most obvious; despite a few bounces here and there (particularly in the 2-3 days after Obama’s international trip), the numbers have hovered in the same area and they are staying around that average again today, with Obama up 3% in Gallup and 1% in Rasmussen. And two of the three main state polls released today have the exact same margins as the polling group’s previous surveys from those states:

  • In Oregon, SUSA has Obama leading by the same margin he was in June - 48% to 45%. Those who have already made up their mind favor Obama by 6%.
  • In Wisconsin, a WPR poll also finds the same exact margin it did in its previous poll, with Obama leading by 6% - 44% to 38%.
  • Also in Wisconsin, Rasmussen shows an even tighter race, with Obama ahead 47% to 43%. With leaners, however, Obama leads 51% to 44%. He led by 11% last month (10% with leaners). The two candidates have a comparable favorability rating (53% for Obama, 56% for McCain).
  • In New York, Rasmussen finds Obama leading 55% to 36% (60% to 29% in late June) while Quinnipiac shows the race at 57% to 36% (50% to 36% in June).
  • No surprise in Alabama either, as Capital Survey Research Center has McCain leading 47% to 34%.
  • In Massachusetts, Rasmussen shows Obama leading 51% to 36% - the midpoint between his June and July numbers.

Obama’s margins in Oregon and Wisconsin (polling history) have typically been larger in past surveys - though two of the polling groups had the same numbers last time they polled here (and trendlines are often the most important indicator). McCain (who looked committed to contesting coastal states both in the Northwest and in the Northeast) has not included Oregon in the 11 states in which it is airing ads - and neither is Obama, underscoring neither campaign believes Oregon will be that close.

Wisconsin, however, is on the ad list of both campaigns. All polls released from June 5th to today have an Obama lead of at least 9%, making both of today’s polls tighter than we have been seeing. The GOP might hope it gets some good regional press out of the St. Paul convention, and after all the state was among the closest in the past two elections, making it difficult to imagine a rout. Wisconsin is rated lean Obama in my electoral college ratings, and McCain is expected to keep up the pressure here.

Down-the-ballot, we get one interesting poll - albeit an internal one:

  • In PA-11, Republican Lou Barletta releases his second internal poll in two months and is ahead of Democratic incumbent Paul Kanjorski 45% to 41%. (The poll last month had Barletta up 47% to 42%.)
  • In the uncompetitive Massachusetts Senate race, John Kerry crushes his challenger 56% to 29% - 59% to 32% with leaners - in Rasmussen’s latest poll.

PA-11 has emerged as one of the Republican’s best opportunities, despite being on few people’s radar screen just a few months ago. Kanjorski defeated Barletta in 2002, but the Republican attracted a lot of attention in the past few years for staunchly anti-immigration positions. Overall, it looks like Kanjorski fell in the trap of so many Republican representatives who unexpectedly fell in 2006 - he was lulled in a false sense of security and did not work his district as vulnerable incumbents should. Sure, both polls from the race were internal surveys for the Barletta campaign but Kanjorski has not released a poll of his own - which says a lot.

Last month, the DCCC launched an ad in this district. (In fact, it was the DCCC’s first ad for any of the November races.) In a district that narrowly voted for Kerry in 2006, the ad hit Barletta’s association with George Bush: “Barletta supported George Bush’s failed economic policies. Barletta even helped lead Bush’s campaign in Pennsylvania. And both have supported privatizing Social Security, putting our retirement at risk.” It is likely that the DCCC took the decision to rush to Kanjorski’s rescue after some of their own internal polls showed him to be in trouble.

Wednesday polls: Tight numbers from Missouri, New Jersey and NM-01

In my most recent presidential ratings, I moved Missouri from the toss-up to the lean McCain column to suggest that the GOP has a slight edge here though the Show Me State remains very competitive. Today, two polls found a slight edge for John McCain:

  • In Rasmussen’s poll, McCain recovers from a 1% deficit in early June to take a 47% to 42% lead — the same trend as in SUSA’s last poll.
  • McCain’s favorability rating is much stronger than Obama’s: 58-43 versus 50-49.
  • In PPP (which is becoming quite a prolific pollster), McCain is leading 49% to 46%.

Two other presidential polls were released today:

  • In New Jersey, Rasmussen finds the race tightening a bit since the June poll. Obama now leads 44% to 39%. Here again, McCain’s favorability rating is stronger — and he only has 38% unfovarability rating!
  • In Alabama, a new survey finds McCain leading by 13%, 49% to 36%. While comfortable, this is still half of the margin Bush won by in 2004.

Whatever New Jersey polls say, and even if McCain trails by as small a margin as he leads by in Missouri, it is almost certain that the latter will be hotly contested and that the former will not be a particularly hot battleground state. The GOP wasted millions in New Jersey in 04 and 06, and, despite McCain’s belief that he can appeal to independent voters, his campaign is unlikely to go in the state’s expensive media markets unless it has some very credible evidence that it is worth the effort. Also, consider that Obama often leads by much higher margins in the Garden State (a poll found him up by 16% just last week), whereas Missouri is almost always close.

Moving on to down-the-ballot races, a number of interesting polls were released:

  • In New Jersey, Rasmussen finds Sen. Lautenberg leading his Republican challenger 49% to 36%. Just last month Rasmussen shocked us by finding the margin down to 1% — though that appeared to be an outlier.
  • In Missouri, a number of polls had found Jay Nixon with a big lead over his competitors. Two polls out today suggest the margin is smaller than expected. For Rasmussen, Nixon leads Rep. Kenny Hulshof 49% to 38% and state Treasurer Sarah Steelman 46% to 37%. He led by more than 20% last month.
  • PPP’s survey finds even tighter margins, 10% and 5%.
  • Finally, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research released an internal poll for the Heinrich campaign in NM-01, one of the hottest House races of the cycle. It shows Martin Heinrich leading Darren White 47% to 44% — within the poll’s margin of error.

As Missouri’s gubernatorial primary approaches, the two Republican candidates have been airing ads and increasing their campaigning rhythm, so it is not surprising to see them reduce the gap. That they are still trailing by such a large margin is a bad sign for their chances to keep the gubernatorial mansion.

As for NM-01, it was one of the Democrats’ biggest heartbreaks in 2006 when Rep. Heather Wilson barely survived. But Wilson’s political career has since then ended, as the Republican congresswoman relinquished her Dem-leaning seat to run for Senate… and lost the primary last month. White is as strong a candidate the GOP could have found in the district, and that might have been enough in most cycles. But in a wave election like 2008 is shaping to be, it is hard for even the strongest candidates to overcome their district’s fundamentals.

Monday polls: McCain still ahead in Florida but loses Virginia

The day’s most significant presidential polls came from two red state targeted by Barack Obama. And as has been the norm for the past few months, Virginia continues to look like a better pick-up opportunity for the Democratic candidate than the good old swing state of Florida:

  • Rasmussen released its second Florida poll in 8 days and finds little change, with McCain ahead 48% to 41%. He led by 8% two weeks ago.
  • The favorabiliry ratings tell a worse story for Obama, as his favorability rating is down at 44% (57% for McCain) — with 40% viewing him very unfavorably (versus 18% for McCain)!
  • In Virginia, however, Obama is ahead 49% to 47% in the latest SUSA poll. That is actually a 7% drop from the May poll - but it conforms to the most recent polls from PPP and Rasmussen.
  • Obama’s lead is sustained by the partisan breakdown: 43% to 31% in favor of Democrats, a 17% swing compared to the 2004 exit polls (39% GOP-35% Dem).

SUSA’s swing in partisan breakdown is sometimes bigger than other groups find, though it does conform to the latest Newsweek or LA Times polls and it matches expectations as to the electorate’s transformations in the past four years, so that it remains a credible finding. However, I am not sure what to think of Rasmussen showing such astronomically high “very unfavorable” ratings in so many states. Other polls have not shown such a large discrepancy in the two candidates’ favorability rating.

Besides this methodological note, neither of these polls is surprising. Despite two unexpected surveys two weeks ago showing Obama gaining in Florida, most of the polls taken in the Sunshine state have shown that this is a rare swing state in which McCain seems more secure than Bush was in 2004 and 2000. On the other hand, poll after poll confirms that Virginia is at the top of Obama’s pick-up list. McCain will need to flex his military muscle with the state’s veteran population to overcome the rapid Democratic gains in NoVa, and his road would be tougher if Obama selects one of the Virginia boys (Webb, Warner, Kaine) as his running-mate.

Three other polls were released from safer states:

  • In Alabama, Rasmussen finds McCain losing ground but still comfortably ahead, 51% to 36% (he led by 28% last month).
  • Here again, Obama has a strikingly high “very unfavorable” number (37%) — though this is more expected given the state’s racial polarization. His favorabily rating is 40%, whereas 67% have a favorable view of McCain.
  • In Massachusetts, SUSA released its first poll finding Obama ahead (finally) by double-digits. He was ahead by 5% in the last poll, but now leads 53% to 40%.
  • This comes entirely from the partisan breakdown (40% dem, 17% GOP), but Obama remains weak among his party: 76%.
  • Finally, Obama has not yet put Georgia in play but the state is at the threshold of competitivity: McCain maintains a 10% lead in Rasmussen’s latest poll (53% to 43%), just like last month.
  • McCain maintains an edge in favorability: 60% versus 47% for Obama (and 34% very unfavorable).

Longtime readers of this blog know I have long been puzzled by Obama’s numbers in Massachusetts, where numerous polling instutes showed him struggling and polling significantly weaker numbers than Clinton. But no poll was more severe for Obama than SUSA’s, as survey after survey showed him in a toss-up with McCain in what is arguably the most Democratic state in the country. A few polls have shown Obama creating some distance here, and while 13% remains strangely small in such a blue state, it is certainly an improvement. It remains difficult to imagine how Massachusetts could be anywhere near the list of competitive states in the fall, but we will keep an eye on poll trendlines.

Finally, two Senate polls were released by Rasmussen confirming what we already know — Alabma and Georgia are unlikely to join the list of competitive races:

  • In Georgia, Saxby Chambliss leads his 5 opponents by margins ranging from 13% (against Jim Martin) to 27%. He is above 50% in all match-ups.
  • In Alabama, Sen. Sessions leads Vivan Figures 58% to 34% — an improvement of 9% by the Democrat but this remains a third-to-fourth tier race.

Note that Democrats were really interested to challenging Chambliss after the nastiness of the 2002 race, but a strong challenger never emerged. 

Poll roundup: Will there be a bouce?

As I explained two days ago, I am skeptical of arguments that securing the nomination will automatically resolve Barack Obama’s problems with the registered Democratic vote, but that does not mean that the Illinois Senator will not enjoy a substantial bounce in the coming days and weeks. We will then have to see how the bounce lasts and whether it gets Obama to his full potential. For now, use these polls — some of which are very interesting on their own right — as markers of where the campaign lied as of early June.

Keep in mind also that any bounce Obama will get will come from (1) the Democratic Party uniting and (2) the boost that any candidate derives from victory. I don’t buy the argument that McCain has been campaigning for the general election for months but Obama hasn’t and that he will therefore improve his percentages. He will certainly improve his general election organization, turnout efforts and registration drive, but that has little to do with poll numbers for now. If anything, McCain has been out of the spotlight and struggling to attract any attention since mid-February, whereas Obama has been airing dozens of ads in key swing states worth millions of dollars. He was campaigning against Clinton, sure, but many of these spots were meant to introduce himself to voters and having already aired those will be useful in the general election as well.

First, the latest NYT/CBS poll and USA Today/Gallup will be widely discussed because of their strong reputation:

  • In the field from May 30th to June 3rd, the CBS/NYT poll did not register any effect Tuesday night might have had. Obama is leading McCain 48% to 42%.
  • As for favorability ratings, both candidates have a lot of neutral respondents — much more than usual. Obama’s rating stands at a strong 41-31, while McCain is much weaker, 34-37.
  • In the USA/Today Gallup poll, Obama is leading 46% to 43%. Clinton fares better in what is probably the last national poll in which she will be included, trailing 49% to 43%.

Republicans have long been worried that Obama might open up a double-digit lead nationally once he wraps up the nomination. If that is correct, the fact that he already leads by mid-single digits should worry the GOP. But Republicans are also more hopeful about the state-by-state situation and their chances in the electoral college. As my first ratings yesterday afternoon showed, that race is a toss-up, with McCain ahead by a slight 227 to 207 electoral votes. A few polls all released by SUSA on Tuesday give us a better sense of the situation in those states (these polls were taken to test VP match-ups which I will not report fully since I do not find interesting at all; most match-ups only test name recognition):

  • In New York, Obama leads McCain 48% to 38%, with only 66% of registered Democrats. This is the same margin Obama has enjoyed for two months now, and it is naturally too close for comfort in one of the Democrats’ strongest states nationally.
  • Depending on the VP match-ups, the range goes from +1 Obama (if McCain picks Romney and Obama picks Hagel) to +20 Obama.
  • In Massachusetts, Obama continues to look stunningly weak as he barely distances McCain 46% to 41%, with the support of 65% of registered Democrats.
  • Depending on the VP match-ups, the range goes from +1 Obama (once again if he picks Hagel) to +16 Obama. Huckabee fares a bit better than Mitt Romney, the state’s former Governor.
  • In Missouri, Obama edges out McCain 45% to 43% with 74% of registered Democrats.
  • Depending on VP match-ups, the range goes from +11 McCain to +11 Obama. Only Edwards improves Obama’s vote total, but that is entirely a factor of name recognition.
  • In Iowa, Obama is leading 47% to 38%. He has been ahead in every single one of the 10 polls SUSA has taken starting in February 2007, most of them by substantial margins.
  • Finally, an Alabama poll confirms this state will not be paid attention to in the general election. McCain crushes Obama 57% to 34%, as the Illinois Senator only gets 19% of the white vote.

The Massachusetts poll confirms my rating of Massachusetts as only “likely Obama” despite the state’s reputation as the country’s most staunchly Democratic. It is difficult to explain why this is the one state in which Obama’s weakness is so consistent. Rasmussen’s survey last week found Obama up 13% but that paled in comparison to previous cycles and to Clinton’s 30% lead in the same poll. As for Iowa, this poll confirms that this is the one 2004 Bush state that is already leaning towards Democrats, not to mention how strong Obama’s organization in the state ever since the caucus campaign. Finally, Missouri is a good surprise for Obama as it is a state I have rated “lean McCain.” Most other polls taken in the past few weeks show the Arizona Senator ahead in that state and it remains to be seen how strongly Obama will push there.

Another observation about these polls is the increase in the percentage of undecideds. The trendline in most of them shows a decrease in the totals of both McCain and Obama, which is not necessarily what we would be expecting after months of campaigning.

Finally, one last poll for the day concerns the North Carolina Senate race. It is an internal poll taken by Anzalone Liszt Research for the Hagan campaign and it was in the field mid-May, at the time other polls showed very narrow Dole advantages and before the Republican incumbent started airing ads of her own: In this survey, Dole leads 48% to 44%. Since then, a poll taken more recently showed her slightly expanding her lead, a possible consequence of the advertising blitz. But since I am still the phase of slight surprise at every survey that shows that yes, indeed, Dole is vulnerable, this poll is certainly useful.

Thursday poll: The Michigan question, continued, and Mississippi’s racial puzzle

A number of state polls were released today, none more important than EPIC-MRA’s Michigan poll. EPIC is the state’s best pollster, and its numbers confirm the analysis I wrote 24 hours ago of the “Michigan question.” No matter how unlikely a development given how hard the economic crisis has hit in Michigan, it does look like the state has joined Ohio and Pennsylvania as the holy trio of this year’s battleground states:

  • This poll shows McCain narrowly ahead of Obama 44% to 40%. He is largely leading among independents, 41% to 28%.
  • However, in a match-up between an Obama/Clinton ticket and a McCain/Romney ticket, the Democrats shoot up to lead 51% to 44%.

There is nothing in these polls that suggests that Democrats are in terrible trouble in Michigan, but it is hard to deny that, considering the strong numbers Obama is posting in states like Minnesota, Colorado, Iowa, Missouri, Oregon and Washington, Democrats were allowed to expect better results out of Michigan.

The second important poll of the day is a national survey by Pew, whose polls are always noteworthy because of the detailed crosstabs and analysis that the institute provides:

  • Clinton is ahead of McCain 48% to 44%, while Obama leads 47% to 44%, down from a 6% lead last month and a 7% lead in February. Obama and McCain are tied among independents, though the former led by 9% last month.
  • Also, 44% say that McCain would continue Bush’s policies, versus 45% who say that he will not. Obama is viewed as more capable on the economy, while the two are within the margin of error on Iraq.

Obama continues to enjoy a very small edge in most national polls, but the election clearly remains a toss-up at this point. It is had to determine who should be the most relieved: Obama that he has survived such a tough primary and weeks of bad press on Wright and Ayers while still looking competitive, or McCain for being largely ignored by the media since February and for running in such an awful year for his party but still looking like he has a road to win.

A series of other polls was released from states that are less central to the fall campaign:

  • In Kansas, SUSA found McCain leading 49% to 39%, which is actually a very respectable showing for Obama in a staunchly red state. SUSA also tried some VP match-ups, but Governor Sibelius does not particularly help Obama. The closest he gets is a 2% loss if McCain chooses Pawlenty and he chooses Edwards.
  • In New York, Rasmussen finds both Democrats crushing McCain, though Obama’s margin is a bit inferior to Clinton’s. He leads 52% to 33% while she trounces McCain 59% to 29%. Obama’s favorability raitng (64%) is superior to Clinton’s (55%) and McCain’s (44%).
  • No surprises in Alabama, where Rasmussen finds McCain leading Clinton 54% to 34% and Obama 60% to 32%.
  • Finally, a last Rasmussen poll from Mississippi finds surprisingly tight results: McCain is ahead of Clinton 48% to 38% and leads Obama 50% to 44%. McCain’s favorability rating (55%) is superior to Clinton’s (33%) and Obama’s (44%).

Mississippi is a state some Democrats murmur could be competitive in the fall, though it is hard to see where Obama would get the remaining 6%. Mississippi’s vote is among the country’s most racially polarized, and it should be so even more with a black candidate on the ballot. Obama will need a humongous surge in turnout among black voters (which would not just mean for African-Americans to vote at their level of the population, but for black turnout to be superior to white turnout) and he will also need to poll somewhat better among white voters than past Democratic candidates.

This is a tall order for Obama in any Southern states, but if it looks like he is on the path to making numbers move and results tighten in Mississippi, it could mean that he is in much better shape than expected in other states with a very large black population, especially Georgia and South Carolina. Both states are still safely in the McCain column, but the Obama campaign is planning massive registration efforts and we will soon be able to better assess whether there is any chance that numbers move in the Deep South.



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