Archive for the 'OR-Pres' Category

As early voting ends, turnout remains high, disproportionately Democratic

Early voting is now closed in a number of the states we have been talking about extensively over the past few weeks, starting with Georgia, Nevada and North Carolina. That allows us to take a final look at just who has already cast in a ballot heading into Tuesday’s vote.

Georgia: Early voting closed on Friday, and 1,994,990 votes have cast a ballot, accounting for 35,6% of registered voters and more than 60% of the total 2004 vote. 35,1% of the electorate is African-American, which means that black voters are greatly outpacing whites: 43% of registered blacks voters have cast a ballot versus only 34% of white voters. The electorate is also disproportionately female (56%).

North Carolina: Early voting closed on Saturday, after some counties kept it open 4 extra hours because of heavy turnout. And an incredible 2,661,110 voters cast a ballot early, accounting for 42% of all registered voters and more than 70% of the total 2004 vote. The final partisan breakdown is favorable to Democrats, though it tightened since the first week of early voting: Democrats make up 50,8% of early voters and Republicans make up 30,6% (the breakdown in the 2004 general election was 49% Democratic and 37% Republican). African-Americans make up 26,1% (19% of the 2004 electorate was black).

3,55 million votes were cast in 2004. This year, North Carolina’s election director estimates that 4,5 million votes will be cast. If the latter estimate proves correct, it would mean that 59% of voters have already gone to the polls. That means GOP voters have a lot of catching up to do to bring the share of Democratic voters and African-American voters down to their usual share of the electorate.

Nevada: In Clark County, by far the state’s largest county, 52,3% of all registered voters have cast their ballot, accounting for a staggering 71% of the total 2004 vote! 52% of them are registered Democrats, 30% are registered Republicans - a wider gap than the population at large. Put it another way, 58% of Democrats have already voted versus 54% of Republicans.

The same is also true in Washoe County, where 44% of registered voters cast an early ballot (the number of absentees has not been reported here) accounting for 66% of the total 2004 vote. This is a county where Republicans outnumbered Democrats in 2004 and where today the Democrats’ registration edge is only about 1,000 voters; yet, 47% of early voters were Democratic versus 35% who were Republican. These two counties account for nearly 90% of all Nevada voters, so McCain will need Republicans to significantly outnumber Democrats in Tuesday’s voting if he wants to stay in contact with the Illinois Senator.

Based on these numbers, the Nevada Secretary of State is now predicting that 1,1 million will vote, revising a prior prediction of 1 million. About 800,000 voted in 2004, meaning that the electorate would be vastly expanded - the surest sign yet that Gallup’s expanded likely voter model is a better predictor than the traditional model.

Iowa: Not only do Democrats significantly outnumber Republicans, but a Des Moines Register analysis offers one of the first signs we’ve had that Obama is being successful at turning out sporadic voters. 30% of Democrats who had requested absentee ballots had voted in zero or one of the past three general elections; the same was true of 23% of Republicans.

Colorado and Oregon, where most of the early voting is due to mail-in votes that will continue to pile up until Tuesday: As of Friday night, nearly half of Colorado’s registered voters had cast a ballot, accounting for a jaw-dropping 68% of the total 2004 vote. In Oregon, 48% of Oregon’s registered voters had returned their ballot, but here again Democrats are voting at a far higher pace: 55% of all Democratic voters have already cast their ballot versus 48% of Republicans.

As I explained on Wednesday, the surge in turnout (indicating that many voters will be first-time voters) and the partisan breakdowns put McCain in a lose-lose situation: If Election Day turnout goes through the roof, it would mean even more first time voters; if Election Day turnout remains at a normal level, it could mean that not enough voters have cast a ballot to dilute the Democrats’ advantage in early voting.

While all of this is good news for Democrats, the 10 hour lines in some Georgia precincts in the last week of early voting testifies to the fact that election officials do not appear to be ready for the massive surge in turnout we should expect on Tuesday. There are still millions of voters who will go to the polls in states like Georgia, North Carolina and Florida, so think about how swamped poll workers will be in states  that did not allow any form of early voting (Pennsylvania, for instance).

Democrats are obviously far more worried about voting problems popping up, long lines leading some to leave or malfunctioning machines leading to problems and controversies. Most problems tend to accumulate in low-income or African-American counties, thus affecting Democratic precincts more than Republican ones. Furthermore, GOP poll-watchers will challenge hundreds of thousands of voters throughout the country, forcing Obama organizers to immediately go into overdrive to help challenged voters prove their identity and get their provisional ballot counted.

At the very least, Democrats can rest assured that the Obama campaign is aware of these challenges. From a reader in Durham, North Carolina:

There are so many Obama volunteers in Durham that I think they have to come up with ideas as to what to do with all of them.  I don’t know what all these people are going to do when they wake up (late I’m sure) Wednesday morning.

So the latest, that I’ve heard about- the organization is recruiting volunteer entertainers for Tuesday to entertain people in line waiting to vote at every precinct, to help insure that people stay long enough to vote.

I found this out from a woman who will be belly-dancing at some precinct on Tuesday afternoon. Also lined up are a lot of musicians and at least one magician!

A full spectacle indeed! And if voting lines hit 10 to 12 hours again as they did last week in Georgia, all of this would surely be necessary. It is also likely that judges will rule that polls should be kept open beyond the scheduled time in a number of counties throughout the country, potentially preventing results from being reported for longer than expected and lengthening our Tuesday night.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile, in down the ballot polls:

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

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

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

Ground wars: RNC spending in MT, Dems dominate early voting (Updated with Crist’s FL surprise)

If Barack Obama wins the national vote in a landslide, the election will most probably not be decided in a state-by-state warfare or on the basis of organizational muscle, but if McCain’s tightens the race in the coming days the election will of course be decided by the candidate’s ground game and investments in the most crucial swing states. So let’s take a look at the latest developments in early voting and presidential expenditures.

RNC in Montana and West Virginia: Barack Obama has had Montana’s airwaves all to himself for months; in West Virginia, he only started airing ads in the entire state a few weeks ago. The RNC’s independent expenditure division (i.e. this is not a decision made by the McCain campaign) is now going to air ads in both states. Both of their decision are somewhat surprising to me.

In Montana, the GOP could have afford to spend money months ago: this is a relatively cheap state to air ads in, and it will not cost the RNC that much to air these ads. But given how the electoral map is shaping now, it is very doubtful that Montana’s 3 electoral votes would make a difference. Under no obvious scenario would Obama be within 3 EVs of an electoral college majority. If he keeps blue states, IA and NM, he needs 5 more electoral votes; If Obama wins Colorado and Virginia but somehow loses Pennsylvania, he needs 4 more electoral votes. There is no one state with which Montana could be combined that wouldn’t also get Obama to 269 all by itself.

West Virginia, meanwhile, looks far less secure than it did a few weeks ago - but it is far less vulnerable than red states like Indiana, Missouri and North Carolina. With a few days of campaigning to go, it looks unlikely that West Virginia will go Democratic unless Obama wins a gigantic landslide that leaves him with more than 350 electoral votes. That is not the case in either of the three states I mentioned above, all of which look as competitive as they could possibly be. Given McCain’s relatively weak organization in IN or NC, for instance, it is conceivable that he loses either before losing Ohio or Florida.

Early voting: What is most remarkable about the latest early voting data is that turnout among Democratic voters continues to significantly outpace Republican turnout, and that the disparities we started witnessed two weeks ago is holding day after day. Yes, yesterday Nevada and North Carolina Republicans voted in greater numbers than they had over the past week, but they remained far under their share of the electorate - and the already-high share of Georgia’s African-American vote increased even more. Here is a quick overview of the most interesting developments:

  • In Georgia, more than 1,2 million voters have already voted, accounting for 22% of registered voters and 36% of the 2004 electorate. Amazingly, African-Americans increased their share of the electorate over the past day and now make up 35,3% of early voters.
  • In a heavily African-American suburb of Georgia, the waiting line yesterday was 12 hours - and people actually waited. I repeat: 12 hours. Would many of you wait for 12 hours before voting? It seems like the fear of disenfranchisement among African-Americans is pushing for massive early turnout.
  • In North Carolina, more than 200,000 voters cast a ballot yesterday alone, bringing the total above 1,4 million. That accounts for 22% of registered voters and 40% of the 2004 electorate. African-Americans make up 28,1% of early voters (they made up 19% of the 2004 electorate), and the partisan breakdown is: 54,1% Democratic, 28,1% Republican. That is actually a significant improvement for Republicans over the breakdown through yesterday.
  • Further confirmation of North Carolina’s statewide trends comes from county-specific data: Early voting turnout in heavily Democratic and heavily African-American Durham County, for instance, is remarkably high.
  • Louisiana might not be suspenseful at the presidential level, but the Senate race is competitive and early voting data offers us another look at black turnout: 34,3% of early voters are African-American for now (that is a smaller uptick than in other states, as African-Americans make up nearly 32% of the population according to the 2006 census estimates). Democrats outnumber Republicans 2:1.
  • In Florida, more than 2 million voters have already cast a ballot, accounting for 18% of registered voters and 27% of the 2004 electorate. The partisan breakdown is narrower than in other states (45-40 for Democrats) because of Republican success in implementing their absentee voter program, but far more Democrats are voting early in person, so the gap could widen.
  • In Colorado, a 25% of registered voters have already cast their ballot, accounting for 37,9% of the 2004 electorate. The partisan breakdown is outdated, however.
  • In Oregon, 18% of registered voters had returned their ballot by mail as of Monday (that means that all ballots mailed over the week-end are not yet included in the totals).
  • In Nevada, we can take a detailed look at the state’s 2 biggest counties (Clark and Washoe), which account for 87% of the state’s registered voters. In both states, the first week of early voting had Democrats turning out in incredible numbers - but Republicans have been voting in greater numbers over the past 3 days. That said, Democrats retain a commanding advantage.
  • In Clark County (which Kerry won by 5% in 2004) 34% of all registered voters have already cast a ballot. 54% of early voters are Democrats while 29% are Republicans; put it another way, 38% of registered Democrats have already voted, while 33% of registered Republicans have voted.
  • In swing Washoe County, which Bush won by 4%, 26% of all registered voters have already cast a ballot. 51% of early voters are Democratic and 33% are Republican - a far bigger advantage than the registration breakdown.

Now, this is not to say that the final voter breakdown will be anything like it is now, and polls indicate that far more Republican-leaning voters will vote on November 4th (PPP provides some detail in its new North Carolina survey: 49% of African-American likely voters have already cast a ballot versus 29% of white likely voters).

This does mean, however, that the Democratic base is enthusiastic, is heavily turning out this week - and will probably heavily turn out next week. In particular, it now looks guaranteed that there will be a significant boost in African-American turnout, boosting Democratic prospects. Obama’s turnout machine is functioning, and the burden is now on Republicans to demonstrate that they can match it. Given that this turnout gap is something we witnessed throughout the primary season, it will not necessarily be easy for Republicans to do. Can they really bring a 2:1 gap in Nevada and North Carolina all the way down to where it should be?

Also: while early voters are more likely to be partisans who would never change their mind rather than wavering voters who are locking in their votes while still being persuadable, early voting turnout is huge enough in some states (especially Colorado and North Carolina) that a number of voters who might have still moved back towards McCain might have already cast their ballot for Obama.

Update: Florida’s Republican Governor Charlie Crist just signed an executive order extending early voting hours in the Sunshine state, meaning that polls will now be open twelve hours a day rather than eight hours. Given how much effort Obama has put into boosting early voting in Florida, this is a major boost to his campaign and it should help Democrats get as many sporadic voters to the polls as they can while reducing lines and smoothing the process. Republicans are clearly not happy about this, though it will be difficult for them to complain too much given that Crist is a McCain surrogate - albeit an atypical one.

Poll watch: Obama dominates VA, gains edge in OH, Merkley in strong position, Lampson drowns

In my latest presidential ratings this morning, I identified the three states to watch in the election’s final stretch: Virginia, Pennsylvania and Colorado. Eight days from the election, Obama holds strong in those crucial states: A grand total of five new Virginia polls were released today, finding a consistent Obama advantage. Only Rasmussen found Obama holding a lead smaller than 7%, the four others having Obama’s lead go as high as 11%. Only one poll each from Colorado and Pennsylvania were released: Obama was leading comfortably in Pennsylvania, though his margin in Colorado is smaller than Democrats are hoping to see (4%).

That said, there is some movement in McCain’s favor in the tracking polls, and I feel compelled to point that out because of what I said in yesterday’s poll watch, when remarking on McCain’s inability to break out of the low 40s: “The day McCain manages to inch above 45%, we can think about whether the race is tightening.” Today, McCain gets to 46% in one national poll and is at 45% in three more. But Obama remains in a dominant position, as he is at 50% or above in six of the seven tracking polls; only IBD/TIPP has him at a weaker position, and that tracking’s internals are rather strange (Obama enjoys stronger party loyalty and leads among independents but only leads by 3%).

In other states, Obama’s strong position is confirmed: New polls in Ohio and Florida find Obama holding an advantage, especially in the former state. In fact, Rasmussen’s polls from these two states should put to rest talk of a tightening since Obama gains 5% and 6% in the two surveys over those released last Monday.

McCain’s two best trendlines today come from PPP’s North Carolina survey (that had Obama up 7% last week, up 1% today) and SUSA and Rasmussen’s Missouri polls (Obama led by 8% and 5%, he now ties and is ahead by 1%), but the size of Obama’s lead in all three of these surveys was not confirmed by other polls, making this week’s surveys expected regressions to the mean. In fact, it is great for Obama is that the true toss-ups are not the states he needs to win but rather places like North Carolina or Missouri: six new polls in those two states find tight races. Even Arizona polls are now showing a competitive race!

  • Obama remains ahead in the day’s tracking polls, though there is some movement: Obama loses a significant three points in Research 2000 (50% to 42%, with a 5% lead in the Sunday sample) and Rasmussen (51% to 46%); he also loses 1% in IBD/TIPP (47% to 44%). Three trackings are stable: Washington Post/ABC (52% to 45%), Hotline (50% to 42%) and Zogby (50% to 45%). Obama inches up one point in Gallup (53% to 43%, the same margin as RVs and double his lead in the LVT model). That means that Obama’s leads are: 3%, 5%, 5%, 7%, 8%, 8% and 10%.
  • Virginia: Five new polls have Obama in the lead by margins ranging from 4% to 11%. The two most recent are Rasmussen and SUSA: Obama leads 52% to 43% in a SUSA poll, including a huge lead among early voters. His lead in Rasmussen is smaller: 51% to 47%, down from a 10% lead last week.
  • Obama leads 52% to 45% in a Zogby poll conducted over the week-end. Obama leads 52% to 44% in a Washington Post poll. (He led by 3% last month. This time, 50% of respondents say they have been personally contacted by the Obama campaign. The enthusiasm gap is huge, with 70% of Obama supporters describing themselves as enthusiastic.) Obama leads 51% to 40% in a VCU poll.
  • Ohio: Obama leads 50% to 45% in a Zogby poll, in which he has a 16% edge among independents. Obama leads 49% to 45% in Rasmussen, a 6% swing from last week.
  • Colorado: Obama leads 50% to 46% in Rasmussen, a 1% gain for McCain over last week.
  • Florida: The candidates are tied at 47% in a Zogby poll, though Obama has a strangely large 62-25 lead among independents. Obama leads 49% to 44% in a Suffolk poll of the state (up from 4%). Obama leads 51% to 47% in a Rasmussen poll, a 5% swing in his favor since last week.
  • Pennsylvania: Obama leads 50% to 41% in a Temple University poll. The survey was conducted over an entire week (from the 20th to the 26th), however.
  • Nevada: Obama leads 48% to 44% in a Zogby poll, barely outside of the margin of error.
  • North Carolina: Obama leads 50% to 46% in a Zogby poll. Obama leads 49% to 48% in a PPP poll, though he led by 7% last week. There are far less undecided voters this week. However, among early voters (about a third of the sample), Obama leads 63% to 36% (”looking at it another way, 49% of blacks in our survey said they had already voted. Only 29% of white voters said the same”). McCain leads 49% to 48% in Rasmussen, a 1% gain for Obama since late last week.
  • Iowa: Obama leads 52% to 42% in a Marist poll, the same margin he enjoyed last month.
  • New Hampshire: Obama leads 50% to 45% in a Marist poll, a one point decline since September.
  • Indiana: McCain leads 50% to 44% in a Zogby poll.
  • West Virginia: McCain leads 50% to 40% in a Zogby poll, thanks in part to 28% of Democratic voters.
  • Oregon: Obama leads 57% to 38% in a SUSA poll. Half of the electorate has already voted (remember that all of Oregon votes by mail), and Obama leads by 28% among those voters.
  • Arizona: The third poll in two days finds McCain in trouble in his home state. He leads 51% to 46% in a Rasmussen poll.

Meanwhile, in down-the-ballot polls:

  • Jeff Merkley leads 49% to 42% in a SUSA poll of Oregon’s Senate race. Half of the electorate has already voted, and Merkley leads by 10% among those voters.
  • Kay Hagan leads 48% to 45% in a PPP poll of North Carolina’s Senate race. She led by 8% last week.
  • Jay Nixon leads 55% to 38% in a SUSA poll of Missouri’s gubernatorial race.
  • In TX-22, Republican challenger Pete Olson leads Democratic Rep. Nick Lampson 53% to 36% in a new Zogby poll.
  • In FL-25, GOP Rep. Diaz-Balart leads 45% to 42% in a Research 2000 poll. Among early voters, Garcia leads 52% to 46%.
  • In SC-01, GOP Rep. Harry Brown leads 50% to 45% in a new SUSA poll.
  • In TX-07, GOP Rep. Culberson leads 47% to 40% in a Zogby poll.

Jeff Merkley’s numbers are the most important of this group, as this is the Oregon Democrat’s largest lead yet against Gordon Smith, who continues to be stuck in the low 40s. More importantly, SUSA’s polls confirms what was one of the main reasons I changed the ratings of the race to lean Democratic two days ago: Because of Oregon’s mail-in voting system, Election Day is happening right now in Oregon, giving Smith no time to catch up. While remaining ahead, Kay Hagan does not look to be as favored as her Oregon colleague.

A number of fascinating indepenent House polls were released as well, the most noteworthy of which is Zogby’s survey from TX-22: This was long seen as an extremely highly endangered Democatic seat, but the DCCC’s decision to dump hundreds of thousands of dollars suggested they saw Lampson with a chance at surviving. Zogby’s poll indicates that the conventional wisdom was right and that Lampson is an underdog in what is one of the most Republican seats represented by a Democrat. That said, the DCCC has just debuted a very hard-hitting ad on Pete Olsen, accusing him of voter fraud. We will see whether that moves any numbers.

As for CA-04, SC-01 and TX-07, all three are heavily Republican districts and for independent polls to find the Republican under 50% in each and the Democrat leading in one is obviously major news, and confirms that Democrats can expect to prevail in a few heavily conservative seats on November 4th.

12th presidential ratings: Three states to watch in closing week

Forget for a minute the dozen red states that Obama is contesting. There are, at this point, only three states to watch: Pennsylvania, Virginia and Colorado.

Obama is now substantially ahead in all of these states. In fact, all three are now rated “likely Obama,” marking the first time any red state other than Iowa and New Mexico have entered that category. All Obama needs to do to win the presidency is retain his advantage in Pennsylvania and in one of the two other states. So for the next 8 days, instead of getting nervous or excited about the latest development in Ohio, Missouri, North Carolina or Florida, keep an eye on polls from these three states: As long as Obama remains in control in Pennsylvania and either Virginia or Colorado, McCain has no path to the White House.

Things get only worse for the Republican nominee if we are to look at other red states that are being contested. Even if McCain somehow manages to pull out a victory in the Keystone State, Obama could easily replace the missing electoral votes with one of six other highly competitive red states - one of which make its first entrance in the lean Obama column (Ohio).

The conclusion is obvious: McCain will not win a state-by-state battle, nor on the basis of his ground game. To pull this through, he will need to dramatically shift the national numbers in order to solidify his position in the more Republican of the toss-up states (NC, IN, MO) while pulling Pennsylvania, Virginia and Ohio back into play. The trouble, of course, is that it is extremely difficult to alter the fundamentals of a race this late in the game - not to mention that many voters in some key swing states (in particular Colorado and North Carolina) have already cast their ballot.

Without further delay, here are the twelfth 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, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska (at large + 3rd congressional district), Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, Tennessee, Texas, Wyoming (116 EVs)
  • Likely McCain: Arizona, Arkansas, Nebraska’s 1st district, South Dakota (20 EVs)
  • Lean McCain: Georgia, Nebraska’s 2nd district, West Virginia (21 EVs)
  • Toss-up: Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota (75 EV)
  • Lean Obama:, New Hampshire, Ohio (24 EVs)
  • Likely Obama: Colorado, Iowa, Maine (at-large + 1st district + 2nd district), Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin (122 EVs)
  • Safe Obama: California, Connecticut, DC, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont (160 EVs)

This gives us the following map and totals:

  • Safe + Likely Obama: 282 electoral votes
  • Safe + Likely + Lean Obama: 306
  • Toss-up: 75
  • Safe + Likely + Lean McCain: 157
  • Safe + Likely McCain: 136

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

Colorado, lean Obama to likely Obama: Obama has moved in such a dominant position in Colorado that the McCain campaign has scaled back its advertisement in the state. Given how important these 9 electoral votes are to McCain’s chances, they certainly did not take this decision lightly, and it is telling that McCain strategists think they have a better shot in Pennsylvania than in Colorado. One explanation to this is the high pace of early voting: As of Friday, a remarkable 25% of all registered voters had already cast their ballot, making it that much more difficult for McCain to pull off a comeback since hundreds of thousands of ballots were cast during a very favorable time for the Illinois Senator.

(If there is any doubt that Obama is ahead, consider these two polling facts: McCain has led in only two polls since the Democratic convention, both of which were in September; and McCain has never led by more than three points in any poll of the state - and even that “high-point” was only reached twice.)

Florida, lean Obama to toss-up: I still believe that Florida tilts ever so slightly in Obama’s direction, but it is difficult not to take into account the fact that Florida is the one state that has been clearly trending Republican over the past ten days. After a period of Democratic dominance, the latest polls from Insider Advantage, PPP, Strategic Vision, Mason Dixon, Quinnipiac, Rasmussen, SUSA and Research 2000 have all found McCain a trendline towards McCain, sometimes with big swings. That McCain recaptured the lead in a number of these surveys (including in the very respected Mason Dixon polls) underscores that the Sunshine State is still not lost by the Republican nominee. Sure, this trend is not in line with what we are observing elsewhere in the country, but neither are Florida’s demographics. Furthermore, for all the talk about McCain’s lack of organization in Florida and about the state GOP panicking, early indications suggest that Republicans have managed to pull off strong results in their absentee voter program.

Montana, lean McCain to toss-up: Finally, a pollster included Ron Paul in a Montana trial heat, and the results showed the former presidential candidate who now appears on the state ballot on the Constitution Party line gathering more than 4% of the vote - which is exactly the difference between Barack Obama and John McCain. And it was Obama who was in the lead, confirming what we have been seeing in polls from neighboring North Dakota: The Mountain West is back in play. And while the Illinois Senator pulled out of North Dakota in mid-September, he never scaled back his investments in Montana. The state’s 3 electoral votes are unlikely to prove decisive, but they would prove to be an icing on Obama’s cake.

Ohio, toss-up to lean Obama: Ohio looked like the battleground state most resistant to swing towards Obama, but it seems to have inched away towards the Democratic nominee as he solidified his support among registered Democrats. In fact, Obama led by double-digits in three polls over the past week (Quinnipiac, Big 10 and Insider Advantage), a significant development given that he had never led by such a margin since he wrapped up the nomination. While other polls show a tighter margin (or even a narrow McCain lead in Mason Dixon and Rasmussen), most have the state trending towards Obama. The Democrats’ early voting efforts appear to be paying off (though we have less detailed information than in GA or NC). That said, Ohio is still highly competitive, and will remain so until we can be assured that Obama will not drown in Appalachian counties.

Oregon, likely Obama to safe Obama: That a state that voted for Kerry by 4% is now rated safe Obama is clear evidence of how much the political environment has changed over the past four years. Obama has not led by single-digit in an Oregon poll since mid-September, and his edge has extended to as big a margin as 17% in a recent poll. The reason that the state is now being rated in the safe category - underscoring that a McCain comeback is not even conceivable - is that Election Day is happening right now in Oregon, as the voting is conducted entirely by mail and ballots have to have arrived by November 4th to be valid. That means that even a last-minute game changer would be unlikely to take the state’s electoral votes away from Obama.

Virginia, lean Obama to likely Obama: A state that hasn’t voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1964 now finds itself at the top of Barack Obama’s pick-up list. McCain hasn’t led in a single poll conducted in July, and Obama has jumped to a relatively consistent high single-digit lead that is sometimes hitting the double-digit mark. Furthermore, this is a state in which Obama has a definite organizational advantage. Not only has his campaign registered hundreds of thousands of voters and should benefit from the boost in black turnout we are observing in Georgia and North Carolina, but the GOP focused on Virginia late and does not have the type of ground game Democrats will enjoy. (50% of respondents in a recent Washington Post poll said they had personally been contacted by the Obama campaign, far more than had been contacted by his opponent). One good news for McCain is that Virginia has limited early voting, so it would not be too late for McCain to close the gap if a late breaking development were to occur.

History of Campaign Diaries’ electoral ratings:

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: ND back in contention, OH resists Obama; Dems strong in CT-04, not in MO-06

Today’s presidential polling is rather useless since these surveys were taken before a debate - and released after. None of these polls - including the five tracking polls - tell us what impact the debate might have had. That said, they provide a useful baseline with which we can compare polls released in the upcoming days.

John McCain gets some good news in this round-up - but only because any survey that has him within striking distance has now become great news for the GOP. Rasmussen’s new Ohio poll has the candidates tied just three days after Obama seized his first lead in Rasmussen polling; and both Gallup and Rasmussen tracking polls have tightened a bit, with McCain rising to a level he had not experienced in two to three weeks. In fact, Gallup’s “traditional likely voter model” has Obama leading within the margin of error - a reminder that turnout will be key.

That said, Obama undoubtedly remains in command; the tracking polls have him ahead between 4% and 11%. Furthermore, Obama seizes the lead in a North Dakota poll - the second survey in a row (after a “Forum poll”) from the state to show that it might be highly competitive after all (Obama withdrew from the state in September). Obama also looks competitive in the race for Omaha’s district. Furthermore, he continues to consolidate his position in blue state - coming in with his biggest lead yet in Pennsylvania and expanding his advantage in Oregon. On to the full roundup of the day’s polls:

  • The tracking polls have Obama in command, but McCain has made some gains in the run-up to the debate (all the trackings were taken before yesterday’s proceedings). Obama leads 50% to 46% in Rasmussen, the first time since September 25th McCain is higher than 45%; he leads 51% to 40% in Research 2000, 49% to 41% in Hotline, 49% to 44% in Zogby. In Gallup, Obama’s lead among registered voters and the expended model of likely voters is 6% (his smallest in two weeks); among the traditional model of likely voters, Obama leads by 2%.
  • The candidates are tied at 49% in a Rasmussen poll of Ohio. The poll was taken Tuesday night, before the debate. A poll taken on Sunday night and released on Monday had Obama leading by 2%; that was the first time Obama had ever lead in a Rasmussen poll from this state.
  • Obama leads 53% to 37% in the Morning Call tracking poll of Pennsylvania, his largest lead yet in the survey! In fact, it is Obama’s largest lead ever in Pennsylvania.
  • McCain leads 48% to 44% in NE-02, according to a poll released by Democratic-form Anzalone Lizst.
  • Obama leads 56% to 39% in a Rasmussen poll of Connecticut. He led by 12% last month.
  • Obama leads 59% to 35% in a SUSA poll of Massachusetts.
  • I am only including this because I try to include every poll I find, but this is probably the least trustworthy institute we have seen lately… A CNU Virginia poll has Obama leading 53% to 47%. The previous CNU poll had McCain leading by 9% but it had sampled almost no 18-29 year old and black voters were dramatically under-represented. This time, 58% of respondents are female.
  • I also do not think much of Zogby’s self-selected interactive (online) polls, but here are there nonetheless. Zogby showed McCain leading in Pennsylvania by comfortable margins when no one else did, now Obama is ahead; Zogby had Obama ahead comfortably in North Carolina when all polls had McCain up within the MoE, now Obama is narrowly ahead. In other news: McCain is up in Ohio and Indiana, Obama leads in Florida, New Mexico, Virginia, narrowly in Colorado and Nevada.

Meanwhile, in down-the-ballot polls:

  • The candidates are tied at 47% in a Rasmussen poll of Oregon’s Senate race. Smith led by 1% in mid-September. Rasmussen does not seem to have included the Constitution Party candidate.
  • In CT-04, Democratic challenger Himes leads 48% to 45% against Rep. Shays in a new SUSA poll.
  • In MO-06, GOP Rep. Graves leads 51% to 40% in a new SUSA poll. He led by 9% a month ago.
  • In OR-05, Democrat Kurt Schrader leads 51% to 38% in a new SUSA poll.
  • In KY-03, Rep. Yarmuth opens a large 57% to 41% lead against former Rep. Ann Northup in the latest SUSA poll.
  • In MN-06, a DCCC internal finds GOP Rep. Bachmann holding on to a 42% to 38% lead.
  • In NE-02, Rep. Terry is up 48% to 47% only in an internal poll for his Democratic opponent.
  • In CA-46, a seat that was deemed safe as of two weeks ago but that the GOP has been increasingly worrying about, a Capitol Weekly article reveals that Republican internals have the race within the margin of error.

Senate: Like North Carolina, Oregon remains highly competitive in all recent polling, making it unclear why so many Republicans seem to be resigned to losing both. That said, an incumbent below 50% is rarely in a good position, and Smith’s often vicious attacks ads have not sufficed to disqualify Merkley.

House: SUSA’s survey from MO-06 is perhaps the best polling news Republicans have gotten in weeks. This is a district Democrats are heavily targeting, and that the NRCC has started to invest in. Yet, Kay Barnes has made no progress whatsoever and Graves remains in a strong position. However, the rest of the surveys bring good news to Democrats. For one, Himes is in a strong position in CT-04 while Democrats look like they have made districts that were not supposed to be vulnerable competitive (NE-02, MN-06 and CA-46).

Meanwhile, Democrats have little to worry about in many of the seats Republicans were excited about picking-up. Northup’s candidacy was supposed to be one of the NRCC’s great recruitments, but she is quickly falling in Kentucky; and OR-05 was one of only two competitive Dem-held open seats before the GOP candidate got involved in a series of scandals relating to abortion and suscipicous trips.

Poll watch: Obama remains in command in national and state surveys; tie in Georgia’s Senate race

Barack Obama’s large lead in the latest Newsweek national poll (52% to 41%, up from a tie in mid-September) confirms the current strength of the Democratic nominee, who would win in a landslide if the election were held today. At this point, the McCain campaign is not even close to being competitive - neither in national polls nor in state surveys (McCain trails by big margins today in Florida and Colorado, neither of which he can afford to lose, while Obama continues to crush McCain in Iowa, a state Republicans actually still believe is competitive since McCain keeps traveling there).

This might not be what we have grown used to over the past few cycles, but national polls now look to be much more important than state surveys: McCain will only have a shot at getting a majority in the electoral vote if he substantially improves his national standing, and every day the tracking polls show Obama up double digits is one more wasted day for the GOP.

What is most problematic for the McCain campaign is that Obama’s surge has come first and foremost among registered Democrats. Obama had trouble consistently getting 80% in that group, but surveys (starting with the Newsweek poll) now regularly show him with high levels of party loyalty - Newsweek even finds that 88% of Clinton supporters are now voting for Obama versus only 7% for McCain, a startling change from summer numbers. I have long explained that Obama would be guaranteed victory if he captured the Democratic vote in a year in which Democrats vastly outnumber Republicans, and that is exactly what has happened over the past three weeks because of the financial crisis.

That McCain’s path to salvation requires reversing Obama’s gains among his base rather than among independents and Republicans is just one sign of the difficulty of McCain’s task. And with that, on to the full roundup of the day’s polls:

  • Obama retains his dominant position in the tracking polls, taking his biggest lead ever in Hotline (50% to 40%), ahead 52% to 40% in Research 2000, 50% to 41% in Gallup (-1%), 52% to 45% in Rasmussen (+2%) and 48% to 44% in Zogby (-1%). Zogby remains the tightest of the five due to its partisan weighting, but the trend lines have shown no movement over McCain over the past week. [Update: Zogby's October 13th release is already out, and it shows Obama jumping to a 6% lead, 49% to 43%.]
  • Obama leads 52% to 42% in a PPP poll of Colorado on the strength of getting 71% of the Hispanic vote! He led by 7% three weeks ago.
  • Obama leads 54% to 41% in a SUSA poll of Iowa.
  • McCain leads 62% to 35% in a SUSA poll of Alabama.

Meanwhile, in down-the-ballot polls:

  • A stunning Insider Advantage poll finds Saxby Chambliss and Jim Martin tied at 45% in Georgia’s Senate race.
  • Mark Udall leads 49% to 39% in a PPP poll of Colorado’s Senate race. He led by 8% three weeks ago.
  • Kay Hagan leads 45% to 42% in a Civitas poll of North Carolina’s Senate race. She trailed by 2% three weeks ago.
  • In AZ-03, Research 2000 finds Rep. Shadegg leading 48% to 39% while a DCCC poll finds Democrat Bob Lord ahead 45% to 44%.
  • In WV-02, Research 2000 finds Rep. Capito leading Anne Barth 53% to 39%.
  • In VA-02, Research 2000 has Rep. Drake leading Glenn Nye 51% to 37%.
  • In VA-05, an internal poll for the Perriello campaign finds the Democratic challenger trailing Rep. Goode 48% to 40%.
  • In IN-03, an internal poll for the campaign of Mike Montagano finds GOP Rep. Souder leading 44% to 39%. A month ago, Souder led 50% to 37%.

Senate: All three of the day’s polls bring good news for Democrats, who first and foremost solidify their leading Colorado’s race. Udall has not been able to put the race away, but a 10% lead in mid-October looks far more solid than the same margin in late spring. Hagan, meanwhile, continues to inch ahead of Dole in most polls, and while the situation might not be as catastrophic for Dole as Repubican operatives seem to believe, the incumbent is clearly in big trouble. What is stunning, meanwhile, is to see Chambliss and Martin tied in what is the first poll of the Georgia Senate race to not find Chambliss leading - though a number of surveys over the past two weeks have shown the race dramatically tightening.

House: The polls are far more disappointing on the House side for Democrats, as Research 2000 brought very disappointing news for the DCCC’s efforts to expand the map in WV-02 and VA-02. Both seats are GOP-leaning, and while Drake and Capitlo have been looking relatively safe, Democrats had some hope of contesting both races. Another interesting race is AZ-03, where it is hard to know what to make of the DCCC’s internal numbers. The DCCC’s polls have been finding some suspiciously good results for Democrats over the past few days (an 11% lead for Peters in MI-09?).

9th presidential ratings: NC and FL’s move to toss-up column gives Obama largest lead yet

The presidential race has seen quite a few dramatic momentum swings over the past few weeks, and that is reflected in the bounciness of my presidential ratings. The margin between Obama and McCain was relatively stable from mid-June to late August, but McCain’s momentum the first two weeks of this month allowed him to close the gap to only 6 electoral votes in my most recent electoral ratings. Since then, however, the economic crisis and the natural fading of McCain’s bounce have allowed Obama to regain his footing and jump to his biggest lead yet - 55 electoral votes.

Obama’s new found advantage comes primarily from the erosion of McCain’s base. Only 174 electoral votes are rated McCain, which is by far his lowest ever (see full history). While the Arizona Senator seems to have solidified his hold on the Mountain West (Obama gave up on contesting North Dakota, and Montana polls suggest that McCain has recaptured a double-digit lead), there is little question that other states that McCain should be winning comfortably have become dead heats: Last week, I moved Indiana to the toss-up column. This week, it is North Carolina’s turn to head out of the McCain column, in what is a devastating development for McCain; Florida also returns to the toss-ups, though that is less dramatic a move, and Obama is close to erasing McCain’s advantage in Missouri as well.

What is most worrisome for McCain in this erosion is that late September is a time a candidate wants to start locking away his most secure states. Instead, the GOP has had to expand its advertisement to Florida late last month, North Carolina two weeks ago and Indiana starting next week. In fact, Indiana and North Carolina’s move to the toss-up column isn’t due to any dramatic and surprising change in those states’ numbers but rather to the fact that we have now reached the final stretch with no sign that these states’ usual partisan affiliation is kicking in.

(Also, note that Indiana and North Carolina - the two reddest states which are now part of the toss-up category - were the two states that held their primaries on May 6th. Could Obama have been this competitive in either state this late in the game had it not been for the extended primary?)

All of this does not mean that McCain is doomed, because Obama has not yet been able to expand his base. This week, 239 electoral votes are rated Obama this week - and that is more or less the level the Illinois Senator has been at for months. He has been able to solidify his hold on Iowa and New Mexico, but other states (notably Minnesota and Wisconsin) have tightened. And while Virginia and Colorado showed signs of moving towards Obama this week (with a number of polls showing Obama leading outside the margin of error in both), a few days of strong polling for Obama in one of his best weeks isn’t enough to remove either from the toss-up column. Yet, Michigan returns to the Obama camp - the only state to move out of the toss-up column this week. McCain has deployed tremendous efforts in the Wolverine State, but it seems like the financial crisis has allowed Obama to finally gain an advantage.

For Obama, the path to 270 remains far more clear than it is for McCain. With Iowa and New Mexico tilting in his direction, Obama needs to retain four endangered blue states (Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Minnesota) and pick-up one more state, with Colorado then Virginia looking like the most promising at the moment (if Obama wins either of those, he would not need to save New Hampshire since 269 should be enough). Those 6 states thus look like the most important at the moment - and take this as further proof that no, it does not all come down to Ohio or Florida this year.

Without further delay, here are the ninth electoral college ratings (states whose ratings have been changed are in bold). Remember that states that are in the “lean” category are considered to be very competitive and certain to be hotly contested, but it is possible to say that one candidate has a slight edge at this time.

  • Safe McCain: Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska (at large + 3rd congressional district), Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Tennessee, Texas, Wyoming (122 EVs)
  • Likely McCain: Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Nebraska (1st and 2nd congressional districts), North Dakota, West Virginia (38 EVs)
  • Lean McCain: Missouri, Montana (14 EVs)
  • Toss-up: Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia (125 EV)
  • Lean Obama: Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Wisconsin (42 EVs)
  • Likely Obama: Iowa, Oregon, Maine (at-large, 2nd district), New Jersey, Washington (43 EVs)
  • Safe Obama: California, Connecticut, DC, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine’s 1st district, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont (154 EVs)

This gives us the following map and totals:

  • Safe + Likely Obama: 197 electoral votes
  • Safe + Likely + Lean Obama: 239
  • Toss-up: 125
  • Safe + Likely + Lean McCain: 174
  • Safe + Likely McCain: 160

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

Florida, lean McCain to toss-up: McCain was expected to have a more comfortable time in the Sunshine State than Bush did in 2000 and 2004, but the millions Obama poured in the state throughout the summer allowed him to close the gap and have forced McCain to invest in the state - something he did not want to do. But it seems that the Democrats’ goal was not simply to put McCain into a defensive position, and the Obama campaign is dead serious about winning Florida’s 27 electoral votes (and, with them, almost certainly ensuring that they get to 270 electoral votes).

Obama spent a lot of time in Florida last week - and a candidate’s time in late September is a sure sign that the race is hot. David Plouffe has said that his campaign intends as much as $39 million in Florida this fall (that’s almost half as much as McCain can spent nationally), and the Obama campaign dramatically increased its ads last week, as they are now spending about $2 million a week - more than in any other state. While McCain had a consistent edge in August and early September, both men have been leading in recent surveys, almost always within the margin of error.

Iowa, lean Obama to likely Obama: Iowa becomes the only state rated likely or safe Obama in which McCain is airing ads, but we always knew that the Hawkeye State would be very difficult terrain for McCain. He skipped the state’s caucuses both in 2000 and 2008, simultaneously angering residents and missing opportunities to introduce himself to voters. Obama, on the other hand, built an extensive organization here in the lead-up to his January 3rd victory and that network boosts his November 4th prospects. The latest polls have Obama regularly leading by double-digits, and it would surprise no one if McCain were to pull out of Iowa in the weeks ahead to concentrate in resources in states he has a better chance of winning.

Michigan, toss-up to lean Obama: Throughout the spring and early summer, it looked like the GOP was looking to replace Pennsylvania with Michigan as the biggest endangered blue state - and Obama was clearly struggling to perform at the level of a generic Democrat in a state in which his weakness among blue-collar Democrats looked like it could be fatal. And McCain and Palin’s frequent visits to the state confirmed how high it was on the GOP’s priority list. That made it particularly curious to notice earlier this month that the McCain campaign was spending significantly more in Pennsylvania than in Michigan, perhaps a sign that Republicans noticed they were losing ground here.

And as Obama has gained ground nationally in the aftermath of the financial crisis, he was boosted that much more in Michigan - taking a stunning double-digit lead in a number of recent polls (especially the major Michigan pollster EPIC-MRA). Nowhere are Democrats in a better position when the conversation turns to the national economy than in Michigan, one of the most hard-hit states. That said, McCain remains highly competitive in the state, and the race could tighten again if national security comes to occupy a greater place in the campaign in October. And the amount of legal action in the state testifies to its continuing competitiveness.

North Carolina, lean McCain to toss-up: I wrote a long post devoted exclusively to North Carolina’s tightening just two days ago, so you can read that for a full analysis. Obama’s North Carolina numbers had been stunningly strong in the Tar Heel state since the beginning of the year, but the fact that McCain kept a consistent (albeit narrow) edge in every public poll suggested that the state remained McCain’s to lose. That has changed over the past week, as PPP and Civitas released two polls that had the candidates tied (those were only the second and third surveys ever to find such a result, and the first since April) and Rasmussen had Obama narrowly leading - his first edge ever in North Carolina! And there are other indications that North Carolina is highly competitive: The McCain campaign finally went up on the air earlier this month, and the Tar Heel state was Obama’s first campaign stop after the first debate.

Oregon, lean Obama to likely Obama: Oregon was one of the most endangered blue states in both 2000 or 2004, but Obama has always looked stronger the average Democrat in the Northwest. When Clinton was still in the race, general election surveys showed that this region was one of the only ones in the country in which it seemed safe to say that one candidate looked more electable than the other. And the last few months have confirmed Obama’s strength in Oregon: He now regularly leads by double-digits in a state Gore won by only 7,000 (14% according to Research 2000, 11% according to SUSA and ARG).

South Dakota, likely McCain to safe McCain: This deeply conservative state was not rated in the safest of McCain’s columns because of Obama’s surprising strength in the Mountain West throughout the summer. While Obama had only invested in North Dakota and in Montana, some polls suggested South Dakota might not be entirely out of reach - but that door appears to have slam shut as McCain has regained his footing throughout the region.

Washington, lean Obama to likely Obama: Surprisingly, Obama is having more trouble pulling ahead in Washington polls than in Oregon, which is generally considered to be a more competitive state than its Northern neighbor. But what I wrote about Oregon applies here, namely that Northwestern independents and Democrats appear to harbor warmer feelings for Obama than those in the rest of the country, allowing Obama to hold an edge in a region McCain would have loved to contest. And while I had moved the state to the lean Obama column last week, the Democrat has since then recovered in national polls; it is unlikely McCain can contest Washington without holding a national edge.

History of Campaign Diaries’ electoral ratings:

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

RNC moves in IN, VA as Obama continues to inch ahead in state polls

Barack Obama has been organizing Indiana for months, and I moved Indiana to the toss-up column last week-end. It seems like the McCain campaign has finally taken notice, as Politico reports that the RNC is moving in the Hoosier State for the first Republican advertisements in that state. After North Carolina, this is the second red state this month that the McCain campaign is being forced to invest in - a move that would have been unthinkable a few months ago and that will surely require some financial sacrifices in other states.

Late September is the time a campaign wants to start locking states in and feel secure enough to stop advertising rather than launch an ad buy in a new state that ought to safely be in the red column. But as Obama has been running hard here for months and has pulled even in recent polls, the GOP’s denial was becoming suicidal. Indiana is now firmly on the map of battleground states, just as North Carolina. (The buy will start next week, which means Obama will have the Indiana airwaves to himself for a few more days.)

In fact, the RNC’s Indiana investment is part of a $5 million media buy in 6 states - Indiana, Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Virginia. The RNC’s two previous independent expenditures were only aimed at Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio, so Virginia’s inclusion is also new. Though certainly not surprising given that the latest polls find a dead heat, it is still a significant development as even the McCain campaign has not always been a full player in Virginia and has let Obama outspend them.

Meanwhile, the day’s presidential polls once again highlight how much McCain has riding on tonight’s debate, and also explains why his campaigns felt compelled to roll the dice two days ago with its campaign’s suspension: Obama continues to inch ahead, expanding his advantage in the tracking polls (even in the shift-shy Rasmussen), taking a lead in Virginia that is outside of the MoE, closing the gap in a number of states like Florida, Missouri.

One bad poll for Obama is ARG’s Colorado survey that finds McCain in the lead, breaking a series of polls finding Obama surging in that state. (The poll’s sample is somewhat in question as it has 3% more Republican respondents than Democrats.) Another good news for McCain is that yet another Montana poll finds him pulling ahead by double-digits, as the Mountain West appears to be returning to its Republican roots.

  • Everyone who follows polling data knows how small the shifts are in Rasmussen’s tracking poll, but Obama has just leaped ahead to a 5% lead (50% to 45%), one of his largest advantages in Rasmussen. Obama has also opened up his largest lead yet in Diego Hotline (49% to 42%). In Research 2000, Obama leads 48% to 43%.
  • Obama leads 50% to 45% in a Rasmussen poll of Virginia, a dramatic turn-around from trailing by 2% in poll taken last week-end. This is the first time ever Obama has more than a 1% lead in Virginia in a Rasmussen poll.
  • McCain leads by 1% in a Rasmussen poll of Florida. He led by 5% in a poll taken Saturday, and by 5% in a poll taken last week.
  • Obama leads 47% to 46% in an ARG poll of Florida. They were tied last week. Obama is competitive because Democrats outnumber Republicans, but McCain has a gigantic 27% lead among independents (who only make up 18% of the sample, so perhaps more Dem-leaning independents than usual identified themselves as Democrats?)
  • McCain leads 47% to 46% in a new Research 2000 poll of Missouri. R2000 had just polled the state last week and found McCain leading by 4% - that was barely outside of the MoE, today’s margin obviously isn’t.
  • McCain leads 48% to 46% in a SUSA poll of Missouri. He has a more solid party loyalty and leads by 8% among independents.
  • McCain leads 48% to 45% in an ARG poll of Colorado. Obama has a slight lead among independents.
  • Obama leads 48% to 44% in a Research 2000 poll of New Hampshire. Three polls released yesterday all had Obama up 1%.
  • McCain leads 52% to 39% in a Research 2000 poll of Montana, a margin similar to what we saw with Rasmussen earlier this week.

It will be interesting to see whether Obama continues to compete in Montana, and how his campaign deals with Missouri - how will spending evolve there, and will Obama visit much?

Poll watch: Michigan swings Obama, Merkley gains, GOP competitive in Alaska races

The battle lines are getting clearer in the presidential race. With Iowa and New Mexico leaning Obama and the Democrat inching ahead in Colorado, keeping the Kerry states would be enough to get Obama to the White House - and he can even afford to lose New Hampshire since a tie favors Obama. With that in mind, we will keep a particularly sharp eye on polls from Colorado, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

And today’s news is good for Obama: he continues to post a narrow but consistent advantage in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, and Michigan appears to be breaking open in his favor. Three out of five surveys released today have him leading between 8% and 13%, a margin supported by Marist’s 9% earlier this week and Obama’s 5% (7% among registered voters) yesterday. However, Mason Dixon does find a tie in the Wolverine State today.

As long as those five states break Obama’s way, the other states lose importance, so forgive my glancing over the latest toss-up poll from Ohio, McCain’s semi-comforting 8% lead in West Virginia or Obama’s two three 1% leads in New Hampshire. And don’t forget Rasmussen North Carolina survey that I wrote extensively about early this morning. Another poll of importance is Obama’s 5% lead in the latest NYT/CBS poll.

First, the five polls from Michigan:

  • Obama leads 48% to 38% in an EPIC-MRA poll of Michigan. Obama led by only 1% in a EPIC-MRA survey taken just a few days ago.
  • Obama leads 51% to 38% in a Detroit Free Press poll of Michigan conducted by Selzer & Co. Obama leads by 15% when voters are asked which candidate they trust on the economy.
  • The candidates are tied in a Mason Dixon/NBC poll of Michigan. Here, McCain does well in the Detroit suburbs (home of Reagan Democrats), which is key to a victory here.

It’s not a surprise that Michigan would be the state in which we would see the biggest shift as the conversation turns to the financial crisis, as this is among the most hard-hit state economically. But it is a major development, as the McCain campaign (and polls) had long regarded Michigan as the GOP’s biggest opportunity to pick up a blue state. However, note that both campaigns have recently been spending more in Pennsylvania than in Michigan, suggesting that the Keystone State is being recast in its traditional role of most-vulnerable-Democratic-state.

On to other presidential polls, including the three polls from Pennsylvania:

  • Obama leads 47% to 42% in a new CBS News/New York Times national poll. This is the same margin as last week. McCain reclaims the lead among independents.
  • Obama leads 49% to 45% in a Rasmussen poll of Pennsylvania taken Wednesday. He led by 3% in a poll taken on Saturday, so a stable race.
  • Obama leads 50% to 44% in a SUSA poll of Pennsylvania.
  • Obama also leads 46% to 45% in a Suffolk poll of New Hampshire.
  • Obama leads 52% to 41% in a SUSA poll of Oregon. He led by 3% last month.
  • Obama only leads 49% to 44% in a SUSA poll of Maine, which could make him lose one 1EV - and one he cannot afford to lose if he loses New Hampshire as well. (This poll does find McCain leading among 18-34 year old voters.)
  • McCain leads 50% to 42% in a Rasmussen poll of West Virginia. That is a more reassuring lead than other surveys have found lately, and keep in mind that Obama is not investing in the state (though some WV markets overlap with markets from swing states in which Obama ads are running).
  • Safe red states: McCain leads 51% to 42% in a Rasmussen poll of Arkansas.

Meanwhile, in down-the-ballot polls:

  • Jeff Merkley has gained 14% in two months in SUSA’s poll of Oregon’s Senate race and taken a narrow lead (within the MoE), 44% to 42%. Constitution Party candidate Dave Brownlow gets 8%, probably helping Merkley.
  • Two polls from Alaska’s Senate race find close races: Farleigh Dickinson has Begich leading 47% to 43%, Ivan Moore finds Begich leading 48% to 46% (he led by 3% two weeks ago).
  • Two polls from AK-AL find that Don Young is still alive: Farleigh Dickinson has Berkowitz leading 47% to 41%, Ivan Moore has Berkowitz leading 49% to 44% (he led by 17% two weeks ago). Berkowitz’s unfavorability rating has shot up in Ivan Moore.
  • Kay Hagan leads yet again in a Rasmussen poll of North Carolina’s Senate race - the second Rasmussen took over the past 7 days. She had a 6% lead last week (her largest yet), 3% today: 48% to 45%.
  • Susan Collins does not tremble in a SUSA poll of Maine’s Senate race. She continues to crush Tom Allen 55% to 39%.
  • Jeb Bradley leads Democratic Rep. Shea-Porter 45% to 42% in a UNH poll. He led by 6% in July. Paul Hodes leads by 12%  in his district.
  • An internal poll for the Nye campaign finds the Democrat closing the gap in VA-02, but she still trails 45% to 40%.
  • [Corrected, previous write-up of MI-07 was horribly mistaken] Democratic challenger Mark Schauer of MI-07 released an internal poll finding him leading 42% to 36% against Rep. Walberg. He led by 3% in a May survey.
  • Safe seats: Biden and Markell lead in SUSA polls of Delaware’s senatorial and gubernatorial races. Kerry leads in Massachusetts.

Some excellent news for both parties, as Democrats will be heartened that Hagan and Merkley continue to be more than competitive despite GOP ads stepping up their attacks. MI-07 is undoubtedly one of the Democrats top targets, and any incumbent polling at 36% (even in an internal poll) is in danger. But Republicans will take comfort in the fact that neither of Alaska’s races appear to be over, as the two GOP incumbents are making somewhat of a comeback. The question now is how voters will react to the month-long coverage of Stevens’ trial. Odds are that the coverage of the Senator’s corruption will also hurt Young’s standing.

Poll watch: Obama leads big in Colorado, Oregon; tight races in IL-11, WI-08

In the day’s second wave of polls, the news continues to be good for Obama, who gets his third Colorado lead in a row that is outside of the margin of error. After an Insider Advantage survey found him leading by 10% (a 7% bounce) and Quinnipiac showed him ahead by 4% (a 5% bounce), it is now PPP’s turn to show Obama jumping by 6% in two weeks to settle in a comfortable 51% to 44% advantage.

Combined with Iowa and New Mexico (two Bush states that are already leaning Obama) Colorado would be enough to get Obama over the top, so McCain cannot afford to fall behind in this state. He would then be forced to play catch-up and have to pour resources to get on the offensive in blue states. But one blue state in which Obama looks surprisingly secure is Oregon, where he posts yet another double-digit lead today. As his margin has decreased in other blue states like Washington, Minnesota and Wisconsin, Obama has not trembled in Oregon. What does that say about Gordon Smith’s chances to survive his Senate race?

  • The day’s tracking have McCain regaining some of his footing: He continues to trail 48% to 42% in Research 2000, gains 1% in Gallup (Obama leads 47% to 44%), Rasmussen (a tie at 48%) and Diego Hotline (Obama leads 47% to 43%).
  • Obama leads 48% to 46% in an ARG national poll. McCain lead by 3% in a poll conducted last week.
  • Obama leads 51% to 44% in PPP’s poll of Colorado. He led by 1% in a poll taken two weeks ago. Palin’s favorability rating has collapsed, contributing to Obama’s gains.
  • The candidates are tied at 46% in an Insider Advantage poll of Ohio. McCain had a 1% edge last week. McCain’s support has decreased among independents.
  • Obama leads 50% to 46% in an ARG poll of Pennsylvania. Obama’s lead is just within the margin of error; McCain leads among independents.
  • Obama leads 52% to 41% in an ARG poll of Oregon.
  • Obama leads 56% to 39% in a Rasmussen poll of California. Last month, he “only” led 51% to 37%. Obama’s winning in margin here will be crucial to determining the popular vote winner.
  • McCain leads 53% to 41% in an ARG poll of Arkansas.
  • McCain leads 57% to 38% in a SUSA poll of Kentucky.
  • Obama leads 55% to 39% in an ARG poll of Massachusetts.

Meanwhile, in down-ballot polls:

  • Mark Udall leads 48% to 40% in PPP poll from the Colorado Senate race. He led by 6% in August.
  • Jeanne Shaheen only leads Sen. Sununu 48% to 44% in a UNH poll of New Hampshire.
  • Dueling polls in IL-11, where an internal poll for Democratic candidate Debbie Halvorson finds her leading 43% to 35%; an internal poll for Republican candidate Marty Ozinga finds Halvorson leading 38% to 36%, which is a 5% improvement for the Republican since August. In both polls, the trendline favors Ozinga.
  • In NY-26, an internal DCCC poll has Alice Kryzan leading Christopher Lee 39% to 29%, with 32% undecided. That the DCCC chose to release numbers in which undecideds are not pushed implies that the numbers would have been better for the Republican candidate if they had been.
  • In MN-01, Republican Brian Davis has taken the somewhat unusual step of releasing a poll in which he trails significantly. Democratic incumbent Tim Walz leads 50% to 32%.
  • In WI-08, an internal poll for the Gard campaign conducted by POS finds Democratic Rep. Kagen barely ahead, 46% to 45%. The margin was the same in a July poll.
  • In NH-02, surprising numbers from an internal poll for the Horn campaign, also conducted by POS. Rep. Hordes (usually favored to win re-election) only leads Jennifer Horn 43% to 39%.
  • Pat Roberts maintains a solid race in Rasmussen’s poll of the Kansas Senate race, 58% to 38%.
  • I will discuss this survey in more detail later, but Mitch McConnell’s lead has fallen to only 3% in SUSA’s latest release from Kentucky’s Senate race. He led by 12% last month.

It is always difficult to know what to make of internal polls, which is why it is helpful to have two internal surveys from the same district at once. Though the numbers are slightly different, the two polls from IL-11 are telling the same story, one that we have long known based on how much money the DCCC is pouring in this district: Debbie Halvorson was once a prized Democratic recruit, and IL-11 seemed in the bag for Democrats - but that is no longer the case. The DCCC has been pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars against Ozinga for months now, but Halvorson’s lead has decreased in the internals of both camps, which is never a good thing. Halvorson remains slightly favored, but the GOP can certainly still hope to save that seat.

In Colorado, this is the day’s second poll to find Udall’s lead in the high single-digits - pretty much where it has been for the past few months. As I said this morning, Udall has not closed the deal yet but given how static the race has been for months, Democrats should feel good about the race. As for New Hampshire, other recent polls have shown that Shaheen has maintained a high single-digits to low double-digits lead, and that Sununu has been unable to recover. The presidential match-up of this UNH poll was also more skewed towards McCain than usual, so it will be interesting to see other polling data from the state.

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