Archive for the 'NJ-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.

13th presidential ratings: One last attempt at finding McCain’s path to victory

We have been talking so much about Missouri, Indiana and North Carolina that it would also seem that Barack Obama’s electoral fortunes depend on these highly competitive states. If that were true, we would be in for quite an unpredictable Election Day indeed.

Unfortunately for McCain, a sweep of those states - even if we add Florida, Ohio, Georgia to his column - would get him no closer to the fundamental challenge he faces if he wants to reach 270 electoral votes: closing the gap in Pennsylvania, Colorado, Nevada and Virginia.

As it is looking increasingly unlikely that McCain can save Colorado given the huge share of the electorate that has already voted, all Obama needs is to hold on to Pennsylvania. The battle of Pennsylvania is sometimes portrayed as a sign McCain is still on the offensive, but this is the ultimate defensive move dictated by the need to survive.

Even if McCain can tap into the discontent of culturally conservative Democratic voters and somehow prove all Pennsylvania polls wrong, he would still face an uphill climb as he would also have to win one of Colorado, Nevada and Virginia - all states that are currently rated likely Obama. This is certainly not an easy proposal, especially in the two Southwestern states in which Obama has already locked in big majorities in early voting. And a McCain comeback in Pennsylvania would not necessarily mean that he has closed the gap in Virginia since the electoral coalitions Obama needs to assemble to win both states are different enough.

All of this suggests that Pennsylvania and Virginia are the states to watch tomorrow night, as it is difficult to imagine - though still technically possible - that Obama loses the election if he wins either of those states.

None of this is to underestimate the importance of Florida and Ohio: Both states lean ever so slightly towards the Democratic nominee, and a win in either state would surely guarantee him an electoral college majority. (The same is true in any of the other competitive red states, and the Obama organization is so dominant in some of them that for him to win there but not in other states would not surprise me.) But saying that the election’s fate is in the hands of Florida, Ohio or in states other than Pennsylvania, Virginia, Colorado and Nevada would be overstating McCain’s chances of survival.

Since the first presidential ratings I posted on June 4th, there has been an unmistakable shift towards Obama. Of the nine states that were then rated toss-ups (CO, MI, NV, NH, NM, OH, PA, VA and WI), eight are now in the likely Obama column and one in the lean Obama column; all states that were rated lean McCain are now toss-ups, and all states that were rated lean Obama are now likely Obama. And the GOP base has significantly eroded: Of the eight states that were listed as likely McCain, four are now toss-ups - as would Alaska have been had McCain not picked Sarah Palin as his running-mate.

Without further delay, here are the thirteenth presidential 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, Mississippi, Nebraska (at large + 3rd congressional district), Oklahoma, Utah, Tennessee, Texas, Wyoming (99 EVs)
  • Likely McCain: Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska’s 1st district, South Carolina, South Dakota, West Virginia (29 EVs)
  • Lean McCain: Arizona, Nebraska’s 2nd district (11 EVs)
  • Toss-up: Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota (85 EV)
  • Lean Obama: Ohio (20 EVs)
  • Likely Obama: Colorado, Iowa, Maine (at-large + 1st district + 2nd district), Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin (96 EVs)
  • Safe Obama: California, Connecticut, DC, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington (185 EVs)

This gives us the following map and totals:

  • Safe + Likely Obama: 286 electoral votes
  • Safe + Likely + Lean Obama: 311
  • Toss-up: 85
  • Safe + Likely + Lean McCain: 142
  • Safe + Likely McCain: 128

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 week:

Arizona, likely McCain to lean McCain: This seemingly last-minute development was a long time coming: Arizona polls have shown a surprisingly tight race for months, and McCain’s first signs of vulnerability came when he failed to break 50% in the state’s primary on Super Tuesday. But no one really believed that McCain’s home state could possibly be that competitive and, despite some occasional noise about an optimistic state Democratic Party, the Obama campaign did not make a move. Until this week, that is, when a big wave of polls showing McCain’s lead within the margin of error forced Obama into action; his campaign bought air time in Arizona and mobilized state volunteers.

It’s hard to think of a scenario in which Arizona is the decisive state, but at the very least, Arizona’s yearning to be a battleground state is a very good sign for Democrats in future presidential elections, and it will pay dividends at the House level, where Democrats are poised to pick up one to two seats after the two they won over in 2006.

Georgia, lean McCain to toss-up: It’s hard to believe that we are thinking of Georgia as a battleground state - let alone as a toss-up - but until Republicans prove that they are enthusiastic enough to actually vote, they are facing a catastrophe in the state: More than half of the electorate cast an early ballot, and African-Americans make up 35% of those voters - up from the 25% they represented in 2004. If strong Republican and white turnout on Tuesday does not push that number south to 30-31%, Barack Obama will be ideally placed for a (somewhat unexpected) pick-up. His campaign had invested in the state throughout the summer but went dark in mid-September, in the aftermath of the GOP convention; they are now back, airing at least one of ad tying McCain to President Bush.

Louisiana, safe McCain to likely McCain: Merely mentioning this state in the context of presidential politics would have been unthinkable just a month ago, but in the current climate an upset cannot be ruled out in any states that have a history of voting Democratic. Of course, Louisiana’s situation is complicated by the post-Katrina migrations, and no one truly knows whether the African-American population is large enough for a Democrat to pull off victory in a competitive race here. Mary Landrieu’s fate is, of course, far more dependent on this question than Obama’s.

Nevada, toss-up to likely Obama: Different forces have conspired to make Nevada look like a likely Obama pick-up. For one, he dominates among Hispanics by margins that Al Gore and John Kerry would be jealous of, as well as among the West’s independent voters, who have always been one of his strongest constituencies. Polls released over the past 10 days by CNN/Time, Suffolk, Research 2000 show Obama has jumped to a commanding lead that rivals his advantage in Colorado. As if this was not enough, early voting is looking very promising for Obama. In Clark County and Washoe County, which together account for 87% of registered voters, the gap between Democratic and Republican early voters is far larger than that of the electorate at large; if conservatives do not vote at a far higher pace, the GOP could not only lose the state at the presidential level but also one or both of its House seats.

New Hampshire, lean Obama to likely Obama: I am weary of underestimating McCain in this state, but all polls have shown a very clear trend towards the Democrat over the past few weeks, who now leads by double-digits in most polls. The UNH/WMUR, surely the most trusted poll in the state, just released its final survey showing Obama leading by 11% and holding a big lead among independents. Who knew New Hampshire independents would prove McCain’s undoing?

New Jersey, likely Obama to safe Obama: Once upon a time, Republicans believed that the September 11th effect would swing the Garden State their way, and Bush made a lot of progress in this state between 2000 and 2004. How times have changed, as Obama has now seized a dominant lead in nearly all of the state’s polling. New Jersey typically flirts with Republicans for a while before giving itself to a Democrat reluctantly, but even that pattern hasn’t really held true this year, as McCain only came close to making the state competitive in the immediate aftermath of the Republican convention.

South Carolina, safe McCain to likely McCain: Just as in Louisiana, an Obama victory in South Carolina would mean that the Democratic nominee is on his way to an electoral college landslide of well above 400 EVs. But if Obama clinches a 10% win in the popular vote, it’s not inconceivable that states like South Carolina would fall in his column. A recent Mason-Dixon poll showed McCain leading by only 6% in a state Bush carried by 17%. The boost in African-American turnout that we have been seeing in other states’ early voting could help Obama close the gap by a few more points.

Washington, likely Obama to safe Obama: Just as he believed he could put the Northeast in play, John McCain once had ambitions in the Pacific Northwest. But Barack Obama’s uncommon strength among the region’s independents (evidenced by the fact that this was the one region in which Obama ran consistently ahead of Hillary Clinton in general election polls) undercut McCain’s potential; also helping Obama is the fact that blue-collar voters in the West are less resistant, making it easier for him to unify the Democratic base. The result is an impressive lead that would have made Al Gore jealous. The main question in this state is whether Obama’s margin of victory is big enough to guarantee that Gregoire survives.

West Virginia, lean McCain to likely McCain: The site of Hillary Clinton’s greatest triumph was the most unlikely of states for Barack Obama to score an upset; the state is filled with blue-collar white Democrats who have not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate for more than a decade. But a wave of polls in late September and early October showed a highly competitive contest, and Obama (presumably not sure of what to do with the millions he had in the bank) decided to invest in the state’s airwaves. However, Obama has been unable to make more progress over the past few weeks, and most polls that have been released over the past three weeks have McCain solidifying his position and holding a lead that hovers around the 10% mark. Obama was not even able to force McCain to spend time playing defense here. That said, that the state even got on the list of potential battleground states is a testament to how much the economic crisis transformed the presidential race.

History of Campaign Diaries’ electoral ratings:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile, in down the ballot polls:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile, in down the ballot polls:

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

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

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

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

Poll watch: Trackings tighten (a bit), but Obama dominates in VA, CO, PA, OH, FL and NV; Wicker opens wide lead

We start, as will now be customary, with the three states that we should be watching over this closing week: Colorado, Virginia and Pennsylvania. New polls were released today in each and they find Obama in command: He extends his lead by 3% in the latest Insider Advantage poll of Colorado, leads by 9% in Virginia and has a sizable edge in three Pennsylvania surveys (7% to 12%). That said, both Insider Advantage and Rasmussen suggest that there might be some tightening in the Keystone State, and Obama is no longer enjoying consistent double-digit leads.

It is a testament to just how huge a lead he had seized that he remains so firmly in command of Pennsylvania despite shedding nearly half of his lead in Rasmussen’s survey. And it is also a testament to Obama’s remarkably strong electoral map that he has so many other options even if McCain somehow manages to pull off one of the three states listed above.

If Obama were to lose Pennsylvania, for instance, Nevada would suffice to compensate - and two new polls out today show Obama leading outside of the margin of error and by as much as 10%. Keep in mind that the demographics of Pennsylvania, Virginia, Colorado and Nevada are very similar, so a comeback in the former wouldn’t mean that McCain is coming back in the three latter ones. McCain trails outside of the MoE in two new polls of Ohio (4% and 9%) and two new polls of Florida (5% and 7%). McCain still has a lot of work to do in all of these states.

As has been the case over the past few days, the tightest contests are taking place in states that Obama does not need: Indiana, North Carolina, Montana, Georgia and… Arizona are all within the margin of error in new polls. Losing any of these would be a catastrophe for the GOP.

McCain supporters can at least take comfort in the composite of the tracking polls, as McCain continues to close the gap after already tightening the race somewhat yesterday. But he continues to trail, and a Pew national poll taken over the same period finds disastrous numbers for McCain (I don’t believe McCain had ever trailed by 16% in a poll before). On to the full roundup of the day’s polls:

  • Obama leads 53% to 38% in a national Pew poll conducted Thursday through Monday; the margin is 16% with registered voters. 74% of Obama’s supporters describe themselves as “strong” supporters, versus 56% of McCain’s. Obama leads among men, women, every age group, independents and by 19% among early voters.
  • Obama leads 50% to 45% in an ARG national poll thanks to 83% of Democrats and a 12% lead among independents.
  • McCain makes some progress in the latest tracking polls: He gains 3% in Gallup (51-44, and only 49-47 in the LVT model), 1% in Research 2000 (50-43), 1% in Zogby (49-45). The race is stable in Hotline (50-42), Washington Post/ABC (52-45) and Rasmussen (51-46). Obama gains 1% in IBD/TIPP (48-44). That means that Obama’s leads are: 4%, 4%, 5%, 7%, 7%, 7%, 8%.
  • Colorado: Obama leads 53% to 45% in a new Insider Advantage poll, based on his staggering 81% among Hispanics. Obama led by 5% last week. The poll was conducted on Sunday.
  • Pennsylvania: Obama leads 51% to 42% in an Insider Advantage poll of Pennsylvania; a separate IA poll of suburban Bucks County finds Obama leading by 3% (the same as Kerry), a 3% decline since a poll two weeks ago. This poll was conducted on Sunday. Obama leads 53% to 46% in a Rasmussen poll; that’s a drop from Obama’s 13% margin three weeks ago. No movement in the Morning Call tracking poll, however, where Obama leads 53% to 41%.
  • Virginia: Obama leads 48% to 39% in a Roanoke College poll. The poll was conducted over eight days, however, from the 19th through yesterday.
  • Ohio: Obama leads 49% to 40% in a new LAT/Bloomberg poll conducted Saturday through yesterday. (A fascinating internal: Obama wins white, working class voters 52% to 38%). Obama leads 49% to 45% in a SUSA poll conducted on Sunday and Monday. Obama led by 5% two weeks ago. He leads by 17% among the 22% of respondents who say they have already voted.
  • Nevada: Obama leads 50% to 40% in a Suffolk poll conducted from the 23rd through the 27th, with 2% for Barr and 1% each for McKinney and Nader. Obama leads 50% to 46% in a Rasmussen poll in which he led by 5% two weeks ago.
  • North Carolina: The candidates are tied at 47% in a week-end Mason Dixon/NBC poll. In a PPP poll of the 8th district, Obama leads by 6% which is a 14% swing since 2004, about what Obama needs statewide to win the state.
  • Indiana: Three polls in Indiana show a highly competitive race. Obama leads 48% to 47% in a Research 2000 poll (the candidates were tied three weeks ago.) McCain leads 47% to 45% in a Howey/Gauge poll. In a separate Research 2000 poll of IN-03, McCain leads 53% to 38% - which is great news for Obama since Bush won the district 68% to 31% (that’s a 22% swing towards Obama, essentially what he needs statewide to carry the state).
  • Montana: McCain leads 48% to 44% in a week-end Mason Dixon/NBC poll (I am not sure whether Ron Paul’s name was included).

Meanwhile, in down the ballot surveys:

  • Roger Wicker jumps to a big 54% to 43% lead in a Rasmussen poll of Mississippi’s Senate race. He only led by 2% in September.
  • Saxby Chambliss leads 46% to 44,5% in an Insider Advantage poll of Georgia’s Senate race, with 2% going to other (it looks like Buckley’s name was not included).
  • Jeff Merkley leads 45% to 40% in a Hibbits poll of Oregon’s Senate race conducted from the 22nd to the 25th. No mention of early voting, unfortunately.
  • Bev Perdue leads McCrory 47% to 44% in a PPP poll of North Carolina’s gubernatorial race.
  • In IN-03, GOP Rep. Souder leads 45% to 40% in a Research 2000 poll, with 4% going to Libertarian candidate Bill Larsen. In a Howey Gauge poll of the district, however, it is Democratic challenger Montagano who leads 44% to 41% (this latter poll has a large 6% MoE).
  • In NC-08, Larry Kissell leads GOP Rep. Hayes 51% to 46% in a PPP poll.
  • In OH-15, Democratic candidate Mary Jo Kilroy leads 47% to 41% in a SUSA poll, with 6% going to conservative independent candidate Don Eckart. 37% of respondents say they have already voted, and Kilroy leads by 16%.
  • In GA-08, Democratic Rep. Marshall leads 49% to 45% in a SUSA poll. Marshall immediately released an internal poll showing him leading 48% to 31%.
  • In KS-03, Democratic Rep. Moore leads 53% to 42% in a SUSA poll.

The most important of the day’s congressional poll undoubtedly comes from Mississippi, where Republican Senator Roger Wicker jumps to a commanding lead - suggesting that Democrats might not be as close to a Senate sweep after all (Mississippi’s Senate race is currently ranked 9th in my Senate rankings). The Insider Advantage poll from Georgia, meanwhile, is further evidence that we might not get a resolution on November 4th, as both candidate are far from the 50% mark - especially since the Libertarian candidate was not even included as an option in this survey.

At the House level, Democratic taek-over opportunities in NC-08 and OH-15 (both rated lean Democratic in my latest ratings) continue to look good for Democratic, and the IN-03 numbers are outstanding: this is a massively Republican district that voted for Bush by 37% in 2004! It was on no one’s radar screen as of the end of September, and has now become a highly vulnerable district. If Rep. Souder falls, IN-03 will be remembered as one of the great upsets of the 2008 cycle.

SUSA’s GA-08 poll, however, is a reminder that there are a number of Democratic seats at risk as well. Marshall barely survived the 2006 cycle (in fact, he looked gone for much of the cycle), and it looks like this race might keep us late yet again.

Poll watch: Obama leads in MO, OH, FL and PA; Chambliss within MoE, Merkley gains

The window is closing for McCain to alter the state of play - something he needs to do to have a chance at saving his ticket in the multitude of red states in which he is now endangered. Yet, it is Obama who continues to post impressive gains day after day, for instance surging ahead to a dominant lead in a new poll of Missouri and taking the lead for the very first time in a Rasmussen poll of Ohio.

As always, the take-away lesson of these polls is the fact that Obama looks untouchable in blue states (he has two new double digit leads in Pennsylvania) and the high number of red states in which he has either tied McCain or looks to be ahead. Rasmussen’s weekly survey of 5 red states shows that McCain doesn’t have the lead in a single one, and Obama’s advantage is outside of the MoE in Florida - a state in which he has now led in the 9 most recent polls. Add to that new Obama leads in Nevada and in North Dakota (!), a second Obama lead in Ohio and it becomes obvious that McCain needs to dramatically change the dynamics at the national level.

Particularly noteworthy are the fact that Obama is leading in two MO surveys (including 8% in SUSA) and in ND. Even if the latter poll doesn’t come from a known pollster and should thus be taken with a grain of salt, it is telling that Obama’s surge has reached such proportions that states from which he pulled out (ND) or briefly decreased his ad spending (MO) in September now show him ahead. It will take a lot of effort for McCain to put these states back in the box, let alone cut Obama’s new-found edge in more obvious battlegrounds like Colorado, Virginia and Florida. On to the day’s full roundup:

  • Obama continues to dominate the tracking polls, though his lead slightly diminishes. He leads 52% to 40% in Research 2000 (-1%), 48% to 44% in Zogby (-1%), 48% to 42% in Hotline (-2%), 50% to 45% in Rasmussen (-1%). In Gallup, Obama leads 51% to 41% (+3%) but only by 7% in a tighter likely voter screen.
  • Obama leads 53% to 43% in an ABC/Washington Post national poll. His lead is 13% among registered voters. This is a clear improvement over ABC’s previous poll two weeks ago, where Obama was ahead by 4%. Obama’s position is very strong among Democrats.
  • Obama leads 49% to 45% in a Marist poll of Ohio, including 89% of Democrats. Among registered voters, Obama leads 48% to 40%. Obama’s favorability rating has jumped up to 60%, while McCain is 54%.
  • Obama leads 49% to 47% in a Rasmussen poll of Ohio. This is the first Rasmussen poll to ever have Obama ahead in the state.
  • Obama leads 50% to 45% in a Rasmussen poll of Florida. He led by 3% in the previous Rasmussen poll.
  • Obama leads 53% to 41% in a Marist poll of Pennsylvania. He leads 49% to 40% among registered voters. His favorability rating has surged upwards to 65%, compared to 55% for John McCain.
  • Morning Call’s latest daily poll numbers from Pennsylvania have Obama leading 51% to 38%, his biggest margin yet in this tracking poll.
  • Obama leads by a remarkable 51% to 43% in a new SUSA poll of Missouri. He trailed by 2% in late September. The two are tied among white voters and Obama gets 89% of Democrats, up from 82% two weeks ago.
  • Obama leads 49% to 47% in a Rasmussen poll of Virginia. He led by 2% last week.
  • The candidates are tied in a Rasmussen poll of North Carolina. Obama led by 1% last week.
  • Obama leads 55% to 40% in a SUSA poll of New Jersey.
  • McCain leads 51% to 43% in a SUSA poll of Georgia. Obama leads among the 18% of respondents who say they have already voted.
  • Obama leads 61% to 34% in a SUSA poll of New York.

Meanwhile, in down-the-ballot polls:

  • Kay Hagan leads 44% to 39% according to her internal poll of North Carolina’s Senate race.
  • Jeff Merkley leads 46% to 41% in a SUSA poll of Oregon’s Senate race. He led by only 2% in a survey two weeks ago. Constitution Party candidate Dave Brownlow gets 7%.
  • Jay Nixon crushes Kenny Holshof 56% to 34% in a SUSA poll of Missouri’s gubernatorial race.
  • Saxby Chambliss leads 46% to 43% in a SUSA poll of Georgia’s Senate race. Chambliss led by only 2% two weeks ago.
  • Frank Lautenberg leads 51% to 38% in a SUSA poll of New Jersey’s Senate race.
  • In NV-03, Rep. Porter leads 43% to 40% in a Mason Dixon poll. The margin of error is very large, especially for an independent poll - 6% - so this is well within that.
  • In FL-25, an internal poll for the Garcia campaign finds GOP Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart leading 45% to 42%.
  • In LA-06, a DCCC internal finds Rep. Cazayoux crushing Bill Cassidy 46% to 29%, with 9% going to Democrat Michael Jackson.

Statewide: Strong numbers for Democrats, who confirm their good dispositions in Oregon and North Carolina’s Senate races (both essential to their hopes of having a good congressional Election Night). Neither Hagan nor Merkley have put the race away, certainly, but polling numbers have shifted towards both of them in recent weeks. As for Georgia, it is looking highly competitive - a late breaking race that might be remembered as the ultimate sleeper of the 2008 cycle. Whether Martin has a chance of pulling an upset likely depends on the size of the African-American turnout.

House: This is the second poll Democrats have released showing Cazayoux crushing Cassidy in LA-06. I am still as doubtful that the two Democrats combined could be 26% ahead of the Republican candidate in this conservative a district, but the GOP still has to produce any counter poll. The district is currently rated lean take-over, but that could soon change based on what the NRCC does. The Republican committee commissioned a poll from the district a few days ago. If they go out with an ad buy or release the results in the coming days, they must like their chances in the district. Otherwise, the race is indeed far less competitive than we thought.

It is as unclear what we should make of the numbers from NV-03, currently rated lean take-over. Porter is clearly vulnerable (at 43%), though he is clearly still in the game. The margin of error is large enough that it hard to draw any conclusions. As for the Florida internal polls, they confirm what we have known: FL-25 is highly competitive, while the GOP appears to have put up a solid firewall in FL-13.

GOP meltdown continues: McCain collapses in state polls, down-ballot candidates weaken

[Updated with two more Obama leads in Florida] In the heels of the stunningly large leads Obama posted in the latest Quinnipiac polls, new surveys confirm that the situation is rapidly deteriorating for Republicans up and down the ballot as a perfect storm is boosting Democratic prospects.

While it is still too early to move any red states other than Iowa and New Mexico to the Obama column, the Democrat appears to have solidified his position in the states he is defending. A number of Michigan and Pennsylvania surveys released over the past week (including two early this morning) have Obama leading by high single-digits, and a new CNN survey finds him comfortably ahead in Minnesota and Strategic Vision shows him gaining in Wisconsin. Even if McCain regains his footing in red states in which he is slipping, does he still have an opening in those blue states or can Obama now lock them away?

The answer to that question could very well determine the result of the election: if McCain cannot even force Obama to worry about Minnesota and Pennsylvania, he would have to pull out an impressive (and at the moment highly unlikely) sweep of Florida, Ohio, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Virginia, Indiana and Colorado! Right now, the question is McCain can even save half of those, let alone all of them.

New CNN/Time polls find him jumping to leads outside of the MoE in Florida and Virginia as well as taking an edge (within the MoE) in Nevada and… Missouri. The situation is particularly worrisome for McCain in Florida, where two other surveys this evening find Obama in the lead, making it five polls in a row, four of which were released today (PPP, Q-pac, CNN, Insider Advantage, Suffolk).

When combined with Q-pac, this roundup of the presidential polls is certainly the worst installment McCain has received in the general election. And what is remarkable is that Obama is breaking 50% in most polls that are being released - he was above that threshold in all three Q-pac polls today and here again in CNN’s polls of NV, VA, FL and MN. He is also at or above 50% in the Time, Rasmussen and Research 2000 national polls:

  • Obama leads 51% to 47% in a CNN/Time poll of Florida (polling history). In a five-way race, Obama leads by 8% (just like the Quinnipiac survey), with 3% for Ralph Nader. Two weeks ago, the candidates were tied in a two-way race and Obama led in a five-way race. All CNN/Time polls were taken Sunday through Tuesday.
  • Obama leads 49% to 46% in an Insider Advantage poll of Florida. Obama trailed by 8% three weeks ago, so this is quite a swing in his direction.
  • Obama leads 53% to 44% in a CNN/Time poll of Virginia (polling history). McCain led by 4% three weeks ago. Obama leads by 10% in a five-way race!
  • Obama leads 51% to 47% in a CNN/Time poll of Nevada (polling history). Obama led by 5% in a late August CNN/Time poll. The margin of error is 4%.
  • Obama leads 54% to 43% in a CNN/Time poll of Minnesota (polling history). Obama already led by double-digits in the previous CNN poll taken before the GOP convention.
  • Obama leads 49% to 40% in a Strategic Vision poll of Wisconsin. He led by 3% at the beginning of September.
  • News from safer states: Obama leads 52% to 42% in a SUSA poll of New Jersey. McCain leads 64% to 34% in a SUSA poll of Oklahoma. McCain leads 58% to 39% in a Rasmussen poll of Tennessee. McCain leads by 9% for the fourth poll in a row in a Rasmussen poll of Texas. And some movement towards Obama in Mississippi, where McCain leads 52% to 44%.

Obama also maintains his advantage in national polls, with 3 non-tracking polls finding him ahead by 7%.

  • In the trackings, he leads by 10% in Research 2000, 6% in Rasmussen, 5% in Diego Hotline and 4% in Gallup (the Gallup poll has tightened by 4% in two days, rare good news for the Republican nominee).
  • Obama leads 49% to 43% in a Pew national poll. Obama led by 2% in mid-September.
  • Obama leads 49% to 45% in a Democracy Corps national poll. He led by 3% last week.
  • Obama leads 46% to 42% in an Ipsos/McClatchy national poll. The race was tied three weeks ago.
  • Obama leads 48% to 41% in an AP national poll. The most shocking internal here is Sarah Palin’s fall: 41% said she had the right experience last month, 25% say the same today.

Republicans are also in trouble in down-the-ballot races:

  • In the Texas Senate race, Sen. Cornyn leads Democratic challenger Rick Noriega 50% to 43% in the latest Rasmussen poll.
  • In the Oklahoma Senate race, Sen. Inhofe leads Democratic challenger Andrew Rice 53% to 37%, a very slight tightening since SUSA’s previous poll.
  • In PA-03, a SUSA poll finds Rep. English trailing challenger Kathy Dahlkemper 49% to 45%.
  • In conservative district NM-02, an internal poll for the Teague campaign finds the Democrat leading Ed Tinsley 46% to 41%.
  • In CA-04, the GOP candidate McClintock released a poll finding him solidly in command, 47% to 39%. This comes a day after Democratic candidate Charlie Brown released a survey showing him in the lead.

The contrasting results in CA-04 remind us that internal polls should be taken with a grain of salt, though the mere fact that Democrats are this competitive in NM-02 and CA-04 (both very Republican district) is exciting news for the DCCC. But SUSA’s poll is an independent survey and it removes any doubt that PA-03 has become a somewhat unlikely battleground. While Rep. English was long viewed as vulnerable, few people would have expected him a few months ago to be this endangered a month from the election. Consider that this is the first district the NRCC has invested in as of last night (more about that later)!

As for Senate, Cornyn was already exhibiting signs of vulnerability months ago, but Democrats made little noise about this race. This is one race that the DSCC would really need to invest in for Noriega to have any chance, and the size of the Texas makes it too expensive a contest for Democrats to just drop in and just test Cornyn’s strength. If Democrats are looking to continue expanding the field of play, Georgia and Kentucky look like more promising options.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile, in down-ballot polls:

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

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

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

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

Poll watch: Obama can count on NM and IA, gains in MI; 4 VA polls split; Cazayoux, Hagan lead

A deluge of state polls released over the past 24 hours test the presidential election in almost all states we might want to have results from. And, as will often be the case over the next 6 weeks, the overall picture is inconclusive, with different polls finding differing results from the same state. Today’s example of such confusion is Virginia, where both candidates lead in two polls (update: I should have noted that McCain’s two leads are within the margin of error and Obama’s two leads are outside.) The take-away lesson is clear: Results from the most competitive states are more often than not within the margin of error. That includes, in today’s polls alone, NV, NH, PA, OH, VA, MN and NC.

That said, a few results seem significant enough to merit more attention. First, Obama leads by double-digits in yet another New Mexico poll, and has a comfortable advantage in a new Iowa survey. Both of these states were won by Bush in 2004, and both appear to be solidly anchoring themselves in the Obama column. That’s not a surprise for Iowa, but New Mexico looked extremely competitive at the beginning of the summer, so while we might be getting used to Obama leads in both of these states, it is a crucial development in the presidential race as it means that Obama can count on 12 electoral votes from red states - not enough to win him the White House, but enough to put him in striking distance.

Another significant result is Rasmussen’s poll of Michigan, where Obama extends his lead to 7%. This is the second poll in a week (after Marist’s poll) to find the Democrat gaining a comfortable advantage in what is generally considered the most endangered blue state. While other surveys in the same period have shown Obama’s lead within the margin of error, this could mean that Obama is improving his position in one of the states that is hurting the most economically. It should also be noted that today’s polling roundup contains the first good news for Obama from Minnesota in quite a while (he leads by 8%) and a survey that finds him with some breathing room in Wisconsin (he leads by 5%). On to today’s full roundup:

  • Obama leads 51% to 47% among likely voters in a CNN national poll; among registered voters, he leads 51% to 46%. In the previous post-convention CNN poll, the candidates were tied at 48%. In a five-way-race, Obama leads 48% to 45% with 4% for Ralph Nader and 1% each for Barr and McKinney. Also: 47% of respondents blame Republicans for the financial crisis, while 24% blame Democrats; voters trust Obama more to deal with an economic crisis; and Obama leads by 14% when respondents are asked who represents change.
  • As for the trackings, Obama leads in all fours: He is suddenly boosted up in Diego Hotline (49% to 44%), maintains a 1% lead in Rasmussen and a 4% lead in Gallup (48% to 44%) and loses one point to lead 48% to 42% in Research 2000.
  • Obama leads 51% to 45% in a SUSA poll of Virginia. Obama led by 4% last month. He trails by 3% among independents and looks very solid among Democrats.
  • McCain leads 50% to 48% in a Rasmussen poll of Virginia. Both candidates have high party loyalty, independents favor McCain.
  • Obama leads 49% to 46% among likely voters in an ABC/Washington Post poll of Virginia; among registered voters, he leads 50% to 44%. Both candidates have very strong party loyalty, while independents split. [Update: I should have noted this, but Obama has a 5% lead among likely voters (outside of the MoE), when Barr and Nader are included. Among registered voters, Obama leads by a full 51% to 43% in a four-way race!)]
  • McCain leads 48% to 46% in an ARG poll of Virginia.
  • McCain leads 50% to 47% in a Rasmussen poll of North Carolina. He led by 4% last month. Obama and McCain have a comparable favorability rating.
  • Obama leads 46% to 44% in a Mason Dixon poll of Pennsylvania. The poll was taken last Tuesday to last Thursday.
  • Obama leads 48% to 45% in a Rasmussen poll of Pennsylvania. Last week’s poll found a tie. The swing here is among independents - who have gone from McCain to Obama.
  • Obama leads 51% to 44% in a Rasmussen poll of Michigan. He led by 5% two weeks ago. He gets an impressive 90% among Democrats.
  • McCain leads 51% to 46% in a Rasmussen poll of Florida. He led by 5% last week as well. Obama is still under 80% among independents Democrats.
  • McCain leads 50% to 46% in a Rasmussen poll of Ohio. Obama has managed to get himself above 80% of Democrats, but his party loyalty is still weaker than McCain’s and he trails among independents. The margin of error in this poll is a relatively high 4.5%, so McCain’s lead remains with the MoE.
  • Obama leads 53% to 42% in a PPP poll of New Mexico. Obama’s lead among Hispanics (59% to 35%) is a bit smaller than we have seen of late.
  • McCain leads 46% to 45% in a Suffolk poll of Nevada. The poll was taken over the past week.
  • McCain leads 47% to 45% in a University of New Hampshire poll of New Hampshire. That’s a 5% improvement for the Republican in what is a trusted poll in the Granite State.
  • Obama leads 52% to 44% in a Rasmussen poll of Minnesota. He led by 4% last month.
  • Obama leads 48% to 47% in an ARG poll of Minnesota.
  • Obama leads 50% to 45% in an ARG poll of Wisconsin. Obama leads by 7% among independents.
  • Obama leads 51% to 44% in an ARG poll of Iowa.
  • Obama leads 51% to 42% in an ARG poll of New Jersey.
  • McCain leads 57% to 39% in an ARG poll of Georgia.
  • McCain leads 55% to 39% in an ARG poll of South Dakota.
  • Obama leads 55% to 39% in an ARG poll of California.

Meanwhile, in down-the-ballot polls:

  • In Minnesota’s Senate race, Norm Coleman is up 48% to 47% against Al Franken in Rasmussen’s latest poll. Last month, his lead was 3%. Third-party candidate Dean Barkley only has 3% (other polls have found him much higher).
  • In North Carolina’s Senate race, Kay Hagan leads Elizabeth Dole 51% to 45% according to Rasmussen’s latest poll. Dole lead by 12% in Rasmussen’s July poll.
  • In NJ-05, GOP Rep. Scott Garrett leads 49% to 34% against Rabbi Shulman in a Research 2000 poll. McCain leads Obama 52% to 37% in the district (Bush won 57% to 43%).
  • In MO-09, Blaine Luetkemeyer leads 49% to 40% against Democrat Judy Baker in a Research 2000 poll.
  • In LA-06, an internal poll for the Cazayoux campaign has Rep. Don Cazayoux leading 48% to 32% for Bill Cassidy and 9% for Michael Jackson, a Democrat who is running as an independent. In July, Cazayoux only led by 5%. A key factor in Cazayoux’s improvement appears to be his exposure during Hurricane Gustav, as 64% approve of his Gustav-related work.

Some of these results are very encouraging for Democrats, particularly on the Senate side. There is no doubt remaining that Elizabeth Dole is in very serious trouble, as this is the second poll in a row (after PPP’s week-end survey) to find Kay Hagan leading outside of the margin of error. Those DSCC polls appear to have truly damaged Dole’s image. Democrats will also be comforted that Al Franken remains highly competitive despite the Republicans’ best attempts to discredit him.

As for House races, it would be very interesting to see independent polling out of LA-06. Don’t forget that Jackson is taking most of his votes from Cazayoux, so it is somewhat difficult to believe that Cazayoux could have that high a level of support with another Democrat hovering around the double-digit mark. But if Cazayoux enjoys any kind of advantage, that would already be a boost for Democrats, as he is one of the only Dem-held seats that are rated lean take-over in my latest House ratings. But Research 2000’s poll from MO-09 brings good news for Republicans and should damp Democratic hopes in an open seat that is deeply conservative; a SUSA poll released earlier in September found Luetkemeyer leading by 12%.

Poll watch: Obama recovers nationally, slips in Ohio and New Jersey

The combination of the Palin pick and the GOP convention allowed McCain to erase Obama’s advantage and gain a lead of his own. Now, we are getting the first national polls taken more than a week after the St. Paul convention ended and Obama looks to have erased McCain’s advantage - though he hasn’t recaptured a lead of his own.

Yes, a poll released today (by GWU/Battleground) did find a McCain lead outside of the MoE, but it was in the field starting the Sunday before last (the 7th), so it gives us no information on what we are interested in now. Of more concern is McCain’s seizing a 3% lead in ARG’s poll from this week-end, but Obama is on the rise in all four of the tracking polls today - including a 4% lead in both Research 2000 and Diego Hotline (both outside of the margin of error). And one internal in particular is very interesting in the Hotline survey: The enthusiasm gap is back, as the proportion of “enthusiastic” McCain voters has gone down in each of the past 5 releases, from 68% to 58%.

That said, concerns remain for Obama. For one, his support among Democrats remains weak. That has been his one big issue for months now and the convention doesn’t look to have durably helped him. He has less than 80% of Democrats in ARG’s national poll and in PPP’s Ohio poll. Second, the state-level picture is starting to come in better focus, and it is bringing some worrisome news for Democrats. Recent polls (including Rasmussen’s survey taken this Sunday) have shown Pennsylvania has become competitive. And there seems to be at least one poll a day finding McCain inching ahead in Ohio. On to today’s full roundup:

  • First, the trackings: He now leads 46% to 42% in the Diego Hotline poll, which also finds that he holds an 11% advantage on the economy (Obama led by 1 yesterday). He leads 48% to 44% in Research 2000 (a one point improvement). Gallup finds McCain’s edge down to one point, 47% to 46%, the tightest it has been in 11 days, and Rasmussen also has Obama gaining a point and now trailing 48% to 47%.
  • McCain leads 48% to 45% in a national poll taken by ARG over this past week-end. Obama led by 1% in a poll taken over last week-end - so this is not the type of movement Democrats were looking for a week after the convention. Interestingly, nearly all the movement is among Democrats. Obama leads independents, but gets 75% of the Democratic vote…
  • Then, we have two national polls that are rather dated as they were taken starting the Sunday before last (the 7th) and thus are not useful now that we are looking for signs of the fate of McCain’s bounce. Obama leads 41% to 40% in a national poll released by the Economist. McCain leads 48% to 44% in a national “Battleground” poll conducted for GWU. When asked who will bring change to Washington, voters choose Obama by 18%.
  • McCain leads 48% to 44% in a PPP poll of Ohio. The two were tied in August. Obama only gets 78% of Democrats, trails by 8% among independents.
  • Obama leads 48% to 45% in a Quinnipiac poll of New Jersey. Obama led by 10% in August. White women have shifted by 10% towards McCain. The two have equivalent favorability ratings.
  • Obama leads 49% to 41% in a Monmouth University poll of New Jersey; among registered voters, Obama is ahead by 11%. Obama led by 14% in July.
  • Obama looks set to receive at least some good news tomorrow, as PPP has said that its Virginia poll will find good news for the Illinois Senator and as Political Wire is teasing state polls by ARG that have Obama leading by 7% in NM, trailing by 2% in MT and by 4% in WV. More on that tomorrow.

Pennsylvania used to be Obama’s Florida, and Michigan his Ohio. Now Pennsylvania is tightening up while poll after poll is finding McCain opening a slight lead that hovers just outside the margin of error. PPP’s 4% margin is the same found by SUSA, Suffolk and the Univ. of Cincinnati. Sure, Obama does not need to win Ohio, but he can’t afford to let McCain feel better about it either.

The other focus of the day’s polls, of course, is New Jersey. There have been a number of polls of the state finding Obama’s lead within single digit - Marist had him up 3% (though the sample had problems), Farleigh had him up 6%, and Research 2000 had him up 9%. Today, Quinnipiac and Monmouth (both important New Jersey pollsters) have the race at 3% and 8%. Should Democrats worry? Democrats always sink in New Jersey in September until blue-leaning independents realize that they have nowhere else to go. Kerry looked to be in huge trouble in 2004, Menendez was trailing in most polls at this stage in 2006. Both won convincingly.

It is true that both campaigns are airing ads in some parts of the state (because of the Philly market) but a full campaign here requires an investment in the New York City market, and there is no way the GOP will go there. If more polls start showing the race within 5% (and for now only Quinnipiac has, as I’m not counting Marist’s poll which had a strong lead for Obama among independents and among Democrats) and if McCain still looks competitive in early to mid-October, Democrats can start worrying, but not until then.

Meanwhile, in only two down-the-ballot polls:

  • In MS-01, Travis Childers leads Greg Davis 51% to 39% in an internal poll for the Childers campaign.
  • In TX-07, Rep. Culberson leads 44% to 37% against Democrat Michael Skelly in an internal poll for the Skelly campaign conducted by Greenberg Research.

TX-07 is a very Republican district held by the GOP since 1966, and while Culberson got his lowest percentage ever in 2006, he still received 59%. One advantage for Democrats: Skelly is wealthy and has said he will pour his own money in the race, so the DCCC doesn’t have to worry about this race.

Poll watch: Obama leads in Virginia and Iowa, McCain leads in Ohio

As there are an increasing number of polls being released daily and since I have not posted a poll roundup since Saturday, a mid-day check in seems to be in order. After all, polls that will come in later today - including Rasmussen’s latest take from CO, VA, OH, FL and PA - will start giving us a clearer idea of what the playing field looks like now that a week has passed since the GOP convention.

For now, one of the indications we have is from SUSA’s Virginia poll, taken over the week-end and which has Obama gaining six points in a week and (very importantly) gaining a lot of ground among independents. Here’s the mid-day full roundup:

  • Obama leads 50% to 46% in a SUSA poll of Virginia. McCain led by 2% last week. The ad was taken Friday through Sunday, so it seems to be the first state poll entirely taken more than a week after the GOP convention. McCain is down quite dramatically among independents. He led by 21%, he is now ahead by 4%.
  • McCain leads 46% to 42% in a new Suffolk poll of Ohio. The poll was taken Wednesday through Saturday.
  • Obama leads 52% to 40% in a Des Moines Register poll of Iowa. Obama leads by 13% among independents. The survey was conducted by Selzer Co., generally considered to be the best polling firm in Iowa, as you might remember from the coverage of the DMR’s final caucus poll on January 1st.
  • Obama and McCain are tied at 45% in a Star Tribune poll of Minnesota. The Star Tribune’s May poll had Obama leading by 13%.
  • Obama leads 50% to 41% in a Research 2000 poll of New Jersey. The poll was conducted Tuesday through Thursday; in May, Obama led by 8%. A stunning 98% of respondents said they were paying attention to the race!
  • Obama leads 46% to 37% in an Elway poll of Washington. The poll was taken last week-end (from the 6th to the 8th).
  • Obama leads 46% to 41% in a Siena poll of New York. That’s obviously a very weak showing in one of the bluest states in the country. The poll was taken last Monday through last Wednesday, so shortly after the GOP convention. Obama only led by 8% in Siena’s August poll.
  • Obama leads 55% to 43% in a Rasmussen poll of Delaware. Kerry won by 7% in 2004. Obama’s “very favorable” rating is at an excellent 41%.

A number of these polls are important, starting (of course) with SUSA’s Virginia poll. If other polls find a similar tightening among independents, it could mean that McCain’s convention gains are fading - but we will have more indications of that later today and tomorrow. But the Star Tribune’s Minnesota poll certainly  counter-balances by bringing McCain very good news; there have been numerous polls in the past few weeks finding Minnesota tightening, and I talked more about that yesterday.

The DMR’s Iowa poll is noteworthy because of how good a reputation Selzer’s polls have. This is confirmation of something we have known for a while - Iowa is more solidly in Obama’s column than many Kerry states, and its 7 electoral votes are a good foundation from which Obama can build his way to an electoral college majority.

The New Jersey and Washington polls, finally, are important as they are from states that were starting to look strangely close in some of the polls released last week. Obama leads in 9% in both states, a margin that is more in line with what we have been seeing than the 2-3% Washington margins we saw in SUSA and Rasmussen. But Obama does post very weak numbers in New York (the poll was taken last Monday through last Wednesday). The past two non-Siena New York polls (both taken around the time Siena had Obama leading by 8% in August) have Obama up 19% and 21%.

Poll roundup: McCain ahead in OH, MO while WA tightens; Merkley, Udall, Rossi lead

After the week’s deluge of state polling (particularly yesterday), today brought a welcome drop in the number of surveys released today, so we get a chance to take a breath, remember that there are more than seven weeks left and assess how much the field of play has changed since the GOP convention.

McCain has closed the gap nationally, and after trailing in nearly every poll from May onward now has a slight lead. His gains among indies are impressive and they are lifting the entire Republican Party, as Gallup reports in its latest congressional survey. But most polls that have been released were in the field in the week after the GOP convention; and we are still getting surveys (for instance today’s Ohio poll) that were taken over the week-end.

So we will have to closely monitor polls in the coming days to see whether McCain’s bounce - and particularly his numbers among independents - start fading. Today’s Diego Hotline tracking is one of the first hints that they might be. If they do not, it might mean that the GOP has durably improved its image and that the playing field on all levels (including the House and Senate battles) should no longer be viewed as tilting Democratic.

Also, the bounce is being felt unequally in different parts of the country. In the most crucial battleground states, the numbers have not moved that much since the GOP convention. On the other hand, it is fascinating that the states in which Obama is losing the most ground are states like Washington and (perhaps) New Jersey in which campaigns are not spending money:

  • The day’s four trackings split equally, with two going to Obama and two going to McCain. In Gallup, McCain slips within the margin of error for the first time since Sunday’s release, but he still leads 48% to 45%. Rasmussen finds the same numbers, a 3% improvement for McCain. Diego Hotline, however, finds a 3% improvement for Obama who captures a 1% lead, 45% to 44%; this is fueled by Democratic gains among women and independents (McCain leads by 6% in the latter group now, down from 19% a few days ago). Finally, Research 2000 finds Obama at 47% to 46% with 2% each for Nader and Barr; McCain leads by 3% among independents.
  • McCain leads 48% to 44% in a AP GFQ national survey. The poll finds that 50% of respondents think that McCain would take the country in a new direction rather than follow George Bush’s policy, one of the first signs of a shift on that question.
  • McCain leads 46% to 45% in an AP Ipsos national poll. Among all adults - not registered voters - Obama is ahead 48% to 42%.
  • McCain leads 48% to 44% in a University of Cincinnati poll of Ohio. The poll was taken Friday through Wednesday, so mostly at the height of the post-convention bounce.
  • Obama leads 49% to 47% in a Rasmussen poll of Washington. He led by 12% last month. Obama’s lead in the state similarly collapsed in the SUSA poll earlier this week.
  • Obama leads 46% to 39% in an Oregon poll conducted by Hoffman Research, a GOP firm.
  • McCain leads 46% to 45% in an Insider Advantage poll of Nevada, but this poll is simply not reliable: McCain leads by 73% among African-Americans, who make up 7% of the state electorate. Adjusting for that would give Obama a comfortable lead.
  • McCain leads 51% to 46% in a Rasmussen poll of Missouri. He led by 6% in August.
  • Obama leads 48% to 45% (LVs) and 47% to 40% (RVs) in a Marist poll of New Jersey. Another poll from the state released a few days ago showed Obama’s lead tightening to 6%. I don’t particularly trust the survey’s partisan breakdown, however (see more below). At the very least, Obama is where he needs to be in different groups, as he cannot lose in New Jersey if he leads independents by 10%.

The most interesting numbers in today’s release are those from the Northwestern states. Some Republicans have been suggesting that the Palin pick could play well in Oregon and Washington, and this is indeed the second poll of WA in a row to find a dramatic drop in Obama’s numbers. When Obama’s is closer to losing Washington than winning Ohio and Missouri, there certainly is a problem. This is so surprising a shift that we will certainly be looking for more confirmation before drawing any conclusions, and it will be interesting to see whether the McCain campaign decides to move in these two states. The same is true of New Jersey, a state from which Democrats are used to getting bad September numbers.

This is the second day in a row that Insider Advantage serves us a survey from a key battleground state with unbelievable numbers among African-Americans. Yesterday, Obama’s 48% among blacks in Ohio allowed McCain to lead by 1%; today, the Nevada survey has McCain at 73% in that constituency. Similarly, I have problems with Marist’s partisan breakdown: Though the exact numbers are not provided, the candidates enjoy similar party loyalty while Obama leads by 10% among independents. If the poll’s electorate partisan breakdown was the same as 2004, Obama would be ahead by 7% among likely voters, not 3%. Most people would argue that it should have improved for Democrats, but Marist’s partisan breakdown is skewed towards the GOP.

Meanwhile, we got a lot of down-the-ballot races today:

  • In the Oregon Senate race, an internal poll for the Merkley campaign shows the Democrat leading the Republican incumbent 43% to 41%, with 6% for the Constitution Party candidate. In August, Merkley’s poll had Smith leading 47% to 38%.
  • In the Colorado Senate race, an internal poll for the Udall campaign finds the Democrat leading Bob Schaffer 45% to 34%, with 5% going to other candidates.
  • In the Washington gubernatorial race, a Rasmussen poll finds Dino Rossi surging ahead, 52% to 46%. Christine Gregoire led by 4% last month.
  • In IN-09, SUSA finds Baron Hill expanding his lead against Mike Sodrel, 51% to 40%.
  • In the New Jersey Senate race, Frank Lautenberg leads 51% to 40% in Marist.
  • In Missouri’s gubernatorial race, Jay Nixon maintains his large lead against Kenny Hulshof, 54% to 39%.
  • In North Carolina’s gubernatorial race, Bev Perdue leads Pat McCrory 40% to 39% in the latest Civitas poll.
  • In the Georgia Senate race, Strategic Vision contradicts the past few polls and finds Saxby Chambliss leading Jim Martin 54% to 36%.
  • In IN-03, an internal poll for the campaign of Democratic challenger Mike Montagano finds GOP Rep. Mark Souder leading 50% to 37%. That’s an improvement over April’s 55% to 28% margin, but the district does not join the vulnerable list. This is a district in which Bush received 68% of the vote in 2004.

Many interesting polls here, starting with the Oregon Senate race, where Merkley’s lead is only his second ever. The race has been heated in the past few weeks, as the DSCC has finally moved in to air attack ads against Gordon Smith - perhaps they are taking their toll on the incumbent. In Colorado, Udall’s survey is a response to a NRSC poll released earlier this week that had him leading by only 1%. Udall’s poll is more in line with other results we have been seeing from the state. And in Georgia, the past two polls had Chambliss leading by 5% and 6%, prompting Democrats to speculate that they might have an opening; I would love to see more polling in this state, but is this not one of those races that became even more of a long shot for Democrats after Palin energized the GOP base?



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