In my latest presidential ratings this morning, I identified the three states to watch in the election’s final stretch: Virginia, Pennsylvania and Colorado. Eight days from the election, Obama holds strong in those crucial states: A grand total of five new Virginia polls were released today, finding a consistent Obama advantage. Only Rasmussen found Obama holding a lead smaller than 7%, the four others having Obama’s lead go as high as 11%. Only one poll each from Colorado and Pennsylvania were released: Obama was leading comfortably in Pennsylvania, though his margin in Colorado is smaller than Democrats are hoping to see (4%).
That said, there is some movement in McCain’s favor in the tracking polls, and I feel compelled to point that out because of what I said in yesterday’s poll watch, when remarking on McCain’s inability to break out of the low 40s: “The day McCain manages to inch above 45%, we can think about whether the race is tightening.” Today, McCain gets to 46% in one national poll and is at 45% in three more. But Obama remains in a dominant position, as he is at 50% or above in six of the seven tracking polls; only IBD/TIPP has him at a weaker position, and that tracking’s internals are rather strange (Obama enjoys stronger party loyalty and leads among independents but only leads by 3%).
In other states, Obama’s strong position is confirmed: New polls in Ohio and Florida find Obama holding an advantage, especially in the former state. In fact, Rasmussen’s polls from these two states should put to rest talk of a tightening since Obama gains 5% and 6% in the two surveys over those released last Monday.
McCain’s two best trendlines today come from PPP’s North Carolina survey (that had Obama up 7% last week, up 1% today) and SUSA and Rasmussen’s Missouri polls (Obama led by 8% and 5%, he now ties and is ahead by 1%), but the size of Obama’s lead in all three of these surveys was not confirmed by other polls, making this week’s surveys expected regressions to the mean. In fact, it is great for Obama is that the true toss-ups are not the states he needs to win but rather places like North Carolina or Missouri: six new polls in those two states find tight races. Even Arizona polls are now showing a competitive race!
- Obama remains ahead in the day’s tracking polls, though there is some movement: Obama loses a significant three points in Research 2000 (50% to 42%, with a 5% lead in the Sunday sample) and Rasmussen (51% to 46%); he also loses 1% in IBD/TIPP (47% to 44%). Three trackings are stable: Washington Post/ABC (52% to 45%), Hotline (50% to 42%) and Zogby (50% to 45%). Obama inches up one point in Gallup (53% to 43%, the same margin as RVs and double his lead in the LVT model). That means that Obama’s leads are: 3%, 5%, 5%, 7%, 8%, 8% and 10%.
- Virginia: Five new polls have Obama in the lead by margins ranging from 4% to 11%. The two most recent are Rasmussen and SUSA: Obama leads 52% to 43% in a SUSA poll, including a huge lead among early voters. His lead in Rasmussen is smaller: 51% to 47%, down from a 10% lead last week.
- Obama leads 52% to 45% in a Zogby poll conducted over the week-end. Obama leads 52% to 44% in a Washington Post poll. (He led by 3% last month. This time, 50% of respondents say they have been personally contacted by the Obama campaign. The enthusiasm gap is huge, with 70% of Obama supporters describing themselves as enthusiastic.) Obama leads 51% to 40% in a VCU poll.
- Ohio: Obama leads 50% to 45% in a Zogby poll, in which he has a 16% edge among independents. Obama leads 49% to 45% in Rasmussen, a 6% swing from last week.
- Colorado: Obama leads 50% to 46% in Rasmussen, a 1% gain for McCain over last week.
- Missouri: The candidates are tied at 48% in a SUSA poll. Obama leads 48% to 46% in a Zogby poll. Obama leads 48% to 47% in a Rasmussen poll.
- Florida: The candidates are tied at 47% in a Zogby poll, though Obama has a strangely large 62-25 lead among independents. Obama leads 49% to 44% in a Suffolk poll of the state (up from 4%). Obama leads 51% to 47% in a Rasmussen poll, a 5% swing in his favor since last week.
- Pennsylvania: Obama leads 50% to 41% in a Temple University poll. The survey was conducted over an entire week (from the 20th to the 26th), however.
- Nevada: Obama leads 48% to 44% in a Zogby poll, barely outside of the margin of error.
- North Carolina: Obama leads 50% to 46% in a Zogby poll. Obama leads 49% to 48% in a PPP poll, though he led by 7% last week. There are far less undecided voters this week. However, among early voters (about a third of the sample), Obama leads 63% to 36% (”looking at it another way, 49% of blacks in our survey said they had already voted. Only 29% of white voters said the same”). McCain leads 49% to 48% in Rasmussen, a 1% gain for Obama since late last week.
- Iowa: Obama leads 52% to 42% in a Marist poll, the same margin he enjoyed last month.
- New Hampshire: Obama leads 50% to 45% in a Marist poll, a one point decline since September.
- Indiana: McCain leads 50% to 44% in a Zogby poll.
- West Virginia: McCain leads 50% to 40% in a Zogby poll, thanks in part to 28% of Democratic voters.
- Oregon: Obama leads 57% to 38% in a SUSA poll. Half of the electorate has already voted (remember that all of Oregon votes by mail), and Obama leads by 28% among those voters.
- Arizona: The third poll in two days finds McCain in trouble in his home state. He leads 51% to 46% in a Rasmussen poll.
- Washington: Obama leads 55% to 34% in a University of Washington poll.
- Safe states: Obama leads 56% to 31% in a Hartford Courant poll of Connecticut. McCain leads 46% to 33% in a Press Register poll of Mississippi. Obama leads 61% to 34% in a Rasmussen poll of California.
Meanwhile, in down-the-ballot polls:
- Jeff Merkley leads 49% to 42% in a SUSA poll of Oregon’s Senate race. Half of the electorate has already voted, and Merkley leads by 10% among those voters.
- Mark Udall leads 51% to 38% in a Rocky Mountain News poll of Colorado’s Senate race.
- Kay Hagan leads 48% to 45% in a PPP poll of North Carolina’s Senate race. She led by 8% last week.
- Jay Nixon leads 55% to 38% in a SUSA poll of Missouri’s gubernatorial race.
- Christine Gregoire leads 51% to 45% in a University of Washington poll of the Washington gubernatorial race.
- In TX-22, Republican challenger Pete Olson leads Democratic Rep. Nick Lampson 53% to 36% in a new Zogby poll.
- In FL-25, GOP Rep. Diaz-Balart leads 45% to 42% in a Research 2000 poll. Among early voters, Garcia leads 52% to 46%.
- In CA-04, Democratic candidate Charlie Brown leads 48% to 42% in a Research 2000 poll.
- In SC-01, GOP Rep. Harry Brown leads 50% to 45% in a new SUSA poll.
- In TX-07, GOP Rep. Culberson leads 47% to 40% in a Zogby poll.
- In OH-15, Marie Joe Kilroy leads 46% to 37% in a Kilroy internal.
Jeff Merkley’s numbers are the most important of this group, as this is the Oregon Democrat’s largest lead yet against Gordon Smith, who continues to be stuck in the low 40s. More importantly, SUSA’s polls confirms what was one of the main reasons I changed the ratings of the race to lean Democratic two days ago: Because of Oregon’s mail-in voting system, Election Day is happening right now in Oregon, giving Smith no time to catch up. While remaining ahead, Kay Hagan does not look to be as favored as her Oregon colleague.
A number of fascinating indepenent House polls were released as well, the most noteworthy of which is Zogby’s survey from TX-22: This was long seen as an extremely highly endangered Democatic seat, but the DCCC’s decision to dump hundreds of thousands of dollars suggested they saw Lampson with a chance at surviving. Zogby’s poll indicates that the conventional wisdom was right and that Lampson is an underdog in what is one of the most Republican seats represented by a Democrat. That said, the DCCC has just debuted a very hard-hitting ad on Pete Olsen, accusing him of voter fraud. We will see whether that moves any numbers.
As for CA-04, SC-01 and TX-07, all three are heavily Republican districts and for independent polls to find the Republican under 50% in each and the Democrat leading in one is obviously major news, and confirms that Democrats can expect to prevail in a few heavily conservative seats on November 4th.