Archive for the 'NC-Gov' Category

Down-ballot polling: Hagan closes strong, Georgia heading to runoff, GOP set to pick up PA-11

The gigantic amount of presidential polling that has been released today leads me to do something I haven’t done for a while: devote a separate post to congressional polling. There is a large number of competitive Senate and House races, and they have tended to be overshadowed by the presidential race, so we might as well give them more room tonight.

At the Senate level, most of the attention tomorrow should be devoted to those races that look the most unpredictable, starting with Minnesota where there is no consensus as to which candidate has the lead. Al Franken and Norm Coleman have come out ahead in a number of surveys over the past few days, and the main disagreement between different outlets appears to be over the Barkley factor. Some surveys find Barkley drawing disproportionately from Democrats (for instance today’s SUSA poll), while others find him playing less of a spoiler effect, in which case Franken does much better.

In Georgia, meanwhile, three new polls suggest that the Senate race is likely to head into a runoff. Chambliss comes narrowly ahead in all three but there are very few undecided left for him to get over 50%. Furthermore, we know that at least SUSA predicts African-Americans to make up the same share of the electorate as they did four years ago (26%, up from 25%); given that African-Americans make up 35% of early voters (which are likely to be more than half of all voters), it would mean that tomorrow’s voters are overwhelmingly white for the racial breakdown to be at the 2004 level.

In the two races that are rated lean take-over in my latest ratings, Kay Hagan and Mark Begich confirm that they have the lead; Hagan especially appears to have pulled ahead even more in the final days, possibly because of the controversy over Dole’s Godless ad.

At the House level, both parties get good news: Democrats are looking good in AK-AL and their incumbents in NH-01 and IN-09 are heading into Election Day in a better position than most would have predicted a few months ago. Furthermore, VA-05, a district that has only recently been added to the list of competitive districts, looks ripe for a pick-up.

On the other hand, the GOP is poised to pick up PA-11, as Rep. Kanjorski is finishing in as week a position as he started. And SUSA’s dual polls from Minnesota bring good news to Republicans, as Erik Paulsen is not only alive but slightly ahead in MN-03 while Rep. Bachmann has stopped the bleeding.

  • Minnesota, Senate race: Coleman leads 44% to 39% in a SUSA poll, with 15% going to Barkley; Coleman led by 2% two weeks ago. Barkley draws 15% of Democrats and only 8% of Republicans.
  • North Carolina, Senate: Kay Hagan leads 51% to 44% in a PPP poll, expanding her lead and coming ahead by 15% among those who have already voted. Hagan leads 50% to 43% in a SUSA poll; she led by 1% two weeks ago.
  • Georgia, Senate: Saxby Chambliss leads 48% to 46% with 4% for Buckley in a PPP poll. Chambliss leads 48% to 44% in a SUSA poll, with 5% for Buckley; SUSA predicts blacks will make up 26% of the electorate; the two candidates are tied if we recalculate it with blacks making up 31% of the electorate (they made up 35% of early voters). Chambliss also leads 48% to 44% in a Strategic Vision poll.
  • New Hampshire, Senate: Jeanne Shaheen leads 48% to 42% in UNH’s final poll conducted Friday through Sunday.
  • North Carolina, Governor: Bev Perdue leads 49% to 48% in a PPP poll.
  • Washington, Governor: Christine Gregoire leads 50% to 48% in a University of Washington poll and in Strategic Vision.
  • Safe(r) seats: Mark Warner leads 62% to 36% in a PPP poll of Virginia’s Senate race. Jay Nixon leads 54% to 39% in a SUSA poll of Missouri’s gubernatorial race. Mitch Daniels leads 60% to 37% in a PPP poll of Indiana’s gubernatorial race.
  • In MN-06, Michelle Bachmann leads 46% to 45% in SUSA, a margin that is well within the MoE; it’s a slight improvement for Bachmann over Tinklenberg’s 47% to 44% lead 10 days ago.
  • In MN-03, GOP candidate Erik Paulsen leads 46% to 41% in SUSA after seizing a 1% lead a few days ago and trailing by 3% last month.
  • In PA-11, Republican challenger Lou Barletta leads 51% to 45% against Rep. Kanjorski in a new SUSA poll.
  • In VA-05, GOP Rep. Goode only leads 50% to 47% in the latest SUSA poll; he led by 13% a month ago and by 34% in August.
  • In NH-01, Rep. Shea-Porter leads 46% to 41% in UNH’s final poll conducted Friday through Sunday. Rep. Hodes leads 52% to 31% in NH-02.

I imagine a few more congressional polls might be released by mid-day tomorrow, but that will probably not change the fact that we have not seen any independent polling from a huge number of House races that are currently listed as vulnerable on my House ratings. And in some districts in which polling was released, we might not have gotten numbers in more than a month or two (say AL-02 or CO-04, for instance). This means that the results in a number of House races will be largely unpredictable and we should expect some big surprises - just as in 2006.

Final gubernatorial ratings: Two races left to watch

Gubernatorial races were never going to be the hottest item of the 2008 cycle, but for a while we at least had four highly competitive races to follow. No longer: Democrat Jay Nixon and Republican Mitch Daniels have gained a decisive edge in Missouri and Indiana and they should coast in their respective governor’s mansion with ease.

That leaves us with two toss-up gubernatorial races - but what toss-ups they are! In North Carolina, Beverly Perdue and Pat McCrory are locked in one of the most unpredictable races in the country; Perdue has not been able to benefit from Barack Obama and Kay Hagan’s coattails, leading to a startling situation in which North Carolina Democrats seem less likely to hold the governor’s mansion than to win the presidential and senatorial races! What has happened to the Tar Heel State?

In Washington, the rematch between Christine Gregoire and Dino Rossi is proving to be just as acrimonious as the bruising recounts that settled their first contests. In fact, given that Democrats seem unlikely to lose a Senate seat and that no other Democratic Governor is vulnerable, Gregoire is the most endangered Democratic incumbent to hold statewide office in the country. That she has been unable to put the race away in this pro-Democratic environment is a testament to how weak a position she is in electorally. In a neutral environment, Rossi would likely be ahead, but Obama’s coattails could be too much for the Republican to overcome.

While I might still make changes to House ratings and will certainly update my Senate rankings before Tuesday, this will be the final gubernatorial ratings for 2008… That’s how close we are to Election Day!

The full ratings are available here. Below are descriptions of the three races whose rating I am changing: Missouri, Indiana and Vermont.


Indiana, lean Republican to likely Republican
: Governor Mitch Daniels has been on the Democrats’ target list for years and rightly so: his unpopularity was a crucial factor in the GOP’s collapse in 2006 (when three of their House incumbents lost). The one obstacle to a Daniels loss was the state’s heavily conservative lean and the fact that he would benefit from the GOP’s presidential coattails. Who could have predicted that the exact opposite would happen? Democrats are unexpectedly competitive at the federal level and they have been unable to translate that into gains at the gubernatorial level. (A similar situation is unfolding in North Carolina.)

Former representative Jill Long Thompson has not had the money to compete with Daniels, she had to go off the air for a while in the fall and close campaign offices, meaning that she has no organization but Obama’s to rely on in the state’s more conservative regions. And the very same polls that have Obama and McCain in a dead heat show Daniels leading by wide margins. An upset is still possible - particularly if Democratic turnout is much higher than expected - but Daniels is far stronger than anyone could have expected a few months ago.

Missouri, lean Democratic to likely Democratic: Attorney General Jay Nixon was always expected to win this race, but the ease with which he is stream-rolling Republican congressman Kenny Hulshof is remarkable given that Missouri is certainly no easy state for Democrats to win in. Nixon’s lead in polls typically exceeds 15%, and Hulshof’s best efforts to dismiss him as too far to the left have not made a dent in polls.

Vermont, safe to likely Republican: In this three-way race in which independent candidate Anthony Pollina could very well come ahead of Democratic nominee Gay Symington, Republican Governor Jim Douglas is guaranteed to finish first. Yet, a quirk in state law complicates the situation: If no candidate crosses 50%, the election will be thrown into the legislature, controlled by Democrats. The legislature is likely to follow the will of voters and elect whichever candidate comes out on top (as they did in 2002), but nothing prevents them from seating Symington.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile, in down-the-ballot polls:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile, in down-the-ballot polls:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile, in down-ballot polls:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile, in down the ballot:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile, in down-ballot numbers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On to the full roundup of today’s polls:

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

Meanwhile, in down-the-ballot poll:

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

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

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

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

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

Poll watch: Six red states within the MoE, Perdue and Chambliss in trouble

[Updated with new Insider Advantage polls] We’re now exactly five weeks from Election Day, and we seem to be getting fewer polls every day - especially compared to the constant deluge of surveys we were treated to two weeks ago and last week. At least, we are getting our daily tracking polls which now appear to have stabilized in the mid-to-high single digit range - and that is significant given that today’s release marked the first which were entirely taken after the first presidential debate. Rasmussen, Diego Hotline and Gallup all find a 6% margin today in Obama’s favor, while Obama jumps to a 10% lead in Research 2000.

If such numbers hold over the next few weeks, state-by-state discussions would be somewhat moot, as many red states would naturally fall in Obama’s lap if he were to win the election anywhere near a 7% margin… but it nevertheless continues to be remarkable that Obama has not gained as much in the most disputed red states as he seems to have gained at the national level (he does appear to have pulled ahead in PA and MI in the aftermath of the financial crisis), leaving a lot of uncertainty in the election.

That said, Obama has undoubtedly made gains in a number of red states over the past 10 days, and while these gains are not enough to move any of them to his column, Obama has also erased any edge McCain had in states like Ohio, Virginia and Florida (as today’s polls once again confirm).

So the situation remains the same: If Obama defends the roughly four endangered blue states, he needs to pick up one more red state (though Nevada would not be enough if he loses New Hampshire). And the day’s polls confirm that he has plenty to choose from: Numbers in Florida, Ohio, Indiana, Virginia, North Carolina and Nevada are all within the margin of error - though a second Virginia poll shows Obama jumping to a comfortable lead, and the three Florida and Ohio polls show Obama improving! On to the day full roundup:

  • Obama leads 49% to 46% in a PPP poll of Florida (polling history) thanks to Obama’s 15% lead among the 64% of respondents who say that the economy is their top issue. McCain led by 5% three weeks ago. Since then, Palin’s favorability rating has gone south.
  • McCain leads 49% to 46% in an ARG poll of Virginia.
  • Obama leads 49% to 41% in the latest Morning Call tracking poll of Pennsylvania (polling history) . Obama has increased his lead by 1% every day since Friday, when he led by 4%.
  • McCain leads 49% to 46% in an ARG poll of North Carolina (polling history) - McCain’s first lead in four polls (who would have ever thought we’d say that), though within the margin of error.
  • McCain leads 52% to 44% in a SUSA poll of Georgia (polling history). And though this subgroup has a huge margin of error, Obama gets more than 60% among the 10% of respondents who say they have already voted.

Meanwhile, in down-ballot surveys:

  • Saxby Chambliss’s lead has collapsed to within the margin of error in SUSA’s latest release from Georgia’s Senate race (polling history). He is now ahead 46% to 44% (down from 17% two weeks ago), with 5% for libertarian Allen Buckley.
  • Pat McCrory leads Bev Perdue 44% to 41% in a PPP poll of North Carolina’s gubernatorial race (polling history). This is his first lead in a PPP survey. This is significant because the same survey showed Obama and Hagan gaining.
  • Mitch Daniels keeps a decisive edge in Indiana’s gubernatorial race in the latest SUSA polling, 53% to 37%.
  • A University of Connecticut poll has Rep. Simmons Courtney crushing his GOP challenger Sullivan 55% to 27% in CT-02. This is a district the GOP once had high hopes for.

Shall we make it… eleven? This is the second poll in a row after the DSCC-sponsored survey released yesterday that has Chambliss’ lead within the margin of error. More importantly, this is an independent poll that pushed undecideds, and the trend lines echoes what we are seeing in Kentucky’s Senate race - apparently confirming my post from last night. The GOP looks like it might soon find itself in the same situation as 2006, where seemingly safe Republicans find themselves in a fight, though it is difficult to view Chambliss as fully endangered until the DSCC gets involved.

That said, getting just one of these two races (KY, GA) anywhere near the top tier would already be an amazing achievement for Democrats. In this context, Susan Collins’ ability to weather the storm is truly remarkable: Who could have predicted a year ago that Tom Allen would never get within 7% (and I believe only Rasmussen found that tight a race) while Lunsford and Martin would be within the margin of error?

Beverly Perdue, on the other hand, looks like she is not doing very well. For her to fall under in the same poll that has Obama and Hagan surging is a sign that something is not going well for Democrats in this race, and that McCrory’s reform message might be functioning. Similarly, the situation is not rozy for Democrats in Indiana’s gubernatorial race, which once looked promising but now seems to be increasingly safe for the incumbent.

Gubernatorial rankings: Fate of two Dem-held seats could depend on Obama’s coattails

Gubernatorial races have never been a focus this year since only four seats are in any sense competitive - and of these four two have grown less interesting over the past few months. In Missouri, Attorney General Jay Nixon has been in a strong position for months, but Republicans were hoping that Rep. Kenny Hulshof’s primary victory would give him enough of a bounce to make this race more suspenseful; that does not appear to have happened. In Indiana, incumbent Governor Mitch Daniels has solidified his position since the spring, and the financial difficulties of Democratic challenger Jill Long Thompson are forcing her to rely on Obama’s ground game to pull an upset.

That only leaves two highly competitive races, both of which are currently held by Democrats. In North Carolina, Beverly Perdue and Pat McCrory continue to pounce each other but neither appears to be getting an edge; in Washington, Governor Gregoire looks very vulnerable in a rematch of her controversial 2004 match-up, as the assumption that she would have had time to entrench herself does not appear to have played out. What is interesting is that the fundamentals in both states should favor Democrats. Washington leans blue - especially in such a Democratic year. And not only does North Carolina typically vote Democratic in state-level races, but Barack Obama’s stunning competitiveness reduces Perdue’s need to convince voters to split their vote. In both Washington and North Carolina, therefore, Barack Obama’s coattails could be enough to carry Gregoire and Perdue across the finish line, but any last minute show of strength by John McCain could improve the GOP brand and allow Rossi and McCrory to upset historical trends.

Lean take-over (1 R)

1. Missouri (Open; Previous rating: 1)

Rep. Kenny Hulshof prevailed in a very heated Republican primary back in August, and that is likely to be his only victory of the 2008 cycle. Attorney General Jay Nixon has been campaigning for the gubernatorial position for nearly four years now, and he is being further boosted by this year’s Democratic environment. Nixon has led throughout the contest, and he is comfortably ahead in the most recent polls. One added bonus for Nixon is that Barack Obama is showing no sign of giving up on the Show Me State so that he will be able to rely on Obama’s turnout machine to boost his own totals; that was not the case for Claire McCaskill in 2004.

Toss-up (2 D)

2. North Carolina (Open; Previous rating: 2)

Who knew that North Carolina’s top three statewide races would all be rated toss-ups - the only state in the country that is in such a position. Just as Republicans John McCain and Elizabeth Dole were expected to have an edge in the presidential and senatorial races, Democratic Lieutenant Governor Beverly Perdue (or Bev Perdue, as ballots will be marked) looked favor to keep the governorship in Democratic hands. But Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory is proving to be a strong candidate for Republicans.

McCrory is pounding Perdue on ethical issues, seeking to make an issue of the Democrats’ hold on state government and corruption scandals that have erupted over the years. While Perdue has never been involved in any, she has been working in state government for decades and McCrory is hoping to take advantage of that by directly referencing the “culture of corruption” and hitting Perdue as part of the “power elite.” Meanwhile, and in a telling sign that North Carolina is not as reliably conservative as some might expect, Perdue is not hesitating to duplicate the strategic blueprint Democrats have been using in bluer parts of the country. She is hitting McCrory for his support of Bush’s agenda and for benefiting from Bush’s help - and she is also invoking social issues by running ads against McCrory hitting him on stem cells. Those spots have led to some of the toughest exchanges of the race, and McCrory accused Perdue of exploiting the sick for political purposes.

The latest polls are showing a dead heat, with a number of surveys finding McCrory holding an edge. But the only surveys that have found McCrory leading outside of the margin of error have also shown McCain leading comfortably, suggesting that McCrory’s fate is dependent on a strong result at the top of the ticket - and the fact that Obama has a far superior ground game and has registered thousands of new Democratic-leaning voters could make the difference in Perdue’s favor if the election remains close.

3. Washington (Gov. Gregoire; Previous rating: 4)

This is the first time that I am rating this race a toss-up. It seemed likely that Christine Gregoire would be able to rely on the advantage of incumbency in a blue state in a Democratic year to take a decisive advantage over Dino Rossi. Instead, the contest looks just as tight as it did four years ago - so tight, in fact, that SUSA’s surveys have found the margin to be within the MoE for seven polls in a row. Other pollsters also find a dead heat.

All of this points to the simple fact that Gregoire remains eminently vulnerable, and that she was not able to fully legitimize herself after her controversial 2004 victory on a second recount. Her fate largely depends on the national environment on Election Day, as a Democratic breeze would likely be enough to push her across the finish line. Rossi needs the GOP brand to improve a bit, and he is fully aware that the biggest obstacle to his election is his party label. That is why he has gotten to be listed on the ballot as “GOP party” rather than as “Republican.” Democrats sued against Rossi’s maneuver, but a judge just ruled in Rossi’s favor.

Lean retention (1 R)

4. Indiana (Gov. Daniels: Previous rating: 3)

You can’t blame Democrats for having high hopes for toppling Mitch Daniels. The incumbent was so unpopular two years ago that he contributed to the state GOP’s catastrophic results in the 2006 midterms. And polls throughout the spring showed Daniels locked in a dead heat against the two Democrats who were vying to oppose him. But it looks like the May 6th primary was the high point of Jill Long Thompson’s campaign. She is now in a difficult position financially and she was recently forced to close some offices and cancel TV advertising for at least an entire week of September. And Daniels has opened a decisive lead in the polls of the past few months, usually above the 50% vulnerability threshold. Long Thompson is still not out of contention, but her fate appears to be largely dependent on that of Barack Obama, and she will need to ride Obama’s organization and ground game to reach voters she would not be able to organize herself.

Full rankings of all 11 races here.

Poll watch: Obama seizes edge in CO; Sununu leads in second poll ever

A deluge of state and national polls has some good news for both candidates - but Barack Obama continues to accumulate better results and inch ahead in some of the most crucial battleground states. First, Obama is ahead in all of the day’s national polls, though the margin varies from 1% (Ipsos/McClatchy) to 9% (ABC/Washington Post). Two surveys have Obama leading by 2% (NBC/WSJ and Rasmussen) and two other have him ahead by 6% (Fox News and Diego Hotline).

To get some sense out of today’s sometimes contrasting state results, let’s take a look at which polls from swing states are finding leads outside of the margin of error - the most important of which is Colorado, from which we got three new polls today alone. The past three polls had found Obama leading outside of the margin of error; two of today’s surveys (CNN/Time and Insider Advantage) find the same result. And while Obama’s lead is within the MoE in Rasmussen’s Colorado poll, he still gains 5% in one week, a clear shift towards the Democrat.

That Obama is inching ahead in Colorado is especially significant as Obama leads comfortably in CNN/Time’s new surveys from Michigan and Pennsylvania. If Obama keeps those two large Kerry states, his picking up Colorado would make it very difficult for McCain to win the election - before we even get to Ohio, Virginia or Florida. And perhaps also West Virginia, a state Obama is not competing in for now but where yet another poll shows a smaller than expected margin. Obama also has a large lead in Iowa and Washington, and leads outside of the margin of error in a New Hampshire survey.

That said, McCain gets good news from New Hampshire as well, as he is narrowly ahead in a poll there for the second time this week - but both his leads are well within the margin of error. He also has a narrow lead in Florida and Virginia. He also has a small lead in a Michigan poll from an unknown firm. The best news for McCain today comes from the large lead he has in CNN/Time’s poll of Montana - numbers from that state have been all over the place, but it does seem that the Republican is in a better position in that state than he used to be.

  • Obama leads 48% to 46% in a NBC/Wall Street Journal national poll. This is a minimal improvement over Obama’s 1% lead two weeks ago.
  • Obama leads 45% to 39% in a Fox News/Opinion Dynamics national poll. McCain led by 3% two weeks ago, so this is a 9% swing towards Obama. A high 29% of independents are undecided. Two dynamics that we saw in the ABC poll as well: Obama gains among Democrats and independents shift quite significantly away from McCain. And just like the ABC poll, Palin’s favorability decreases, from 54-27 two weeks ago to 47-36 (42-30 among independents). 47% say McCain is unfairly attacking Obama; 36% say the same about Obama (among independents, 49% think McCain is being unfair, 30% say the same about Obama).
  • Obama leads 49% to 45% in a LAT/Bloomberg national poll, outside of the 3% margin of error. But among registered voters, Obama leads 46% to 44%. One key internal in favor of McCain: He keeps a solid lead among independents, 49% to 34%. Also, Obama is dismally low among Clinton backers - 62%.
  • Meanwhile, tracking polls once again all show Obama ahead: Rasmussen has Obama gaining 2% to seize a 2% lead, Gallup has Obama’s lead stable at 3%. Obama leads 48% to 44% in Research 2000 and jumps to a 6% lead in Diego Hotline - his largest ever in that tracking.
  • Obama leads 51% to 47% in a CNN/Time poll of Colorado. McCain led by 1% in late August, and Obama’s lead is outside of the 3.5% margin of error. Obama leads by 6% among registered voters.
  • Obama leads 50% to 41% in an Insider Advantage poll of Colorado. IA found Obama surging to a 10% lead last month, a result that seemed like an outlier at first but two other firms (PPP and Quinnipiac) have found Obama leading outside of the MoE since then.
  • Obama leads 50% to 47% in a Rasmussen poll of Colorado. McCain led by 2% last week.
  • Obama leads 53% to 44% in a CNN/Time poll of Pennsylvania. Obama led by 5% in late August. In a four-way race with Nader and Barr, Obama leads by 8%, with 3% for Nader.
  • McCain leads 47% to 44% in a Mason Dixon poll of Virginia. Obama gets 55% in Northern Virginia, McCain leads Hamptons Road 48% to 44%.
  • McCain leads 48% to 45% in a Strategic Vision poll of Florida; that lead is just within the MoE. McCain led by 7% two weeks ago.
  • Obama leads 51% to 46% in a CNN/Time poll of Michigan. He led by 4% in late August. In a five-way race, Obama leads by 6%; he also leads by 6% among registered voters.
  • McCain leads 46% to 43% in a MRG Lassing poll of Michigan. I have not heard of this firm before, and the margin of error is 4%.
  • McCain leads 50% to 46% in a CNN/Time poll of West Virginia. In a four-way race with Nader and Barr, McCain leads by 5% and Nader gets 5%.
  • Obama leads 51% to 41% in a Marist poll of Iowa. He leads by 5% before leaners are included.
  • Obama leads 51% to 45% in a Marist poll of New Hampshire. He leads by only 3% among registered voters.
  • McCain leads 49% to 47% in a Rasmussen poll of New Hampshire. Rasmussen found Obama leading by 1% last month, 8% in July and 11% in June.
  • Obama leads 47% to 45% in a Nevada poll by Democratic firms Myers Research/Grove Insight.
  • Obama jumps to a 54% to 43% lead in a SUSA poll of Washington. Obama’s edge had fallen to only 4% two weeks ago, so this is a return to form for the Democrat. Obama slightly expands his lead among both independents and Democrats.
  • McCain leads 58% to 39% in a SUSA poll of South Carolina.

Meanwhile, in down-the-ballot polls:

  • Sen. Sununu captures a surprising 52% to 45% lead in a Rasmussen poll of New Hampshire’s Senate race. Shaheen led by 11% in August. This is only the second time ever Sununu has led - the first was an ARG poll from December 2007 that was contradicted by other polls in the field and by ARG’s next poll that had Shaheen back up by 14%.
  • Mark Udall only leads 46% to 44% in a Rasmussen poll of Colorado’s Senate race. Udall led by 7% last month.
  • Jay Nixon leads Kenny Hulshof 50% to 43% in a Research 2000 poll of Missouri’s gubernatorial race. Nixon led by 17% in July.
  • Christine Gregoire leads Dino Rossi 50% to 48% in a SUSA poll of Washington’s gubernatorial race. SUSA points out that this is the 7th poll in a row to find Gregoire and Rossi within the margin of error.
  • Two polls from North Carolina’s gubernatorial race, both within the margin of error: Perdue leads 44% to 43% in PPP’s poll, with 6% for libertarian candidate Munger. McCrory leads 43% to 41% in the Civitas poll, with 3% for Munger (this is the first time McCrory has led in Civitas).
  • Sen. Graham leads 54% to 40% in a SUSA poll of South Carolina’s Senate race.
  • In NH-02, Rep. Hodes released an internal poll showing him leading 50% to 32% after a GOP internal poll released yesterday had him leading by only 4%. Hodes’ numbers are much closer to independent polling we have seen, and NH-02 is still as unlikely to be competitive.

Rasmussen brought some unexpectedly good news for Senate Republicans - particularly in New Hampshire. The GOP have been waiting for months to see whether Sununu could pull a come-back, and this poll certainly suggests that there is some movement towards the incumbent, especially as it comes in the heels of a UNH survey finding Shaheen’s lead down to 4%. That said, it is difficult to believe Sununu is now ahead (and that he benefits form an 18% swing in one month). This is only the second poll ever to find Sununu ahead, and the first since last December. And it’s not like Shaheen is only ahead by a few points - she typically leads well outside of the margin of error. That is enough to win her the benefit of the doubt here.



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