Archive for the 'AR-Pres' Category

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.

Poll watch: Obama dominates in Colorado, varying fortunes for GOP incumbents in long-shot districts

Another day, and another round of polls show no sign of tightening. In fact, there is nothing in today’s release for McCain supporters to grasp as a potential sign of hope. In the national polls, it is Newsweek’s turn to find Obama leading by double-digits. Taken together, the day’s eight national surveys paint a very similar picture: Obama is at or above 50% in seven of the eight polls, and McCain is in the low 40s in all eight, oscillating between 40% and 44%.

This is where the race has stood for weeks, with most of the movement occurring within those ranges. That both candidates’ numbers have been so static throughout October makes it difficult to see how McCain could benefit from some last-minute shifting.

At the state level, there wasn’t a lot of polling released today, but the Rocky Mountain News’s poll of Colorado is very important, as it suggests that Obama has opened a commanding lead in a crucial state. More than a quarter of registered voters (and more than 30% of the number of 2004 voters) have already cast a ballot in this state, so time is pressing for McCain to change voters’ minds. Keep in mind that McCain needs to win a blue state if he loses Colorado. And how likely is that to happen? Obama is closer to winning South Dakota than McCain is to winning Pennsylvania in today’s polls. Enough said.

  • Obama leads 52% to 40% in a Newsweek national poll. Among registered voters, he leads by 13%. (Obama led by 11% two weeks ago.) This survey confirms that Sarah Palin’s image has deteriorated, as it is the first Newsweek poll in which Palin’s favorability rating is a net negative.
  • Obama maintains his dominant position in the tracking polls. He extends his lead by 1% in Rasmussen (52% to 44%) and Gallup (51% to 43%). The margin remains stable in Research 2000 (52% to 40%), Hotline (50% to 43%), Washington Post/ABC (53% to 44%) and IBD/TIPP (46% to 42%). Obama loses 1% in Zogby, but remains largely ahead 51% to 42%. So his leads are: 4%, 7%, 8%, 8%, 9%, 9%, 12%.
  • Obama leads 52% to 40% in a Rocky Mountain News poll of Colorado. The poll was taken by GOP firm Public Opinion Strategies.
  • Ohio: Obama leads 49% to 46% in a University of Cincinnati “Newspaper poll.”(McCain led by 2% two weeks ago). Obama leads 51% to 44% in a PPP poll (he gets 86% of Democrats and leads independents by 12%).

Meanwhile, in down the ballot polls, where we get a lot of news from House races:

  • Jeanne Shaheen leads 52% to 46% in a Rasmussen poll of the New Hampshire Senate race. She led by 5% three weeks ago.
  • In MO-09, GOP candidate Bruce Luetkemeyer leads 47% to 42% in a Research 2000 poll. He led by 9% a month ago.
  • In AL-02, GOP candidate Jay Love leads 47% to 45% in a Research 2000 poll. However, the share of the African-American vote is about half of where it ought to be.
  • In IN-09, Democratic Rep. Baron Hill leads 53% to 38% in a SUSA poll. He led by the same margin last month. Hill leads by 32% among the 12% of the sample that has already voted.
  • In NJ-05, Rep. Garrett leads 47% to 40% in a Research 2000 poll. He led by 15% a month ago.
  • In SC-01, GOP Rep. Brown leads 48% to 37% in a Research 2000 poll. 32% of African-Americans are undecided, versus only 10% of white voters, so Democratic challenger Linda Ketner has room to grow.
  • In SC-02, GOP Rep. Wilson leads 47% to 45% in a Research 2000 poll. Here again, most undecided voters are African-American, which could boost Democratic challenger Miller’s numbers.

Beyond the obviously competitive races of AL-02 and MO-09 (both of which look competitive though the Missouri numbers must be a relief for Republicans), Daily Kos commissioned Research 2000 to conduct surveys in a number of long-shot races. NJ-05, SC-01, SC-02, TX-10 and NC-10: These are all races that were on no one’s radar screen as of two weeks ago.

Keep in mind that Democrats are unlikely to win more than a few of these late breaking races, but any pick-up in this list would be considered a huge upset and icing on the cake for Democrats. In all of these districts but TX-10, the Republican incumbent leads outside of the margin of error, though only Rep. McHenry crosses the 50% threshold. That justifies our keeping a watch on NJ-05, TX-10, SC-01 and SC-02.

Poll watch: Obama leads big in OH, PA, FL, IN and more; Franken narrowly ahead

The clock is running out, and the only good news for McCain today is a IBD/TIPP poll that has him only down 1%. But just like yesterday’s AP poll, that appears to be an outlier as seven other national polls show Obama firmly in command (not to mention that IBD/TIPP has McCain with more than 70% among 18-24 year-old respondents). In fact, Obama leads by double-digits in four of the day’s survey, and McCain remains stuck in the low 40s (39% to 45%) in all eight - including IBD/TIPP.

State polls are even more decisive, and they are breaking in favor of Obama rather than against him. Today’s line-up of surveys has Obama posting some big margins across the country, and what is significant is that these surveys come from different institutes, some of which have not been particularly friendly to the Democrat before (National Journal/All State or Big10, for instance). Obama leads by double-digits in five polls of Pennsylvania, three polls of Minnesota, two polls of Wisconsin, two polls of Ohio and one poll each of Michigan, Iowa and Indiana.

Obama also leads outside of the margin of error in two Florida surveys (something McCain has not done in a single Florida poll for four weeks) and captures a narrow advantage in Montana in the first poll that (finally) includes Ron Paul’s name. He is within striking distance in Georgia, where early voting turnout confirms that he has a shot at making the race very close.

Needless to say, Obama needs to capture very few of the states I just mentioned. If he wins just one of the Big Three (OH, PA and FL), he will be in a very good position to capture the presidency; two would ensure victory; and even an (at this point unlikely) defeat in all three would certainly not be the end of his ambitions: A sweep of Colorado, Virginia and Nevada (or any of these replaced by Indiana, Missouri or North Carolina) could replace the Keystone State. With all of this in mind, let’s go on to today’s full roundup:

  • Obama maintains a double-digit lead in the latest NYT/CBS poll. He is ahead 52% to 39% (he led by 14% last week). He leads by 6% among independents. 62% feel “personally connected” to Obama, 47% to McCain; more voters think Obama has the right temperament and personality to be president, and more voters think Obama would handle a crisis well. Palin’s favorability rating remains negative.
  • Obama keeps his dominant position in the tracking polls. He gains 2% in Zogby (52% to 40%) and 1% in Rasmussen (52% to 45%). The race stays stable in Hotline (48% to 43%), ABC/Washington Post (54% to 43%) and Research 2000 (51% to 41%). Obama slips 1% in Gallup (51% to 45%) and 3% in IBD/TIPP (where he is only up 1%, 45% to 44%). That puts Obama’s lead in the day’s trackings at: 1%, 5%, 6%, 7%, 10%, 11%, 12%.
  • Ohio: Obama leads by double-digits in two new polls, his biggest leads ever in the state. He leads 52% to 38% in a Quinnipiac survey (he led by 8% three weeks ago). He leads 53% to 41% in a Big 10 Battleground poll.
  • Florida: Obama leads outside of the MoE in two new surveys. He is ahead 49% to 44% in a new Quinnipiac poll (he led by 8% three weeks ago). He leads 49% to 42% in a St. Petersburg Times/Miami Herald poll. Obama seizes a big lead among independents in the latter, which was taken Monday through Wednesday.
  • Indiana: Obama leads 51% to 41% in a Big10 poll. The race was tied in mid-September.
  • Michigan: Obama leads by a stunning 58% to 36% in a Big10 poll.
  • Georgia: McCain leads 51% to 46% in a Rasmussen poll. McCain led by 9% two weeks ago.

Meanwhile, in down the ballot polls:

  • Proposition 8 is losing 52% to 44% in a PPIC poll. However, the “no” was ahead 55% to 41% five weeks ago.
  • Minnesota’s Senate race: Democrat Al Franken narrowly leads in two polls. In Rasmussen, he is ahead 41% to 37% with 17% for Barkley. Two weeks ago, Franken led by 6%. In a University of Wisconsin poll, he is ahead 40% to 34% with 15% for Barkley.
  • In Kentucky’s Senate race, GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell leads 47% to 43% in a Research 2000 poll.
  • In Georgia’s Senate race, GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss leads 47% to 45% in a Rasmussen poll. He led by 6% two weeks ago.
  • In Louisiana’s Senate race, Democratic Sen. Landrieu leads 53% to 43% in a Rasmussen poll. She led by 14% last month.
  • In Washington’s gubernatorial race, Democratic Gov. Gregoire leads 50% to 48% in a Rasmussen poll.
  • In IL-11, Democrat Debby Halvorson leads 50% to 37% in a new SUSA poll.
  • In PA-12, Democratic Rep. Murtha is only up 46% to 41% in a new Susquehanna poll.
  • In WA-08, Democrat Darcy Burner storms back to grab a 50% to 46% lead in a new SUSA poll. Reichert trailed by 10% three weeks ago.
  • In MI-09, Democrat Gary Peters leads 46% to 36% against Rep. Knollenberg in a DCCC internal.
  • In OH-15, Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy leads 44% to 36% in a DCCC poll. She led by the same margin three three weeks ago.
  • In AL-02, Democrat Bobby Bright leads 50% to 43% in a DCCC poll.

Senate: It is difficult to know what to make of the Minnesota Senate race. Barkley is holding stable just under 20%, but his support is not firm: It could end up at a far lower point, but it could also end up rising if voters come to think he has a chance of pulling it off. In either case, it is impossible to know how that would affect Coleman and Franken’s totals.

House: Democrats get great news from SUSA. Darcy Burner appeared to be fading in WA-08, but she has now led in three polls in a row. The first two were Democratic polls, now an independent pollster confirms her comeback. IL-11 was once going to be an easy pick-up before GOP candidate Ozinga proved surprisingly resilient. Now, the Democratic surge appears to have buried Republican prospects of a come-from-behind victory here.

Furthermore, a trio of DCCC poll completes the strong news for Democrats, especially when combined with the NRCC pulling out of MI-09. That said, Susquehanna’s poll from PA-12 confirms the Democrats’ worst fear that Rep. Murtha’s recent comments about his districts has endangered his re-election prospects.

Eleventh presidential ratings: Obama consolidates electoral college lead

A week after Obama surged to a dominant position, the ratings remain relatively stable, with only one state shifting in or out of a candidate’s column. There is movement under the surface, however, as McCain’s base continues to erode while Obama solidifies his hold on a number of states; a total of 26 electoral votes move from the lean Obama to the likely Obama column, giving the Democratic nominee a base of 260 electoral votes.

In my September 20th ratings - posted exactly a month ago - 18 states were listed in a competitive category (lean or toss-up). Of these, not a single one is today in a more favorable category for McCain but fourteen have shifted towards Obama. In fact, 8 of these states are no longer competitive at all - and they now all belong to the Democratic nominee. They have been replaced by four new red states that were solidly anchored in McCain’s column a month ago and are now considered competitive.

What better way to illustrate how much the electoral map has shifted towards Obama over the past month, and how most of these changes will not be erased no matter how much McCain closes the gap in the final 16 days. Unless some major event turns the campaign on its head, Michigan or Iowa, for instance, are now out of contention.

This also illustrates how narrow McCain’s electoral strategy has become: He needs to sweep nearly all of the 14 states currently rated as competitive, including all three red states that are in the Obama column. That is no small feat, and it is revealing of just how much Obama is command. That said, there is a reason these states are still listed as competitive: they could go either way, and a slight wind pushing McCain over the final two weeks could help him accomplish that.

Without further delay, here are the eleventh electoral college ratings (states whose ratings have been changed towards Obama are colored blue, those whose ratings have been changed towards McCain are colored red):

  • Safe McCain: Alabama, Alaska, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska (at large + 3rd congressional district), Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, Tennessee, Texas, Wyoming (116 EVs)
  • Likely McCain: Arizona, Arkansas, Nebraska’s 1st district, South Dakota (20 EVs)
  • Lean McCain: Georgia, Montana, Nebraska’s 2nd district, West Virginia (24 EVs)
  • Toss-up: Indiana, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio (65 EV)
  • Lean Obama: Colorado, Florida, New Hampshire, Virginia (53 EVs)
  • Likely Obama: Iowa, Oregon, Maine (at-large + 1st district + 2nd district), Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Washington, Wisconsin (107 EVs)
  • Safe Obama: California, Connecticut, DC, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont (153 EVs)

This gives us the following map and totals:

  • Safe + Likely Obama: 260 electoral votes
  • Safe + Likely + Lean Obama: 313
  • Toss-up: 65
  • Safe + Likely + Lean McCain: 160
  • Safe + Likely McCain: 136

I will naturally not attempt to provide an explanation for every single one of these ratings and will concentrate instead on those that have shifted over the past two weeks:

Alaska, likely McCain to safe McCain: Like in other red states Obama had been eying, McCain jumped to a commanding lead in Alaska in the aftermath of the GOP convention and of the Palin pick. Unlike in some of these other red states (say, North Dakota and Montana), McCain’s surge has not faded over the past month. The Sarah Palin effect is strong, and it appears to have put Alaska’s once-promising 3 electoral out of Obama’s reach for good. In fact, the GOP’s recovery is so pronounced that it could very well save Sen. Stevens and Rep. Young.

Arkansas, safe McCain to likely McCain: Arkansas is very rarely polled, but perhaps there would be some interesting results to be found. The state remains heavily Democratic, though it is made up of conservative Democrats who vote GOP in federal races. Obama was not expected to do well among conservative Democrats and blue-collar voters, but the startling finding that he is competitive in West Virginia means that he is making inroads in the type of constituency that could help close the gap in Arkansas.

Maine’s 2nd district, lean Obama to likely Obama: Despite a week of GOP advertisement and a visit by Sarah Palin, the GOP does not appear satisfied with the odds of snatching away one of Maine’s four electoral votes, as we learned this week that the RNC is moving out just as quickly as it moved in to help protect red states. The McCain campaign is staying on the state’s airwaves but a recent Research 2000 poll showing Obama with large leads in both districts and statewide suggest that the RNC’s pull-out was a wise decision.

Minnesota, lean Obama to likely Obama:  On paper, Minnesota should not have been have been as vulnerable as neighboring Wisconsin or Michigan, but the polls here tightened more than in other blue states throughout August and September. But a sign of Democratic confidence came from the two campaigns’ expenditures: Minnesota is the only state in which Obama let McCain outspend him by significant amounts, signaling that he believed Minnesota remained solidly anchored in his camp. Now, Obama is matching McCain’s spending (another sign of Democratic confidence given that Obama is outspending his opponent by massive amounts in every other battleground state but Iowa), and polls are reflecting the state’s return to its Democratic roots. Obama leads by double-digits in CNN/Time, Research 2000, Star Tribune, Quinnipiac… Even SUSA now has Obama leading outside of the margin of error. Do I need to say anything else?

New Mexico, lean Obama to likely Obama: New Mexico was the second red state to move to the Obama column - and it did so early. In fact, Obama started enjoying double-digit leads in New Mexico polls well before he did in blue states like Minnesota or Michigan. One significant factor has been Obama’s strength among Hispanics; when it was still believed (back in primary season) that Obama might have problems among that group, it looked like the Southwest could be promising territory for McCain. But it will be hard for the Republican to stay competitive in the state unless he can perform at Bush’s level among Latinos - and every indicator suggests that he is underperforming.

North Dakota, likely McCain to toss-up: Three successive polls released over the past week have found an Obama lead or an exact tie in a state that Democrats abandoned in mid-September, after McCain’s post-convention surged appeared to put North Dakota and the rest of the Mountain West out of contention. With 15 days to go until Election Day, there is increasing speculation that Obama is looking to put resources in the state in a last-minute bid to recapture its electoral votes - and polls indicate that would be a wise decision. One interesting fact about this state is that it does not have any voter registration: any one who has lived in a precinct for the past 30 days can show up and cast a ballot.

South Dakota, safe McCain to likely McCain: The latest polls from the state find a large lead for the Republican nominee, but we have had no result since mid-September. Since then, Obama has made gains in the Mountain West, and it is unlikely that he has been able to tie the race in Montana and North Dakota without also making some inroads in South Dakota.

Wisconsin, lean Obama to likely Obama:  Among the tightest states of the 2000 and 2004 contests, Wisconsin does not look like it will be decided in the early hours of the morning this year. In fact, the Badger State never emerged as a true battleground this year; only during a brief patch in mid-September did Obama’s lead descend in the mid single-digits - certainly nothing to be panicked about. Since then, Obama has recaptured a double-digit lead, and while Quinnipiac’s 17% margin might be overstating his advantage, but the Univ. of Wisconsin, SUSA, or Research 2000 aren’t that far off. And we got confirmation of the fact that Wisconsin is no longer in the top-tier of competitive races when the RNC’s independent expenditure arm pulled out of Wisconsin this week; it had been airing ads in the state since its very first wave of expenditures back in June.

History of Campaign Diaries’ electoral ratings:

  • October 20th: + 153 Obama (313 for Obama [153 safe, 107 likely, 53 lean] and 160 for McCain [116 safe, 20 likely, 24 lean])
  • October 12th: + 150 Obama (313 for Obama [153 safe, 81 likely, 79 lean] and 163 for McCain [122 safe, 17 likely, 24 lean])
  • September 27th: + 55 Obama (239 for Obama [154 safe, 43 likely, 42 lean] and 174 for McCain [122 safe, 38 likely, 14 lean])
  • September 20th: +6 Obama (222 for Obama [154 safe, 19 likely, 49 lean] and 216 for McCain [119 safe, 41 likely, 56 lean])
  • August 31st: + 16 Obama (243 for Obama [154 safe, 29 likely, 60 lean] and 227 for McCain [93 safe, 75 likely, 59 lean])
  • August 20th: + 14 Obama (238 for Obama [151 safe, 32 likely, 55 lean] and 224 for McCain [90 safe, 75 likely, 59 lean])
  • July 30th: + 38 Obama (238 for Obama [151 safe, 42 likely, 45 lean] and 200 for McCain [90 safe, 75 likely, 35 lean])
  • July 16th: +28 Obama (255 for Obama [150 safe, 43 likely, 62 lean] and 227 for McCain [90 safe, 78 likely, 59 lean])
  • July 2rd: +11 Obama (238 for Obama [143 safe, 50 likely, 45 lean] and 227 for McCain [93 safe, 78 likely, 56 lean])
  • June 18th: +22 Obama (238 for Obama [86 safe, 97 likely, 55 lean] and 216 for McCain [87 safe, 87 likely, 42 lean])
  • June 4th: +20 McCain (207 for Obama [76 base, 107 likely, 24 lean] and 227 for McCain [97 safe, 77 likely, 53 lean])

GOP defense, Dem offense: Everyone’s shifting resources to red states

The Republican ship is sinking, and it is happening up and down the ballot, with states, Senate seats and House districts no one thought would even be talked about now looking like dead heats. The GOP is retreating, trying to build some sort of firewall that would enable it to hold its position while Democrats are spending prodigious resources seeking to dramatically expand the map to staunchly red territory.

West Virginia and… Kentucky?!: Who would have thought on May 13th that Obama had any chance of making West Virginia remotely competitive? He had just been crushed by Hillary Clinton in a state that could have made Al Gore president. Yet, after weeks of speculation and polls showing the campaigns neck-and-neck, the campaign is now airing ads in the state! Not only that, but the campaign is discussing airing ads in North Dakota, Georgia and… Kentucky!

It is somewhat surprising, then, that Obama is not including Arkansas, a historically Democratic state that is probably becoming more competitive if West Virginia is tightening. There have been a grand total of three polls since mid-June, so it is hard to tell. But what is most interesting in Obama’s choice to contest these states is what it signifies about Appalachia’s demographics: Democrats are no longer afraid that Obama will be crushed among the region’s blue-collar white voters. Beyond West Virginia, that puts Obama in a very strong position in Ohio, Pennsylvania and North Carolina.

The Obama campaign is now all-offense, all the time and across the board. It has enough money to contest more than a dozen red states, and McCain cannot afford to give any of them up besides Iowa and New Mexico. And the GOP simply doesn’t have the resources, the time and the breadth of surrogates to do that. If McCain is going to change the dynamic of the campaign, he needs to do so at the national level.

RNC pulls out of Maine and Wisconsin, moves in Colorado and Missouri: The GOP has been retreating from the blue states, and here are two more signs of that. Sure, the McCain campaign is staying on the airwaves in Wisconsin, so this does not represent as consequential a pull-out as the Michigan stunner, but it is undoubtedly a sign that numbers are not moving in McCain’s direction. It is also striking how quickly the RNC moved in and out of Maine, as they only started airing advertisements in the state last week.

But it is now all defense for the GOP, as McCain needs to sweep all the remaining competitive red states - a number of which are now leaning Obama. Given that McCain has always spent heavily on Colorado, it is telling that the RNC feels the need to move in there: Republicans are worried that Obama is now preparing to up his advertisement even more, even in states whose airwaves are seemingly saturated.

Obama (partially) pulls out of Michigan: When McCain (stunningly) dropped Michigan two weeks ago, Democrats warned that they did not trust the sincerity of that move and that they suspected the GOP of looking to move back in once Democrats had let off their guard. As a result, Obama continued heavy advertising for the past two weeks (he spent more than $2 million last week, compared to… zero spending for from the GOP) and kept his staff in place to continue organizing a heavy ground game. But with most polls now showing Obama leading by double-digits in what was once seen as the ultimate battleground state of this election, even his campaign is now decreasing its efforts.

The campaign is scaling back TV buys and sending away many Michigan paid staffers to other states. It is unclear where exactly these staffers are going, but early indicators point to North Carolina and Missouri - red states that Obama is now highly contesting but that he might not have had the resources to fully compete in until recently.

That said, Obama is keeping about 200 paid staffers in the state whereas McCain moved almost every single one of his out. That should guarantee that Obama’s Michigan team will be able to hold off any late October McCain surge, and it will also prove a tremendous boost in Democratic prospects in MI-07 and MI-09.

NRSC pulls out of Louisiana, moves in Georgia: This same pattern is holding at the congressional level, where the NRSC has just pulled the plug on John Kennedy’s Louisiana campaign. This was the GOP’s only chance at a pick-up - and it was a very strong one: it was ranked 5th in my Senate rankings a year ago, and Kennedy led in a few polls. And when the NRSC unveiled its first ad against Landrieu in mid-September, it looked like we were indeed in for a competitive race. But Landrieu had opened up an edge, and the NRSC simply cannot afford to spend money to help Kennedy when it has so many endangered incumbents to take care of! Without national money, Kennedy is likely to be swamped under the DSCC and Landrieu’s attacks.

Instead, the NRSC has chosen to invest in Georgia. Not Minnesota, Oregon, North Carolina, or New Hampshire (all states in which GOP incumbents really need help), but red Georgia that was nowhere on the radar screen as of early August. The DSCC just moved in the state with a $500,000 buy, polls are showing a tightening race and early voting has started. It is panic time for Senate Republicans, as the firewall keeps being lowered.

The good news for Republicans is that only three to four of their seats seem to be lost for sure at the moment. All the others - including Alaska, Oregon and North Carolina - could go both ways. The bad news is that current trendlines are not favoring the GOP - but they hhave 20 days to change that.

Poll watch: Michigan swings Obama, Merkley gains, GOP competitive in Alaska races

The battle lines are getting clearer in the presidential race. With Iowa and New Mexico leaning Obama and the Democrat inching ahead in Colorado, keeping the Kerry states would be enough to get Obama to the White House - and he can even afford to lose New Hampshire since a tie favors Obama. With that in mind, we will keep a particularly sharp eye on polls from Colorado, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

And today’s news is good for Obama: he continues to post a narrow but consistent advantage in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, and Michigan appears to be breaking open in his favor. Three out of five surveys released today have him leading between 8% and 13%, a margin supported by Marist’s 9% earlier this week and Obama’s 5% (7% among registered voters) yesterday. However, Mason Dixon does find a tie in the Wolverine State today.

As long as those five states break Obama’s way, the other states lose importance, so forgive my glancing over the latest toss-up poll from Ohio, McCain’s semi-comforting 8% lead in West Virginia or Obama’s two three 1% leads in New Hampshire. And don’t forget Rasmussen North Carolina survey that I wrote extensively about early this morning. Another poll of importance is Obama’s 5% lead in the latest NYT/CBS poll.

First, the five polls from Michigan:

  • Obama leads 48% to 38% in an EPIC-MRA poll of Michigan. Obama led by only 1% in a EPIC-MRA survey taken just a few days ago.
  • Obama leads 51% to 38% in a Detroit Free Press poll of Michigan conducted by Selzer & Co. Obama leads by 15% when voters are asked which candidate they trust on the economy.
  • The candidates are tied in a Mason Dixon/NBC poll of Michigan. Here, McCain does well in the Detroit suburbs (home of Reagan Democrats), which is key to a victory here.

It’s not a surprise that Michigan would be the state in which we would see the biggest shift as the conversation turns to the financial crisis, as this is among the most hard-hit state economically. But it is a major development, as the McCain campaign (and polls) had long regarded Michigan as the GOP’s biggest opportunity to pick up a blue state. However, note that both campaigns have recently been spending more in Pennsylvania than in Michigan, suggesting that the Keystone State is being recast in its traditional role of most-vulnerable-Democratic-state.

On to other presidential polls, including the three polls from Pennsylvania:

  • Obama leads 47% to 42% in a new CBS News/New York Times national poll. This is the same margin as last week. McCain reclaims the lead among independents.
  • Obama leads 49% to 45% in a Rasmussen poll of Pennsylvania taken Wednesday. He led by 3% in a poll taken on Saturday, so a stable race.
  • Obama leads 50% to 44% in a SUSA poll of Pennsylvania.
  • Obama also leads 46% to 45% in a Suffolk poll of New Hampshire.
  • Obama leads 52% to 41% in a SUSA poll of Oregon. He led by 3% last month.
  • Obama only leads 49% to 44% in a SUSA poll of Maine, which could make him lose one 1EV - and one he cannot afford to lose if he loses New Hampshire as well. (This poll does find McCain leading among 18-34 year old voters.)
  • McCain leads 50% to 42% in a Rasmussen poll of West Virginia. That is a more reassuring lead than other surveys have found lately, and keep in mind that Obama is not investing in the state (though some WV markets overlap with markets from swing states in which Obama ads are running).
  • Safe red states: McCain leads 51% to 42% in a Rasmussen poll of Arkansas.

Meanwhile, in down-the-ballot polls:

  • Jeff Merkley has gained 14% in two months in SUSA’s poll of Oregon’s Senate race and taken a narrow lead (within the MoE), 44% to 42%. Constitution Party candidate Dave Brownlow gets 8%, probably helping Merkley.
  • Two polls from Alaska’s Senate race find close races: Farleigh Dickinson has Begich leading 47% to 43%, Ivan Moore finds Begich leading 48% to 46% (he led by 3% two weeks ago).
  • Two polls from AK-AL find that Don Young is still alive: Farleigh Dickinson has Berkowitz leading 47% to 41%, Ivan Moore has Berkowitz leading 49% to 44% (he led by 17% two weeks ago). Berkowitz’s unfavorability rating has shot up in Ivan Moore.
  • Kay Hagan leads yet again in a Rasmussen poll of North Carolina’s Senate race - the second Rasmussen took over the past 7 days. She had a 6% lead last week (her largest yet), 3% today: 48% to 45%.
  • Susan Collins does not tremble in a SUSA poll of Maine’s Senate race. She continues to crush Tom Allen 55% to 39%.
  • Jeb Bradley leads Democratic Rep. Shea-Porter 45% to 42% in a UNH poll. He led by 6% in July. Paul Hodes leads by 12%  in his district.
  • An internal poll for the Nye campaign finds the Democrat closing the gap in VA-02, but she still trails 45% to 40%.
  • [Corrected, previous write-up of MI-07 was horribly mistaken] Democratic challenger Mark Schauer of MI-07 released an internal poll finding him leading 42% to 36% against Rep. Walberg. He led by 3% in a May survey.
  • Safe seats: Biden and Markell lead in SUSA polls of Delaware’s senatorial and gubernatorial races. Kerry leads in Massachusetts.

Some excellent news for both parties, as Democrats will be heartened that Hagan and Merkley continue to be more than competitive despite GOP ads stepping up their attacks. MI-07 is undoubtedly one of the Democrats top targets, and any incumbent polling at 36% (even in an internal poll) is in danger. But Republicans will take comfort in the fact that neither of Alaska’s races appear to be over, as the two GOP incumbents are making somewhat of a comeback. The question now is how voters will react to the month-long coverage of Stevens’ trial. Odds are that the coverage of the Senator’s corruption will also hurt Young’s standing.

Poll watch: Obama leads big in Colorado, Oregon; tight races in IL-11, WI-08

In the day’s second wave of polls, the news continues to be good for Obama, who gets his third Colorado lead in a row that is outside of the margin of error. After an Insider Advantage survey found him leading by 10% (a 7% bounce) and Quinnipiac showed him ahead by 4% (a 5% bounce), it is now PPP’s turn to show Obama jumping by 6% in two weeks to settle in a comfortable 51% to 44% advantage.

Combined with Iowa and New Mexico (two Bush states that are already leaning Obama) Colorado would be enough to get Obama over the top, so McCain cannot afford to fall behind in this state. He would then be forced to play catch-up and have to pour resources to get on the offensive in blue states. But one blue state in which Obama looks surprisingly secure is Oregon, where he posts yet another double-digit lead today. As his margin has decreased in other blue states like Washington, Minnesota and Wisconsin, Obama has not trembled in Oregon. What does that say about Gordon Smith’s chances to survive his Senate race?

  • The day’s tracking have McCain regaining some of his footing: He continues to trail 48% to 42% in Research 2000, gains 1% in Gallup (Obama leads 47% to 44%), Rasmussen (a tie at 48%) and Diego Hotline (Obama leads 47% to 43%).
  • Obama leads 48% to 46% in an ARG national poll. McCain lead by 3% in a poll conducted last week.
  • Obama leads 51% to 44% in PPP’s poll of Colorado. He led by 1% in a poll taken two weeks ago. Palin’s favorability rating has collapsed, contributing to Obama’s gains.
  • The candidates are tied at 46% in an Insider Advantage poll of Ohio. McCain had a 1% edge last week. McCain’s support has decreased among independents.
  • Obama leads 50% to 46% in an ARG poll of Pennsylvania. Obama’s lead is just within the margin of error; McCain leads among independents.
  • Obama leads 52% to 41% in an ARG poll of Oregon.
  • Obama leads 56% to 39% in a Rasmussen poll of California. Last month, he “only” led 51% to 37%. Obama’s winning in margin here will be crucial to determining the popular vote winner.
  • McCain leads 53% to 41% in an ARG poll of Arkansas.
  • McCain leads 57% to 38% in a SUSA poll of Kentucky.
  • Obama leads 55% to 39% in an ARG poll of Massachusetts.

Meanwhile, in down-ballot polls:

  • Mark Udall leads 48% to 40% in PPP poll from the Colorado Senate race. He led by 6% in August.
  • Jeanne Shaheen only leads Sen. Sununu 48% to 44% in a UNH poll of New Hampshire.
  • Dueling polls in IL-11, where an internal poll for Democratic candidate Debbie Halvorson finds her leading 43% to 35%; an internal poll for Republican candidate Marty Ozinga finds Halvorson leading 38% to 36%, which is a 5% improvement for the Republican since August. In both polls, the trendline favors Ozinga.
  • In NY-26, an internal DCCC poll has Alice Kryzan leading Christopher Lee 39% to 29%, with 32% undecided. That the DCCC chose to release numbers in which undecideds are not pushed implies that the numbers would have been better for the Republican candidate if they had been.
  • In MN-01, Republican Brian Davis has taken the somewhat unusual step of releasing a poll in which he trails significantly. Democratic incumbent Tim Walz leads 50% to 32%.
  • In WI-08, an internal poll for the Gard campaign conducted by POS finds Democratic Rep. Kagen barely ahead, 46% to 45%. The margin was the same in a July poll.
  • In NH-02, surprising numbers from an internal poll for the Horn campaign, also conducted by POS. Rep. Hordes (usually favored to win re-election) only leads Jennifer Horn 43% to 39%.
  • Pat Roberts maintains a solid race in Rasmussen’s poll of the Kansas Senate race, 58% to 38%.
  • I will discuss this survey in more detail later, but Mitch McConnell’s lead has fallen to only 3% in SUSA’s latest release from Kentucky’s Senate race. He led by 12% last month.

It is always difficult to know what to make of internal polls, which is why it is helpful to have two internal surveys from the same district at once. Though the numbers are slightly different, the two polls from IL-11 are telling the same story, one that we have long known based on how much money the DCCC is pouring in this district: Debbie Halvorson was once a prized Democratic recruit, and IL-11 seemed in the bag for Democrats - but that is no longer the case. The DCCC has been pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars against Ozinga for months now, but Halvorson’s lead has decreased in the internals of both camps, which is never a good thing. Halvorson remains slightly favored, but the GOP can certainly still hope to save that seat.

In Colorado, this is the day’s second poll to find Udall’s lead in the high single-digits - pretty much where it has been for the past few months. As I said this morning, Udall has not closed the deal yet but given how static the race has been for months, Democrats should feel good about the race. As for New Hampshire, other recent polls have shown that Shaheen has maintained a high single-digits to low double-digits lead, and that Sununu has been unable to recover. The presidential match-up of this UNH poll was also more skewed towards McCain than usual, so it will be interesting to see other polling data from the state.

Thursday polls: Tight presidential races in NV and NC, and a trio of House internal polls

A number of polls were released today along the Rasmussen North Carolina Senate poll I mentioned earlier today. No big surprises in the day’s 5 state presidential polls, but that’s only because we are now getting used to what just three months ago would have seemed improbable, namely that North Carolina is a battleground state:

  • Just two days after SUSA found the two presidential candidates within 5% in North Carolina, it is Rasmussen’s turn to confirm the tightness of the race, with McCain leading 45% to 42% (48% to 45% with leaners). Obama has room to grow among registered Democrats, as he only gets 69% of their vote.

This is the fourth straight Rasmussen poll finding a similar result. In April, the two candidates were tied; McCain led by 3% in May and 2% in June. It is therefore time to stop expressing amazement at such competitive results (which I still do) and talk about North Carolina as we would of any battleground state. While Obama certainly does not need the state’s 15 electoral votes to reach an electoral college majority (is there an argument to be made that Obama could lose VA but win NC?), he is certainly campaigning here actively and has been running ads in the state — something the McCain campaign has not been doing. And remember that Obama ads were also saturating the airwaves in late April and early May, in the run-up to the primary.

But despite having the state’s airwaves to himself, Obama’s numbers have not moved much since Rasmussen’s April poll. Nor had they in yesterday’s SUSA poll. This leads to an essential question: What is Obama’s ceiling in the deep red states he is putting in play and in the Southern states in particular? 52% of respondents in this poll have a favorable view of him, but the fact that Obama is only getting 69% of registered Democrats in Rasmussen’s survey and that he was getting 31% of the white vote in yesterday’s SUSA poll makes it clear that he will have to do better among the South’s white registered Democrats (Hillary Clinton’s primary constituency) to pull an upset in states like North Carolina.

The day’s other presidential polls are:

  • In Nevada, Obama is ahead within the margin of error in Rasmussen’s latest poll, 42% to 40%. Last month, McCain led by 3%. Obama was last ahead in March.
  • In Arkansas, Rasmussen finds McCain leading 47% to 37% (up one from last month), 52% to 39% with leaners. Obama’s favorability rating is a weak 45%, versus 53% unfavorable.
  • A Strategic Vision poll of New Jersey shows Obama leading 47% to 38%.
  • Finally, in Washington, SUSA finds Obama crushing McCain 55% to 39%.

Of these states, Nevada is naturally the most interesting since it is the only state here I consider a toss-up. Polls here have been zigzagging back and forth between Obama and McCain, and it looks like this state will remain tight, just as did four years ago. Of the three Southwestern battleground states, it is the most likely to remain in Republican hands, but that does not mean that it is not highly competitive and the news I mentioned earlier this week that Democrats now had a 6% registration edge in the state (whereas they trailed by 1% in 04) will be a huge boost to Obama.

Finally, a wave of down-the-ballot races — including three House internals, all currently held by Republicans:

  • SUSA finds a tight gubernatorial race in Washington, as expected. Christine Gregoire narrowly leads Dino Rossi 49% to 46%.
  • In VA-11, an internal poll released by the Connolly campaign finds the Democrat crushing his opponent Keith Fimian… 52% to 21%!
  • In OH-01, an internal poll for the Chabot campaign finds the Republican incumbent ahead of his challenger, state Rep. Driehaud, 50% to 37%.
  • In NJ-07, finally, an internal poll for the campaign of Leonard Lance finds the Republican leading his Democratic opponent Linda Stender 42% to 35%.

Naturally, the internal polls should all be taken with great caution and any finding has to be confirmed by independent surveys. A few words about these surveys, however: VA-11 is one of the two or three most vulnerable GOP-held seats. It is an open seat in blue-trending territory and the GOP candidate is not top-tier. There is no doubt that Connolly is the heavy favorite. That said, the numbers will surely be tighter: Connolly is well-known whereas Fimian is largely unknown — though he can self-fund his race and will be sure to increase his numbers once he starts running ads.

The same is true in OH-01: The margin will tighten once the campaign heats up and voters get to know Driehaud, who only represents one part of the district. Chabot is one of the survivors of the 2006 cycle, and he is preparing himself for as close a race as he fought two years ago; that he is only at 50% should also be cause for worry. The real surprise comes from NJ-07: This is a blue-leaning open seat with a strong Democratic candidate who barely lost two years ago. Republicans are more satisfied with their candidate here, however, than in the state’s other open seat (NJ-03). Is this a sign that they are right and Democrats should not underestimate Lance’s strength? The poll is certainly counter-intuitive, but it is up to the Stender campaign to release a poll to disprove it. The problem with House races is that there are too few independent polls to be able to judge the credibility of internal polls.

NV and AR polls: All eyes on the Southwest, and Southern hopes rest on increased turnout

The hottest battleground of this general election will no doubt be the Southwest, not necessarily because of the 19 electoral votes that are stake there in this election but what the region might represent in the future. A fastest-growing area, the Southwest is bound to pick up congressional seats and thus electoral votes at the start of the next decade, just in time for the next presidential election.

Along with Colorado and New Mexico, Nevada completes the Southwestern trio. Flipping these three states alone would be enough for Obama to get to the White House if he also carries all the states won by Kerry in 2004. Arizona would have surely been added to the list had McCain not won the GOP nomination but the state’s Senator should hold on to his home-state despite some murmurs that he has problems with Arizona’s conservative base (he did, after all, only receive 48% in the Super Tuesday primary here).

All three states remain too close-too-call. That alone is a Democratic victory in Colorado, which was considered solidly red in 2004 and clearly leaning Republican four years ago, but it is not that much of a change in Nevada and New Mexico, the latter having hosted two of the tightest results in 2000 and 2004. This alone should frustrate Democrats, some of whom are confident that the growing Hispanic population will pave the way for significant gains. In fact, Nevada was already deemed a disappointment four years ago as President Bush won despite being on the wrong side of what was described as the one issue that mattered in state politics, Yucca Mountain.

A new poll released today by respected polling outfit Mason-Dixon finds yet another close race:

  • John McCain edges out Barack Obama within the margin of error, 44% to 42%.
  • Among Hispanics — a constituency among which McCain believes he can reduce the margin a bit — the Republican is crushed 56% to 28%.

Both parties know the cost of not contesting the Southwest would be disastrous in the long-term, and that alone should guarantee that neither candidate takes a commanding lead in Nevada. Just as in 2004, this one should go down the wire.

In Arkansas, meanwhile, a new Rasmussen poll finds somewhat of a shift:

  • John McCain leads 48% to 39%. A month ago, however, Obama trailed by 24%, a result Rasmussen interprets as a “Clinton bump” in the state the former candidate used to call home.
  • Obama has a decent favorability rating but also a very high proportion of respondents (36%) who have a “very unfavorable” impression of him.

Hillary Clinton led by 14% in last month’s Rasmussen poll, a 38% gap with Obama’s showing. This is one state that Clinton would have been almost assured of carrying while Obama is expected to durably struggle, though a bump of the size Obama has gotten here has to satisfy the Democrat’s campaign. Not only do such numbers allow them to claim that the party is now uniting and that former Clinton supporters are lining up behind their nominee but it also represents new data to tout Obama’s potential in Southern states, a theme the Illinois Senator has evoked for months now.

It is worth noting, however, what Obama’s high unfavorability rating tells us about the state of the general election in Southern states, as Obama’s ability to close to gap to a tighter-than-expected margin despite coming in with higher unfavorables is a phenomenon that we have observed in other Southern states as well. This suggests that Obama might be reaching the low 40s (a level Kerry struggled to reach) and trailing by single-digits, but it will be very difficult for him to reach much higher than that as much of the remaining electorate really does not want to vote for him. That is not surprising in states in which the political fault lines are dictated by racial polarization (Kerry did not get 20% of the white vote in Mississippi!).

If Obama has room to grow beyond trailing by high single-digits or low double-digits (such margins would already be great improvements and would guarantee a strong popular vote showing, but they would not get him any closer to the White House), he will not find it in the usual pool of voters and in convincing swing voters but will have to expand the pool of voters and increase turnout among the Democrats’ southern base, African-Americans. Any election that depends entirely on unpredictable pattern turnouts is notoriously difficult to poll (see the Iowa caucuses), so keep these factors in mind in the coming months.

Thursday polls: Color Arkansas red

The first general-election poll from Arkansas last summer made it clear that this would be the one state which would undoubtedly go from “Safe Democratic” to “Safe Republican” depending on the identity of the Democratic nominee. Arkansas is voting like Hillary Clinton’s home-state, more so than New York. It gave her 70% of its vote in the primary and a new general election poll confirms that she would be in a strong position to carry it in November:

  • Rasmussen shows Clinton leading McCain 53% to 39% in this red state. McCain, however, leads Obama 57% to 33%, a 38 percent gap.
  • Clinton’s favorablility rating is at 60%, including 35% who have a very favorable view of her (14% for McCain).

With Obama now the presumptive nominee, it looks like we can color Arkansas red (perhaps it could get competitive if he chooses Hillary or Clark as his vice-president?). But two new polls from Washington and Iowa confirm that those are two states in which Obama is well positioned, as they have been two states in which most polls show him faring considerably better:

  • In Washington State, SUSA shows Obama leading McCain 54% to 42%. Clinton is ahead 49% to 45%. Obama is polling better among registered Republicans and independents. The margins are roughly what they were a month ago.
  • In Iowa, Rasmussen finds a tight race within the margin of error for both candidates. Clinton trails McCain 45% to 42% and Obama leads 44% to 42%. Both races have tightened since last month.

McCain is looking to make Washington and Oregon competitive despite both states voting against Bush twice. Judging by this poll it will be difficult for him to do so because Obama has a firm grasp among the registered Democrat vote — that is not the case in every state, so McCain would have more potential success by concentrating on purple/blue state where Obama is weak among registered Dems (starting with Florida, the South and some places in the Midwest; but not the West).

Finally, national general election polls continue showing a slight edge for Democrats:

  • Quinnipiac shows Obama leading McCain 47% to 40%; Clinton is ahead 46% to 41%.
  • POS/GQR finds Clinton trailing by 1% and Obama leading 48% to 43%.
  • An ABC News/Washington Post poll has Clinton leading 49% to 46% and Obama ahead 51% to 44%.
  • Gallup, however, finds Obama and McCain tied at 45% while Clinton is leading 48% to 45%.

It will be interesting to see whether national pollsters decide to not include Clinton in a poll before she drops out. My guess is that they will continue including her for fear of being criticized, but we’ll keep an eye on that too. By the way, it is always remarkable to see McCain competitive at all in some of these polls considering the internal numbers many of the polls include and that reveal just how awful an environment Republicans are facing in the fall. It does look like only McCain could have made this tight — and the question now is whether he can save anything for the GOP in down-the-ballot races.

Saturday polls: The Wright question

Saturdays rarely see a lot of polling released, and today was no exception. Particularly interesting, however, is the question of the impact the week-long focus on Wright had on Obama’s poll numbers. And the two tracking polls tell us slightly opposing stories:

  • Gallup shows that Obama has been making up the ground he lost over the past week, suggesting that the race speech could have had the desired effect. Obama is leading Clinton 48% to 45% nationally, the first time he has retaken the lead in 5 days. Obama has been improving his standing over the past 3 days — and that followed 5 days of Clinton improving her position every day. These trendlines look to be clearly correlated to the evolution of Wright.
  • Meanwhile, the Rasmussen daily tracking shows Clinton up 46% to 44% — and gaining ground for each of the past 4 days. Obama led Clinton by 8% before Wright.

The two institutes show Democrats starting to make up some of the lost ground to McCain. For Gallup, McCain leads both Democrats by 2%, while Rasmussen shows McCain leading Clinton 49% to 43% (which is, believe it or not, a trendline in Clinton’s favor) and up 49% to 41% on Obama. A new Fox News poll also has some interesting data:

  • It shows Clinton leading McCain 46% to 43% but McCain edging out Obama 44% to 43%.

It’s safer to say that Clinton has recovered from her late February collapse than that Obama is particularly hurting. Fox also asked questions relating to Wright and found that 72% were familiar with comments made by the Reverend, and only 24% thought that Obama shared the opinions of his pastor (versus 57%).

Finally, Rasmussen released two general election polls today from Southern states, and confirmed Republican dominance in that region:

  • In Georgia, McCain leads Obama 53% to 40% and Clinton 54% to 34%.
  • In Arkansas, McCain leads Clinton 50% to 43% and Obama 59% to 30%.

The numbers out of Arkansas are actually a bit surprising as this is the first poll we have seen that has Clinton trailing in her former home state. A Rasmussen poll taken over the summer, the SUSA poll from late February and a University of Arkansas poll last week showed Clinton ahead against Republicans (for the first) and McCain (for the two latter). The Univ of Arkansas survey had her leading 51% to 36%. Rasmussen’s numbers merely confirm that Obama will have little chance in this state, for if even Clinton isn’t clearly ahead it’s unlikely Arkansas is ready to go back to his Democratic roots this year.

Friday polls: General election polls show McCain up in Ohio, down in California

For all the electability talk, the one state which will undoubtedly go from “lean Democrat” to “lean Republican” depending on the identity of the Democratic nominee is… Arkansas! Clinton would be favored to carry the state’s 6 electoral votes, and Obama would start as the clear underdog. This is obviously due first and foremost to Clinton’s home-state advantage, more than to her strength, but the importance of 6 electoral votes (and in an unlikely place like Arkansas) should not be understated. We all know where 6 electoral votes would have gotten Gore…

The University of Central Arkansas released a general poll yesterday that confirmed this disparity — also observed in SUSA’s survey last week:

  • Clinton is leading McCain 51% to 36%, while McCain leads Obama 43% to 27%.

Meanwhile, Rasmussen released two surveys from the very crucial states of Ohio and California. After a string of Pennsylvania polls showing McCain leading Clinton and Obama, Democrats would have liked some good news out of Ohio, but it’s not for today:

  • In California, at least, both Democrats are ahead but with differing margins: Clinton is leading by 7% only, 46% to 39%, while Obama gets more than double a lead: 53% to 38%.

In the day’s last poll news, Gallup’s tracking poll has both match-ups completely tied nationally… It can’t get much tighter than that.

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