Archive for the 'KS-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: 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.

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.

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: Obama leads in MI, MN; race is within 2 points in FL, NV, NH, NC

What a polling day! Over the past 24 hours, we got 8 surveys from states that are rated toss-ups or lean, including polls from three of the big four (MI, FL, and PA). After a week of worrisome polls for Democrats, today’s survey should reassure them. While Obama has not inched back ahead here, he does take a solid lead in Minnesota for the first time in four polls, leads outside of the margin of error in Michigan and Pennsylvania as well as in Bush-state New Mexico and he is within 2% in red Florida, North Carolina, Nevada.

McCain receives good news as well, however, as he looks to be in the running in Pennsylvania, fully closes the gap in New Hampshire in two separate polls and jumps 13% in Minnesota if Tim Pawlenty is included as his VP. Here is the full roundup:

  • In Florida (polling history) it’s a one point race as McCain stays stable at 47% and Obama rises by 1% at 46% in ARG’s latest poll. Obama’s share of the Democratic vote is slightly lower than McCain’s share of the GOP vote, but Democrats make up a bigger proportion of the sample. And take a look at this: “45% of likely voters say they would never vote for John McCain in the general election, up from 32% in July, and 33% of likely voters say they would never vote for Barack Obama in the general election, down from 39% in July.”
  • In Pennsylvania (polling history), Obama leads 45% to 40% in a new Rasmussen poll (48% to 45% with leaners). That’s a slight tightening over the past month.
  • In Michigan (polling history), a new Detroit Free Press poll conducted by Ann Selzer brings good news to the Illinois Senator, who leads 46% to 39%. Obama leads 2-1 among first time voters.
  • Insider Advantage’s first poll of North Carolina (polling history) has a tight race well within the margin of error, with McCain leading 45% to 43%.
  • In the race for New Mexico’s five electoral votes, Obama maintains his lead in Rasmussen’s latest poll, 47% to 41%. The margin is 48% to 44% when leaners are factored in. Obama
  • In New Hampshire, Rasmussen finds that Obama has lost the large lead he once enjoyed. Up 11% in June and 6% in July, Obama now gets 43% to McCain’s 42%. The margin stays the same with leaners, 47% to 46%. McCain has solidified the Republican base.
  • Another poll from the state, released by ARG, finds Obama ahead 46% to 45%. He led by 2% last month.
  • In Minnesota (polling history), a Minnesota Public Radio has Obama’s first double-digit lead in the state in a while, up 48% to 38%. Nader gets 3%. But when Pawlenty is included as McCain’s running-mate, the GOP ticket jumps 13%!
  • In Nevada, a Research 2000 poll shows a one point race, with Obama getting 44% and McCain 43%.
  • In Maryland, finally, Obama is up 53% to 41% (53% to 43% with leaners) in a Rasmussen poll.
  • In Kansas, it’s McCain on top by a large margin in SUSA, 58% to 35%. No surprises here.

None of these results are surprising, though it is so rare to see numbers from New Mexico or Nevada that any poll release from those states is an event. Obama looks to be building a consistent lead in NM in particular, but it is difficult to draw any conclusions given that there have only been 4 polls released in more than two months - three of which have come from Rasmussen. (Needless to say, Obama would be very close to the prize if he were to start with New Mexico and Iowa leaning in his direction.)

Obama supporters will be happy to see that these polls do not find McCain gaining in states like Florida, North Carolina and Minnesota - states in which other August surveys found McCain improving his position. And the Michigan survey has to be particularly heartwarming for Democrats, as Ann Selzer is a very reputable pollster (albeit one that is based in Iowa) and Michigan looks to be one of the most dangerous states for Obama. As I said above, however, the NH surveys are great news for McCain, as they mostly erase the notion that Obama has an advantage in the Granite State (though David Broder has concluded that the state leans Obama). McCain could gain some valuable breathing room if he were to capture those 4 electoral votes.

Meanwhile, in down-the-ballot polls:

  • In New Hampshire’s Senate race, Jeanne Shaheen maintains a double-digit lead in ARG, 52% to 41%. That includes a 61% to 33% lead among independents. In July, Shaheen led by 22% - but that had always been somewhat of an outlier.
  • In the New Mexico Senate race, today’s Rasmussen poll is the first sign that Tom Udall might not be as safe a bet as we thought, as he loses significant amount of ground. He still leads 51% to 41%, however (52% to 44% with leaners).
  • In the North Carolina gubernatorial race, the Civitas institute finds a close race, with Perdue leading 43% to 41%. She was up by 3% last month.
  • In the NH’s gubernatorial race, no surprises as Gov. Lynch crushes his minor Republican opposition.
  • In MO-09, an internal poll for the campaign of Judy Baker finds the Democrat narrowly ahead of Blaine Luetkemeyer, 41% to 39%. However, Republicans are much more undecideds than Democrats.
  • And in the Kansas Senate race, Senator Roberts crushes his opponent Jim Slattery despite talk by some Democrats that this is a winnable race. Roberts leads 58% to 31%.

Some interesting numbers here as well, and ARG’s poll is the second in as many days to find Shaheen with a double-digit lead. For an incumbent to enter the fall trailing is always a bad sign, but to have been stuck in the low 40s since the first polls of the cycle is devastating. At least, Sununu has a big enough warchest that he will be able to deal some harsh blows and perhaps tighten the race, but Shaheen retains a clear advantage. As for the New Mexico race, Pearce and Udall have exchanged ads lately, and the Club for Growth has gotten involved on the Republican’s behalf. Yet, no other poll has shown any sign that the race is anything but a blowout for Udall, so we will have to wait and see what other surveys have to say about this.

As for MO-09, this is the first poll to be released from this race. It is great news for Judy Baker that she is this competitive in a conservative district, as her primary opponent’s supporters said that she was too liberal to fit the district. There are two ways to read the results, however. On the one hand, Luetkemeyer has much more of a reserve and could progress as the primary wounds heal; on the other, this reveals a deep malaise with the GOP in Missouri (one that cost Jim Talent his Senate seat in 2006 and that is putting Jay Nixon ahead of his gubernatorial race right now) and that will boost Baker.

Wednesday polls: Two surveys find Virginia tied, Bright takes lead in AL-02

Today was Wednesday - meaning I should have published my electoral college ratings. But my desire to go slower this week combined with the fact that the race has been rather stable for a while now is making me delay it for once - but an update should come shortly. In fact, just a few hours after I pointed out how stable poll numbers had been in most states, a second wave of surveys (including 2 from the crucial battleground of Virginia) gets us to similar conclusions:

  • In Virginia, Rasmussen finds Obama getting 45% to McCain’s 44% - but with leaners it is McCain who inches ahead, 48% to 47%. The candidates’ favorability ratings, however, is not equal: 47% of respondents have an unfavorable view of Obama, versus 31% of McCain.
  • Another poll from Virginia, this one released by Insider Advantage, finds the two candidates tied at 43%.
  • In Nevada, McCain took back the lead he had given up last month and is now ahead 45% to 42% in Rasmussen’s latest poll (48% to 45% with leaners). Obama’s unfavorability rating is 51% - though McCain’s is also high, at 44%.
  • In Washington, SUSA finds the race somewhat tightening, with Obama leading 51% to 44%. Obama led by 16% last month.
  • In Kansas, finally, McCain keeps up a large lead in Rasmussen, 52% to 37% - 55% to 41% with leaners. McCain did lead by 20% last month.

All Virginia polls released since mid-June have the two candidates within 2%, and so do these two new surveys. No surprise, then, that Obama is looking so intent on contesting the Old Dominion, giving Mark Warner the keynote slot and putting Tim Kaine on his VP short list. The reason Virginia looks consistently better for Obama than North Carolina is also obvious, as the two states have roughly the same proportion of black voters but Virginia whites are more likely to vote Democratic than in other Southern states: Obama gets 40% of the white vote in the Insider Advantage poll. Even more so than in North Carolina, an uptick in black turnout could seal the day for the Illinois Senator.

Nevada, however, has got to be disappointing to Democrats. The Kerry campaign milked the Yucca Mountain story in 2004 but fell short and the state is looking to have stayed just where it was four years ago, with the two candidates exchanging the lead back-and-forth. However, there have been no Nevada polls other than Rasmussen’s since June, so it would be nice to have another pollster’s take on this contest.

Meanwhile, in down-the-ballot polls:

  • In North Carolina’s Senate race (polling history), SUSA shows Elizabeth Dole back under 50%, leading Kay Hagan 46% to 41%. Dole led by 12% last month, but the difference might come from the presence in SUSA’s question of a libertarian candidate, Chris Cole, who gets 7%.
  • In the state’s gubernatorial race (polling history), SUSA has Beverly Perdue holding on to a narrow lead, 47% to 44%. A libertarian candidate, Mike Munger, gets 5%.
  • In Washington’s Governor race, SUSA confirms what nearly all polls have been showing - it’s a toss-up between Christine Gregoire, at 50%, and Dino Rossi, at 48%.
  • In the Kansas Senate race, the seesaw continues in Rasmussen’s poll- after being up 9% and then 27%, Pat Roberts is now leading 55% to 36%.
  • In AL-02, a Capital Survey Research Center poll finds Bobby Bright ahead of Jay Love 47% to 37%.
  • In VA-05, finally, a SUSA poll has incumbent Rep. Goode crushing Democratic challenger 64% to 30%.

This is the third poll of AL-02 that has been released over the past week - and it is the second to find Bobby Bright with a 10% lead. The previous two surveys were conflicting internal polls, with both candidates finding themselves ahead (though Love’s poll showed him up by only 2%). In such situations, we are often left wishing an independent poll could be released to give us a better idea of where the race stands - but it is rare to actually be granted that wish when it comes to House races. Put together, these three polls confirm that AL-02 is one of the hottest targets for House Democrats, even though it is a district Bush won with more than 66% of the vote in 2004.

It is difficult to know what to make of SUSA’s North Carolina polls. On the one hand, PPP and Civitas recently showed Dole slipping back under 50%; on the other hand, her fall in this poll seems to have more to do with the inclusion of a libertarian candidate. It is unlikely that a third-party candidate would get such a good result come November and that seems to have skewed the results towards Dole a bit. The same appears to be true in the gubernatorial poll. That said, SUSA’s poll pits the Dole-Hagan showdown where we expect it to be: Dole is clearly the favorite, but Hagan is within striking distance and will receive a tremendous boost from the DSCC’s attack ads against Dole (more on that tomorrow).

Wednesday polls: Merkley takes his first lead in Oregon’s Senate race, though Dole and Roberts increase their lead

Democrats have targeted Gordon Smith since the very first days of the cycle. Along with New Hampshire, Maine and Minnesota, Oregon was part of the original list of the DSCC was determined to go after. But a disappointing recruitment process followed by primary difficulties for Jeff Merkley made Democrats anxious that they could be wasting an opportunity here — just as they seem to be doing in Maine. Well, Democrats finally got some good news from the race with the first poll to find Merkley leading the Republican incumbent:

  • After two straight polls that found Smith leading by single-digits, Rasmussen released its July survey today with Merkley narrowly ahead of Smith, 43% to 41%. When leaners are included, the two candidates are tied at 46%.

Make no mistake, this will not be an easy race for Democrats. Smith has always known he has a target on his back and he has prepared himself — even airing ads linking himself to Barack Obama! Projecting as moderate an image as possible is essential for Smith given Oregon’s increasingly blue profile, but it seems that even might not be enough. Forget Susan Collins, Gordon Smith is the most at risk of being Chaffee-ed this year.

Beyond Oregon’s Senate poll, we can launch our usual poll roundup, starting with a national poll:

  • The latest Reuters/Zogby poll finds Obama slightly increasing his lead. He is now ahead 47% to 40%, though he only has a 3% lead among independents.

This is now the fourth national poll in two days showing Obama with a high single-digit lead, after Quinnipiac’s 9%, the NYT’s 6% and the Washington Post’s 8%. Just as in yesterday’s Quinnipiac survey, it is striking to see Obama leading comfortably overall but not among independents. In 2008, Democratic candidates can win based on their base and on voters who have come to identify with the party since 2004, as long as they can hold roughly even among independents. I stand by what I said yesterday: This confirms to me that it is a “strategic blunder” for Obama to emphasize his centrist positions. In Rasmussen’s Oregon poll, Smith and Merkley get the same percentage of the Republican and Democratic vote respectively and Smith leads among independents by a fairly large 10% — though he trails overall!

Next comes a wave of state presidential polls:

  • SUSA’s poll of North Carolina finds McCain’s lead narrowing to only five percent, 50% to 45%. Obama gets 94% of the black vote but only 31% of the white vote.
  • In Oregon, Rasmussen shows Obama up 46% to 37%, a lead comparable to what he posted last month.
  • In Washington, Moore Information — a Republican firm — finds Obama leading 47% to 37%.
  • And California’s most reputable survey, the Field, has Obama crushing McCain 54% to 30%.
  • No surprises in Kansas, finally, as McCain is up 20% in Rasmsussen’s latest poll, 52 to 32%. That’s up from a 10% lead last month.

No surprises on the Pacific Coast, with Obama holding strong in all three of these states — increasingly so in Oregon and Washington, places Democrats should always be careful in. North Carolina remains an interesting state, with poll after poll showing McCain holding on by the tightest of margins. Note that SUSA’s sample includes 19% of black voters, whereas the 2004 exit poll shows that 26% of voters were African-American (and some predict an increase in black turnout). That shift alone might allow Obama to make up the difference of the SUSA poll.

But Obama will have to improve his share of the white vote to be truly competitive in this Southern state - or in any Southern state except Virginia. Kerry got 27% of whites here four years ago, roughly what Obama got in this SUSA poll. But the good news for Democrats is that Obama does not need to come close to McCain among Southern white voters: combined with overwhelming support from black voters, a significant boost among white voters is all Obama needs to win North Carolina. If 25% of the electorate is black and Obama gets around 90% of that vote, 36% of the white vote would be enough to carry the state.

Finally, a number of down-the-ballot polls:

  • In North Carolina’s Senate race, SUSA finds Elizabeth Dole jumping up to a 12% lead, up from the 4% in May.
  • The state’s gubernatorial race remains a complete toss-up, with Beverly Perdue at 47% and Pat McCrory at 46%.
  • In South Dakota’s Senate race, Tim Johnson has no problem as he crushes his Republican opponent 60% to 35%.
  • Finally, in the Kansas Senate race, Rasmussen breaks the long series of polls finding Sen. Roberts surprisingly weak by now showing him leading Jim Slattery 57% to 30%.

The Dole-Hagan numbers continue to disappoint Democrats, though SUSA’s poll does nothing but confirm what other institutes have already shown: Hagan received a dramatic boost following her primary victory in early May, but Dole’s ad campaign since then have allowed her to create some gap again. She rebounded by 15% in one month in Rasmussen, jumped back up double-digits in Civitas and PPP.

And the Democrat’s quest to find new seats to put in play is also countered today by Rasmussen’s Kansas results; but keep in mind that Research 2000 and Cooper Associates had also found unexpectedly tight numbers. What might have changed in the past few weeks? Taking no chances, Roberts started airing his first ad two weeks ago.

Monday polls: Virginia is indeed a toss-up, and is it worth looking at Kansas?

It is one thing for David Ploufe to insist that the campaign does not need to win Ohio and Florida to get to the White House, it is quite another for pollsters to impose a seeming blackout on polls from these two mega-battleground states. No survey from either has been released since mid-May and in the meantime we got plenty of polls from states like Washington and just today two from New York. A new survey from Virginia released today keeps things interesting:

  • Rasmussen finds that the presidential race in this traditional red state is a toss-up, with Obama edging McCain 45% to 44%. This is a small swing from last month’s survey, in which McCain led by 3%.
  • While McCain’s favorability rating is a bit higher, Obama has a higher proportion of respondents who say they have a very favorable impression of him. However, the familiar pattern of Obama’s very unfavorable rating also being much higher holds in this poll.
  • In New York, two polls confirm the Democrat’s overwhelming advantage. The Sienna poll has Obama leading 51% to 33%. He led by 11% last month and 5% two months ago.
  • The New York Times poll, meanwhile, has Obama leading 51% to 32%.
  • In Kansas, finally, Rasmussen finds McCain ahead 47% to 37%, down from a 21% lead last month.
  • Obama has a mediocre favorability rating, however (49% versus 62% for McCain) and very low very unfavorables (31% versus 12% for McCain).

Of these polls, the Virginia survey is naturally the most interesting. While I did not hesitate to include it in the list of toss-ups in my first electoral college ratings, it is always somewhat of a shock when Obama performs so well in a poll from the Commonwealth. This is, after all, a state that has not voted for a Democrat since 1964. Yet, Rasmussen’s poll is certainly not a surprise. The latest SUSA poll showed Obama leading by 8% three weeks ago and Obama has made no secret that flipping it will be one of his priorities, so far so that there are 3 potential VP picks that come from the state (Webb, Kaine and Warner). He even organized his first general election campaign stop in Virginia. There is no question that McCain losing this state would make it very hard for him to get to 270 electoral votes.

Meanwhile, a number of down-the-ballot polls found some interesting results as well:

  • In Virginia, Mark Warner is widening his lead over Jim Gilmore and is now ahead 60% to 33% in Rasmussen’s poll! Warner has a 70% favorability rating compared to 46% for Gilmore… and don’t forget this is a GOP-held seat!
  • Dems get more good news in Louisiana, where Mary Landrieu is up 49% to 33% in a new poll. However — and this is a big one — this is an internal poll conducted for and released by the Landrieu campaign. But until Kennedy responds with his own poll (and he did release an internal showing him ahead in December), this is positive for Landrieu.
  • In Kansas, meanwhile, Pat Roberts continues to post surprisingly low numbers for an incumbent that no one is really paying attention to. After 3 polls from 3 different polling groups showing him up 12% against former Rep. Slattery, Rasmussen’s latest survey finds the incumbent under 50% and in single-digits, leading 47% to 38%.
  • Roberts’s favorability rating remains high, however, at 60%.
  • In Nevada, Mason-Dixon polled two House races (both currently held by Republicans) and found good news for both parties. In NV-01, Rep. Porter and Dina Titus in a toss-up with the incumbent up 45% to 42%. Porter’s job approval is a dismal 36% to 56%. Note that Titus ran a statewide gubernatorial race in 2006, so she is better-known than your average House challenger.
  • In NV-02, Rep. Dean Heller has a much strong lead against Democrat Jill Derby in a rematch of their 2006 race. Heller is up 53% to 39%.
  • In TX-10, a poll taken for the Democratic challenger in a race few people have on their radar screen (and which I confess I have not included in my latest House ratings) shows the incumbent Mike McCaul leading Democrat Larry Doherty 43% to 34%.
  • As SSP points out, an independent poll from IRV that I managed to miss just last week has Doherty trailing by only 6%, 52% to 46%. Doherty’s decision to release a poll today that shows him faring a bit worse is no doubt due to his desire to prove that the IRV survey was not an outlier and that TX-10 is indeed competitive.
  • Finally, a poll from New York’s gubernatorial race of… 2010, which will interest everyone given how chaotic the state political scene has been lately. This is also important because whether Mike Bloomberg decides he should run will determine whether he tries to change the term limits law in NYC in the coming months. The Sienna poll referred to above has Bloomberg ahead 45% to 34% in a match-up against recently promoted Governor Paterson (who is not that much ahead of AG Andrew Cuomo in a primary).

The Kansas Senate race is too me the most interesting poll of this group because it confirms — and accentuates — the results of three polls that have been released in close proximity (here, here and here). Looking at the latest Rasmussen polls of the second and third-tier of Senate races, Roberts now looks weaker than Dole and Cornyn and he has repeatedly polled lower than Sen. Collins ever has in Maine (well there was one poll showing her leading by only 10%)! Even Chuck Schumer, when trying to tout his attempts to expand the map, refers to Oklahoma more readily than Kansas. So at one point does the DSCC start looking in Kansas’s direction? Given Schumer’s determination to test the vulnerability of incumbents, it would not be a surprise if the DSCC conducts a poll and sends in a few staffers.

Poll roundup: Missouri looks like a toss-up, and testing Sen. Roberts

Given how obsessively we have all been following the Clinton-Obama race for 18 months now, it is strange to think that we will soon go entire days without mentioning Clinton’s name once or including her in blog posts. Here is a poll roundup post, for instance, with no survey testing Clinton’s name! I am offering this little prelude to ease your way into this post-Clinton election season, one with new code words and constituencies to watch.

The first noteworthy poll of the day is CBS’s latest national poll that shows Bush’s approval rating has sank to 25%. I have never monitored the president’s ratings nor will this be a recurrent feature, but this is the lowest number even attained by President Bush, who has now gone under Nixon’s 26%. He still needs to beat Harry Truman and Jimmy Carter, however. The data’s relevance to the general election is obvious. We all know that McCain has been able to distance himself from Republican woes surprisingly well and that he is quite possibly the only candidate his party could have nominated that would not automatically have sank because of the national environment. Yet, there is only so much that even a politician like McCain can do and the lower Bush’s approval rating remains (or falls further) the hardest it will be for the Arizona Senator to mount a credible campaign over the next 6 months.

Second, we have a series of general election polls from important states:

  • Rasmussen released numbers from Missouri and finds Obama edging out McCain 43% to 42%. This is a great trendline for the Democrat, as he trailed by 5% last month and by 15% in March.
  • In Kansas, Research 2000 found McCain surprisingly low, leading 51% to 40%.
  • In West Virginia, finally, Rasmussen has a surprisingly tight race with McCain ahead 45% to 38%. Obama suffers from a disastrous approval rating (40% favorable, 58% unfavorable).

This is the second Missouri poll this week to show Obama edging out McCain, the first having been released by SUSA. This is a favorable turnaround for the Illinois Senator. As the trendlines of the Rasmussen and SUSA polls indicate, he had been trailing in the past few months — by narrow margins, yes, but constantly enough to warrant my rating Missouri as a “lean McCain” state in my first electoral college ratings. With Florida potentially out of reach, Obama needs to demonstrate that he has an ample reach elsewhere and the Midwest looks within reach. Also, if Obama is able to be highly competitive in Missouri (something Kerry gave up on early), it speaks well of his chances in Ohio.

Finally, we close with two congressional polls from two races that clearly lean Republican:

  • In the Kansas Senate race, Research 2000’s survey is now the second poll to find Senator Roberts in an unexpectedly competitive race. Sure, he leads former Rep. Slattery 50% to 38% but this is a very Republican state and a state almost no one has been talking about.
  • In OH-07, an open seat in which the top Democrat declined to run noting that chances of victory were too small, an internal poll conducted for Democratic candidate Neuhart finds him trailing state Senator Auria 41% to 35%. Bush won the district with 57%, so it is not as conservative as some of the other open seats Democrats won this spring.
  • However, this is definitely the type of poll meant to make a candidate look good (as a further question is asked after biographical information is read), so take the results with a grain of salt.

Such polls do have an effect on campaigns as they get the attention of national Democrats. With a Rasmussen poll and now a Research 2000 survey finding Roberts barely at the 50% threshold, Chuck Schumer will probably move to test the incumbent’s vulnerability, commission a poll himself and see whether it is worth sending a few staffers. And with the decline of Minnesota as a pick-up opportunity, Democrats will be looking to expand the map even further to guarantee a large number of take-overs and keep open the (small but existent) possibility of a 60-seat majority.

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.

Friday polls: Preparing for May 20th, and new results from Alaska and Maine’s Senate races

The political world’s attention has turned away from the Democratic primaries — to the great frustration of the 5 states and territories that have not gotten a chance to vote. So close to mattering, Kentucky and Oregon will still decide the conditions in which the Democratic candidates finish the race, how much talk there is of Obama’s general election vulnerabilities and also — and this could obviously prove important — whether Clinton is at all in a position to drag this thing to the convention. Two new polls from ARG suggest Clinton could have a very good day on May 20th, when Kentucky and Oregon hold their primaries:

  • In Oregon, ARG finds Obama to be ahead only 50% to 45%.
  • Oregon’s primary is entirely mail-in and 58% of respondents said they had already turned in their ballot. Among those, Clinton and Obama are tied at 49%. Note that this is the second poll in which Clinton is tied with Obama among this group of voters but trailing overall (SUSA was the first a few days ago) suggesting the Obama camp might be demobilizing.
  • Meanwhile, ARG shows Clinton crushing Obama 65% to 29% in Kentucky, including 73% of white voters. Note that Edwards is once again on the ballot here so we will see if he can repeat his West Virginia exploits.

In the list of “what if”s that must be haunting the Clinton campaign is something they had no control over and that no one really thought would matter until the morning of February 6th — what if West Virginia and Kentucky were scheduled to vote in the latter half of February instead of, say, Maryland and Louisiana. Or Virginia and Wisconsin. Would Obama have built the same unstoppable momentum, putting Clinton in an untenable position in the run-up to March 4th? The quickness with which the race went from “this is a pure toss-up” on February 6th to “is there any path for Clinton to win the nomination” on February 13th was one of the most remarkable stretches of time of this entire campaign.

Meanwhile, general election polls were released today:

  • First, a Strategic Vision poll from Georgia shows McCain leading Obama by a 54% to 40%.

This is not as huge a margin as Republicans can hope, but it’s hard to see a path for Obama to make this state competitive for now, despite talk of that in some Democratic circles. Georgia has been one of the states that has been trending the most Republican in the past few years. It was the only state where Republicans got close to winning a Dem-held seat in 2006 (not one, but two!) and consider that this same Strategic Vision poll shows that the leading Democrat in the senatorial primary is someone who professes to have voted for Bush in both 2000 and 2004… Also:

  • A Rasmussen poll from Kansas shows McCain not trembling against either Democrat in this deep red state. He leads Obama 55% to 34% and Clinton 53% to 39%.
  • A Rasmussen poll from Maine shows both Democrats leading McCain 51% to 38%, a good margin in a sometimes-tight state where a close victory would mean the loss of an electoral vote.
  • Also, a Rasmussen poll from Washington confirms that WA will be less competitive this year than in 2000 (it wasn’t at the front of Dem worries in 04). Obama leads 51% to 40%, Clinton 47% to 42% — very similar margins to yesterday’s SUSA poll.
  • Finally, Alaska is the big surprise of the day as polls continue to show a single-digit general election race in what is supposed to be a Republican blowout. Research 2000 finds McCain leading 49% to 42% (Clinton trails 55% to 37%) and Rasmussen finds McCain leading 50% to 41% — slightly larger but still underwhelming.

Alaska’s tightness is the only shocking finding of these numbers, though McCain was certainly hoping to keep both Washington and Maine closer due to his appeal among independents. Maine has been a state where both Kerry and Gore have feared losing one of the districts and thus an electoral vote (ME and NE are the only non-winner-take-all states) and Democrats would not like to have to spend money to defend just one electoral vote come the fall campaign.

Finally, three down-the-ballot polls, both from Rasmussen, give something to spin to both parties:

  • In Washington, Christine Gregoire has opened a surprising 52% to 41% lead against challenger Dino Rossi in the gubernatorial race. All polls of this race have shown a complete toss-up, with the animosity of the 2004 campaign translating to fixed positions in 2008. So until there is confirmation that there has been movement, consider this to be an outlier.
  • Meanwhile, in Maine’s Senate race, Rasmussen finds Susan Collins leading Tom Allen by 10 percent, 52% to 42%. This is down from a 16% lead last month.
  • Finally, a new Rasmussen poll from Alaska shows Mark Begich leading Ted Stevens 47% to 45% — a confirmation of the trouble Stevens is in after a Research 2000 poll showed him trailing by 5% earlier this week. The previous Rasmussen poll showed Stevens leading by 1%.

It’s hard to know what to make of the Maine Senate race. This has been one of the Democrats’ top target since the beginning. But a series of polls in the fall showing Collins with huge leads against Allen showed that this would not be a repeat of Rhode Island’s 2006 race and that Collins had a much more solid base among independents and Democrats (a base any Republican Senator needs in Maine). In this poll, she gets 34% of Democrats and the two candidates are tied among independents. Also, this poll finds her with a 70% favorability rating, including 32% saying they have a very favorable impression of her. And Tom Allen is no unknown…

Yet, in a Democratic year in a Democratic state with a strong candidate, Democrats are not out of the running yet. A 10 percent lead is still not enough to make this a top-tier race, but it looks like the increase of partisanship could be making Collins more vulnerable, and the disparity between her favorability rating and her vote percentage is telling of the same difficulty that plagued Chaffee in Rhode Island. But she remains above 50 percent so we will wait for confirmation that there is any tightening at all here.

SUSA releases wave of general election polls, with both Democrats displaying their usual weaknesses

On March 19th and March 20th, SUSA released 16 general election polls that recorded public opinion in the aftermath of the Wright controversy; in many states, Obama was found to be plunging due to his continued weakness among registered Democrats and to the departure of independents and registered Republicans.

A month has passed, and SUSA released 14 general election polls from some crucial contests today; there is some good news for all candidates in these polls, but the first thing that jumps at me is the extent to which McCain is holding strong, putting a number of Democratic states in play. Obama leads McCain by single-digits in Massachusetts, New York, and California — including a toss-up (once again) in Massachusetts.

The two Democrats are exhibiting their usual weaknesses that we notice in poll after poll. Obama has regained some of the ground he lost last month, but his at times stunning weakness among registered Democrats in places like Ohio and Missouri leaves him distanced by McCain (and Clinton). This is also also what is making states like MA and CA competitive. This weakness has been picked up over and over again by SUSA — but also by other institutes (check the most recent Quinnipiac poll from FL, OH and PA with McCain picking-up a significant number of Dem votes when he faces Obama). However small this problem might seem, it is wrong to simply assume that registered Democrats will come home; the ease with which many Dems cross-over is exactly what Clinton is talking about when she questions Obama’s electability and McCain has demonstrated his appeal among Democrats.

Meanwhile, Clinton has her own major problems. First, she comes in at dismally low number among African-American voters in most of these states. I do not always mention the results here since in many states the sample of black voters is too small to be statistically significant, but the trend is too consistent to not be revealing. In places like Virginia, Clinton cannot hope to remain competitive without rallying the African-American vote. Obama supporters, of course, contend that for Clinton to win the nomination would take such an ugly scenario that there is no way the New York Senator could regain the black vote. Second, Clinton does not as well as Obama among independents and registered Republicans in many states; in places like Oregon and Wisconsin, we have been seeing this trend for a while, as independent voters in a number of states (particularly in the West) seem to be among Clinton’s harshest critics.

And here is the run-down of the numbers:

  • The most important state polled by SUSA is undoubtedly Ohio, where Clinton opens up a very significant lead against McCain, 53% to 42%. But McCain leads Obama 47% to 45%. That’s a 5% shift towards both Democrats compared to last month, when Obama trailed by 7%.
  • Almost all the difference is due to registered Democrats, Obama carries 65%, Clinton 82%. Also, Obama loses the white vote by 12% while Clinton leads, though she underperforms among blacks (73%).
  • In Missouri, Clinton edges McCain 48% to 47% but McCain comfortably is ahead of Obama, 50% to 42%. McCain gets a full 27% of the vote of registered Democrats when paired up against Obama… which accounts for his trailing the Republican despite performing better among independents. This is actually a 6% improvement for Obama, however, compared to last month.
  • In Virginia, Obama performs better than Clinton but suffers from a significant decline: After tying McCain two straight months, he is now behind 52% to 44%. Clinton is crushed 55% to 39% — she is also tied McCain last month. This is due to Clinton’s dismal performance among blacks (60%) while Obama comes in much stronger among independents.
  • Obama’s decline in the past month is due to McCain’s closing the margin among registered Democrats by 17%.
  • In Kentucky, which is not supposed to be anywhere near the list of purple states, Clinton defies the odds by statistically tying McCain, 48% to 46%. She gets 73% of the Democratic vote. Obama trails 63% to 29% and loses the Democratic vote by a point.
  • It’s hard to believe, but that is actually an improvement: Obama lost the Democratic vote by 7% last month, at least suggesting that this is not a complete outlier.
  • In New Mexico, McCain narrowly beats both Democrats: 49% to 46% against Clinton, 49% to 44% against Obama.
  • The two Democrats are equally strong among Hispanics.
  • In Minnesota, Obama leads McCain 49% to 43%; Clinton edges him 47% to 46%. That’s a 7% improvement for the Illinois Senator.
  • In Iowa, Obama polls much better — as usual: He beats McCain 49% to 42%, while Clinton trails 48% to 42%. The difference comes from independents, among whom Clinton trails by 26%!
  • In Oregon, another bluish swing state, Clinton and McCain are in a toss-up, 47% to 46%. Obama comes in much stronger, 51% to 42%. Here again, the difference comes from independents.
  • In Wisconsin, one of the tightest states in the country, Clinton and McCain are tied at 46%. Obama edges McCain 49% to 44%. The difference is very clearly due to independent voters: Obama leads by 1%, Clinton trails by 17%.

The next category are staunchly blue states that are essential to a Democratic victory — and there are signs of troubles for Democrats, particularly in case of an Obama candidacy. The Illinois Senator looks weak in three states that constitute much of the Democratic base:

  • In Massachusetts, especially, poll after poll have shown Obama weak against McCain: This survey shows the Illinois Senator barely edging out the Republican, 48% to 46%. Clinton crushes McCain 56% to 41%. Most of the difference comes from registered Democrats: Obama gets 65%, and Clinton gets 84%. Believe it or not, this is actually a slight improvement for Obama, who was tied with McCain last month.
  • In California, Clinton beats McCain 53% to 40%; but McCain keeps Obama in single-digits, 50% to 43%. The difference here is first among women (Clinton has a 18% lead, Obama 8%) and both Democrats and independents (McCain actually leads Obama by 2% among the latter group!). That’s a 7% drop for Obama over the past month.
  • In New York, the story is very simi
    lar: Clinton crushes McCain 55% to 39%, Obama is held to single-digits, 52% to 43%. Most of the difference comes from registered Democrats (McCain trails by 17% less). Obama already led by single-digits last month.

SUSA also released a few polls from red states that aren’t competitive at all:

  • In Alabama, McCain predictably crushes both Democrats. He beats Clinton 60% to 34% and Obama 64% to 32%. Only 65% of black voters vote for Clinton, while Obama gets only 15% of white voters.
  • In Kansas, McCain beats Clinton 57% to 36% and Obama 54% to 37%. That’s an improvement for the Republican against both Democrats.

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