Archive for the 'MN-Pres' Category

Presidential polling: Obama closes campaign in strong position

As is fitting on the last day before an election, we were treated to a deluge of polling today, as at least 52 presidential surveys were released over the past 24 hours! (I for once devoted a separate post to congressional polls.)

Given the sheer volume of data, we could have expected to see wide discrepancies between different pollsters. Instead, there appears to be a large consensus between different outlets, both at the state level and in national polls (where most surveys gravitate towards the same mean). If the polls turn out to be wrong, absolutely all pollsters will be implicated, suggesting that there is something structural that was missed. (Mark Blumenthal takes a look at what that might be.)

Not only are polls convergent, they have also been consistent over time: Individuals polls have fluctuated a bit over the past few months, but both candidates have oscillated within the same margins since the beginning of October, with very little indication that either candidate has gained or lost ground in that time.

Today’s national polls look familiar: Obama is at or above 50% in 11 of 12 national polls (at 48% in the 12th) and he tops 51% in 10 out of 12. McCain, meanwhile, remains between 42% and 46% in all these polls. There is also no uniform trendline in these final days but the tendency of most polls to move towards high single-digit territory.

At the state level, there was a lot of polling out today, as many outlets (Rasmussen, PPP, Strategic Vision, Zogby, Quinnipiac) released their final waves of surveys. Overall, the results are strong for the Illinois Senator, who first and foremost retains his advantage in Pennsylvania: Five polls find him leading anywhere between 6% and 14%, a range we have been seeing in most surveys from the Keystone State this past week. More importantly, the trendline does not appear to be clearly heading in McCain’s direction. It will take an extraordinary amount of GOTV, big gains among undecided voters and a significant overstatement of Obama’s support for McCain to pull off these 21 electoral votes.

As for the red states, the same classification we have been using lately applies: Colorado, Virginia and Nevada are the most likely to fall in Obama’s hands, though his lead in the day’s one Colorado poll is smaller than he would like (the fact that Colorado has been so under-polled this cycle is a disgrace, as the state’s role in this year’s electoral college is in many ways more important than, say, Missouri or Ohio). Any one of these states combined to Pennsylvania would get Obama at 269; all three would offset a Pennsylvania loss.

Ohio and Florida lean Obama by the tightest of margins (Obama leads in four out of five FL poll, but all within the MoE and he leads in five out of seven OH polls, some by large margins, with one survey tied and one having McCain ahead by 2%). And that leaves as the ultimate toss-ups of the election states that should never have been competitive in the first place: North Carolina, Missouri, Indiana, Montana. The Missouri polling is especially fascinating, as three out of the day’s four polls have the contest tied.

One possible area of concern for Obama: There is evidence in some of these polls that undecided voters are closing in for McCain. That is especially the case in PPP’s polls: compared to the group’s previous polls from the same state’s, Obama’s support has remained stable while McCain has gained and the number of undecided has decreased. This could suggest some trouble for Obama (and it is one of the factors that I outlined yesterday in my post rehashing the scenarios in which McCain could surprise us). Other polls, however, other pollsters do not find similar results: Ipsos/McClatchy and Gallup both model their undecided to break evenly, and CBS News’s profile of undecided voters suggests that they are more Democratic than Republican.

One area of concern for McCain: SUSA’s polls of Georgia and North Carolina show that they predict that black turnout will be sensibly the same as it was in 2004. Given that African-Americans make up a disproportionate share of early voters, it would mean that they are significantly under-represented among tomorrow’s voters. This raises the possibility that Obama’s support remains under-represented in some of these polls.

Let’s go on to the full roundup of the day’s polls, which I have broken down for convenience given the volume of data released today. First, twelve national polls have Obama leading anywhere from 5% to 11% (5%, 5%, 6%, 6%, 7%, 7%, 7%, 8%, 9%, 9%, 9%, 11%):

  • Obama leads 51% to 43% in the final NBC/WSJ national poll conducted Saturday and Sunday.
  • Obama leads 53% to 44% in the final Marist national poll conducted entirely yesterday; Palin’s favorability rating has really dropped over the past few months.
  • Obama leads 50% to 42% in Ipsos/McClatchy’s final national poll. With all undecideds allocated, Obama leads 53% to 46%.
  • Obama leads 50% to 43% in a Fox News national poll, up form from a 3% lead late last week.
  • Trackings: Obama gains 3% in IBD/TIPP (48% to 43%), 2% in Zogby (51% to 44%), 2% in Gallup (53% to 42%, the same margin in both LV models) and 1% in Rasmussen (52% to 46%). The race was stable in Hotline (50% to 45%). He lost 1% in Research 2000 (51% to 45%), 2% in Washington Post/ABC (53% to 44%) and 4% in CBS News (51% to 42%).

Second, 5 polls from Pennsylvania:

  • Obama leads 53% to 45% in a PPP poll taken Friday through Sunday. Both candidates enjoy roughly the same party loyalty, with Obama winning big among independents.
  • Obama leads 52% to 46% in Morning Call’s tracking poll; Obama has been holding steady while McCain has been steadily gaining as independents break his way.
  • Obama leads 54% to 40% in a Zogby poll conducted Thursday though Saturday.
  • Obama leads 51% to 44% in Strategic Vision (up from a 5% lead).
  • Obama leads 50% to 40% in a Quinnipiac poll taken through last week; he led by 12% the week before.
  • SUSA has a poll of the presidential race in PA-10 only, finding Obama leading 53% to 43% in a district Kerry won by 6%.

Third, (only) five polls from the three red states that are most likely to go for Obama:

  • Colorado: Obama leads 51% to 47% in a Rasmussen poll taken Sunday; he led by 4% last week.
  • Virginia: Obama leads 52% to 46% in a PPP poll taken Friday through Sunday; the previous PPP poll conducted three weeks ago had Obama leading 51% to 43%. Obama leads 51% to 45% in a Zogby poll conducted Thursday though Saturday; he led by 7% last week. Obama leads 51% to 47% in a Rasmussen poll taken Sunday; he led by the same margin last week.
  • Nevada: Obama leads 51% to 43% in a Zogby poll conducted Thursday though Saturday; he led by 4% last week. Obama leads 51% to 47% in a PPP poll, but the poll suggests that the die has been cast: 71% of respondents say they have already voted (a proportion that sounds right given the hard data we have) and they favor Obama by 14%.

Fourth, we were treated with a deluge of Ohio polls:

  • Obama leads 48% to 46% in a SUSA poll conducted Friday and Saturday; that’s down from a 4% lead last week, but Obama leads by a stunning 24% among the third of voters who have already cast their ballot.
  • Obama leads 52% to 46% in the final University of Cincinnati poll conducted Wednesday through Sunday.
  • Obama leads 50% to 48% in a PPP poll conducted Friday through Sunday; he led 51% to 44% in a poll taken two weeks ago. McCain is gaining among whites (he has increased his lead from 49-46 to 55-43) and independents (he trailed 48-36, now 49-46, suggesting that undecideds are breaking for the Republican).
  • Obama leads 50% to 44% in a Zogby poll conducted Thursday though Saturday; Obama led by 5% last week.
  • The candidates are tied at 49% in a Rasmussen poll taken Sunday; Obama led by 4% last week.
  • Obama leads 50% to 43% in a Quinnipiac poll taken through last week; he led by 5% the week before.
  • McCain leads 48% to 46% in a Strategic Vision poll; McCain led by 3% two weeks ago.

Fifth, here are the day’s five new poll from Florida:

  • Obama leads 50% to 48% in a PPP poll conducted Friday through Sunday (the good news for Obama: half of likely voters have already cast their ballot and they favor Obama by 13%).
  • Obama leads 48% to 46% in a Zogby poll conducted Thursday though Saturday; he led by 4% last week.
  • McCain leads 50% to 49% in a Rasmussen poll taken Sunday; Obama led by 4% last week.
  • Obama leads 47% to 45% in a Quinnipiac poll taken through last week; the margin was the week before.
  • Obama leads 49% to 47% in a Strategic Vision poll; McCain led by 2% two weeks ago.

Sixth, we got a number of polls from red states that are rated toss-ups in my latest ratings:

  • Missouri: The candidates are tied at 49% in PPP’s poll conducted Friday through Sunday. Obama leads 48% to 47% in a Zogby poll conducted Thursday though Saturday. The candidates are tied at 48% in a SUSA poll; this is the same margin as last week. The candidates are tied at 49% in a Rasmussen poll taken Sunday; Obama led by 1% last week.
  • North Carolina: Obama leads 50% to 49% in a PPP poll conducted Friday through Sunday; there is no change since last week. Obama leads by 10% among those who have already voted and McCain leads by 14% among those planning to vote on Tuesday. McCain leads 49% to 48% in a Zogby poll conducted Thursday though Saturday. McCain leads leads 50% to 49% in a Rasmussen poll taken Sunday; he led by 1% last week as well. McCain leads 49% to 48% in a SUSA poll that puts the black vote at 20%; the candidates were tied two weeks ago.
  • Indiana: Obama leads 49% to 48% in a PPP poll conducted Friday through Sunday. McCain leads 49% to 44% in a Zogby poll conducted Thursday though Saturday.
  • Georgia: McCain leads 50% to 48% in a PPP poll conducted Friday through Sunday; Obama leads by 5% among early voters (57% of the sample). McCain leads 52% to 45% in a SUSA poll conducted Friday and Saturday; SUSA predicts that the black vote will compose 26% of the electorate, which seems a very low estimate (2004 was 25%, early voting is 35%). McCain leads 50% to 46% in a Strategic Vision poll.
  • Montana: Obama leads 48% to 47% in a PPP poll conducted Friday through Sunday; Ron Paul gets 4%.

Finally, a look at blue states that are rated likely or safe Obama and where the final polling suggests Obama has little to worry about:

  • Minnesota: Obama leads 49% to 46% in a SUSA poll conducted Friday and Saturday; Obama led by 6% two weeks ago.
  • New Hampshire: Obama leads 53% to 42% in UNH’s final poll conducted Friday through Sunday.

Poll watch: Obama maintains wide lead nationally, PA tightens a bit, Merkley might already have won

Update: A new national CBS News poll brings Democrats great news, as Barack Obama now leads 54% to 41% in a poll conducted Tuesday through Friday - up from the 11% lead Obama had in the previous CBS News poll (that one had been conducted from the 25th to the 28th). Once again, Obama is above 50%, McCain is in the low 40s. (I apologize for being repetitive, but the race has been remarkably stable for weeks).

In what is perhaps the GOP’s worst internal number of the poll, 48% say that McCain will raise their taxes versus only 47% who think Obama will do so - a sign that McCain’s tax offensive has failed to destabilize Obama. Furthermore, Obama leads by 19% among those who have already cast their ballot (about 20% of the sample), a margin that corresponds to other polls we have been seeing.

Original post: Three days from the election, Barack Obama retains a commanding lead that has barely budged over the past few weeks. There is no evidence of a last minute McCain push: the margin widens in four of the day’s seven tracking polls and it remains stable in two others. While there is some day-to-day variation, both candidates have been oscillating within the same range for weeks: Obama is at or above 51% in five of the seven tracking polls, while McCain is still in the low 40s (42% to 44%, with a high at 46% in Rasmussen).

Worse still for McCain, Obama is ahead in tracking polls that have a wide partisan gap (Washington Post/ABC, for instance) as well as those that hypothesize a far tighter breakdown (Zogby and IBD/TIPP, for instance). While the size of his lead varies according to the turnout model pollsters use, there is no disagreement on whether he is ahead.

In fact, the best news for Obama today might be that we are starting to get an answer on which turnout model best predicts this year’s election. Today marks the very first time that there is no difference between Gallup’s two likely voter models (the traditional and the expanded); Obama is usually further ahead in the expanded model. Gallup attributes this partly to the fact that 27% of respondents say they have already cast a ballot, locking them in the likely voter model no matter what their prior voting history. This suggests that sporadic voters are making a greater share of the electorate than the “traditional” LV format hypothesizes.

Then there is Zogby, of course, whose three-day average has a 5% lead for Obama but who warns that the tide might be turning. Last night, the Drudge Report treated its readers with a shock headline, proclaiming that McCain had seized a 1% lead in the Friday sample of Zogby’s tracking poll. Beyond the fact that one night samples are not meant to be treated as a full survey - which is the whole point of a tracking poll - this once again raises questions about Zogby’s theatrics and about his professionalism; it is silly to treat any movement as an earth-shattering change of momentum, and so is leaking your results to Drudge hours before posting them on your website. Furthermore, none of the six other tracking polls have found a similar Friday tightening - quite the contrary.

All of this said, Republicans can take some comfort in the latest Pennsylvania polls - and remember that there is no early voting so no one’s vote has been cast in stone just yet. The five most recent surveys - Rasmussen, Strategic Vision, Mason Dixon, Morning Call and Rasmussen again - have all found McCain gaining ground, and ARG’s first poll since mid-September has a 6% margin. Rasmussen and Strategic Vision have the exact same trend line (Obama up double-digit three weeks ago, up high single-digits last week and now up by 4% and 5%), while today marks the first time that Obama’s margin is down to single digits in Morning Call’s tracking poll.

That said, 4% to 8% gap might have made Democrats anxious three weeks ago, but we are now three days from the election and Obama remains ahead outside of the margin of error in all polls from the state. There is very little time for McCain to finish closing that gap, and it is important to note that Obama remains above 50% in both Rasmussen and Morning Call. Finally, Republicans are concentrating their efforts in the Keystone State (First Read reports that  push-polling is underway in the state) while Obama has no plan to visit the state until Tuesday, making some tightening inevitable.

The bottom-line remains: Pennsylvania has become a must-win for McCain, and even an upset in the Keystone State would need to be accompanied by a sweep of nearly all competitive red states (Obama is ahead in two new Florida polls and tied in a third, underscoring the magnitude of the challenge).

  • Trackings: Obama gains 1% in Rasmussen (51% to 46%), in Research 2000 (51% to 44%), in Gallup (52% to 42%, the same margin as in the LVT model in which Obama gains 2%; he leads by 11% among RVs) and 1% in IBD/TIPP (48% to 43%). The margin remains stable in Hotline but Obama crosses 50% (51% to 44%) and in Washington Post/ABC (53% to 44%, though independents split equally). Obama loses 2% in Zogby (49% to 44%). Obama’s leads are thus: 5%, 5%, 5%, 7%, 7%, 9%, 10%.
  • Gallup finds that 27% of likely voters have already cast a ballot and that they skew more towards Obama than other voters, a development that might explain why the two LV models now coincide.
  • Pennsylvania: Obama leads 51% to 47% in a Rasmussen poll conducted on Thursday, down from an 7% lead last week and a 13% lead three weeks ago; this is primarily due to Obama’s decline among registered Democrats, among which he receives 75% of the vote. Obama leads 52% to 44% in the Morning Call tracking poll, the first time since October 2nd the margin has been down to single-digits. Obama leads 51% to 45% in an ARG poll conducted Wednesday and Thursday. (For what it’s worth, PPP is saying that they are currently in the field in Pennsylvania and see very little for Obama to worry about.)
  • Florida: Two pollsters release their second poll in as many week - and find contrasting trends. Obama leads 49% to 47% in a Mason Dixon poll conducted Wednesday and Thursday; McCain trailed by 2% last week. The candidates are tied in a Datamar poll conducted Wednesday and Thursday (Obama led by 5% 4 days before). Finally, Obama leads 50% to 46% in an ARG poll conducted Wednesday and Thursday.
  • Iowa: Obama leads 53% to 39% in a Research 2000 poll conducted Monday through Wednesday; he led by 16% at the end of September.
  • Indiana: The candidates are tied in an ARG poll conducted Wednesday and Thursday.
  • Minnesota: Obama leads 53% to 38% in a Research 2000 poll conducted Monday through Wednesday.
  • South Dakota: McCain leads 53% to 44% in a Rasmussen poll, a margin that has tightened over the past month.
  • Safe(r) states: Obama leads 57% to 38% in a SUSA poll and 55% to 39% in a Research 2000 poll of Oregon. Obama leads 60% to 36% in a SUSA poll of California (he leads by 19% among the 42% of respondents who have already voted). McCain leads 51% to 44% in an ARG poll of Arkansas.

Meanwhile, in down the ballot polls:

  • Proposition 8 remains very close, though SUSA has the “no” gaining. Down 6% a month ago and 3% two weeks ago, the “no” is now narrowly ahead 50% to 47%. That is primarily due to movement among Democrats and African-Americans. Early voters (42% of the sample) split 50% “no” to 48% “yes.” It could still go either way, but it looks like the “no” has at least stopped the bleeding.
  • The “no” is also gaining in Proposition 4 (abortion), which now trails 46% to 40% and leads by 8% among early voters.
  • Oregon, Senate race: Jeff Merkley leads 49% to 42% in a SUSA poll conducted over the past two days. More than 70% of respondents say they have already voted, and Merkley leads by 10% among those voters. Merkley leads 48% to 42% in a Research 2000 poll conducted Monday through Wednesday; Merkley leads by 40% among those who say they have already cast a ballot.
  • Kentucky, Senate race: Mitch McConnell leads 47% to 44% in a Research 2000 poll conducted Monday through Wednesday.
  • Minnesota, Senate race: Norm Coleman leads 43% to 40% with 15% going to Barkley in a Research 2000 poll conducted Monday through Wednesday.
  • In WY-AL, GOP candidate Cynthia Lummis takes a 49% to 45% lead in a Research 2000 poll. Gary Trauner led by 1% two weeks ago.
  • In NV-03, the candidates are tied at 44% in a Mason Dixon poll; GOP Rep. Porter led by 3% three weeks ago.
  • In NV-02, GOP Rep. Heller leads 50% to 37% in a Mason Dixon poll; he led by the same margin 3% ago.

With the vast majority of Oregon ballots already cast (ballots have to have arrived by Tuesday, meaning that many voters have already mailed them in), it looks like Jeff Merkley will be the next Senator from Oregon as SUSA’s poll (as well as PPP’s yesterday) are now measuring the way the electorate has arleady voted rather than how it is going to vote). The Kentucky and Minnesota Senate races, however, are still toss-ups, particularly the latter in which the Barkley factor is too unpredictable to venture any guess as to who will come out on top. Democrats will likely have to win at least one of these two seats if they want to rise to 60 seats.

At the House level, Research 2000’s poll of WY-AL finds that the race is still within the margin of error but the trendline is worrisome for Democrat Gary Trauner: We knew that most of the undecided were Republican and that Lummis had to get those voters to come home, and this poll suggests that this might be happening. Note that this is a very important race for Democrats: Getting people like Trauner elected would give them a bench from which to potentially contest Senate races in a few cycles.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile, in down the ballot polls:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile, in down the ballot polls:

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

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

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

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

Facing precarious map, McCain bets on PA, invests in FL and IN… and worries about Palin’s clothes

With 13 days left before Election Day, John McCain cannot afford a single misstep, but he just had a bad night that augurs badly for his campaign’s confidence, polling trend lines and financial viability.

It is not good for McCain that the coverage he is receiving is increasingly devoted to strategic questions: can he come-back, what will he do to soften up Obama, where does he have a chance, and where is he spending his money? This makes it that much more difficult for McCain to unleash a new attack without being labeled desperate or for him to travel to any red state without a wave of stories being written about why he feels the need to campaign in that state in the first place. In nowhere is this more true than in Pennsylvania - witness this devastating lead in a New York Times article: “People are scratching their heads: Why is Senator John McCain here?”

That said, the McCain campaign’s strategic and financial decisions are necessarily scrutinized more closely because he is playing catch-up in the electoral college and because he has so few resources compared to his opponent that he needs to make more tough (sometimes very tough) calls. And the latest round of expenditures decisions is bound to be very consequential.

The McCain campaign is not pulling out of any new state, but it is reassessing its priorities and it is shifting some money out of five states, where the advertisement money that was supposed to be spend over one week will now be spread out over two weeks - all the way to Election Day. The five states are New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Maine, Minnesota (all blue states) and… Colorado.

Yes, red Colorado, whose 9 electoral votes combined with Obama’s base of blue states, Iowa and New Mexico is enough to make Obama president. Now, it is important to not overstate this news: The McCain campaign is still spending in the state and the RNC’s independent expenditure division is up on air. But the McCain campaign’s decision is certainly a sign that Republicans are worried the state is too far gone for McCain to still have a shot.

The resources that McCain is pulling out of those five states will go instead to Indiana and to the Miami media market - one of the most expensive in the country. The RNC was already airing ads in Indiana - but not the McCain campaign, yet another sign that the Hoosier state is a highly competitive battleground state. Who would have thought a Republican candidate would have to spend its resources in Indiana instead of Wisconsin and New Hampshire in the final weeks of a presidential campaign? That fact alone summarizes how precarious McCain’s position.

Where does all of this leave McCain? How can he possibly win the White House if he does not capture Colorado (and we aren’t even speaking of other highly vulnerable red states)? He would then be betting everything on Pennsylvania, the one blue state McCain is still fully investing in, and its 21 electoral votes, with which McCain can even afford to lose Virginia.

Trouble is, Pennsylvania polls are atrocious for McCain - and not just over the past five weeks, in which Obama has led by double digits in almost every single public poll. Sure, McCain significantly closed the gap in mid-September, but the last time McCain has led in a poll from the state was in April, just two days after the state’s divisive Democratic primary.

So the McCain campaign appears to have largely come down to the improbable quest for a stunning Pennsylvania comeback. This is a testament to the high odds the campaign faces, but it is not a particularly dumb a move considering McCain’s current situation. The Arizona Senator has his back against the wall and too little money to defend all the red states he needs to win in a sweep that looks increasingly unlikely; he has to make some choices and take a stand in some places but not in others.

Choosing to keep up a large effort in Pennsylvania allows McCain to keep a focused effort in a large state in case he tightens the race nationally in the final 13 days. Furthermore, if there is one state that could see suggestions of racialized voting and perhaps some Bradley effect, it could be Pennsylvania. The state has a history of Democratic voting on the strength of culturally conservative Democrats - and it is that constituency that might be the most prone to pulling away from Obama because of race. Rep. Murtha alluded to this last week by calling his own district “racist,” and Governor Ed Rendell was just revealed to have written two memos to the Obama campaign expressing his “nervousness” about the state and pleading for the nominee to return to campaign in the state.

(I also suggested this morning that one factor behind McCain privileging Pennsylvania to Colorado could be that the former, unlike the latter, does not have early voting so Obama is not able to build on his current momentum and lock in any votes.)

Furthermore, as is typical of any struggling campaign, McCain is being hurt by a slow drip of blind quotes, tactical second-guessing and staff infighting spilling in the media. Mark Salter’s rant yesterday or the New York Times magazine cover story that is coming out on Sunday are the mark of angry aides that are increasingly unwilling to wait until November 5th to voice their frustration. As Hillary Clinton learned in the first few months of the primary, an undisciplined campaign quickly becomes a great distraction.

But perhaps no distraction will be as great in the coming days as Politico’s bombshell revelation that the RNC spent $150,000 “to clothe and accessorize” Sarah Palin and her family over the past seven weeks. This is obviously a huge amount, and one that could land the McCain campaign in legal trouble “under the Federal Election Commission’s long-standing advisory opinions on using campaign cash to purchase items for personal use.”

At the very least, this is a highly embarrassing revelation that surpasses in scope any parallel story that comes to mind (starting with John Edwards’s $400 haircut, which so many Republicans like Mike Huckabee mocked mercilessly). Not only does it come at a particularly inopportune time given the GOP’s effort to not look out-of-touch in times of economic crisis, it also seems like the kind of story that will spark yet another round of intra-GOP fighting - as if the Palin pick had not already caused enough divisions among conservatives.

Overall, then, this is not the type of coverage McCain wants to receive. At this point, every news cycle passed without his landing a major blow on Barack Obama is a news cycle wasted - and there aren’t many news cycles left.

Poll watch: Obama remains strong in red states, holds large leads in Virginia

We have reached the stage of a campaign where one day’s polling cannot but be confusing, as the growing volume of data that is released guarantees that results will appear to be discordant. That is the case today in the national polls (Obama’s lead ranges from 4% to 9%, with tracking polls going in both directions) and state polls, where Obama posts big gains and jumps to huge advantages in some polls while slipping in others.

So let’s take all of the polls together and try to break through the noise to find an overall picture. For one, it’s far too early to say that the race has tightened in a meaningful way. Yes, McCain appears to have cut his deficit to the single-digits whereas a large number of polls had him down double-digits last week; but there is little sign that McCain has made any more ground - and he remains in an extremely precarious position in the electoral college.

Yes, McCain does get some relatively good news today as he recaptures a narrow lead in Rasmussen’s Ohio and Florida polls  - both are well within the MoE, but they represent meaningful shifts from last week’s polling. But many polls show Obama improving his position over the past week, suggesting that there is no clear trend towards McCain. In today’s polling, Obama is showing no sign of weakening among blue states and he remains strong in the two red states that are the most endangered, Colorado and Virginia, either of which would make him president.

In fact, in today’s polls alone, Obama leads outside of the margin of error in five red states where a win would put him above the top. McCain leads outside of the margin of error in zero such state, and he cannot even muster a significant advantage in Georgia. Obama, by contrast, leads outside of the MoE in Ohio, where a Suffolk poll gives him his biggest lead of the general election; in two polls of Virginia, one of which has him leading by 10%; in Colorado; in two polls of North Carolina, both of which have Obama gaining over the past week and one of which has him opening his largest lead ever of 7%; and even in Missouri.

(More on this later, no doubt, but John King is now suggesting on CNN is that the McCain camp is looking to give up on Colorado which would quite literally make no sense as that would concede enough electoral votes to Obama to get him president. That would mean that the McCain campaign is banking everything on winning Pennsylvania.)

That most trend lines are generally small and inconsistent suggest that most of the evolutions that have been recorded over the past five days are statistical noise, and that is good news for Barack Obama. On to the full roundup of the day’s polls:

  • Obama leads 51% to 46% in a CNN national poll. He led by 8% two weeks ago, but he remains above 50%.
  • Obama leads 53% to 44% in an ABC/Washington Post national poll (the poll was conducted Thursday through Sunday). He led by 10% last week, so his lead is holding, though the internals show some progress for McCain. Less voters think that McCain would be a continuation of Bush’s policies. and 36% think McCain understands economic problems (up from 28%). But McCain’s main arguments appear to be washing away: asked who they would want to handle an unexpected crisis, 49% pick Obama versus 45% for McCain. The ABC/WaPo poll is a new daily tracking poll, so expect daily updates.
  • [Update: Obama leads 54% to 41% in a CBS/New York Times national poll conducted over the week-end among people that were already interviewed right before the first debate. Obama led by 5% before the first debate. 98% of those who said they would vote for Obama are sticking him; 88% of McCain's supporters are sticking with him; among those who were undecideds, 52% are now backing Obama, 36% are now backing McCain.]
  • So much for the tracking polls converging. 4 have movement towards Obama, two have movement towards McCain. They show Obama ahead by: 4%, 5%, 6%, 6%, 8%, 9%.
  • The detail: Obama gains 1% in Research 2000 (50% to 42%), in IBD/TIPP (47% to 41%). He gains 3% in Zogby to lead 50% to 44%. Obama also gains in Gallup, now leading 11% among registered voters, 9% in the expanded model of likely voters and 5% in the traditional model (all three represent gains). But McCain gains 2% in Rasmussen and in Diego Hotline (respectively 50% to 46% and 47% to 42% for Obama).
  • Obama leads 51% to 42% in a Suffolk poll of Ohio. This is Obama’s largest lead in this state since the general election started. The poll was taken Friday through Sunday.
  • McCain leads 49% to 47% in a Rasmussen poll of Ohio. The poll was taken Saturday. The state was tied in a poll taken late last week, Obama led in a poll taken last week. Rasmussen’s Ohio polls have generally been good for McCain.
  • Obama leads 51% to 44% in a PPP poll of North Carolina, with Barr at 2%. Obama led by 2% last week. The poll was taken Saturday and Sunday.
  • Obama leads 51% to 48% in a Rasmussen poll of North Carolina. The two were tied last week.
  • Obama leads 51% to 45% in a SUSA poll of Virginia. He led by 10% two weeks ago, by 6% a month ago. The main difference from the previous poll is that the partisan breakdown is a bit more favorable to Republicans; Obama gains a bit among independents. The poll was taken Saturday and Sunday.
  • Obama leads 54% to 44% in a Rasmussen poll of Virginia. Obama led by only 3% last week. This poll was taken Thursday.
  • McCain leads 49% to 48% in a Rasmussen poll of Florida. Obama led by 5% last week and by 7% two weeks ago.
  • Obama leads 51% to 46% in a Rasmussen poll of Colorado. He led by 7% last week. The poll was taken Saturday.
  • McCain leads 45% to 44% in a Suffolk poll of Missouri. The poll was taken Friday through Sunday.
  • Obama leads 49% to 44% in a Rasmussen poll of Missouri. The poll was taken Saturday. Obama led by 3% the previous two weeks.
  • Obama leads 48% to 40% in a Susquehanna poll of Pennsylvania. This is the first survey taken since late September with Obama “only” up single-digits!
  • Obama leads 50% to 44% in a SUSA poll of Minnesota. McCain led by 1% in the previous poll.

Down-the-ballot:

  • Kay Hagan leads 49% to 42% in a PPP poll of North Carolina’s Senate race. Chris Cole gets 4%. Hagan led by 2% last week.
  • Norm Coleman leads 41% to 39% in a SUSA poll of Minnesota’s Senate race, with Barkley at 18%. Two weeks ago, however, Coleman led by 20%.
  • Mark Warner leads 61% to 36% in a Rasmussen poll of Virginia’s Senate race. He leads 60% to 36% in SUSA.
  • In NJ-03, a DCCC poll finds Democratic candidate John Adler leading 43% to 35%. He led by 4% two weeks ago. Undecideds have decreased from 29% to 22%.
  • A pair of Illinois polls conducted by Democratic firm Bennetts, Petts and Bormington: In IL-11, Debbie Halvorson leads 50% to 29%; in IL-10, Rep. Kirk leads 47% to 41%.

Senate: Hagan remains on top in North Carolina, as we have now grown used to, though this is certainly a larger lead than in last week’s poll. Meanwhile, yet another poll confirms that Georgia is highly competitive but Democrats have to get going: 20% of registered voters have already cast their ballot, so the DSCC has to make a big push soon if it wants Martin’s surge to not come too late.

House: No surprise in the one independent poll of the day (CT-04), but Democrats lead in larger margins than we have seen of late in Dem polls of IL-11 and NJ-03. One thing that is not surprising is that undecideds are breaking towards the Democrat in NJ, however. That is the usual pattern in NJ politics.

Eleventh presidential ratings: Obama consolidates electoral college lead

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

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

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

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

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

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

This gives us the following map and totals:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

History of Campaign Diaries’ electoral ratings:

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

Poll watch: Trackings converge towards 7% margin, Obama up big in MN and WI, McCain stops bleeding in WV and OH

The tracking polls continue to converge around a 7% differential - certainly a large margin for McCain to overcome, and further evidence that Obama remains firmly in command. Meanwhile, there continues to be a dearth of state polls (which is surprising 16 days from Election Day), and the day’s few results bring some good news for both candidates.

On the one hand, McCain can take comfort in two polls of West Virginia showing him ahead outside of the margin of error. [Update: I am not suggesting, as some commentators gently criticize me for, that McCain leading in WV is an impressive feat, and yes, the state wasn't supposed to be competitive to begin with. That said, McCain's problem is the huge number of red states that are highly vulnerable, any one of which would tip the balance to Obama. With that in mind, for McCain to hold on to WV in two polls when ARG had Obama leading by 8% and Insider Advantage had the race within the MoE is certainly comforting for McCain.]

McCain can also be relieved by Mason-Dixon’s poll of Ohio. His lead in that survey might only be 1%, but Obama has run ahead in most OH polls taken in October. However, OH has been more resistant to Obama’s surge than other battlegrounds so it is less noteworthy to find McCain leading here than in VA or CO. Obama, meanwhile, continues to get great news from blue states. Three new polls show WI and MN are both in double-digit territory, and Obama has pretty much put all the blue states away. Also, a new poll of MT in the heels of three ND poll finding a tight race confirms that the Mountain West is back in play.

Before moving on to the full roundup of the day’s polls, I want to take a separate look at Zogby’s tracking poll. Longtime readers of this blog know that I very rarely question a poll because if we wanted to play that game we could find a fishy internal in every survey, and that’s not an interesting game to play. But Zogby’s decision to weigh partisan affiliation with only a 2% margin between Republicans and Democrats is incomprehensible.

Zogby’s internals show Obama leading by 8% among independents and getting 88% among Democrats. If Election Day numbers are anywhere close to that, there is no way Obama will lose the election. And this is not just the Democrats’ wishful thinking: All the raw data on registration trends and all public opinion surveys (for instance Pew’s) leave no doubt that there has been a significant shift in partisan affiliation over the past four years. In fact, applying (Republican pollster) Rasmussen’s party weights to Zogby’s internals gives us a 9% race.

If a pollster went out in the field to measure the electorate’s party affiliation and found only a 2% gap, Democrats ought to be worried. But Zogby did not go out in the field and discover that other pollsters were wrong based on his own interviews; rather, he decided to apply a 36%-34% weighting system a priori, regardless of what data his polling brought back. Now, it is certainly possible that the partisan differential will be closer to Zogby’s numbers than to those of all other pollsters, but if that were to happen it would mean that all the assumptions and voter registration trends we have been working with have been wrong - at which point Democrats will have a lot more to worry about than the electorate’s party breakdown.

Until other polls confirm that the electorate’s partisan ID has tightened (and for now, the contrary is true), take Zogby’s results with a grain of salt. On to the full roundup of the day’s polls:

  • Tracking polls continue to show rare convergence around a 7% margin. Research 2000 and Diego Hotline are both stable at that level, and Obama gains 3% in Gallup’s expanded likely voter model to lead by seven (he leads by 3% in the traditional model and by 10% among registered voters). Obama gains one point in Rasmussen to capture a 51% to 45% lead. IBD/TIPP (a five-day tracking, so there still are two pre-debate days) has a 5% race, a 2% gain for McCain and back to where we were two days ago. Finally, Zogby has Obama leading by 3% today, down from 4% yesterday (no matter what we think of Zogby’s partisan weighing, the trend line is still valuable so I will continue posting the results of the poll.
  • McCain leads 46% to 45% in a Mason Dixon poll of Ohio. The poll was taken Thursday and Friday, and it is a clear improvement for McCain over past Ohio polls.
  • Obama leads 52% to 41% in a Star Tribune poll of Minnesota. He led by 18% two weeks ago. The poll was taken Thursday and Friday.
  • Obama leads 51% to 39% in a Mason Dixon poll of Wisconsin. The poll was taken Thursday and Friday.
  • McCain leads 47% to 41% in a Mason Dixon poll of West Virginia. The poll was taken Thursday and Friday.
  • McCain leads 50% to 42% in a PPP poll of West Virginia.
  • McCain leads 49% to 45% in a Research 2000 poll of Montana. He led by 13% in mid-September.

Meanwhile, in down-ballot polls:

  • Al Franken leads 41% to 39% with Barkley at 18% in a Research 2000 poll of Minnesota’s Senate race. Barkley gets 15% of Democrats and only 8% of Republicans… Among independents, the breakdown is 33-32-32!
  • McConnell leads 46% to 42% in a Research 2000 poll of Kentucky’s Senate race. McConnell led by 13% a month ago. (24% of African-Americans say they are undecided, so Lunsford might have a bigger reservoir of votes.)
  • Bev Perdue leads 48% to 43% in a Research 2000 poll of North Carolina’s gubernatorial race. She over-performs Obama and Hagan, something we had not seen in the past few surveys.
  • In WY-AL, a Mason Dixon poll finds Democrat Gary Trauner leading 44% to 43%.
  • Safe seats: In Montana, Research 2000 finds no reason the GOP House representative and the Democratic governor should worry.

Research 2000’s poll from Minnesota is one of the first suggestions we have had that Barkley is hurting Franken more than he is hurting Coleman. His candidacy makes Minnesota’s Senate race very difficult to handicap, as it is hard to know the direction third party candidates will take in the final stretch: If voters come to think that Barkley has a shot at winning, his total could shoot upwards - and there is no telling how that would affect the Coleman-Franken match-up.

Meanwhile, Kentucky’s race is certainly competitive, but polls have found the race within the MoE since late September. Will Lunsford be able to pull ahead by Election Day? The best sign for Lunsford is that McConnell is well under 50% in most polls, and the undecided-break-for-the-challenger rule applies even more strongly in the case of such an entrenched incumbent.

Battleground watch: Obama swamps McCain, strong early voting numbers

When McCain-Feingold changed the rules of campaign finance a couple of cycles ago, who would have thought that Democrats up and down the ballot would enjoy such a gigantic financial advantage by 2008? Not only is the DCCC pouring in millions in contested House races while the RNCC can barely build a tiny firewall, but the spending disparity at the presidential level keeps widening.

In the week that ended on October 7th, the Obama campaign spent $32 million, compared to $16 million for the RNC and the McCain campaign. The week before, Obama spent $20 million and the GOP spent $12.5 - so Democratic dominance is increasing. Worst still for Republicans is that the disparity is far worse than 2:1 in key battleground states, and the GOP is pouring in so much money to stay on par in some states that it is basically giving up on others.

The Fix provides the full numbers and has a a very useful chart, but here are a few observations:

  • Florida deserves a category all to itself, as the Obama campaign spent $5 million on advertising in the past week, compared to only $1.8 million for the GOP! Over the previous week, the disparity was $3 million to $600,000. The other state in which the Obama juggernaut is being felt the most is Virginia, where Obama has increased his spending to $4 million - swamping the GOP 4:1. (Note that Republicans barely increased their spending in the Old Dominion while Obama doubled it.)
  • Another state that deserves its own category is North Carolina: They went from $137,000 to $1,8 million in one week, almost tying Obama’s spending ($2.1 million)! That means the GOP is spending more in North Carolina than in any other state but Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida (it is tied with the latter).
  • Meanwhile, Obama is now truly invested in red states, spending $2 million in Indiana and $2 million in Missouri (the GOP is at $800,000 in both). In New Hampshire, Obama is outspending the GOP more than 3:1, in Nevada and New Mexico, it’s 2:1. And even in Ohio and Pennsylvania, where the GOP has shifted to a superior gear ($2.6 million in PA and $3 million in OH), Obama continues to dominate ($3.8 million in PA and $4 million in OH).
  • McCain is no longer outspending Obama in Iowa and Minnesota. Obama has made a major push in both states (he was largely absent from both as of last week) and spent slightly more money in both - but the spending is roughly equal. However, McCain spent far more money in Maine, the state in which the campaign just started advertising.
  • Update: More on this in the coming days, surely, but it looks like the RNC might be pulling out of Wisconsin, leaving the McCain campaign in a precarious position in one of the last blue states they are hoping to contest.

Money alone cannot win an election, but they can seriously complicate the life of the candidate who is being swamped - particularly if he is the underdog. The Obama campaign is drowning McCain’s message in most of these states, and that makes it much more difficult for the GOP to get its attacks to stick.

Also, don’t forget that a lot of the GOP’s spending comes in the form of the strange RNC/McCain expenditures (forcing half of the ad to be devoted to hitting “congressional liberals” rather than Obama, as I explained here) and that yet more RNC money is spent by the independent expenditure arm so that the McCain campaign cannot control the message. $1 spent by Obama is not equal to $1 spent by the GOP, so the financial disparity is even wider than these numbers indicate.

Early voting: The latest numbers out of Georgia confirm that early voting is attracting a lot of voters. More than 540,000 voters had cast a ballot as of the end of Tuesday, 37% of which were black. 29% of the state population (and 25% of the 2004 electorate) are African-American, so it is remarkable to see that black voters are keeping up their increased participation rate. The Atlanta Journal Constitution confirms that black voters are highly motivated by spending two hours observing the procedures in Cobb County: it was a 90-minute line (yes, three weeks before Election Day), and everyone who entered the line before giving up was white!

The share of the white vote in Election Day voting is bound to be higher, but black voters do not need to sustain their 37% voting for Democrats to have a good day. Anything north of 30% would certainly be a huge boost for Barack Obama and Jim Martin’s prospects (Georgia polls usually model 26% black turnout). Meanwhile, early voting is going strong in Indiana. While the raw numbers might not seem that stunning (3,000 in Indianapolis’s Marion County for now), Indiana early voting started two weeks after it was launched in Georgia and election officials emphasize how remarkable the turnout rate has been up until now.

As for Florida, the state GOP continues to be remarkably disorganized - and the Miami Herald confirms that the prevailing feeling among Florida Republicans is panic and disorganization. It is not hard to see why: the McCain campaign long neglected the Sunshine State, and their organizational efforts are now lagging behind - not to mention their candidate’s presence on the airwaves. But the article also contains a piece of good news for Republicans, who outnumber Democrats by 200,000 among voters who have requested an absentee ballot. (Florida overall has more Democrats than Republicans.) This is not surprising, since the GOP always puts more emphasis on absentee voting and Democrats are focusing on early voting; but it is reassuring for Republicans to see that their ground game has not collapsed.

Poll watch: Obama surges in NYT/CBS, leads in OH, CO; Udall pulls away, Dole competitive

It is a testament to Obama’s dominance that a 9% lead in a national poll or a 2% lead in a Missouri survey almost seem underwhelming. But there is no question that almost every single polling data over the past two weeks oscillates from very good to stunning for Obama. Democrats are left worrying that Gallup’s tracking has Obama up only 7%, that Hotline is only at 6% or that Obama’s advantage in Suffolk’s Colorado survey is only 4% - and the very same day brings surveys that have Obama up double digits nationally and by 9% in Colorado.

The New York Times/CBS national poll is particularly noteworthy, of course, as the match-up itself (53% to 39% for Obama) is perhaps the least exciting news for Obama in that survey: He has now tied McCain among whites, and has jumped to a very solid hold on registered Democrats and Clinton supporters. And there are signs that his multi-million advertisement efforts are paying off, as more voters now think of McCain as susceptible to raise their taxes!

While Obama’s lead in this poll is certainly on the high end of his national results, what should frighten Republicans is that it is in no way out of line with other surveys and other internals: Most polls now have Obama in the high 80s among registered Democrats (take a look at Quinnipiac’s latest wave of state surveys, where Obama gets 93% party loyalty in Michigan and Colorado).

Furthermore, Obama continues to improve his hold on blue states (as evidenced by Quinnipiac’s release and the fact that he posts his seventh straight double-digit Pennsylvania lead) and McCain is unable to even hold on a lead within the MoE in any of the competitive red states. Obama leads outside of the MoE in OH and CO today, within the MoE in CO, NC and MO. In fact, this is the third poll in two days that has Obama leading in Missouri. On to the day’s full roundup:

  • Obama crushes McCain 53% to 39% in a national CBS/NYT poll of likely voters! The internals are quite stunning for Obama. Asked which candidate will raise their taxes, respondents answer… McCain, 51% to 46%! Obama leads by 18% among independents, and he gets 63% among first time voters - that number alone should make Republicans panicked, as it is likely those voters are not fully picked up by pollsters.
  • Obama leads 50% to 41% in a national LA Times/Bloomberg poll of likely voters. Three weeks ago, Obama led by 4%. 49% of respondents now say he has the right experience to be president, versus 37% in the previous three weeks ago. Only 10% say the country is in the right direction - the lowest number since 1991.
  • Obama leads 50% to 45% in a SUSA poll of Ohio. McCain led by 1% two weeks ago. Democrats have a strong partisan advantage. 12% of voters say they have already voted, and Obama leads by 18% in that group.
  • Obama leads 52% to 43% in a Quinnipiac poll of Colorado. Obama led by 4% in late September. gets 93% of the Democratic vote.
  • Obama leads 49% to 46% in a PPP poll of North Carolina. He led by 6% last week.
  • Obama leads 48% to 46% in a PPP poll of Missouri. The previous PPP poll of Missouri, taken mid-August, had McCain leading by 10%. A key shift: Obama has gone from 78% to 89% of the Democratic vote.
  • Obama leads 55% to 40% in a SUSA poll of Pennsylvania. This is the same margin as last week.
  • Obama leads 54% to 37% in a Quinnipiac poll of Wisconsin. Obama led by 7% in late September. Today, he gets 92% of the Democratic vote.
  • Obama leads 51% to 40% in a Quinnipiac poll of Minnesota. Obama led by 2% in late September. Obama gets 90% of the Democratic vote.
  • Obama leads 54% to 38% in a Quinnipiac poll of Michigan. Obama led by 4% in late September. He gets 93% of the Democratic vote.
  • Two presidential match-up numbers from House districts: In PA-11, a district Kerry won by 6%, Obama leads by only 4% according to Research 2000. In PA-03, a district Bush won by 6%, Obama leads by 2% according to Research 2000.
  • Four presidential match-up numbers in key swing counties courtesy of Politico and Insider Advantage. All have Obama gaining over the 2004 results: In North Carolina’s Wake County, Obama leads by 6% - a 12% turnaround since 2004. In Nevada’s Washoe County, Obama leads by 1% - a 5% turnaround. In Florida’s Hillsborough County (Tampa), Obama leads by 6% - a 13% turnaround since 2004. And in Colorado’s Jefferson County, McCain leads by 1% - a 4% improvement for Obama.

Meanwhile, in down-the-ballot polls:

  • Mark Udall leads 54% to 40% in a Quinnipiac poll of Colorado’s Senate race. Three weeks ago, Udall led by 8%.
  • Udall leads 45% to 34% in a Suffolk poll of Colorado’s Senate race.
  • Al Franken leads 38% to 36% with 18% to Barkley in a Quinnipiac poll of Minnesota’s Senate race. Three weeks ago, Coleman led by 7% though Barkley was not included.
  • Kay Hagan leads 46% to 44% in a PPP poll of North Carolina’s Senate race. She led by 9% last week, which was a high point for her - but this 2% lead is also a decline from the survey results two weeks ago.
  • Nixon leads 52% to 39% in a PPP poll of Missouri’s gubernatorial race.
  • In PA-11, Lou Barletta leads 43% to 39% against Democratic Rep. Kanjorski in a new Research 2000 poll.
  • In PA-03, Kathy Dahlkemper leads 48% to 41% against GOP Rep. English in a new Research 2000 poll.
  • In PA-04, an internal poll for the Altmire campaign finds the Democratic incumbent ahead 53% to 41%.
  • In MD-01, an internal poll for Frank Kratovil has the Democrat narrowly ahead 43% to 41%.
  • In NJ-03, a DCCC internal poll finds Democratic state Senator Adler leading 37% to 33%, within the MoE.
  • In NJ-07, a DCCC internal poll finds Democratic candidate Linda Stender 40% to 31%.
  • In WA-08, a DCCC internal poll has Darcy Burner ahead 49% to 44%.

Senate: Colorado’s Senate race has been remarkably brutal over the past few months - and yet it has been covered very little nationally, especially compared to the Minnesota or North Carolina Senate races. At the end of the day, this one will matter just as much as the others, and while Udall has been ahead for an entire year now, he has been unable to close the deal and Schaffer has stayed within striking distance. It looks like Udall is finally building a solid lead, as Quinnipiac and Suffolk make it three polls in a row to find the Democrat leading by double-digit. Colorado has not yet joined Virginia and New Mexico as sure Democratic pick-ups, but with 3 weeks until election day the situation is good for Udall.

The two other Senate races find some good news for both candidates. The Minnesota Senate race is certainly now a toss-up after Coleman appeared to pull away in September. Quinnipiac and SUSA, both of whom had big Republican leads here, now have the race within the MoE, and Barkley remains a huge factor. As for North Carolina, I have pointed out many times that the pessimism of Republican operatives isn’t matched by poll numbers, where Hagan has certainly inched ahead but Dole remains highly competitive.

House: First, the independent polls, as they confirm what we already know: Rep. English is not doing well at all, and the extent to which he is vulnerable is surprising given that the race was not in the top tier as of 6 weeks ago. In PA-11, Rep. Kanjorski is in huge trouble, as is any incumbent who is below 40, and he looks set to lose his seat. Not only that, but Barletta’s internal polls are in line with independent surveys whereas Kanjorski’s are way off. But it is the DCCC’s internal polling that continues to differ from independent surveys - with their numbers in NJ-07 and WA-08 being skewed to the Democrat compared to recent independent polling. Make of that what you will, of course, and one could very well argue that the Democrat’s turnout model is more accurate, but as always take internal surveys with a grain of salt unless they are confirmed by independent numbers.

Poll watch: McCain stops bleeding in some polls and in IN but trails big in VA, NC, PA and MI

Today’s state poll roundup makes it clear why we can say that Obama is in such a strong position in the electoral college race. First, he looks to have locked away the blue states: Three weeks ago, Michigan, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania were all in dead heats. Today, most surveys from these states are finding Obama leading in double-digits, or at least high single-digits. Today’s Strategic Vision survey is, incredibly enough, the fifth consecutive poll to have Obama leading by at least 12%! And Rasmussen finds Obama leading by 16% in the Wolverine State, once an incredibly vulnerable state for the Illinois Senator.

Yes, an ARG poll finds Obama’s lead within the MoE in Minnesota, and as I have said before this is the one state in which Obama is not gaining (and the one state McCain is outspending him) - but he does appear to be keeping the lead, as Rasmussen and MPR’s polls suggested yesterday.

It is not surprising to see Obama surge by more in those states than in others: Michigan and Pennsylvania are both blue-leaning states, and the Illinois Senator was weak in them because he was significantly underperforming among registered Democrats. The financial crisis has first and foremost gotten Democrats to vote Democratic, and the effect of that is most felt in blue states.

With blue states quickly getting out of reach, it becomes that much more important for McCain to hold on to every single red state but IA and NM. And this is where his position today is interesting, as some polls show McCain has stopped the bleeding: And perhaps most importantly, he climbs back within the MoE (though still trails) in the new Rasmussen surveys of NC and FL and he jumps to a 7% lead in a Rasmussen poll of Indiana, the best polling news he has gotten in a while (perhaps the product of the RNC finally getting involved and convincing cross-over Republicans to stick with the GOP).

But threats are popping up everywhere for McCain. The Democrat surges to an 8% lead in Virginia today; the state looks to be increasingly leaning Obama at this point, as two polls released earlier this week had him up by double digits. He also grabs a 5% advantage in a Civitas poll of NC, while ARG shows Ohio OH his way. Obama even leads by 8% in West Virginia, and while that poll could very well be an outlier (it is, after all, released by ARG), the other surveys released by ARG today have trendlines that are very similar to those of other polls.

Let’s recap: Obama has some sort of lead today - within or outside of the MoE - in Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, Florida and West Virginia. McCain needs to win every single one of these states, and Colorado, and Nevada, and Missouri… It is no surprise, then, that McCain is trying to change the national dynamics. To pull off a sweep of all these states, he cannot rely on his ground game or on luck. He will need to tighten the national numbers. On to the day’s full roundup:

  • Obama maintains his dominant position in the tracking polls, especially now that Hotline (which yesterday was mysteriously showing a 1% race) today has Obama leading 47% to 41%. This confirms that Hotline is the most bouncy of the five trackings. Obama leads 52% to 41% in Gallup, 51% to 41% in Research 2000, 50% to 45% in Rasmussen (-1%), 48% to 44% in Zogby (+2%).
  • Obama leads 51% to 43% in a PPP poll of Virginia. He led by 3% three weeks ago.
  • Obama leads 54% to 40% in a Strategic Vision poll of Pennsylvania. He led by only one in mid-September, but this trend corresponds to that found by most other pollsters.
  • Obama leads 56% to 40% in a Rasmussen poll of Michigan. Obama led by 7% three weeks ago.
  • Obama leads 50% to 47% in a Rasmussen poll of Florida. He led by 7% in a Rasmussen poll released on Monday - but he trailed by 5% ten days ago.
  • Obama leads 48% to 43% in a Civitas poll of North Carolina. The race was tied three weeks ago.
  • Obama leads 49% to 48% in a Rasmussen poll of North Carolina. He led by 3% last week.
  • McCain leads 50% to 43% in a Rasmussen poll of Indiana. He led by 2% last month. This is one of the best polling results McCain has gotten for a while.
  • Obama leads 48% to 45% in an ARG poll of Ohio. He trailed by 6% in mid-September. This survey, like the other ARG polls, was taken both before and after the second presidential debate.
  • Obama leads 47% to 46% in an ARG poll of Minnesota. A mid-September survey found the same margin.
  • Obama leads 52% to 43% in an ARG poll of New Hampshire. McCain led by 3% in mid-September.
  • McCain leads 49% to 46% in an ARG poll of Missouri. He led by 5% in mid-September.
  • Obama leads 50% to 42% in an ARG poll of West Virginia. He trailed by 4% in mid-September.
  • McCain leads 50% to 45% in an ARG poll of Montana. He led by 2% in mid-September.
  • Obama leads 50% to 42% in a Rasmussen poll of New Jersey. He led by 13% last month.
  • McCain leads 57% to 38% in an ARG poll of Texas.

Meanwhile, in down the ballot:

  • Al Franken leads 43% to 37% in a Rasmussen poll of Minnesota’s Senate race. Barkley gets 17%.
  • Mark Begich leads 49% to 45% in an Ivan Moore poll of Alaska’s Senate race. He led by 2% three weeks ago.
  • Jeanne Shaheen leads 51% to 42% in an ARG poll of New Hampshire’s Senate race.
  • Mitch McConnell leads 47% to 38% in an internal poll released by his campaign in Kentucky’s Senate race. The previous McConnell poll had him leading by 17%, so even his pollster finds the race tightening.
  • Pat McCrory leads 43% to 41% in a Civitas poll of North Carolina’s gubernatorial race.
  • In NY-29, Eric Massa leads GOP Rep. Kuhl 49% to 42% in a Research 2000 poll. This is the third poll in a row (including an independent poll by SUSA) to find the Democrat with a significant lead in this rematch of the 2006 race.
  • In MN-03, Democrat Ashwin Madia leads 46% to 43% in a SUSA poll. Last month, Paulsen led by 3%.
  • In AK-AL, Ethan Berkowitz leads leads 51% to 42% in an Ivan Moore poll. He led by 5% three weeks ago.
  • In PA-11, Rep. Kanjorski leads 47% to 39% in a DCCC poll of PA-11. Public polls and Republicans polls have Kanjorski trailing by substantial margins.
  • In MI-09, Gary Peters leads GOP Rep. Knollenberg 43% to 40% in an internal poll for the Peters campaign.
  • In NY-25, Dan Maffei leads 49% to 31% against Republican Sweetland in an internal Democratic poll.

Senate: The best news of the day surely comes for Democrats, who keep their edge in New Hampshire, gain one in Minnesota while yet another survey confirms that Chambliss is vulnerable (the DSCC has still not invested in the state). But Republicans should take comfort in Ivan Moore’s poll from Alaska: Ted Stevens might be trailing, but Mark Begich has not been able to build any sort of comfortable lead over the past few months. That makes it likely that an acquittal would save this seat for Republicans, and given how openly the prosecution is disrespecting the defense’s rights in this trial, Stevens could very well survive the trial - and the election.

House: Democrats get a lot of good news in this wave of surveys. Some of it comes from internal numbers to be taken with a grain of salt (as long as DCCC numbers in PA-11 are at odds with any other poll we are seeing, it is hard to give Kanjorski the benefit of the doubt), others come from independent pollsters. AK-AL, in particular, appears to be anchoring itself in the blue column - and Young will be hard-pressed to benefit from any bounce from a Stevens acquittal. And NY-29 does seem to be drifitng towards Massa, as three polls in a row have found the Democratic challenger ahead outside of the margin of error. The DCCC hasn’t spent any money on this race yet, but this race might soon be added to the lean takeover category.

Poll watch: Ahead in OH, CO, NV, Obama jumps to huge lead in 3 PA polls; Stevens stays in the game

Today’s numbers are perhaps not as dramatic as yesterday’s, but the overall picture is still as rosy for Barack Obama. And it’s not necessarily because of any number in red states: it is his continuous surge in the four blue states (NH, PA, WI and MN) McCain is actively contesting that is the most remarkable.

In Pennsylvania, three new polls show Obama leading by double-digits - between 10% and 15% - a shocking development in a high-priority state in which the GOP is pouring big sums of money. In Minnesota, a survey shows Obama up by 14%. And his lead is in high single-digits in three polls from New Hampshire and Wisconsin. If he sweeps all four (as seems increasingly likely), Obama would be in an extremely favorable position. He would anchor himself at 264 votes, and he would need only one more of the competitive red states.

Today’s polls show how many he would have to choose from: Obama leads outside of the margin of error in Nevada, Colorado and Ohio (any one of which could be decisive) and is ahead within the MoE in Florida, North Carolina, and a second poll from Ohio. And Indiana continues to look highly competitive. Nothing here is as stunning as Obama’s double-digit leads in two Virginia polls yesterday, but these encouraging results nonetheless - and revealing of how much catching up McCain has to do over the next four weeks, starting with tonight’s debate. On to the full round-up:

  • The tracking polls show Obama in a dominant position, though Diego Hotline has Obama suddenly “collapsing” to a 2% lead. That does seem like an outlier, however, as all other polls show Obama remaining in a solid position: He leads 51% to 42% in Gallup (+1), 52% to 44% in Rasmussen and 51% to 40% in Research 2000 (-1). And we now have a fifth tracking poll, released by Reuters/Zogby. Its introductory numbers have Obama leading 48% to 45%.
  • Obama leads 55% to 40% in a SUSA poll of Pennsylvania. He led by 6% last week.
  • Obama leads 54% to 40% in a Rasmussen poll of Pennsylvania. He led by 8% last week and 4% two weeks ago.
  • Obama leads 48% to 46% in Mason Dixon’s poll of Florida. He also led by 2% in a poll taken two weeks ago.
  • Obama leads 49% to 43% in a PPP poll of Ohio. McCain led by 4% in early September. Obama has gained among registered Democrats: he is now at 84% (up from 78%).
  • Obama leads 48% to 45% in a CNN/Time poll of Ohio, with 3% for Nader and 2% for Barr. In a two-way race, he leads 50% to 47% (he led by 2% three weeks ago).
  • Obama leads 49% to 48% in a CNN/Time poll of North Carolina, with 2% for Bob Barr. In a two-way race, the two candidates are tied at 49%. McCain led by 1% three weeks ago.
  • Obama leads 50% to 42% in a CNN/Time poll of Wisconsin, with Nader at 4% and Barr at 1%. In a two-race race, he leads 51% to 46% (he led by 3% three weeks ago).
  • Obama leads 52% to 42% in a SUSA poll of Wisconsin. Obama gets 90% of the Democratic vote.
  • Obama leads 51% to 43% in a CNN/Time poll of New Hampshire, with Barr at 3% and Nader at 1%. In a two-way race, Obama leads 53% to 45%.
  • McCain leads 48% to 46% in a CNN/Time poll of Indiana, with Barr at 5%. In a two-way race, McCain leads 51% to 46% (he led by 6% three weeks ago).
  • The candidates are tied at 46% in a Research 2000 poll of Indiana. McCain led led by 1% last week.
  • Obama leads 54% to 40% in a Minnesota Public Radio poll of Minnesota taken in the days after the VP debate. In the days before the debate, Obama’s lead was 47% to 43%. The margin of error is a large 5% on the post-debate sample.
  • Obama leads 55% to 39% in a SUSA poll of California.

Meanwhile, in down-ballot numbers:

  • In a SUSA poll of Proposition 8 in California, the yes has taken a narrow led for the first time - 47% to 42%.
  • Ted Stevens captures a 49% to 48% lead in Rasmussen’s latest poll from Alaska’s Senate race. Begich led by 3% in early September and by 13% in late July.
  • Beverly Perdue recaptures the lead in the latest PPP poll of North Carolina’s gubernatorial race. She is ahead 46% to 43%.
  • In OH-01, a Research 2000 poll has Democrat Steve Driehaus leading Rep. Steve Chabot 46% to 44%.
  • In OH-16, a GOP-held open seat, a Research 2000 poll has Democrat Boccieri leading Schuring 48% to 38%.
  • In MI-07, an internal poll for the Schauer campaign shows him leading GOP Rep. Walberg 46% to 36%.
  • In PA-11, an internal poll for the Barletta campaign shows him leading Rep. Kanjorski 47% to 39%. The previous Barletta poll had him ahead by 4%.

Statewide: SUSA has shown Proposition 8 has a higher chance of passing than in PPIC’s polls, but this is the first time the “yes” vote has been ahead in any survey that I am aware of - a reminder that this is very much a high stakes battle. Both parties have some good news, as Beverly Perdue and Ted Stevens are showing signs of life. But it is important to remember that the Alaska Senate race now looks entirely dependent on his trial verdict. If it is a tie now, Stevens would probably lose if found guilty and probably survive if acquitted.

House: More independent House polls, raising the number to 13 today! And the numbers are encouraging for Democrats: OH-16 is rated lean take-over in my rating, but it remains highly competitive, so it is good for Boccieri to open up some space. OH-01 and MI-07 are both GOP-held districts that are rated toss-ups, but both incumbents are in precarious positions if these numbers are to be believed. As for PA-11, Democratic Rep. Kanjorski is the most vulnerable Democratic incumbent, and this is one of only three Dem-held districts that are currently rated lean take-over, so Barletta’s numbers confirm what we have been seeing over the past few months.



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