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Election Night: OBAMA WINS, underwhelming night for congressional Dems

4am: Time to call it a night. A huge night for Democrats with Barack Obama’s victory, but for congressional Dems the results are a bit underwhelming and it is safe to say there was no wave. We will talk about this more tomorrow, but Democrats won the race that were already leaning towards them and a few toss-ups, but most of those broke towards Republicans - not to mention what looks like an incredible save by the GOP in Alaska. A number of races are left, so here’s a look at what is still being counted:

  • Senate: Democrats have only secured 5 pick-ups, with the GOP saving Kentucky and Mississippi. Left are: (1) Oregon, which looks good for Democrats since Portland is massively under-reporting and Merkley will pick up a huge share of the vote there. (2) Minnesota, which is extremely tight at the moment as Franken is nursing a 2000 vote lead [late update: It's Coleman back on top with 500 votes!] (3) Georgia, where there is now a controversy over the potential existence (as reported by the AP) of hundreds of thousands of uncounted early ballots; if true, Chambliss would go under 50% and this will head to a runoff. (4) Alaska: Incredibly Ted Stevens leads 48% to 46% with 96% of the vote reporting! But the ADN reports that there could be as many as 50,000 absentee ballots left to be counted!
  • House: Democrats stand at a gain of net 17 seats, as the GOP has saved a lot of its most vulnerable seats. We still have a number of uncalled races: AK-AL, CA-04, CA-50, ID-01, MD-01, NJ-03, OH-15, SC-01, VA-05, WA-08. All are held by the GOP. Democratic candidates look very good in MD-01, VA-05, with the rest up for grabs. Will Democrats fall short of a net gain of 20 seats?

Democrats could improve their totals still, but they are right now facing the possibility of less than 20 gains in the House and 6 Senate pick-ups. Those are strong results, but they would also constitute a huge relief for Republicans.

And then there is Proposition 8, of course, which is still too close to call with a clear edge to the yes… 3 other states already passed gay-bashing measures (Arizona, Arkansas and Florida).

3:50am: So many underwhelming results for Democrats that it is hard to know where to start, but Minnesota and New Jersey are definitely going to be at the top of the party’s disappointments: NJ-03 had been called a pick-up but has now been pulled back to the too close to call column by CNN. Republican candidate Myers is leading by 2% with 93% reporting, so it looks like the GOP might be able to hold on to its two open seats in the Garden State (who would have thought that possible?). In Alaska, meanwhile, it’s hard to see how Rep. Don Young could lose at this point (surely one of the night’s biggest upsets).

3:40am: GOP Rep. Walberg goes down by 3%  in MI-07, meaning that Dems have picked-up two Michigan districts. Also: After AL-03 and SC-02, yet another district in which the DCCC did not play went for the Republican incumbent by a narrow margin (CA-03). Democrats, meanwhile, hold on to an endangered seat of their own: CA-11.

Franken and Coleman are now exchanging the lead as the last precincts are coming on. Franken is now up by 2000, but he was trailing by just as much a few minutes ago. 97% of Hennepin County is now reporting, so Franken still retains a reservoir of votes - but this could truly go either way. But Democrats are possibly experiencing a huge disappointment in Alaska, where Ted Stevens is still leading by 2% with more than 80% of the vote reporting.

In California, Prop 8 remains in the lead 52% to 48% with two thirds of the precincts reporting. I am having trouble getting a sense of which areas have yet to report. Two Democratic districts have yet to report anything at all, so the “no” hasn’t lost just yet here.

3:20am: GOP Rep. Chabot falls in OH-01, Democrat Boccieri picks-up OH-16 but Rep. Schmidt survives yet again in OH-02. OH-15 has yet to be called but it appears that Republicans might be able to hold on to it. Less surprising holds by the GOP in CA-26, CA-45, CA-46 and NV-02.

Two other huge House developments: In SC-01, I am taking the seat back from the GOP for now despite CNN’s call. Rep. Brown is only leading 53% to 47% but all the remaining precincts are in Charleston County, which is only reporting at 34% and where Linda Ketner has 59% of the vote. She will have to win the remaining votes by the same margin, but this one could still tighten. In AK-AL, it looks like Rep. Don Young will pull the most stunning upset of the night and survive as he leads by 7,5% with 72% counted.

3:05am: Indiana has been called for Obama, Montana and Alaska have been called for McCain. Still not called are North Carolina (where Obama leads 20,000) and Missouri (McCain leads by 3,000 votes). Note that this is exactly what we were expecting: Obama would win the traditionally swing states more or less comfortably and the true toss-ups would be IN, MO and NC. Polls were pretty much on target at the state level. With Obama falling just short in a number of long-shot red states he was contesting, it looks like Indiana  will be remembered as the most shocking turn-around: Bush won the state with 21% in 2004! (If Obama ends up prevailing there, North Carolina will be a close second.)

2:55am: The roller-coaster continues in Minnesota where Al Franken takes his first lead in hours with 96% reporting - but it’s only 1000 votes. Hennepin County is still at 91%, so this is starting to look better for Franken.

In Georgia, a potentially major development: The AP is now reporting that there could be a large amount of early votes still uncounted in some dense counties. If true, that could be more than enough to put Chambliss under 50%.

2:45am: GOP Rep. Porter goes down in NV-03, GOP Rep. Drake goes down in VA-02 and it looks like Rep. Chabot in OH-01 might do the same. Democratic challenger Titus defeated Porter by a healthy margin in Nevada, continuing the Democratic take-over in the Southwest. Drake is one of the only upset losers of a night that has yielded very few surprises. (In fact, the two biggest surprises of the night come from Virginia, in the form of VA-02 and probably VA-05). And in Ohio, we went from 45% reporting to 99% reporting seemingly at once and Democrat Driehaus is now leading by 4% in what would be a great development for Democrats.

2:18am: Democrats pick-up AL-02, which becomes one of the most conservative districts in the country represented by a Democrat (ID-01 could join in if Rep. Sali is defeated). All is not finished in Georgia! As precincts keep reporting, Chambliss keeps going down and he is now at 50,3% with 98% reporting. If he goes a vote under 50%, this one is going to a runoff.

Here is my attempts at listing House districts that have yet to be called: AK-AL, ID-01, MD-01, MI-07, OH-01, OH-02, OH-15, OH-16, NV-02, NV-03, VA-02, VA-05, WA-08, as well as a number of California races. Democrats are leading in a number of these races (especially in MD-01, NV-03, OH-16, VA-02 and VA-05 where the count is basically over).

2:10am: There are still a lot of outstanding races out there for those who are trying to stay up, and Minnesota is certainly the most fascinating. Coleman is now leading by 3,000 votes but only 87% of Hennepin County (Minneapolis) is reporting. If the remaining 13% report at the same margin as the other 80%, Franken could overcome Coleman’s lead - though rural counties don’t get in the way.

In Alaska, there is no way of knowing where results are coming from but Ted Stevens and Don Young are leading right now with more than half of precincts reporting. As I said, this could be coming in from anywhere in the state - and there are certainly areas in which Young and Stevens’ support is strong (as we learned in the GOP’s House primary in August). In Oregon, Jeff Merkley is ahead by a hair but Portland is under-reporting.

1:55am: Two huge wins for Republicans in KS-02, where they defeat Democratic incumbent Nancy Boyda and in MN-06, where Michelle Bachmann incredibly wins re-election. But buckle your seat belt, we are in for a wild ride in Minnesota! With 89% reporting, Norm Coleman is now leading by 160 votes! Can Franken give Minnesota Democrats one reason to cheer?

In what is one of the most stunning race of the night, Democrat Mike Arcurci barely won re-election in NY-24, a district that no one was watching. New York Democrats can at least cheer the addition of 3 new House seats and the pick-up of the New York state Senate! The Empire State’s Republican Party has now lost all power.

1:30am: GOP Rep. Joe Knollenberg falls in MI-09, but three huge saves for Republicans in FL-25, MN-03 and NE-02, where Joe Garcia, Ashwin Madia and Jim Esch fell short. Florida didn’t end up being the treasure trove Democrats were hoping it would be: both Diaz-Balart brothers survived relatively comfortably and GOP candidates crushed their opponents in FL-13 and FL-18. Michelle Bachmann, meanwhile, continues to lead. We wait for final results out of Virginia, Ohio, Nevada.

Sure, Republicans are losing a lot of House seats - but they are also doing better than they surely expected in a number of seats and will avoid the worst.

1:10am: Christine Gregoire re-elected Governor of Washington, so Democrats have not lost a single statewide seat for the second cycle in a row. (They did lose Louisiana’s governorship in 2007, however.) Meanwhile, in Senate races: Democrats are on the verge of being denied 60 seats, but exit polls suggest Ted Stevens is going down in Alaska while Jeff Merkley is holding into a lead with Democratic counties under-reporting. In Georgia, Chambliss is holding above 50% with nearly all precincts reporting.

That leaves us with Minnesota: Coleman is ahead by more than 50,000 with 73% reporting. But if the remaining 60% of Minneapolis’s county come in as the rest has, Franken could still storm back.

1am: Outspoken social conservative GOP Rep. Musgrave goes down in CO-04, allowing Democrats to continue making remarkable gains in Colorado. Over the past three cycles, they’ve picked-up two Senate seats, the governorship, three House seats and the state’s 9 electoral votes! Combined this with New Mexico, where Democrats picked-up two House seats and a Senate seat today alone and now control all federal races! (More gains could come from Nevada). The Southwest has shifted towards Democrats, and this could have lasting consequences on the country’s political dynamics.

12:50am: Republicans keep MO-09, continuing to deny Democratic a significant wave. There are, however, a number of GOP races in which Democrats are currently leading - including VA-02, VA-05, MI-09, ID-01, CO-04 and also MI-07, where Mark Schauer has just taken a lead of a few hundred votes against Rep. Walberg.

However, it looks like the GOP might pull-out a stunning save in OH-15, as Mary Joe Kilroy (who was expected to win in 2006 before falling short by a few hundred votes) has just fallen behind by 900 votes with 96% reporting. In Minnesota, Coleman continues to expand his lead - but in Georgia Chambliss is now down to 51%. With 97% reporting, however, it looks like Chambliss has enough votes to avoid a runoff.

12:35am: Democrats pick-up NM-01, hold GA-08 and WI-08, two seats that were rated toss-ups in my ratings. However, Democratic Rep. Nancy Boyda looks like she will go down in KS-02, another toss-up race in which a Republican challenger leads 51% to 46%. This means that many new Democratic representatives will be blue dogs - but all the outgoing Democrats will be as well (Cazayoux, Lampson, Mahoney and possibly Boyda).

Norm Coleman has inched ahead 43% to 41% (26,000 votes) with 63% reporting. Minneapolis’s County is under-reporting. But it looks like the GOP is surviving in Minnesota as Bachmann is leading by 6% and Paulsen is leading by 5%. Democrats

12:20am: Republicans pick-up TX-22 and they are doing a good job at holding at their marginal seats as they win SC-01, SC-02, TX-07 and TX-10. The tightest among them looks to have been SC-02, which was considered the least endangered of the night! Rep. Wilson won by 8% - will the DCCC regret not having made a move there? The Democratic House wave isn’t quite as big as some predicted. Republicans are also fighting on in OH-15, which was called prematurely for Democrats.

12:10am: Republicans hold WV-02 and WY-AL but Democrats pick-up NM-02, a conservative open seat, as Obama’s New Mexico coattails looks like it will lead to a blue sweep of all of the state’s federal races as Martin Heinrich looks really strong in NM-01. It is interesting how the GOP is performing awfully in some states (NM and VA, for instance) while proving unexpectedly strong in others (MN, where Coleman, Paulsen and Bachmann all lead - though all races remain too close to call). In case anyone had doubts about these races that were once competitive: Democrats held OR-05 and the GOP held MO-09.

midnight: Obama takes the stage accompanied by his family, delivering a rousing speech in front of hundreds of thousands of supporters and choosing to renew with the themes of his 2004 convention speech and of his January 3rd Iowa victory speech. As he speaks, Nevada is called for him - continuing a remarkable sweep of red states (IN, MO and NC are still too close to call).

11:55pm: Mary Landrieu wins re-election in Louisiana by a much narrower margin than expected. This means that Republicans will not win a single Dem-held Senate seat for the second cycle in a row. Another major congressional hold for Democrats in AL-05, where Parker Griffith barely prevailed.

11:50pm: Colorado called for Obama, and Democrats pick-up NY-29, PA-03 (two major pick-ups) though Republicans save FL-21 and NY-26. All were endangered GOP districts. Less surprisingly, Republicans kept FL-18. FL-25, MO-09 and NE-02 are extremely competitive with the GOP candidates narrowly away.

11:45pm: Sen. Wicker wins Mississippi’s Senate race, making it unlikely Dems get to 60 seats. Another for Republicans: IL-10. Obama’s coattails did not carry Dan Seals across the finish line. There are still a lot of tight House races throughout the country, but Republicans still have hope of avoiding a catastrophe at the House level - just as they seem to have saved a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

In Georgia, Chambliss is now at 52% and Democrats are gaining rapidly. Are there many more African-American neighborhoods? In Minnesota, Franken is 300 votes ahead of Coleman!

11:40pm: Arizona passes its ban on gay marriage two years after rejecting it. In Florida, the “yes” is holding at 62% (it needs 60% to pass). In California, Prop 8 is passing right now by 10% - but it’s still early and the Bay Area is not reporting.

11:35pm: More House results coming in: VA-11 called for Democrats, and it looked like they will win VA-05 as well as Perriello has expanded his lead to 2000 votes with 99% precincts reporting.  Democrats save GA-12. And a truly major relief for Republicans: Rep. Shadegg saves his seat in AZ-03.

11:25pm: Mark Udall called the winner in Colorado’s Senate race in the Democrats’ 5th pick-up. And other key House calls: Democrats pick-up NJ-03 but they stunningly lose NJ-07. They also pull an incredible save in PA-11. This is quite a catastrophe for Pennsylvania Republicans: Democrats have managed an unlikely sweep of all their endangered incumbents (PA-04, PA-10, PA-11, PA-12). And in PA-03, GOP Rep. English is not yet out - but he is trailing by 4% with 91% reporting.

Other endangered Republicans include ID-01 (where Rep. Sali trails by 10%), NE-02 (where Rep. Terry trails by 2%), VA-02 (where Rep. Drake trails by 2% with 70% reporting). What we have not yet seen is unexpected upsets though VA-05 is getting close: Perriello leads by 800 votes with 98% reporting. In NY-29, we are 98% reporting and Rep. Kuhl trails by 5000 votes (51-49).

If anything, the biggest upset of the night long looked like it would be a Republican pick-up in NY-24, and Rep. Arcuri is still not out of the woods: He is leading by 1800 votes with 98% reporting.

11:15pm: Florida calls for Obama and Arizona for McCain, as McCain takes the stage to concede. (The crowd has apparently not given up quite yet as they boo Obama’s name.) McCain celebrates the election of an African-American, salutes the historical occasion.

11:05pm: Democrat Bev Perdue wins the North Carolina governorship in what was among the tightest races in the country. As Democrats (and many in the world) celebrate Obama’s victory, Dems do get some bad news from LA-06: a major Republican pick-up that democrats believed they could protect.

Democrats get some pick-ups as well: IL-11 and AZ-01 are called for Democrats. AL-03 is called for GOP Rep. Rogers, in what ended up being a much more competitive seat than most expected.

11pm: Obama becomes President-Elect as the West Coast puts him above the top. Just moments before, Virginia was called for Obama.

10:50pm: We haven’t talked about referendums much, but those are important as well: Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly refused to repeal the state income tax. Both abortion proposals in South Dakota and Colorado are going down, though South Dakota’s remains relatively close.

In more housekeeping: Tim Johnson has won re-election in South Dakota, easily capping a remarkable comeback. In Nebraska, another race that once looked like it could be competitive but had not looked close for a while, Mike Johanns has held the seat for the GOP.

10:46pm: An update in Virginia, where Obama remains ahead 51% to 49% with Democratic precincts left to report. In VA-05, Perriello remains ahead in what would be one of the biggest upsets of the nights - but only by 700 votes with 97% reporting. In VA-02 and VA-11, two other Democrats are ahead - though they have not yet won. Could Democrats pick up the state’s presidential electors, a Senate seat and 3 House seats?!

In Alabama, three House races are very tight though it looks like GOP Rep. Rogers is saving himself; he leads by 6% with 91% reporting. Parker Griffith and Bobby Bright are ahead by extremely narrow margins in AL-02 and AL-05 with about 90% reporting. Doesn’t it say a lot about the GOP’s woes that Alabama is such a House battleground?

10:35pm: A Democratic pick-up in IL-11 and two crucial Democratic holds as Reps. Murtha and Altmire survive in PA-04 and PA-12. It also looks like Rep. Kanjorski could unexpectedly survive, he is up 51% to 49% with 80% reporting.

An update on the Senate: Sens. Wicker and Chambliss are holding on to large leads while Sen. Landrieu in Louisiana is only ahead by 2%. So a good night for Southern Republicans? African-American areas are not reporting at the same pace. We have heard nothing from New Orleans, for instance, and little from Atlanta. When those come in, numbers are likely to change.

10:25pm: Three pick-ups for House Democrats, as Larry Kissell beats Rep. Hayes in NC-08 and as NY-13 and NY-25 are called for Mike McMahon and Dan Maffei. (The latter two were the clearest pick-up for Dems, so no surprise there.) This gets us to +7 for Democrats for now.

But there might be a stunning upset brewing in favor of Republicans in NY-24, where Rep. Arcuri is trailing by 4% with 75% reporting! This was on no one’s radar screen. In NY-29, it looks like GOP Rep. Kuhl will be unseated, as he trails by 6% with 65% reporting. Good news for Florida Republicans: The Diaz-Balart brothers are for now holding their own in FL-21 and FL-25, and Republicans hold FL-13.

In Texas, Sen. Cornyn has won re-election, though GOP Reps. Culberson and McCaul are struggling (though remain in the lead in early returns). A lot of action in Alabama: In AL-03, a stunningly (and unexpectedly) close race is brewing, with GOP Rep. Rogers holding on to a 51-49 lead with 73% reporting. In AL-02, with 75% reporting, Bobby Bright is leading by 4%. In AL-05, a Democratic open seat, Democratic candidate Parker Griffith is leading by 4% with 77% reporting.

10:15pm: Republicans pick-up FL-16 (unsurprisingly) and save KY-02. The latter was rated lean GOP in my latest ratings, but there was a time in which Democrats had very high hopes here. In better news for Democrats, Debbie Halvorson is poised to pick-up IL-11 as she leads by 23% with two thirds reporting. IL-10 remains competitive. In IL-18, Republican Schock holds an open seat and will become the youngest member of the 111th House.

Could Republicans save their two open House seats in New Jersey? That would be a stunning disappointment for Democrats, but the GOP candidates are leading by 6% and 12% in NJ-03 and NJ-07. 58% are reporting in both counties. Those are shockingly disappointing numbers for Democrats, especially in NJ-07. GOP Rep. Garrett is winning a strong victory in NJ-05 against Rabbi Dennis Shulman (we talked about this race two weeks ago when Garrett unveiled one of the most vicious ads of the cycle).

In presidential news, McCain holds Arkansas and Texas.

10:06pm: A mistake in the House? CNN called VA-05 for Rep. Goode earlier - and I called it a big hold for the GOP. But with 95% reporting, Perriello is leading by 700 votes! This is a nail-biter with a slight Democratic advantage as counting winds down. In VA-02, a Democratic challenger is holding 51% to 49% over Rep. Drake with 63% reporting.

In Georgia, Chambliss is crushing Martin 56% to 40% but there are a lot of Democratic strongholds left to report. We’re also keeping an eye on MN-06, where infamous Rep. Bachmann is leading 47% to 43% with 20% reporting. And an important hold for Democrats in Indiana, as Baron Hill is re-elected in IN-09. Republican candidate Guthrie is holding on to a 4% lead with almost 90% reporting.

10:05pm: A look at Florida: Obama has a narrow lead with 61% reporting but look at where there still are outstanding votes: 31% of Miami-Dade is reporting, nothing in Palm Beach while Hillsborough County (a crucial swing county) has gone for Obama. Just as in Virginia, the remaining counties suggest Obama will carry Florida.

Meanwhile, Republicans already calling on Obama to stand up to Pelosi and Reid.

10pm: As polls close in yet more states, Iowa is called for Obama and Utah is called for McCain. So much for McCain’s (still unexplained) bravado in Iowa. Montana and Nevada are still too close to call.

A look at Virginia: 80% is reporting, but only 35% of Fairfax is in, as well as 33% of Arlington. In other words, Obama is likely to pick-up these 13 electoral votes.

9:56pm: Obama heading to landslide victory. New Mexico is called for Obama and Louisiana for McCain. Also, Obama has taken the lead in Virginia with 80% reporting, but only 50% to 49% (it is somewhat surprising that the state is so narrow given that Obama won Ohio and Pennsylvania relatively easily).

9:50pm: There are no more House Republicans in New England. Two pick-ups for Democrats as OH-15 and CT-04 are called. While OH-15 was rated lean Democratic in my ratings, CT-04 was a toss-up. In better news for Republicans, Chris Lee is crushing Alice Kryzan in NY-26.

9:45pm: Let’s check in some major House races: In OH-02, a quarter of the votes are in and GOP Rep. Schmidt is surviving 46% to 37%. In OH-07, a long shot for Democrats, GOP candidate Austria is up by 6%. In OH-12, GOP Rep. Tiberi is leading 51% to 46%. In OH-15, 36% of precincts are reporting and Democratic candidate Kilroy is leading by 6%.

In PA-03, GOP Rep. English is trailing by 10% with 30% reporting… and early totals suggest we could be in for a shocker in PA-06, where Republican Rep. Gerlach trails. In PA-10 and PA-12, Democratic Rep. Carney and Rep. Murtha are leading comfortably - but there is still a long time to go. In PA-11, a race that I have rated lean Republican, Democratic Rep. Kanjorski is ahead 53% to 47%.

Republicans will pick-up FL-16 (they’re leading 61% to 39% with almost half-in). The South Florida races (FL-21 and FL-25 are early. We’ve already called FL-08 and FL-24 for Democrats.

In CT-04, huge lead for Jim Himes with 40% reporting: 60% to 39%. In CO-04, a huge lead for Democratic challenger Betsy Markey: 61% to 39% with a third reporting!

9:40pm: Big hold for Democrats in NH-01, where Rep. Carol Shea-Porter beats Jeb Bradley for the second cycle in a row; the race was one of the few Dem-held districts that was rated a toss-up in my latest ratings.

The networks are doing their best to pretend that McCain still has a path to victory. He doesn’t. John King is pleading West Coasters to vote. Think about this: There is still 90 minutes of voting in the West Coast (more in AK) and the presidential race has effectively been called.

9:35pm: Obama will be the next president, but there are still a lot of other elections to be called… so we go on! Starting with NC-08, where Larry Kissell leads 58% to 42% against GOP Rep. Hayes with 35% reporting; however, Republicans incumbents NC-05 and NC-10 look like they will survive (they were both extreme long shots for Democrats).

9:25pm: HUGE HUGE HUGE projection: Obama wins Ohio, its 20 electoral votes and is now A VIRTUAL LOCK FOR THE PRESIDENCY. BARACK OBADIAH WILL BE THE 44th PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES!

I’m sure you all know why: With Obama now safe in all blue states, all he needs is to pick up 19 red electoral votes… and Ohio has 20 electoral votes. This means that unless something goes terribly wrong for Democrats in California, Oregon, Hawaii or Washington, Obama has secured 270 electoral votes.

This is also poetic justice for Democrats: Ohio crushed their hearts four years ago… and it is now Ohio that is putting Obama over the top, despite the fact that other red states are likely to go blue by bigger margins when all is counted.

9:21pm: More good news for Republicans: VA-05 is called for GOP Rep. Goode (a huge saved for the GOP) and West Virginia is called for McCain. Democrats continue to lead in VA-02 and VA-11. GOP Rep. Capito is holding by 10% in WV-02. Democrats aren’t on track for a sweep yet.

9:20pm: Mitch McConnell survives according to CNN. A huge, HUGE save for Republicans, due to Lunsford’s weak results in Democratic strongholds. This makes it much more difficult for Democrats to reach 60. All eyes are now on Minnesota, Georgia and Mississippi.

9:10pm: Stunning numbers from CT-04, where Jim Himes leads by 30% with nearly 28% in. In VA-05, GOP Rep. Goode has now fallen behind (things are looking good for Democrats in VA-02 and VA-11 as well for now, could we be headed to a giant night for Virginia Democrats?). In Kentucky, Mitch McConnell is ahead by 3% with 62% reporting. Things are also going well for Democratic candidates in Ohio but it is very early.

Some news form exit polls: Mary Landrieu looks like she will survive in Louisiana by a comfortable - though not dominant - margin; same for Mark Udall in Colorado. At the presidential level, Colorado’s presidential race looks good for Obama, who is also crushing his rival in New Mexico. Also, exit polls suggest a Franken victory. This could be the Democrats’ 8th seat.

9:05pm: Tom Udall picks-up New Mexico’s Senate race (no surprise there). VA-05 has dramatically tightened with 84% reporting. Kentucky’s Senate race is now a 2% race with 60% reporting: McConnell is up 51% to 49%. In GA-08, a big pick-up hope for Republicans, Dem Rep. Marshall is performing well.

Updated exit polls show a dead heat in Indiana and a tighter race in Virginia though Obama still ahead.

9:00pm: Obama has swept the blue states, as Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota are all called for him. This is huge for Obama, and puts McCain in an extremely precarious position. Another major call is North Dakota, which has been called for McCain. Other calls: New York, Rhode Island go for Obama. Wyoming, Kansas are called for McCain. No call yet in Colorado, New Mexico, Louisiana, South Dakota, Nebraska.

A good save for Republicans: IN-03 is called for Rep. Souder.

8:54pm: Democrat Jay Nixon will become Missouri’s new Governor. No surprise here, but it’s a pick-up for Democrats. In other good news for Democrats, Barack Obama looks to be doing very well in North Carolina’s crucial Wake county. CNN (which is being much more cautious than other networks) joins in calling Hagan the winner in North Carolina.

8:45pm: Two good Florida news for Democrats: First, they got their second House pick-up in FL-08, and the second in the Orlando area as Allen Grayson has defeated Rep. Keller. The race was rated lean Democratic in my House ratings.

Second, Obama is over-performing, for instance in Pinellas County which Kerry lost and Obama won by 8%. Obama is doing well in Central Florida. (Four years ago, reports that Kerry was doing poorly in Florida’s I-4 corridor were the first signs Bush was doing well.)

8:41pm: Possible upset brewing in VA-02, where the Democratic challenger is narrowly leading with 15% reporting. GOP Rep. Goode is holding on by 6% in VA-05 while Democratic candidate Connolly is leading by 10% with 5% reporting.

In Kentucky, Mitch McConnell is slowly inching upward but it is still too close to call: He leads by 4% with 55% reporting. GOP candidate Brett Guthrie is going strong in KY-02, somewhat of a disappointment for Dems in a race they long hoped would go their way.

8:37pm: McCain gets his first big win as MSNBC calls Georgia for him. This should not be considered bad news for Obama, but it might be disappointing to those Democrats hoping for a blowout. That Georgia was called relatively early also suggests that Democrats are not over-performing enough for Martin to cross 50% today, perhaps not even to force a runoff.

8:34pm: McCain is holding the red base, as he just won Alabama. He trails 103-43 margin in the electoral college. Also: Reports are indicating turnout has hit 80% (!) in Virginia and Nevada.

At the House level, Democrats are headed towards a major pick-up in FL-08, as Grayson leads by 6% with more than 70% reporting. The race is rated lean Democratic in my latest ratings but it was not considered in the top-tier two months ago.

8:30pm: Democrats get their first House pick-up in FL-24, Tom Feeney’s seat. Things are not looking as good for Democrats in IN-03, but Rep. Shays is not doing well in CT-04. (Also, CNN just called New Hampshire for Obama - following NBC’s call.)

8:28pm: The North Carolina Senate race is called for KAY HAGAN. This is a huge pick-up for Democrats in one of the two races I had rated as lean Democratic.

8:22pm: I have been asked to comment on Virginia’s results. McCain is winning big right now, but most reporting is in Republican south and west so Obama’s strongest areas have yet to report. In VA-05, Rep. Goode is holding on 53% to 47% in a district Democrats made a last-minute push in - but Charlottesville has yet to report.

Some other interesting results: Mitch McConnell now leads by 3% with half of the votes reporting. In NH-01, Rep. Shea-Porter is up by 14% with 16% reporting. It looks like yet another strong night for New Hampshire Democrats.

8:20pm: Jeanne Shaheen wins the New Hampshire Senate race, a crucial pick-up for Democrats - though it is not particularly surprising. In Maine, Susan Collins wins re-election (again, not a surprise but Democrats once had high hopes and the DSCC did spend a lot of money). Gov. Lynch wins re-election in New Hampshire, retaining a seat he unexpectedly picked up in 2004.

8:15pm: Let’s go back to the presidential race and repeat how extraordinary it is that Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and even New Jersey were called immediately for the Democratic nominee.  Obama is now leading 103 electoral votes to 34 for McCain, and the electoral map is now very very very tough for McCain. Obama will probably win Iowa and New Mexico, which means Obama needs one more of all other red states - and things look cautiously good for him in FL, NC… even IN.

For those who are wondering what is happening in Pennsylvania, Obama has a gigantic lead in the exit poll posted by CNN. No surprises in Maine according to the exit poll, as Susan Collins should win re-election. Bad news for Democrats in the Mississippi exit poll, however, as Roger Wicker is coming out ahead - but those are only exit polls, of course, and they can always take comfort in New Hampshire, where Shaheen is destroying Sununu.

8:05pm: Let’s step back to the congressional level for a moment: With 39% of Kentucky reporting, Mitch McConnell is holding a 0.6% lead. At the House level, KY-03 has been called for Rep. Yarmuth (an important hold in what was a rematch of a 2006 race). In KY-02, GOP nominee Guthrie is now 7% ahead with 25% reporting. Republicans are also looking good in IN-03.

8pm: MSNBC CALLED PENNSYLVANIA FOR OBAMA. A stunning call that CNN does not follow. It will be very difficult for McCain to win the presidency without the Keystone State. Other calls: McCain wins Oklahoma, Tennessee. Obama wins Massachusetts, Illinois, Connecticut, Delaware, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Maryland, DC, Maine.

Let’s say it: This is atrocious for McCain.

7:55pm: As expected, North Carolina early voters are favoring Obama: We now have 450,000 votes counted (but 0% precincts, which means these are early voters) and Obama has opened a lead of 100,000 (61% to 39%); Hagan leads by the same margin. As expected, Perdue is underperforming.

The situation is the same in Florida, where we now have more than 2,5 million votes! Obama leads 56% to 44% which is a margin of 400,000 votes. McCain will need to perform strongly among voters who voted today.

7:50pm: Now that 3 states have been called, McCain leads 16-3 in the electoral college. This only means that Republicans did not completely collapse, as South Carolina was turning blue in the GOP’s worst nightmares (and I do mean worst).

IN-02 called for Rep. Donnelly (this was a race the GOP once hoped to make competitive). Democrats are looking good in the pair of GOP-held Orlando districts they are contesting, especially in FL-08, where Grayson now leads by 10% with 35% reporting.

In Kentucky, we are now at 29% reporting (Democratic strongholds are reporting as well). McCain leads by 8,3% and Lunsford is ahead by 0,4% (about 2,000 votes).

7:40pm: South Carolina called for McCain. In Florida, 1,4 million votes have been counted and Obama leads by 160,000 votes. It’s hard to know what to make of this since we already knew Democrats did well among early voters.

In IN-03, GOP Rep. Souder is looking good and leads by 17% with 30% reporting (the race is rated a toss-up in my latest ratings, so a potential disappointment for Democrats). In KY-02, however, Democrat David Boswell is holding on to a very narrow lead and slightly overperforming the 2006 nominee - suggesting this could be a nail-biter.

In Indiana, we now have 21% reporting and McCain is narrowly ahead, 51% to 48%. Democratic strongholds have still not yet reported.

7:35pm: Only 2% of Florida is reporting but there are a lot of raw votes being reporting, suggesting there has been a big dump of early voters: Obama leads 313,475 to 204,112. At the House level: 17% are reporting in FL-08, and Democratic challenger Grayson is leading Rep. Keller 56% to 44%.

CNN has posted its exit polls from Georgia (suggesting a narrow McCain lead), from Indiana (Obama is ahead), from Ohio (Obama leads among males as well as females…) and from Virginia, which look really good for Obama. Georgia exit polling also suggests that the Senate race is heading to a runoff while Kentucky’s exit poll suggests McConnell will survive. Obama is also ahead narrowly in North Carolina exit polling. These exit polls are more reliable than those we saw at 5pm, but Dems should not feel confident just yet.

7:30pm: Polls have closed in Ohio, North Carolina and Arkansas! No calls for now.

7:25pm: In Indiana, McCain is holding 51% to 49% with 12% reporting but no results from Obama strongholds Indianapolis, Bloomington and Lake County. In House races, incumbents are looking good for now: Dems are leading in IN-02, IN-08 and IN-09 (the latter is somewhat competitive). In IN-03, a district Democrats have been targeting over the past few weeks, Rep. Souder is holding on by 12% with 10% reporting.

Conservative parts of Virginia are reporting only for now, so nothing to see there. We’re keeping an eye on a few House races there. In Kentucky, McConnell leads by 2% with 15% reporting.

7:20pm: Mitch Daniels wins another term as Indiana’s Governor. This was a race Democrats were very excited about just six months ago, but Jill Long Thompson’s campaign collapsed over the past few months.

In Kentucky, 13% have reported: McCain leads by 11,3% and McConnell leads by 1,2% - that’s certainly a more promising over performance for Lunsford.

7:15pm: CBS News is reporting that the share of the African-American vote in Georgia has increased by 5%. This was a key factor we were following, and if it holds in other states it will be very good news for Obama and Democrats up and down the ballot. ALSO: Virginia exit polls suggest Obama is in the lead - which would obviously be very significant. Early exits also imply a narrower Obama lead in Indiana. All of this is obviously not indicative of any final results.

7:05pm: A reminder that at this hour four years ago, Teddy Kennedy was beaming on CNN while Robert Novak looked very depressed.

Mitch McConnell and Bruce Lunsford are essentially tied in Kentucky: with 12% reporting, Lunsford leads by 19 votes (!) Lunsford is still running only a few points ahead of Obama, and he will have to improve that once more conservative districts start reporting.

7:00pm: First calls! Obama wins VERMONT and McCain wins Kentucky! Virginia’s Senate race is called for MARK WARNER! Polls also closed in Georgia, some of New Hampshire, South Carolina, Virginia (!), all of Indiana and most (but not all) of Florida. Lindsay Graham has been called the winner in South Carolina’s Senate race.

Things are getting interesting.

6:55pm: 42% of KY-03 (a Democratic-leaning district) has reported, which explains why Obama is polling strongly in the state. As I said, Lunsford is not over-performing Obama which is a problem. Sure, he needs to primarily overperform in conservative areas rather than in KY-03, but this is not that good a start for the Democratic Senate candidate.

As for KY-03, Rep. Yarmuth is leading 57% to 43% against former Rep. Northup: it’s looking good for Democrats there in a district that the GOP once had high hopes for.

6:45pm: Finally some results: 9% of Kentucky is reporting and Lunsford is narrowly ahead (51% to 49%) and McCain is ahead by 1%. Lunsford has to outperform Obama by a far bigger margin if he wants to pull this off.

Let’s say this about exit polls: They are looking a lot like 2004, which is to say that Democrats are taking comfort in them…

6:35pm: More exit poll rumoring: Gawker has the second wave of exit polls and they have good news for Obama in the presidential race (especially in states he is expected to win like PA, IA, NM) and very good news for Senate Democrats - too good for the numbers to be reliable, perhaps. Coleman, for instance, is being shown to be trailing by 12% for now, which is highly to hold.

Still very early reporting in Indiana and Kentucky, with Democrat Boswell holding a very narrow lead in KY-02 and GOP Rep. Souder holding a 13% lead, both with very early reporting (2% each).

6:25pm: Is this actually our first election night since June 3rd? After the seemingly weekly extravaganzas throughout the spring, that seems hard to believe.

Not many precincts have started reporting. With 1% reporting in Indiana, with Obama leading 55% to 44% - obviously ridiculously early, however.

6:15pm: The very first results are in! 5 precincts are reporting from Kentucky… and they have McCain leading 64% to 35%. This is obviously not at all significant - but those are the hard numbers we are getting, so worth noting.

Some interesting preliminary data from exit polls that are being released from the broadcast channels themselves (CNN, Fox) have Obama leading big among first time voters (no surprise there, though the exact margin will of course be crucial), most voters preoccupied with the economy and thinking the country is on the wrong track (again, no surprise…).

Original post: Let’s get this party started! We are past 6:00pm ET, and polls have closed in most (but not all) of Kentucky and Indiana. Numbers should start streaming in any time soon.

I will be live blogging through the night, and as more and more polls close I imagine I wil be swamped by the number of races to cover. I will try to keep an eye on all of them but will surely miss a few, so please feel fee to email me or add comments with any result/trend I haven’t noticed and I’ll try to get to them.

As for exit polls, I am seeing contrasting news for now - so no reason to trust anything you see (not that exit polls should be trusted anyway).

Poll watch: McCain tightens national race and PA but remains far behind; McConnell pulls ahead

Update: Two new national polls should help Obama supporters sleep tonight. First, it appears that CBS News is now also conducting a tracking poll, as they just released their second national poll in two days. The margin remains the same, 54% to 41% for Obama among likely voters. Second, the final Gallup/USA Today poll just came out and finds Obama leading 53% to 42% among likely voters; this poll was conducted Friday through today, and carries a huge sample of more than 2400 respondents. Obama led by 7% three weeks ago in this poll, meaning that there is no consistent evidence that the race has tightened. [To make things clear: It appears that this latter poll is Gallup's tracking poll released half-a-day early.]

Original post: McCain has made gains nationally, and there are some signs undecided voters appear to be breaking towards the Republican more than towards his opponent (all polls do not agree on this). He has made gains in Pennsylvania. But 48 hours from polls closing, he is still in a deep hole at the national level and in a number of states that have become must-wins, starting with the Keystone State.

Three new Pennsylvania polls conducted over the past three days have Obama leading by 6% and 7%, certainly a smaller margin than Obama enjoyed just 10 days ago (he has lost 6% in Morning Call in four days and 5% in SUSA in a week) but still a substantial advantage. Unless something dramatic happens tomorrow, it is hard to imagine how McCain can reverse a deficit that all polls agree is at least in the mid-single digits. (Furthermore, Rasmussen’s poll conducted yesterday has him gaining 2% for a 6% lead; since we have to assume that polls are dramatically understating McCain’s support in Pennsylvania if we want to seriously look at the possibility of his comeback bid seriously, which makes trendlines very important.)

Pennsylvania is not a state in which Democrats are likely to be caught by surprise; it is a state in which they have a strong operation and a machine that allowed Al Gore and John Kerry to eke out narrow victories in the past two presidential elections. It is also a state in which they have made gains over the past four years (just read today’s “one year ago today” excerpt in the sidebar). On the other hand, it is a state in which racial factors could disrupt the results if there is indeed such a thing as a Bradley effect; it is also a state in which there is no early voting, meaning that Obama has not locked in any state. In other words, it is as good a state as any for McCain to make his last stand.

At the national level, the bottom line remains the same: Pew and CNN released their final polls, and, while the latter shows McCain gaining a massive 9% in one week as undecideds heavily break towards him, both show Obama retaining a comfortable lead. Similarly, the tracking polls are going in both directions, suggesting most of the movement is statistical noise, and all but IBD/TIPP find a solid lead for the Illinois Senator. Overall, Obama is at or above 50% in eight of the nine national polls released today; McCain’s support ranges from 43% to 46%.

Despite what we are hearing left and right, this suggests that there isn’t that much discrepancy between national polls. And even if a number of surveys suggests that undecided voters are moving towards the Republican nominee, he will have to grab the lion share of undecideds while also pulling away support from Obama. That’s a tall order three days from the election, especially because a fair amount of remaining undecideds are disgruntled Republicans unhappy with Bush. Getting them home is a necessary condition for McCain to mount a comeback, but it is not sufficient.

What is perhaps most worrisome for McCain is that Pennsylvania might not even matter if Obama loses the Keystone State but sweeps Colorado, Nevada and Virginia - which new polls suggests he very well might, despite some tightening in polls from the Old Dominion.

However, here is what gives Republicans some hope: For one, the movement among undecideds. Second, the belief that nearly all pollsters are using a false turnout model. Today’s seven Mason-Dixon polls force us to take that possibility seriously, as Mason-Dixon is a very serious polling outfit that has had great success in past cycles. Like seemingly every other poll they have released this cycle, Mason-Dixon’s polls are more favorable to McCain than other pollsters, suggesting that if Mason-Dixon had a national tracking poll they would find a somewhat tighter race than other firms. The early voting data suggests that turnout will be favorable to Democrats, but such disputes are of course why elections are not decided by polls but by voters… (Note, also, that Mason-Dixon’s polls were conducted Tuesday and Wednesday, making them somewhat outdated.)

  • Obama leads 53% to 46% in CNN’s final national poll conducted Friday and Saturday. Obama has a 8% lead in a four-way race. He led by 5% in a poll conducted two weeks ago.
  • Obama leads 52% to 46% among likely voters in Pew’s final national poll, conducted Thursday through Saturday. This is quite a drop from Pew’s poll conducted the previous week in which Obama led by 15% among likely voters (53% to 38%, implying that undecided voters have heavily broken towards the Republican). Obama leads by 11% among registered voters. 47% are sure they will not vote for McCain, while only 38% say the same about Obama.
  • Trackings: Obama gains 2% in Washington Post/ABC (54% to 43%), 1% in Zogby (50% to 44%). The margin is stable in Rasmussen (51% to 46%), in CBS News (54% to 41%) and Research 2000 (51% to 44%). Obama loses 1% in Gallup (52% to 43%, though he loses 2% in the LVT model for an 8% lead), 2% in Hotline (50% to 45%) and in IBD/TIPP (47% to 45%). Obama’s leads are thus: 2%, 5%, 5%, 6%, 7%, 9%, 11%, 13%.
  • Pennsylvania: Obama stops the bleeding in a Rasmussen poll taken Saturday, leading 52% to 46%; that’s up from the 4% he enjoyed in a Thursday poll but 1% down from a poll taken on Monday. Obama leads 52% to 45% in Morning Call’s tracking poll, his smallest lead since October 1st. Obama lead 51% to 44% in a SUSA poll conducted Thursday and Friday (he led by 12% two weeks ago).
  • Virginia: Obama leads 50% to 46% in a SUSA poll conducted Thursday and Friday, the tightest margin since mid-September. Obama led between 6% and 10% in the past four SUSA polls, though most of the change in this poll can be attributed to a much tighter partisan breakdown. Obama leads 47% to 44% in a Mason Dixon poll conducted Wednesday and Thursday. Of the 9% who are undecided, 75% live outside of Northern Virginia and more than 90% are white. Obama led by 2% ten days ago.
  • Colorado: Obama leads 49% to 44% in a Mason Dixon poll conducted Tuesday and Wednesday. Obama leads among independents by an impressive 25%.
  • Nevada: Obama leads 47% to 43% in a Mason Dixon poll conducted Tuesday and Wednesday. That margin is just within the MoE.
  • Ohio: McCain leads 47% to 45% in a Mason Dixon poll conducted Tuesday and Wednesday. He led by 1% two weeks ago. Obama leads 52% to 46% in a Columbus Dispatch poll that was conducted by mail and that should thus be taken with a huge grain of salt; it widely overstated Democratic support in 2006 though it has also had successes
  • North Carolina: McCain leads 49% to 46% in a Mason Dixon poll conducted Tuesday and Wednesday; the candidates were tied two weeks ago.
  • Missouri: McCain 47% to 46% in a Mason Dixon poll conducted Tuesday and Wednesday; McCain also led by 1% two weeks ago
  • Iowa: Obama leads 54% to 37% in Selzer & Co’s very reliable Des Moines Register poll conducted Tuesday through Thursday.
  • Minnesota: Obama leads 53% to 42% in a Star Tribune poll. He led by the same margin two weeks ago.
  • New Mexico: Obama leads 52% to 45% in a SUSA poll; Obama leads by 19% among the 60% of voters who say they have already voted.

Meanwhile, in down the ballot polls:

  • Kentucky, Senate race: The two pollsters that had found a dead heat in mid-October now find McConnell pulling ahead. SUSA, which had a tie at 48%, now shows McConnell leading 53% to 45%. Mason Dixon has McConnell gaining four points to grab a 5% lead, 47% to 42%.
  • Colorado, Senate race: Mark Udall leads 47% to 43% in a Mason Dixon poll of Colorado’s Senate race, though independents vote for Udall by a large 19%.
  • Minnesota, Senate race: Al Franken leads 42% to 38% in a Star Tribune poll, with 15% going to Barkley. Two weeks ago, Franken led 39% to 36% with 18% for Barkley.
  • In NM-01, an Albuquerque Journal poll conducted this week has Democratic candidate Martin Heinrich leading 47% to 43%.

Mason-Dixon’s Colorado’s poll is further confirmation of the pollster’s GOP lean, as all other pollsters have found a wide Udall lead over the past two weeks; I am not saying that having a GOP lean disqualifies Mason-Dixon (we won’t know whose turnout model is most appropriate until Tuesday), but this one particular margin is not supported by any recent poll. Their poll from Kentucky, however, finds the same findings as SUSA and Rasmussen have this week: Senator McConnell appears to have pulled away. Lunsford is well within striking distance, but with 2 days to go the trendlines favor the incumbent.

In New Mexico, both open races remain highly competitive. (NM-01 is rated lean Democratic in my latest ratings while NM-02 is a toss-up.) The high number of undecided voters in NM-02 leaves hope to Republicans, as that is a conservative district where Republicans could come home.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile, in down the ballot polls:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile, in down-the-ballot polls:

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

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

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

Poll watch: Obama 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: As LV and RV models split, Obama leads VA, McCain stops bleeding in yet another FL poll

We are starting to see polling taken after the week-end (and thus after the Powell endorsement and McCain’s socialism charge), and there is little sign that McCain is closing the gap. He does gain a bit in two of the tracking polls, but he loses ground in four others, as Zogby, Research 2000 and Washington Post/ABC now all show Obama leading by double-digits. In all 10 of the national polls released today (including the AP survey, about which I will talk in a minute), McCain is stuck in the low 40s, between 40% and 45%.

One possible worry for Obama is that the size of his national lead is due to his gains in states that will not influence the electoral college: We have been seeing Obama open dramatic leads in safe blue states like California and Washington and cut margins significantly in places like Texas and Kentucky. The trends in places like Ohio and Florida are at a much smaller scale (surely because the volume of campaigning and advertisement makes these states less susceptible to follow national trends). So could the size of Obama’s lead in non-battleground states be obscuring a tighter race in the electoral college?

There isn’t much evidence of that in polls from battleground states, where Obama continues to get strong numbers - though he hasn’t put it away the way the way he appears to have secured a popular vote lead. But he dominates in Virginia, where CNN/Time finds him leading by double-digits yet again. Mason-Dixon does find the Old Dominion within the margin of error, but its previous survey had been the only one with McCain ahead since September. Furthermore, Obama leads outside of the margin of error in three out of the five CNN/Time polls (VA, Nevada and Ohio) and is leading within the MoE in two polls of North Carolina.

The good news for McCain comes from Florida: his lead in Mason Dixon is well within the margin of error, but it is the fourth survey in a row to find McCain gaining in the Sunshine State, a significant break from Obama’s fifteen consecutive - many of which were outside of the margin of error.

The second good news for McCain comes from the much-discussed AP poll that has a 1% lead. But three remarks apply here. First, McCain is stuck in the same range as every other poll (the low 40s), and Obama is much lower than his national average. As long as McCain cannot break 45% (or 46% in his best Rasmussen days), he doesn’t have much hope of besting Obama nationally. Second, Marc Ambinder remarks that evangelicals make up about twice as much of the sample as they usually do. Third, this gets us to the important slip between registered voters and likely voters.

Obama leads by 5% among registered voters in AP’s poll, a differential that also exists in Gallup’s tracking (+9% among registered voters, +5% or +8% among likely voters). And it is most dramatic in CNN/Time’s state polls. In all five, Obama performs better among RVs than among LVs (especially in Nevada, where he is ahead by 13% among RVs). What this means is very simple: Obama will benefit from higher turnout, and the size of his lead is partly dependent on how tight a likely voter screen pollsters apply.

There are clear indications that turnout will be larger than usual, particularly among Democrats, meaning that Obama’s lead could range somewhere between the LV screen and the RV results. Early voting numbers are going through the roof among Democrats and African-Americans in North Carolina, Georgia and Nevada; furthermore, Gallup’s tracking poll acknowledges that the traditional LV model might not apply - which is why they have an expanded model which closely mirrors the RV results.

That said, it is impossible to predict how large turnout will be and whether Obama’s organization will fully function. And that’s why we have elections. On to the full roundup of the day’s polls:

  • Obama remains in command of the tracking polls, though they are not moving as uniformly in his direction yesterday. Obama gains 2% in Zogby (up 52% to 42%), 2% in Research 2000 (up 51% to 41%), 2% in Rasmussen (up 51% to 45%) and 2% in Washington Post/ABC (54% to 43%). Hotline finds a stable margin (47% to 42%). McCain gains 2% in Gallup’s expanded likely voter model (52% to 44%, with a 9% lead for Obama among RVs and a 5% lead in the traditional LV model), 2% in IBD/TIPP (46% to 42%). To recap, Obama’s leads are: 4%, 5%, 6%, 8%, 10%, 10%, 11%.
  • Obama leads 49% to 40% in a national Fox News poll conducted Monday and Tuesday. He led by 7% two weeks ago. Who knew a few months ago that Obama would achieve the support of 88% of Democrats (versus 83% of Republicans for McCain)? Interestingly, 66% of Democrats and 47% of independents think that spreading the wealth is a good idea.
  • Obama leads 44% to 43% in a national AP/GfQ poll conducted Thursday through Monday. He led by 7% three weeks ago. Obama leads by 10% among all adults and by 5% among registered voters, however.
  • Obama leads 50% to 42% in a national poll conducted by Ipsos/McClatchy conducted Thursday through Monday.
  • Obama leads 54% to 44% in a CNN/Time poll of Virginia. Among registered voters, Obama leads 54% to 42%. When other candidates are included, he leads 51% to 44%.
  • Obama leads 47% to 45% in a Mason Dixon poll of Virginia. McCain led by 3% two weeks ago.
  • Obama leads 51% to 47% in a CNN/Time poll of Ohio, just within the margin of error. Among registered voters, Obama leads 51% to 45%. When other candidates are included, he leads 49% to 44%, with 2% for Barr (50% to 43% among registered voters).
  • Obama leads 48% to 46% in a WSOC-TV poll of North Carolina.
  • Obama leads 50% to 46% in a CNN/Time poll of North Carolina, just outside of the margin of error. Among registered voters, Obama leads 51% to 46%. When other candidates are included, he leads 51% to 46%, with 2% for Barr.
  • Obama leads 51% to 46% in a CNN/Time poll of Nevada. Among registered voters, Obama leads 54% to 41%. When other candidates are included, he leads 49% to 43%, with 3% for Nader and 2% for Barr.
  • McCain leads 46% to 45% in a Mason Dixon poll of Florida. Obama led by 2% two weeks ago.
  • Obama leads 52% to 41% in a Research 2000 poll of Wisconsin, conducted Monday and Tuesday.
  • Obama leads 51% to 38% in a Wisconsin Public Radio poll of Wisconsin. However, the poll was was conducted form the 9th to the 17th, so it is not at all an indicator of what is going on currently on the ground.
  • Obama leads 55% to 36% in an Elway poll of Washington.
  • McCain leads 53% to 42% in an Ivan Moore poll of Alaska. McCain led by 17% two weeks ago.
  • McCain leads 53% to 44% in a CNN/Time poll of West Virginia, just outside of the margin of error. Among registered voters, Obama leads 51% to 44%.
  • McCain leads 42% to 41% in a one-week old poll of West Virginia conducted by Democratic-firm Rainmaker.
  • McCain leads 54% to 42% in a Rasmussen poll of Tennessee. He led by 19% last month.

Meanwhile, in down-the-ballot polls:

  • Mark Begich is ahead 47% to 46% in an Ivan Moore poll of the Alaska Senate race. Begich led by 4% two weeks ago.
  • Kay Hagan leads 44% to 43% in a WSOC-TV poll of North Carolina’s Senate race.
  • McConnell leads 50% to 43% in a Rasmussen poll of Kentucky’s Senate race. He led by 9% three weeks ago.
  • Mary Landrieu leads 54% to 34% in an internal poll of the Louisiana Senate race.
  • Chris Gregoire leads 51% to 39% in an Elway poll of Washington’s gubernatorial race.
  • Perdue and McCrory are tied at 44% in a WSOC-TV poll of North Carolina’s gubernatorial race.
  • In AK-AL, Ethan Berkowitz leads 51% to 43% against Don Young in an Ivan Moore poll. He led by 9% two weeks ago.
  • In FL-18, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen leads 48% to 41% in an internal poll for Democratic candidate Annette Taddeo.

No big surprises in this batch of congressional polls. If anything, the news is good for the GOP as Sens. Stevens and Dole stay within the margin of error in their respective cases (as we await the verdict of the Stevens trial) and as Mitch McConnell remains ahead outside of the margin of error in Rasmussen’s survey. But the Louisiana numbers are naturally excellent news for Democrats; while Landrieu’s own survey might be overstating her lead, it does confirm the conventional wisdom that the incumbent is ahead.

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.

Rating changes, Senate edition: Make it eleven

Democrats have been trying to expand the Senate map since the start of the cycle, and as of mid-September it looked like the GOP had managed to stop the bleeding by solidifying its position in a number of races that Democrats were eying. But Senate Republicans are now back in their downward spiral, the prospect of several incumbents badly damaged by the economic crisis. For the first time in the long history of my Senate ratings, there are a stunning 11 Republican-held seats that are rated as highly vulnerable (meaning that they are rated lean retention or above), two more than in my previous rankings.

Five of those seats are rated lean retention, but they are not the five you might expect, as Alaska and North Carolina are trading seats in these rating update. While her race remains hotly contested, Sen. Dole has fallen slightly behind in recent weeks (and Republican operatives are even more worried than poll numbers seem to justify); on the other hand, Sen. Stevens is looking surprisingly strong, and it looks likely that he would survive this race if he is acquitted in the coming weeks.

Complicating calculations is the fact that highly competitive seats tend to break heavily towards one party, as the national political breeze of the final days tips the balance to one side. That allowed the GOP to nearly sweep the table in 2002 and 2004, while in 2006 Democrats won 6 out of the 7 seats that could have been described as highly contested in the final week of the campaign (MO, MT, NJ, MD, VA, RI and TN). That makes it unlikely that Democratic pick-ups are somewhere at the middle of their range, say 6 or 7. Far more likely are that Republicans slightly improve their situation and save most of the seats that are now rated as toss-ups or lean Republican (holding Democrats at 4 or 5 pick-ups) or that Democrats push their advantage and sweep most of the seats now in contention (getting them to 9 or 10 pick-ups). At the present moment, this ought to worry Republicans, for Democrats have all the momentum and the blue wave is threatening to transform itself into yet another tsunami.

The full ratings are available here. Here are today’s four rating changes:

Alaska, lean Democratic to toss-up: I acknowledge that this rating change is contrary to the conventional wisdom about this race, but there is no reason to categorize this seat as lean take-over when the result now looks to be almost entirely dependent on the decision of 12 Washington D.C. residents who are serving as the jury of Stevens’ trial. Mark Begich had pulled far ahead in July, but Stevens closed the gap over the past two months and seems to be convincing a sizable number of Alaskans that whether or not he is corrupt is irrelevant to the fact that he brings a lot of money to Alaska. The race is now a toss-up in the polls - the latest Ivan Moore survey has Begich leading by 4%, the latest Rasmussen has Stevens leading by 1%. If Stevens is found guilty, it should be enough to propel Begich over the top; but if Stevens is acquitted, it should him give him the last-minute boost he needs to come out on top. And as I explained yesterday, I am getting increasingly uncomfortable with the former scenario given how openly the prosecution has trampled defense rights in this trial.

Georgia, likely Republican to lean Republican: Who knew that Saxby Chambliss was this vulnerable? Late late spring, there were many other candidates to join the group of highly competitive Senate contests: Maine, Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Idaho… Democrats were too busy figuring out what was happening in a divisive primary in Georgia to think ahead to the general election. But some polls showed potential immediately after Jim Martin’s nomination - and that as before the financial crisis undercut Chambliss’s defenses along with those of Republican candidates nationwide. Chambliss retains an edge, but polls have shown that the race has dramatically  closed to the low single digits. Yet, the DSCC is not running ads on his behalf. That is certainly understandable (the DSCC is running ads in 9 states…), but unless the Democratic wind is really strong it could mean that Martin is unable to take full advantage of his opening. Martin’s success might very well depend on Obama’s coattails and on whether the Illinois Senator increases the share of the black vote in the state. Early voting indicators are very strong for Democrats, but Martin would have been in a far stronger position had Obama not pulled out of the state in mid-September.

Kentucky, likely Republican to lean Republican: Kentucky’s inclusion in the list of competitive seats is less surprising than Georgia’s. We have known that Mitch McConnell is highly vulnerable  since polls released in the fall of 2007 showed him barely beating a number of Democrats. Yet, many top-tier Democrats passed on the race and Bruce Lunsford simply did not seem a strong enough candidate to make it this tight (nor would he be a reliable enough Democrat for progressives to get excited over). But the race has been highly engaged for months, with both candidates running vicious ads (Lunsford has been particularly smart by contrasting McCain’s reformist image to McConnell’s insider status). And in the context of the financial crisis, it might no longer matter how good or bad a candidate is as long as he has a “D” next to his name; as the Senate Minority Leader, McConnell is that much more likely to suffer from voter anger about Washington and about Republicans. Over the past few weeks, polls have shown the race has closed, with Mason Dixon going as far as showing a tie; most other pollsters show McConnell up in single digits. The DSCC has just gone up on air against McConnell, further proof that Democrats are determined to bring down the Senate’s Republican leader.

North Carolina, toss-up to lean Democratic: This race is the biggest surprise of this year’s Senate cycle. While we certainly knew that Senator Dole was vulnerable, Democrats were certainly not expecting for the incumbent’s standing to collapse so easily. Dole led by double-digits through July, but a hard-hitting campaign by the DSCC took care of Dole’s numbers, as the race quickly became a toss-up by the end of August. Since then, Hagan has inched ahead in a number of polls, with her lead extending as much as a 9% in the latest PPP survey! To make matters worse for Dole, Hagan will benefit from Obama’s turnout machine while McCain’s ground game is minimal in the Tar Heel state. Somewhat surprisingly, Republican operatives are very pessimistic about this race, dropping quotes in a multitude of press outlets about how bad Dole’s situation is. Though there is no question that Dole’s campaign has been strikingly weak and its attakcs on Hagan have failed to catch on, polls do not justify such a high level of despair. The race remains highly competitive, and it could easily find its way back to the toss-up column in upcoming weeks. For now, however, Hagan is riding the DSCC advertisements and Obama’s momentum in the state, and that is proving a lethal combination.

Poll watch: McCain ahead in VA, trails in NC; the Udalls, McConnell lead; Perdue, Hayes in trouble

The McCain campaign is predictably trying to spin its way out of the difficult position the Michigan pull out put it in, and it is worth examining their arguments for a moment. The first argument is that McCain’s Michigan investment was only meant to force Obama to spend money. CNN quotes a McCain aide talking about how there was “always a shred of hope” they would be able to win Michigan. Let us say it again: Michigan was at the very top of McCain’s priorities, and at the very top of Obama’s vulnerabilities. Michigan was not a “shred of hope” but a crucial battleground state in which McCain polled very strongly through the spring and summer.

Their second argument is Obama who is on the defensive: “If we win FL, MO, NC, VA, IN and OH — all states Republicans have won for decades — that puts us at 260 electoral votes.” I am unsure how this is meant to show that McCain is still in the game. Most polls released over the past 2 weeks show Obama is running at worst even in each of these states. McCain has not had a lead outside of the MoE in any of these six states for at least 10 days, and in some cases since mid-September, and even if he sweeps each of them he will still not be at 270 electoral votes?

That said, after the meltdown McCain endured in yesterday’s polling, he is showing signs of life in some of today’s polls that should reassure the GOP that the election is certainly not lost. And none of this is to deny that McCain remains within striking distance or that Obama has not been able to gain a consistent edge in red states other than Iowa and New Mexico - only that the past 10 days have been very rough on McCain.

A Mason Dixon poll finds McCain clinging to a lead in Virginia and remaining within the margin of error in Colorado, a state polls released last week suggested was quickly slipping away for the Republican. But today’s polls also show Obama confirming that he has a decisive edge in Michigan, Iowa and New Mexico, posting a comfortable lead in Ohio and coming only 1% behind McCain in Indiana. Perhaps most importantly, Obama leads in yet another North Carolina survey, confirming that PPP and Rasmussen’s surveys taken last week cannot be dismissed and that the state has indeed shifted in the Democrat’s direction.

On to the full roundup of today’s polls:

  • The tracking polls continue to favor Obama, who moves to his biggest lead ever in Rasmussen (51% to 44%). He is ahead 48% to 43% in Gallup, 47% to 42% in Diego Hotline and 51% to 40% in Research 2000.
  • Obama leads 50% to 47% in a Rasmussen poll of North Carolina. Last week’s Rasmussen poll from North Carolina was the first in which Obama had the lead; he has expanded it by 1% since then.
  • McCain leads 48% to 45% in a Mason Dixon poll of Virginia. The candidates are one point apart in the crucial Hamptons Road region, while Obama leads by 20% in Northern Virginia.
  • Obama leads 52% to 44% in a SUSA poll of New Mexico.
  • Obama leads 49% to 44% in a Rasmussen poll of New Mexico. He trailed by 2% last month.
  • Obama leads 51% to 41% in a PPP poll of Michigan. He led by 1% in a poll taken just after the GOP convention. Palin’s favorability has fallen since then.
  • Obama leads 49% to 43% in a Democracy Corps (a Dem firm) poll of Ohio.
  • McCain leads 52% to 44% in a Rasmussen poll of Montana. That is an improvement for Obama over the previous Rasmussen survey, but he remains far from his summer strength in the state (he led McCain in a July poll).
  • Obama leads 44% to 43% in a poll of Colorado released by little-known pollster Ciruli Associates.

Meanwhile, in down-the-ballot poll:

  • Pat McCrory pulls ahead in a Rasmussen poll of North Carolina’s gubernatorial race, 50% to 46%. He trailed by 6% in August.
  • Mitch McConnell leads 51% to 42% in a Rasmussen poll of Kentucky’s Senate race. That’s an improvement for Lunsford over the previous Rasmussen survey, but a relief for McConnell given that SUSA and Mason Dixon found much tighter races recently.
  • Mitch Daniels only leads 47% to 46% against Jill Long Thompson in a Research 2000 poll of Indiana’s gubernatorial race.
  • Tom Udall leads 58% to 39% in a SUSA poll of New Mexico’s Senate race. In a Rasmussen poll, Udall leads 54% to 39%. In both polls, Udall widens the gap.
  • Mark Udall leads 47% to 40% in a poll of Colorado’s Senate race released by little-known pollster Ciruli Associates.
  • In NC-08, a DCCC poll finds Larry Kissell with a large 54% to 43% lead against Rep. Hayes. The poll also finds Obama leading by 12% in a district Bush carried by 9%, too large a swing to have full confidence in the survey.
  • The Hayes campaign quickly released a recent internal poll of their own. It shows the Republicans leading Kissell 46% to 43%. In an August poll, Hayes led by 10%, and these are not favorable numbers for an incumbent either.
  • In AL-03, Rep. Rogers leads Democrat Segall 45% to 36% in an independent poll taken by Capital Survey Research Center. In an August poll, Rogers led 55% to 32%, so this is quite a bump for the challenger.
  • In ID-01, an internal poll for the Minnick campaign finds him leading Rep. Sali 43% to 38%. The question here is whether a Democrat can go from the high 40s in a heavily Republican district.
  • In TX-10, an internal poll for the Doherty campaign finds GOP Rep. McCaul leading 43% to 38%, putting him in a very vulnerable position.
  • Johanns leads 52% to 38% in a Rasmussen poll of Nebraska’s Senate race.

House: A lot of internal polls to go through today - and as always take them with a grain of salt. That said, the same situation applies in NC-08 that we saw in NV-03 a few days ago. When an incumbent feels compelled to release a poll taken by his own campaign that shows him leading by only 3% with trend lines helping his opponent, there is no doubt that he is highly vulnerable. The DCCC has already spent more than half-a-million dollars in this district, and put together the two internal polls leave no doubt that the race is at best a toss-up and that Kissell might gain an advantage by relying on Obama’s organizational strength.

As for ID-01, TX-10 and AL-03, there are all heavily Republican districts, and while it is possible that Democrats have some success in a few such districts, the challenge for Democrats is to get undecided voters to break their way. In ID-01, Sali is disrespected enough by his party’s establishment that Democrats can take advantage of local conditions.

Governor: After PPP’s polling release a few days ago, this is the second poll in a row to find McCrory and Obama gaining in the same sample, a sure sign that Beverly Perdue is actually in trouble. The Lieutenant Governor was seen as a slight favorite to win this open seat, but McCrory’s strategy of hitting her on reform-related issues appears to be working. North Carolina has become truly fascinating to follow, as different races are going in opposite directions and ticket-splitting will be a crucial factor here.

Senate: Republicans will be relieved that McConnell’s numbers have not collapsed in yet another poll. Sure, Lunsford is within single-digits but McConnell remains above 50% and the numbers are not as terrible as those in SUSA, Mason Dixon and the unreleased private poll Stuart Rothenberg evoked. That said, the race is definitely on our radar screen now, and it will be interesting to see whether the DSCC moves in. Colorado and New Mexico’s races have been static for month: Tom Udall put it away a while ago in New Mexico, while most polls find Mark Udall ahead in Colorado, but not by enough for Democrats to feel confident.

Poll watch: FL is dead heat, Obama leads in second NC poll, widens gap in PA

There have been relatively few polls released over the past few days, as it makes little sense to conduct surveys that are in the field both before and after the presidential debate. But the few surveys that were released today confirm that Obama continues to gain - though perhaps at a less dramatic pace than some polls last week suggested.

Obama’s strongest showing today comes in Pennsylvania, a state that is still rated a toss-up in my ratings but where two polls today find Obama widening the gap to 7% and 8%. Both pollsters (Morning Call and Rasmussen) had Obama leading by 3% and 4% last week in the Keystone State, implying that Obama is solidifying his claim on blue-leaning states (he opened a wide lead in a number of Michigan surveys last week).

But the basic situation remains the same: Obama is unable to put red states other than IA and NM away. The good news for Obama, however: He only needs one of those states (VA, OH, CO, NC, FL, IN…) as long as he holds on to the blue states, as he seems increasingly likely to do as PA and MI seem to be rapidly shifting towards him. And that is an awful lot of toss-up states to choose from… In today’s polls only, he leads in Virginia, North Carolina and Colorado - all within the margin of error, sure, but he also trails within the MoE in Ohio and Florida. As long as Obama stays ahead nationally, is it really conceivable that McCain sweeps all these toss-up red states?

In particular, Obama’s gains are dramatic in North Carolina, where Obama leads for the second time ever and for the second time in a row. There is little question left that North Carolina has become a toss-up that will consume the GOP’s attention over the next few weeks. Obama also gains significant ground in Florida (5% in SUSA and 5% in Rasmussen compared to a poll taken last week-end).

On to the day’s full roundup, and note that I have fully updated my polling page (I had fallen behind), and added some color coding to make it easier to follow:

  • Obama keeps up his lead in all four tracking polls. He leads by 5% in Diego Hotline (47% to 42%) and Rasmussen (50% to 45%). He maintains an 8% lead in Gallup (50% to 42%) and a 9% lead in Research 2000 (51% to 42%), whose Saturday sample had Obama leading by 11%. Interestingly, McCain is at 42% in three out of the four tracking polls.
  • Obama leads 47% to 45% in a PPP poll of North Carolina (polling history), with 3% for Bob Barr. This is Obama’s second lead ever in the state, and it comes only a few days after the first (in a Rasmussen survey that found the same margin). PPP found a tie last week, which was already considered a strong result for Obama. 20% of the sample is back - about where it was in 2004, so PPP’s surveys don’t even posit an increase in the share of black voters. Sarah Palin’s popularity is falling.
  • McCain leads 48% to 47% in SUSA’s latest poll from Florida (polling history). McCain led by 6% in SUSA’s past two surveys. Obama’s biggest gain occurs among Democrats, where he finally surges above the 80% line… The poll was taken Saturday and Sunday, after Friday’s debate.
  • The candidates are tied at 47% in Rasmussen’s latest poll from Florida. This is a 5% improvement for Obama since last week.
  • Obama leads 50% to 42% in a Rasmussen poll of Pennsylvania (polling history). He led by only 3% last week.
  • Obama leads 49% to 42% in Morning Call’s 5-day tracking poll of Pennsylvania. He led by 6% yesterday, 4% on Friday.
  • Obama leads 50% to 47% in a Rasmussen poll of Virginia, within the margin of error. Obama led by 5% in a Rasmussen poll taken mid-last week, but trailed by 2% a week ago.
  • Obama leads 49% to 48% in a Rasmussen poll of Colorado. Obama led by 3% last week.
  • McCain leads 48% to 47% in a Rasmussen poll of Ohio. This is the same margin as a poll taken last Thursday, but a 3% improvement for Obama since a week ago.
  • Obama leads 52% to 42% in a SUSA poll of New Jersey.

Meanwhile, in down-ballot polls:

  • Kay Hagan takes her biggest lead yet in any poll, 46% to 38% in the latest PPP survey of North Carolina’s Senate race (polling history). Libertarian Chris Cole gets 6%, which allows Hagan to hold Dole under 50% of the white vote.
  • GOP Rep. Ros-Lehtinen has a large lead, 53% to 36%, against Annette Taddeo in a Research 2000 poll of FL-18.
  • GOP Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart leads Joe Garcia 45% to 41% in a Research 2000 poll of FL-25. The poll does find Obama trailing by 15%, though Kerry lost the district by 12%.
  • In NJ-03, a Zogby poll finds GOP candidate Chris Myers narrowly ahead of John Adler, 39% to 37%. 22% are undecided.
  • In PA-10, Rep. Chris Carney leads Republican challenger Paul Hackett according to a Lycoming College poll.
  • A DSCC-sponsored poll finds Saxby Chambliss leading only 37% to 34% (down from a 6% lead in August) in Georgia’s Senate race (polling history), but the pollster’s decision to not push undecideds at all doesn’t strike that much confidence in Jim Martin’s chances.
  • California’s Proposition 8 would be defeated 55% to 41% according to the latest PPIC poll.

Instead of releasing poll numbers, the DSCC would be investing some money into running an ad campaign in Georgia’s Senate race if they were that confident that this is a 3% race. To choose to not push undecideds at all in this red a state can be a way to lower an incumbent Republican’s numbers. Until we get more proof that Chambliss is this vulnerable, Georgia cannot be considered part of the top tier Senate races.

That said, Democrats can certainly celebrate Elizabeth Dole’s continuing collapse. What is truly worrisome for the incumbent Senator is that many pollsters are showing a similar trendline. Before this PPP poll, it was Rasmussen that had found Dole sinking to a new low at the end of last week. And Dole will also have to struggle against Obama’s ground game.

As for the House races, Democrats have their eyes on many Florida seats - and not all look as promising as they would hope. Of the three Southern Florida districts, however, two seem ripe for pick-up (FL-21 and FL-25), but this is not the first poll to find that Ros-Lehtinen looks safe in FL-18. The situation in FL-13 seems more debatable, but it does look like Democrats missed an opportunity in 2006 (or did they? in no district was the result as controversial as here).

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.

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile, in down-ballot:

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

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

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

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