Archive for the 'PA-04' Category

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile, in down-the-ballot polls:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile, in down-the-ballot polls:

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

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

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

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

Congress: Dems could sweep House rematches, Stevens trial at critical point

House: It is typically a luxury to get three or four independent House polls a week, so who knew eleven would be released in the first few hours after I published my latest House ratings?

None contradict my ratings, especially when combined with other polling data we have from the district, but Democrats do get stunningly good news in SUSA’s collection of surveys from seven districts that are hosting rematches of the 2006 contest. Democrats lead in all seven (three of which are currently held by Republican), and all margins are outside of the MoE! This could be a sign that the bottom is falling out of the GOP’s prospects, for if Republicans can’t even make these seven districts remotely competitive, they are bracing for historic losses:

  • In IL-10, Dan Seals leads Rep. Kirk 52% to 44%. Obama leads 62% to 36%, 10% better than Kerry.
  • In IN-09, Rep. Hill leads Mike Sodrel 53% to 38%. He led by 11% in an early September poll. McCain leads by 2% after Bush won the district 59% to 40%.
  • In NC-08, Larry Kissell leads Rep. Hayes 49% to 41%, with 6% for libertarian Thomas Hill. Obama leads 53% to 44%, a huge swing from Bush’s 9% victory.
  • In NH-01, Rep. Shea-Porter leads Jeb Bradley 50% to 41%. Obama leads 52% to 45% (Bush won the district by 3%).
  • In NY-29, Eric Massa leads Rep. Kuhl 51% to 44%. Obama leads 49% to 47% (Bush won the district by 14%).
  • In PA-04, Rep. Altmire leads Melissa Hart 54% to 42%. McCain leads by 8% (Bush had won the district by 9%).
  • In WI-08, Rep. Kagen leads 54% to 43%. Obama leads 52% to 45%, a huge swing from Bush’s 9% victory.

All three of the GOP-held districts (IL-10, NC-08 and NY-29) are rated toss-ups in my ratings, and they correspond to other results we have seen as of late in internal Democratic polling. A survey released yesterday had Massa leading by 5% in NY-29 and another released last week had Kissell leading by 9% in NC-08. Meanwhile, PA-04 and IN-09 are rated lean Democratic, while NH-01 and WI-08 are rated toss-ups. Other polls have found Shea-Porter and Bradley locked in a dead heat.

That said, there is reason to be skeptical of some of these results based on the results of the presidential match-up. While it is not surprising to see a 17% swing in Indiana (Obama is now competitive in the Hoosier State after Kerry lost by 21%) or even a 10% swing in NH-01, since the last three statewide polls have shown Obama leading by double-digits, an 18% swing in NC-08 and especially a 16% swing in WI-08 are larger than we ought to believe.

Meanwhile, four other House polls were released over the past 12 hours. While they are less satisfying for Democrats, they still hint at big opportunities for the DCCC. The first three polls of Florida (all held by Republicans running for re-election) were conducted by Telemundo/Carlos McDonald, and they have a big margin of error (5.7%):

  • In FL-18, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen leads Annette Taddeo 48% to 35%.
  • In FL-21, Lincoln Diaz-Balart leads Raul Martinez 48% to 43%.
  • In FL-25, Mario Diaz-Balart leads Joe Garcia 43% to 41%.
  • In NM-01, a GOP-held open seat, Democrat Martin Heinrich leads Darren White 43% to 41% in a poll by the Albuquerque Journal.

FL-21 and FL-25 are both rated toss-ups, and both the Diaz-Balart brothers lead within the margin of error and are under 50% - confirming their vulnerability but suggesting also that they have not fallen behind as some of their colleagues. NM-01 is one of the hottest races around, and Democrats were hoping to put it away months ago. Darren White has proved to be a strong contender for Republicans, but can he overcome the year’s Democratic lean in a Democratic district? Obama is expected to do well in this district, and he could carry Heinrich with him.

Senate: The Ted Stevens trial reached a critical point yesterday when the prosecution played a tape recording of a phone conversation between Ted Stevens and chief prosecution witness Bill Allen, one of Stevens’ best friend who agreed to cooperate with investigators and let them record his conversation with the Senator. I am not following the details of the trial, and would be unable to say how convincing the Department of Justice’s evidence has been (and there is little doubt that the prosecution has not respected the defense’s rights), but this tape is certainly a key element of the case, as Stevens acknowledges his awareness that he could go to jail for his dealings with Allen.

Meanwhile, in Colorado, Mark Udall attempts humor in his latest ad rebutting Republican attacks. The ad begins with the Democrat telling viewers to be scared and run because “it’s Mark Udall” - and given some of the NRSC’s recent ads zooming in frightening shots of Udall, his imitation isn’t that far off. He proceeds to explain that he is kidding and urges voters to know better:


Republicans have not managed to hurt Udall enough that he feels compelled to answer specific charges being levelled at him (mostly, that he is a “Boulder liberal” with a leftist record), but it is a telling sign that he is now on the defensive. The Colorado Senate race has attracted a large number of independent groups, and the airwaves have become a hard-hitting free-for-all. But the polls have barely moved for over a year now: Udall is in a good position to win the race, and he hasn’t trailed in a single poll for months - but he hasn’t put it away either, and he has to be careful at not letting his negative ratings go up.

Poll watch: Both parties have results to celebrate

After two weeks of relatively few state polls, the pace has undoubtedly quickened and should continue to do so over the next two months. Given that the race is close, that means that both parties should have numbers to celebrate in each day’s polling wave, and today is a clear sign of that. With all eyes on NC after yesterday’s disastrous (but suspicious) SUSA poll, two new surveys from the state find the race remaining very tight; Obama can also be comforted by CNN surveys finding him ahead outside of the MoE in NH and MI, and by a curious poll finding a tighter-than-expected margin in WV. All these polls from crucial states were taken in the aftermath of the GOP convention but find little evidence of a McCain bounce.

But McCain has some good numbers as well, including a (narrow) lead in the crucial state of New Mexico, where most recent polls were finding Obama up by large margins, and surges in ND (where yesterday’s . He also posts leads outside of the MoE in MO and VA and gets dangerously close in Pennsylvania. Except for NM and ND (both polled by Rasmussen), the numbers are in line what we have been seeing through the summer and here again there is little post-convention shift at the level of the key battlegrounds.

Before going on to the full rundown, it is important to point out once again that McCain does seem to be enjoying a big bounce among independents. It’s now Fox News’s turn to find McCain jumping to a big lead in that group, and that happens because undecided independents made a choice rather than Obama bleeding support. In a sense, this should reassure Obama that the bounce certainly has the potential of fading - what group is more susceptible of changing its mind than independents who stopped being undecided in the immediate aftermath of a convention?

On to the long list of the day’s presidential polls, where Obama leads in every state won by Kerry in 2004 and McCain leads in every state won by Bush in 2004:

  • First, the trackings: Rasmussen finds the bounce fading, with Obama recapturing a small advantage, 48% to 47%; similarly, Diego-Hotline has the race back to a tie at 45% (the gender gap is shrinking on both sides, independents still favor McCain). Gallup, however, shows McCain’s lead holding at 5% for the third straight day, 48% to 43% - albeit the number of undecideds has slightly risen.
  • McCain leads 45% to 42% in a Fox News national poll taken Monday-Tuesday. This is largely due to a 16% bounce among independents. In August, indies broke 31-30 for Obama, now 46-31 for McCain. Also, independents are split when asked which ticket will bring more change to Washington, but a lot of them refuse to answer.
  • McCain leads 49% to 47% in the crucial state of New Mexico (polling history). This is McCain’s first lead in a Rasmussen poll. Obama led by 4% in August, 5% in July and 8% in June.
  • McCain leads 48% to 45% in another poll from North Carolina, an internal survey for the Perdue campaign. The survey’s partisan breakdown is 46% Dem, 35% Rep (that mirrors the actual numbers).
  • Obama leads 51% to 45% in a CNN poll of New Hampshire (polling history). This poll (like the 3 other CNN surveys listed below) was taken Sunday through Tuesday, in the aftermath of the GOP convention.
  • Obama leads 49% to 45% in a CNN poll of Michigan (polling history). A very worrisome sign for Obama, however, is that McCain leads by 18% in the Detroit suburbs that were the home of Reagan Democrats. Bush won those counties by 1%.
  • McCain leads 50% to 46% in a CNN poll of Virginia (polling history). This is his biggest lead since May… though it’s a narrow one. Very interestingly, Obama does much better than Kerry in the Norfolk area, but not in Northern Virginia - that’s obviously the region Obama needs to build up margins, and given the elections in 05 and 06 he is likely to do so.
  • McCain leads 55% to 41% in a Rasmussen poll of North Dakota. This is a big jump (they were tied in July), just as in Montana yesterday.
  • McCain leads 44% to 39% in a MBE poll of West Virginia. I have not heard of this group; the only other recent WV poll is a Rasmussen survey from early June that found McCain leading by 8%.
  • McCain leads 64% to 33% in Rasmussen’s first post-Palin poll from Alaska.

It is striking that the tightest numbers from a blue state come from Pennsylvania and not from Michigan and New Hampshire; it will be very interesting to see whether other surveys find a similar tightening in the Keystone State, and whether we are back to the familiar situation of PA looking more crucial than MI.

It will also be crucial to find out whether McCain can capitalize on his gains in North Dakota and New Mexico. The latter was moved in the lean Obama category in my latest ratings, and Democrats were hoping to feel relatively confident about that state and Iowa. While Virginia’s numbers are also troubling for Obama, they remain tight and two other polls released in the past two days find the race well within the MoE.

Finally, this leaves us with North Carolina. All polls have shown a 2-5% race for months now, and here two more polls find the same margin. The key difference with SUSA’s poll is the partisan breakdown. PPP and the Perdue poll have a large advantage for Democrats while SUSA had shown a massive shift towards the GOP for a 41-40 edge. But Democrats do actually dominate the state’s registration numbers: 45.3% of voters are registered Democrats, 32.7% are registered Republicans. If the GOP can over-perform, it would certainly be in a strong position but we will need to see more evidence of that.

Meanwhile, in down-the-ballot polls:

  • Three polls from North Carolina’s gubernatorial race. In the suspicious SUSA survey, Pat McCrory leads Beverly Perdue 49% to 41% - his first lead. In PPP’s latest poll, Perdue gets 41% to McCrory’s 40%. And in Perdue’s internal poll, she leads 46% to 40%.
  • Three polls as well from North Carolina’s Senate race (polling history). In SUSA, Dole retains an advantage, 48% to 40%. In PPP, Hagan is up 43% to 42%. (PPP’s previous survey released two weeks ago found Hagan leading by 3%.) In Perdue’s internal poll, Dole is up 48% to 46%.
  • In Alaska, yet another poll finds Ted Stevens climbing back (polling history). Rasmussen shows that he is within 2% of Mark Begich (48% to 46%) after trailing by 9% right before his indictment and 13% right after.
  • In New Mexico, Rasmussen continues to show tightening results in the Senate race. Tom Udall now leads Steve Pearce 51% to 44%. The 10% lead Rasmussen had found in mid-August was already considered a disappointing result for Udall.
  • In the Oklahoma Senate race, Jim Inhofe crushes Andrew Rice, 56% to 34%.
  • In Washington’s gubernatorial race, Dino Rossi has his first lead in many months in SUSA’s latest polling, 48% to 47%.
  • In PA-04, an internal poll for the Hart campaign shows the former Republican congresswoman trailing 49% to 44% against current Rep. Jason Altmire.

Here again, it is hard to know what to make of the NC polls, though we can probably agree that both the gubernatorial and senatorial races are presently too close to call. In Alaska, this is now the third poll to find a significant Stevens bounce, and it does look like that race is once again too close to call. But the result of that match-up is almost entirely dependent on Stevens’ trial, which will be starting shortly.

Also, PA-04 is rated toss-up in my latest House ratings, and for an incumbent to be under 50% is always sign of trouble (though less so when the challenger is a well-known former representative). New Mexico’s Senate also is showing interesting trendlines, though Rasmussen is the only pollster to find that Udall might not be as favored as he used to be. Remember that the NRSC looked to be pulling the plug on Pearce two weeks ago.

Poll watch: In convention aftermath, McCain surges in NC and MT but national NBC finds dead heat

Update: SUSA’s poll also tested North Carolina’s gubernatorial match-up and finds Pat McCrory leading by 8%, which is out of line with every single poll we have seen of this race. This suggests that (1) there might be a problem with the sample/partisan breakdown or (2) that the past 10 days have so improved the GOP brand that they are posting gains up and down the ballot. But this much of a shift is not being picked up by any other polls, so the fact that McCrory is so far ahead makes me doubt that option 2 could manifest itself this clearly already. All of this only ups the stakes for polls to come in the coming days (and PPP has gone in the field in North Carolina to test SUSA’s survey).

Original post: This morning, Gallup released a breakdown of its tracking results by partisan affiliation, revealing that McCain’s boost had been powered by a massive surge among independents. McCain’s 15% lead was much higher than any margin either candidate had enjoyed since the beginning of Gallup’s trackings. Other national polls - CBS and ABC - showed McCain gaining an advantage among independents.

Now, a North Carolina poll is finding two significant shifts that are boosting McCain. First the Republican is surging among independents; second, the partisan breakdown has dramatically shifted to go back to what it was in 2004. Other polls have also found an increase in the proportion of self-identified Republicans. If this does not fade in upcoming polls, it would make a huge difference in our assumptions about the election.

However, and before Democrats panic, these are the kinds of changes that are directly related to the GOP convention, and thus the kinds of changes that might fade once the bounce phase is over. The GOP hopes that the Palin boost will keep partisan identification and independent allegiances where it is now; Democrats hope that Obama hammering McCain with “more of the same” ads and focusing on the economy will tamper GOP enthusiasm and shift numbers back. We will know more about this in the coming week.

In any case, these changes allow McCain to capture his first double-digit lead in NC since January - and a big one at that, twenty percent. Keep in mind that the poll was taken Saturday to Monday, in the immediate post-convention aftermath, so we will certainly have to wait for a poll to be taken at another time before drawing conclusions. But another poll from a red state - Montana - also finds McCain surging ahead for the first time of the campaign, suggesting that the convention and the Palin pick might have allowed him to boost his position in red state by solidifying and exciting his base.

Indeed, it is noteworthy that the numbers in battleground states are staying much more stable than in red states right now. If that means that most of McCain’s bounce is concentrated on places he should have won but was underperforming, that could be fine for Democrats: while they ought to feel frustrated if they lose their opening in MT and NC, those states are nowhere as important as CO, FL, OH, VA, and NV.

All of this is to say that there is much for McCain supporters to be excited about over the past two days, but Obama backers should certainly not panic until there are signs that McCain’s bounce is here to stay. I repeat: McCain should be very happy with his bounce but we should wait a few more days and a few more polls before writing states off and drawing big conclusions. After all, remember that there almost no state polls taken in the immediate aftermath of the Denver convention. Here’s today’s full rundown:

  • In the day’s most important national poll, NBC News/WSJ finds McCain closing the gap with Obama but not as much as other surveys have found. The survey was taken Saturday through Monday and has Obama up (well within the margin of error) 46% to 45%. In August, the margin was 3%.
  • Both candidates get about 90% of their base. Republicans are three times more enthusiastic than they were in July. Obama’s lead among women is down to 4%, but one strange statistic: McCain leads among women 18-49! 52% of respondents say Obama would bring real change, versus 35% for McCain. That is an improvement over the 21% he got in June, but it shows the challenge of McCain’s suddenly running on a platform of change.
  • Today’s tracking polls: Rasmussen is back to its Sunday result (a tie), Gallup does not move since yesterday (49% to 44% for McCain) and Diego Hotline has McCain leading by 1%.
  • ARG’s national poll has Obama at 47% and McCain at 46%. The poll was taken Saturday through Monday and shows a 5% gain for McCain. Almost all the change comes from registered Democrats, where Obama is back under 80%.
  • In what is the day’s biggest shocker, SUSA finds McCain jumping to a huge lead in North Carolina, 58% to 38%. This is primarily due to Obama’s collapse among independents - he now trails by 25% among those voters - as well as a shift in partisan identification. It was 46% Democratic, 33% Republican last month; now, it’s 41% Rep, 40% Dem - the same as 2004. If that shift is confirmed in the coming weeks, it would be a dramatic change whose impact cannot be overstated.
  • Another important poll comes from Montana, where Rasmussen finds McCain surging to his first double-digit lead, 53% to 42%. The state was tied last month. This poll was taken on Monday night.
  • In Florida (polling history), PPP finds a slight improvement for McCain, whose lead is now outside of the MoE, 50% to 45% (McCain led by 3% last month). The big shift has occurred among white voters, as undecideds are breaking McCain’s way and as he is now leading 61% to 34% among that group. The sample is more Republican than last month’s (+2 instead of -3) and in line with the 2004 exit poll.
  • In Michigan (polling history), Strategic Vision finds a 1% race, 45% to 44%. It’s SV’s first poll from the state.
  • In Wisconsin (polling history), Strategic Vision shows Obama’s lead tightening to 46% to 43%. Last month, Obama led by 5%. This is Obama’s smallest lead in the state since he got the nomination.
  • In New Jersey, Farleigh Dickinson finds Obama leading 47% to 41% - a bounce for McCain from the 49% to 33% margin in June.
  • No surprises in SUSA’s Oklahoma poll, as McCain crushes Obama 65% to 32%.
  • Finally, a new IBD/TIPP national poll finds Obama leading 45% to 40%. I am putting this one last because this survey was taken from last Tuesday through Saturday - so it is older than much of hte polls we have been seeing.

Just like yesterday, most polls from key battleground states show little movement, though McCain is posting small gains in a number of them - Florida, Michigan and Wisconsin. The Montana North Carolina polls are of course the exception, and if McCain can keep up his gains in them it would be a huge relief for Republicans. Apart from that, the list of battlegrounds is looking to be the same as ever, and we will be keeping an eye on Wisconsin, where Strategic Vision typically posts narrower numbers than other polling outlets.

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