Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Getting Comfy with Obama

Nate Silver finds some evidence that Obama accomplished EXACTLY what we all said Obama needed to accomplish in the debates. He did not persuade many voters but he did make some of those already inclined to support him feel more comfortable about their choice. Perfect outcome for him.


McCain's Tongue Jut ... It's a Technical Term

… a phrase sure to enter the popular lexicon now that Colbert and Nate Silver have coined it. If you saw Colbert last night, you saw Colbert talking about McCain’s reptilian background. 538.com breaks down the significance. Brilliant:


The Fundamentals of Our Economy Are Strong

I’m convinced. Please stop saying it now.


Morning Polls

Is it possible that Obama has not yet peaked???

I must say I could not have imagined Obama’s lead getting bigger. And yet … Rasmussen went from Obama +5 to Obama +6. Hotline went from Obama +5 to Obama +6. R2000 went from Obama +9 to Obama +10. Gallup did move down from Obama +8 to Obama +6. More importantly, Obama is now ABOVE 50% in 2 of the polls (he’s at 51% in Rasmussen and R2000).

By the way, there is another tracking poll out there called the GW/Battleground Tracking Poll. It has been WAY out of step with the others, showing McCain with a consistent small lead for weeks now. Yesterday, they had McCain up by 2 nationally. Nate Silver had a fantastic column yesterday ripping into them for failing to weight by age (31% of their sample is in the 65+ age group despite the fact that just 19% of the electorate was from this group in 2004, for instance) and explaining why they are more off now than they have been before even though they’ve always used this flawed methodology. Anyway, even THEIR poll now shows Obama leading (up 2 nationally this morning).

A new PPP poll out in Florida has Obama +3. PPP is an odd polling organization in that they seem to have a Democratic lean in some states and seem to be spot on in others. During the primaries, PPP nailed the result perfectly in North Carolina and Wisconsin but they were way off in Pennsylvania. Still, this can’t be seen as anything but another encouraging result in Florida for Obama.

Consistent with all this, Bush’s approval rating in the Gallup Poll has dropped to a new low … 27%. Ouch. Nixon was in the mid-20s when he resigned in 1974. Suddenly, Nixon ain’t so bad!

Barack Obama has a new 2-minute ad on the economy he’s airing in some battleground states. It is a straight talk piece on the economy and it is good:


Also, John McCain seems to think Venezuela is in the Middle East:


Can you imagine if Barack Obama had made a verbal gaffe like that? What would the Republicans say?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Morning Polls

Gallup holds steady at Obama +8. Rasmussen goes from Obama +6 to Obama +5. R2000 goes from Obama +7 to Obama +9. Hotline remains steady at Obama +5. Importantly, Obama remains at or above 50% in 3 of the 4 trackers. Gallup – 50. Rasmussen – 50. R2000 – 51. Things look very stable (for now) at the national level.

A lot of state polls will be coming out today. Rasmussen alone will have polls from PA, OH, FL, VA, and CO. Morning Call has a PA poll out this morning showing Obama up by 7. He was up by 4 in the same poll a week ago. SurveyUSA has a poll out in Florida this morning. 11 days ago, they had McCain up by 6. Today, they have McCain up by just 1. Additionally, when you look behind the numbers at that poll, SurveyUSA has African-Americans going for Obama 79-21. I’m sorry but John McCain is NOT going to get 21% of the African-American vote in Florida. If he gets 10%, he’s having a spectacular day. So that state is likely a dead heat at best for McCain. We’ll see more polling there later today.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Matt Damon's a Genius

Remember Matt Damon said the Palin pick is like a bad Disney movie? Here is the trailer!


Morning Polls

The main trackers remain fairly steady today with one exception and that might give one the impression that not much has changed in the last few days. I think that perception is wrong. First, let’s get to the numbers:

Rasmussen remains at Obama +6. Hotline remains at Obama +5. R2000 goes from Obama +6 to Obama +7. But Gallup moves from Obama +5 to Obama +8. Three of the four trackers (Rasmussen, Gallup, and R2000) now have Obama at 50%, a key threshold given that some voters remain undecided in all the polls. Additionally, this is the first day all of the trackers include only data since John McCain “suspended” his campaign and it includes one night of post-debate interviews. It seems clear that, at a minimum, the debate has not had any positive effect for McCain. But I think the real key here was what happened on Wednesday and Thursday of last week. McCain’s widely-covered cancellation of his interview with Letterman, his hedging on whether he would show up for the debate, the perception that he created more trouble than anything else in the bailout negotiations, and the Palin/Couric interview would seem to be what is driving Obama’s numbers higher. Views of the candidates may well be hardening.

Again, this is the most consistent (very little variance between them) we’ve seen the four trackers all year and it is surely the highest average we’ve seen from all four trackers including the period following the Democratic Convention. I expect we’ll see new national polls coming out from the major networks in the next 24-48 hours and my guess is those will be positive numbers for Obama as well.

The Obama campaign would like to remind you that the Biden/Palin debate is on Thursday night and the McCain campaign would like to remind you that there will be some exciting postseason baseball action on television that night.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Morning Polls

More good news than bad news in today’s trackers. Rasmussen goes from Obama +5 to Obama +6 and Gallup goes from Obama +3 to Obama +5. Hotline goes from Obama +7 to Obama +5 and R2000 goes from Obama +5 to Obama +6. This is the most consistency we’ve seen from the four trackers throughout the campaign and is clear evidence of a real lead that Obama has now. Almost none of the data from these trackers is from after the debate last night so we’ll have to see what effect that has.

There are no new state polls out this morning (except for a Rasmussen poll in Iowa showing Obama up by 8 – I consider Iowa all but done at this point) but a few from late yesterday deserve mention. Rasmussen put a poll out in Virginia with Obama up by 5 and they had one out in Florida with McCain up by 1. Those are both unhappy results for McCain. Morning Call had a poll out showing Obama up by 4 in Pennsylvania. Good to see he’s up, but still too close for comfort. In other words, if Obama is up by 5 nationally, he should have more than a 4-point lead in PA. But those data are not likely compatible. We shall see.

All in all, we’re in good shape today.

Some Polling on the First Debate

Nate Silver breaks down some of the internals of the polling numbers on the debate. In sum, it seems it was a slightly better night for Barack Obama than it seemed to me when I watched it. He seems to have convinced some skeptical people that he’s ready to serve as Commander-in-Chief and he clearly (according to this limited polling data) connected with the economic concerns of the middle class better than McCain did. One of the interesting points that I’m ashamed to say didn’t strike me as important at the time was the discussion of the corporate tax. McCain, as you recall, made a big deal out of how corporate taxes are too high. Silver argues … who cares??? It may be sound economic policy to have lower corporate taxes and it might even help the little guy indirectly. But middle-class voters understand Obama’s argument about reducing personal income taxes for 95% of working Americans much more clearly and making the reduction of corporate taxes your big idea right at the moment when Peoria believes Wall Street is about to rip us all off with this bailout plan is kinda silly.

I’m feeling a little more optimistic several hours later than I was when the debate first ended. I thought then that the debate was about a wash. Now, I think Obama may have even strengthened his hand a little bit.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Tonight's Debate

My thoughts:

I think Obama did okay tonight. Not great, but not bad either. I think the single biggest mistake Obama made was to let McCain say over and over that Obama "doesn't understand" or is "naïve." The correct response after a while to that was the same as his response to the same critique from Hillary Clinton in the primaries. "I find it amusing that one of the architects of the worst foreign policy catastrophe in a generation would say that I don't understand or that I'm naïve. I got that right and John McCain got it wrong." He made this argument at one point but didn’t connect it to McCain calling him naïve and inexperienced. At the same time, is McCain really trying to convince more people that he’s more experienced than Obama? There are no more voters to be had there Johnnie. Anyone voting on the issue of experience is already with you.

But overall, I think this debate was a wash. McCain missed an opportunity in the sense that this debate was on his turf (foreign policy) and Obama looked plenty capable and knowledgable. On the other hand, McCain can only benefit from the debate and its aftermath becoming the story rather than the bailout, McCain’s bizarre behavior the last few days, and Palin’s disastrous interview with Couric.

McCain's Next 10 Stunts

Morning Polls

How do we say this? Here goes: “That was not a good idea Johnnie.” People do not like John McCain going to DC just to screw up the financial bailout negotiations. Actually, to quote Mike Huckabee, John McCain made a “huge mistake.” Seriously, he just said that.

Rasmussen tracker moves from Obama +3 to Obama +5. Hotline tracker moves from Obama +4 to Obama +7. Research 2000 tracker goes from Obama +6 to Obama +5. And Gallup? Gallup tracker goes from a tie to Obama +3.

The newest state polls do not look good for McCain either. A new R2000 poll in Missouri shows McCain’s lead down to 1 point. If Missouri is a tossup, McCain is WAY behind. Rasmussen and SUSA have Pennsylvania at an Obama lead of 4 and 6 respectively. New polls in Michigan have Obama up by 3, 8, 10, and 13. The 3 point lead is from Strategic Vision, a Republican polling firm that has a slight Republican lead in their polls (according to Nate Silver). The 13-point lead in MI is from Ann Selzer’s polling outfit, who Nate Silver had a conversation with yesterday and he published a fascinating piece on why her polls have been better for Obama than others. Very interesting read:


My favorite piece of news from the last 24 hours? The demand by Republican House members that the bailout package for Wall Street include a cut in the capital gains tax. That made me spit out my coffee laughing.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Must Read ...

… piece by Nate Silver describing some interesting polling methodology questions he posed to Ann Selzer


Morning Polls

“Stop the campaign … I wanna get off!!!”

That seems to have been the big campaign news item from yesterday. And from my initial read, it did not go over well for John McCain … with David Letterman who was not at all pleased that McCain canceled on him at the last minute to “race back to Washington to deal with the economy.” When Letterman found out during the taping of the show that McCain was, in fact, IN THE SAME BUILDING taping an interview with Katie Couric, he made a point of calling McCain out on it … repeatedly.

So what are the initial polling results telling us? Gallup went from Obama +3 to a tie. So I guess people like McCain more the less they see both candidates. Actually, Gallup says this about their results: “A night by night analysis of interviewing results, however, does not suggest that McCain had a dramatically better night against Obama on Wednesday. Instead, the data show that McCain has been doing slightly better for the last three days than he had in the previous week, and with some strong Obama days falling off of the rolling average.” “Stop the campaign,” cries McCain! Rasmussen went from Obama +2 to Obama +3 overnight. Hotline’s tracker went from Obama +6 to Obama +4. Research 2000 tracker went from Obama +4 to Obama +6.

At the state level, there are some mixed results from last night. In Maine, SurveyUSA has Obama up by just 5. That’s disappointing and a little worrisome since Maine splits its electoral votes by congressional district. It is hard to imagine Obama losing more than one of the four electoral votes there but losing one could happen and it could hurt (if this poll is right). In Michigan, EPIC-MRA has Obama up by 10 … and Mason Dixon has it tied. My read of recent polling there suggests it is more like a 3 or 4 point lead for Obama. CNN has it Obama +5 yesterday. In positive news, Rasmussen has Obama up by 2 in North Carolina. Yow! SurveyUSA has Obama up by 6 in Pennsylvania (that’s very welcome news) and has Obama up by 11 in Oregon … so take that off your list of battlegrounds. And Research2000 has Obama up by 6 in Wisconsin.

Obama is up with this spot on the economy in key battleground states. It is a straight talk-piece, it is direct and clear, and I love it. It is exactly what he should be doing. Perfect tone:


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Morning Polls

Today’s tracker updates are mostly positive for Obama. Rasmussen (which is the most stable of the 4 major trackers) moved from a tie to Obama +2 overnight. Gallup remained steady at Obama +3. Hotline moved from Obama +4 to Obama +6. Research 2000 went from Obama +6 to Obama +4. The big polling story at the national level is the ABC/Washington Post poll which has Obama up by 9 among likely voters (10 among registered voters). It is hard to find anything to worry about in that poll … except whether it is an outlier or a real measure of where the country is. Others do not have that kind of reading yet. NBC News/WSJ will be releasing their national poll tonight. If the ABC reading is accurate, McCain will have to go into full desperation (kitchen sink) mode immediately and that would affect the tone of Friday night’s debate.

Polling at the state level is a mixed bag today. Obama is solidifying leads in some states that used to be called battlegrounds like Iowa and Washington. The bad news is that there are 2 polls out showing Obama narrowly trailing in states he has to win. A Rasmussen poll in NH has him down by 2 and an MRG poll in MI has him down by 3. Marist also has a poll out in NH that has Obama up by 6 but I have a bit more faith in Rasmussen than Marist. As for the MI poll, I’ve never heard of this polling group and others have had Obama winning there by 4 – 5 points lately so I’m not sure I buy that one but we’ll see as more polls come out. There is also a Mason Dixon poll out in VA showing Obama down by 3 and that is not where we want to be. But others have that state different as well.

Finally, you heard it here first (maybe). Rick Davis, McCain’s Campaign Manager is going to have to go. I cannot imagine him staying with the campaign after the revelations in the NYTimes today that his firm (Davis Manafort – it is named for him) has been receiving $15K/month from Freddie Mac all the way up to last month … for no work in return. Every day Davis stays on the campaign, McCain’s campaign is going to be questioned about this. I can’t believe they haven’t fired him already.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Debate Swings

Nate Silver has a good piece up on his site about how debates affect poll results historically. His basic conclusion is that we are unlikely to see the race move substantially in either direction as a result of the debates.

I actually think there is much more potential upside for Obama here than McCain. I think the dynamic of the 1980 race is a somewhat useful analogy for 2008. People were ready for a change then but there were lingering worries about Reagan and his ability to manage a foreign policy crisis. His cool demeanor, etc., made it okay for voters to go with Reagan. I think the same will likely be true of Obama in the debates here. People are ready for a change but have lingering worries about his ability to manage a foreign policy crisis. On Friday, they’ll see a cool, collected, and knowledgeable person and that will allow them to feel more comfortable voting for change.


Morning Polls

The tracking polls are slipping a bit back in McCain’s direction. This is something I expected last week but it is not a big shift and Obama does appear to still have a small lead. Rasmussen has it tied and Hotline has slipped from Obama +5 to Obama +4. Gallup has moved from Obama +4 to Obama +3 and Research 2000 has remained the same at Obama +6. A new CNN national poll out last night has Obama up by 4. ARG (who I don’t trust very much) has a national poll out showing Obama up by 2.

But there is a LOT of good news for Obama in the state-level polling. Quinnipiac has 4 polls out in battlegrounds this morning and they have Obama winning in all 4 of them. The lead in Minnesota is closer than we’d like but the lead in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Colorado all look healthy.

Mason Dixon had a poll out in PA yesterday that showed Obama up by 2 there. It is a little disconcerting that PA is that close and that bears watching. But today Mason Dixon has a poll out in FL that also shows Obama up by 2 there. I figured Obama was down by 2 or 3 points in FL so this poll is a nice surprise. We’ll see in the coming days if other polls show a similar result

Yet another poll in Iowa shows a big lead for Obama this morning so I think it is safe to say Iowa and New Mexico are all but done. ARG has a few state polls out today (I said above I don’t trust their polls much) and the only really relevant one shows Obama up by 4 in Pennsylvania. That would be a decent result if accurate.

Finally, if you’re like me and you go to pollster.com frequently to see their electoral college map, you may notice a big difference this morning. They have moved FL and NC out of the “lean McCain” column and into tossup and they have moved MI and WI from tossup to “leaning Obama.” As a result, Obama has moved out to a lead in their electoral college map.

Just 42 days to the election. Keep working, keep donating, and make sure to move to a battleground state and get registered right away!



McCain 45, Obama 47

Obama +2



Obama 48, McCain 44

Obama +4



Obama 47, McCain 45

Obama +2



Obama 49, McCain 42

Obama +7



Obama 49, McCain 45

Obama +4

Monday, September 22, 2008

George Will ...

… goes right up to the edge of the precipice of endorsing Barack Obama here … because he thinks McCain has “lost his head.”


Morning Polls

Rasmussen and Gallup trackers both remained the same today (Gallup has Obama up by 4, Rasmussen has Obama up by 1). Gallup is a bit of a surprise to me as Thursday night (which Gallup explicitly stated was a very strong night for Obama) cycled out of today’s results. Research 2000 tracker went from Obama +7 to Obama +6. But the Hotline tracker went from Obama +1 to Obama +5 (sounds like it was a pretty strong night of polling for Obama last night in their poll).

But the big polling story today is one state-level poll. SurveyUSA, which I still consider to be the single most accurate public pollster, has a poll out today that has Obama up by 6 in Virginia. This is on the heels of a poll from PPP over the weekend in North Carolina that had them even in North Carolina. I said over the weekend that if that NC poll was right, then Obama would be up in Virginia. And poof … we have a deadly reading for McCain in Virginia. If McCain loses Virginia, it is really hard to see how he wins the election. Nate Silver currently has Obama as a 59% bet to win Virginia but he has not yet factored in this SurveyUSA poll (he weights their polls heavily based on their strong reputation). I’m sure he’ll discuss this poll in his daily poll update later today and I’m sure he’s going to see it as a significant development. Just to flesh out the argument I’ve made before, if Obama wins all the Kerry states plus Iowa and New Mexico (where he has good leads now), he’ll only need any one out of IN, OH, FL, NC, VA, or CO. A win in VA would likely mean lights out.

A Rasmussen poll in Minnesota has Obama up by 8 there. Other polls have had Minnesota close recently. Another Rasmussen poll in North Carolina has McCain up by 3 there, a result that would be in line with that PPP poll over the weekend.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


PPP has a poll out tonight showing NC dead even, 46-46. PPP is an up-and-down pollster. Sometimes right on the money (WI and NC in the primary spring to mind as high points), sometimes way off (I think I recall they showed Obama winning PA in the primary). So it is hard to figure what to think of this particular reading. I still think NC is a longshot but this certainly ain’t bad news. If NC is close, Obama is likely winning in VA right now. One piece of interesting supporting evidence for this poll is that Rasmussen has a poll out tonight showing McCain only ahead by 6 in SOUTH Carolina. We’ll see what other pollsters say in the days to come.


Morning Polls

Today’s trackers would appear to show what I thought we would see a couple of days ago … Obama’s surge in the polls has stalled. Gallup moved from Obama +6 to Obama +4, Hotline and Rasmussen both remain steady at Obama +1, Research 2000 moves from Obama +8 to Obama +7. I suspect tomorrow will see further erosion in the Gallup tracker as Thursday night’s strong polling for Obama will cycle out then.

We also see some good news/bad news in the state-level polling. On the upside, Research 2000 has a poll out in Florida showing Obama down by just 1 there. That would be good news if it is accurate. I think Obama is close there but I don’t know if he’s that close. A Miami Herald poll has Obama down just 2 in Florida though. Bottom line is that Obama is certainly in the game there and he is scheduled to spend some significant time in the Tampa area this week while preparing for the debate. So he’s surely in the game in FL. Also, a Research 2000 Iowa poll confirms what a poll showed last week – Obama has built a double-digit lead in the Hawkeye state (14 points in this new one). Taking Iowa and New Mexico out of play is a really key step forward for Obama as it allows him to win any ONE of a large number of battlegrounds to win the presidency. And I think he’s got NM and IA.

On the downside, a University of Cincinnati poll has Obama down 6 in Ohio. I don’t buy it. I could see Obama being down by 2 or 3 but not 6. And here’s some more reason to think it is nonsense. The poll was taken Sept. 12 to 16, including 3 days of interviews before the financial meltdown on Wall Street. Who releases a poll 5 days after you finish interviewing? Are they doing the math by hand?

The first debate is Friday night. Bumpy road ahead.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Polling Cellphones

Nate Silver has a good piece out on which pollsters are polling cellphones in addition to landlines and he estimates the effect of failing to poll cellphones. Interesting stuff. I hope he’s right on this though more pollsters are actually already polling cellphones than I would have guessed.


Morning Polls

The trackers continue to move in Obama’s direction today. Rasmussen moved from a tie to Obama +1 and Gallup moved from Obama +5 to Obama +6. The Hotline poll remained at Obama +1 and the Research 2000 poll moved from Obama +7 to Obama +8. It is also of interest that Obama hit the 50% mark in the Gallup tracker – a number he last hit for just one day in the immediate wake of the Democratic Convention and a number he has not exceeded at any point in the poll’s tracking. I am particularly surprised by this for two reasons:

1) The “what goes up, must come down” theory: I don’t think that any significant lead is going to be sustainable for weeks and weeks by either side. I hope I’m wrong and Obama is building a bigger lead than I had anticipated at this point. I still expect the lead to shrink in the coming days.

2) I believe in the theory that Friday nights are not good polling nights for Obama: Picture in your mind who the typical Obama voter is (urban, younger, unmarried, etc.) and who the typical McCain voter is (rural, older, married, etc.). Now, who is more likely to be home on a Friday night? For this reason, it seems to me that pollsters would get a disproportionate number of McCain voters in their samples on Friday nights.

Nevertheless, Obama continued to gain ground or hold steady when Friday night’s sample was included and Tuesday night’s sample (a good night for Obama for sure) was dropped out.

Two interesting pieces out on polling cellphones. Both estimate that some (only some) pollsters are shorting Obama’s polling results by failing to include cellphones. One by Nate Silver:


One by Mark Blumenthal:


Friday, September 19, 2008

McCain the Deregulator

McCain is eager to repeat in the health care sector what just happened in the housing sector!!!

That’s the change we need.

September 19, 2008, 7:24 pm

McCain on banking and health

OK, a correspondent directs me to John McCain’s article, Better Health Care at Lower Cost for Every American, in the Sept./Oct. issue of Contingencies, the magazine of the American Academy of Actuaries. You might want to be seated before reading this.

Here’s what McCain has to say about the wonders of market-based health reform:

Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation.

So McCain, who now poses as the scourge of Wall Street, was praising financial deregulation like 10 seconds ago — and promising that if we marketize health care, it will perform as well as the financial industry!

Morning Polls

The new Gallup tracker has Obama gaining a little more ground. He is now up by 5. I would have thought that his surge would be topping out about here (5 points) but the description from Gallup suggests there may be more room to grow. At the bottom of their daily update they say, “Obama enjoyed one of his widest advantages over McCain in Thursday night’s interviewing.”


The Rasmussen tracker remained steady with a tied race and the Research 2000 tracker continues to show a big lead for Obama (up by 7). Hotline has the race moving the other way Obama’s lead dropped from 4 to 1 overnight. Hard to see why that would be right though.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

McCain has the guts ...

… to stand up to Spain! Yes, Spain … a NATO ally. That Spain.

You know that McCain has criticized Barack Obama for being willing to meet with our enemies. Well, McCain means it … and that includes you, Spain! In an interview yesterday, McCain refused to commit to meeting with the Prime Minister of Spain. The surprised interviewer asked the question a few different ways. McCain would not budge. McCain’s team was asked today if he meant to say he would not commit to meeting with Prime Minister Zapatero and they confirmed this.

I am not making this up. Spain, you’re on notice!

Go get ‘em Johnny!


McCain Could Debate Himself ...

… and it would be interesting

From Taegan Goddard:

Quotes of the Day

"Two years ago, I warned that the oversight of Fannie and Freddie was terrible, that we were facing a crisis because of it, or certainly a serious problem."

-- Sen. John McCain, in an interview earlier today, via ABC News.

"So, I'd like to tell you that I did anticipate it, but I have to give you straight talk, I did not."

-- McCain, in an interview with Keene Sentinel on the mortgage crisis in December 2007.

Also, from Taegan Goddard:

McCain by Day, McCain by Night

Yesterday, Sen. John McCain "used an appearance before a blue-collar crowd near Youngstown, Ohio, to take a class-tinged shot at Barack Obama," according to Politico.

Said McCain: "He talks about siding with the people just before he flew off for a fundraiser in Hollywood with Barbra Streisand and his celebrity friends... Let me tell you, my friends, there's no place I'd rather be than right here with the working men and women of Ohio."

However, according to the Los Angeles Times, Sen. John McCain spent the previous night at the Intercontinental Hotel in Miami at a $50,000 per person Republican party fundraiser that raised over $5 million.

Also, from Taegan Goddard:

Quote of the Day

"It is a bad economy."

-- Sen. John McCain, quoted by Time, reversing himself after getting hammered yesterday for insisting the "fundamentals of our economy are strong."

Morning Polls

The trackers continue to move in Obama’s direction. I suspect tomorrow we may see this movement finally slow or stop as this is the third day of strong movement towards Obama. But we’ll see. For today, Gallup moved from Obama +2 to Obama +4 and Rasmussen moved from McCain +1 to a tie (Rasmussen is a more stable tracker because they weight by party ID so it moves less and more slowly). CBS/NYTimes has Obama up 5 nationally and a new Quinnipiac national poll has Obama up 4. So what does it all mean?

Simply put, it means Obama wins if the election were today. State polls have begun to reflect these changing tides. A new poll in Indiana has Obama up by 3. Not sure I quite buy that but it is likely very close there. One poll out in Florida yesterday (CNN) has Obama up by 4 when Nader and Barr are included. Again, not sure I buy that (SurveyUSA has McCain up 6 but a National Journal poll has them tied) but Obama is definitely in the mix there disputing the notion from some that Florida was gone. New polls in Ohio and Virginia and Colorado show competitive races in those states while a new poll in New Mexico shows Obama opening up a solid 8-point lead.

Taking all this together, we see a landscape that strongly favors Obama right now. Imagine for a moment it is Election Day and Obama wins every Kerry state and then picks up Iowa and New Mexico (very good bets). At that point, Obama would only have to win any ONE of Indiana, North Carolina (CNN poll shows Obama down by 1), Colorado, Virginia, Ohio, OR Florida. A more complicated path would be to win any two of Nevada, West Virginia, or Montana (which are all within the margin of error in polls yesterday). The point is that McCain is again in the position of trying to thread a needle right now. He HAS to win all of these states or Obama wins.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Morning Polls

As I said yesterday, the daily tracking numbers have been drifting in Obama’s direction in recent days and the last 48 hours have accelerated that trend. Obama just took his first lead in the Gallup Daily since the Republican Convention ended. He has led McCain in each of the last two nights’ samples and he’s got a great, new 2-minute ad out tonight that speaks directly to the American people on what he will do about the economy.

The wind is at Obama’s back again!


Here is the new ad:


And here’s today’s bonus. Sarah Palin points out our economy “needs some shakin’ up and some fixin.’”


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Obama/McCain Tax Plans

Obama’s tax plan cuts taxes for working Americans. McCain’s cuts taxes for wealthy Americans. It could not be more simple.



Morning Polls

The McCain bounce does continue to fade. I organized this really interesting forum at CSUN with a bunch of political consultants last night including Chris Kofinis, who appears regularly on Olberman (in fact, he talked to my class, raced to a studio to appear on Olberman, and then came back for my forum, cool!) and John Shallman, a local but well-known political consultant (he was the guy who engineered Loretta Sanchez’s famous upset of B1 Bob Dornan in 1996). Both Kofinis and Shallman had some really funny lines about how McCain saying “the fundamentals of our economy are strong” on a day when the market is crashing is like “Christmas for Democratic consultants.” They both predicted Obama that IF Obama capitalizes on this as he should and as he did yesterday with his attacks on this point, Obama would move back towards a small lead once the economic news and Obama’s renewed attacks is reflected in the polls.

Today, the trackers do seem to be moving Obama’s direction. Gallup moved from McCain +2 to McCain +1 overnight. Note what the update from Gallup says at the bottom though: “Monday night’s interviewing did show Obama doing better than he has been in recent updates, but it will take several days to see if he can sustain an improved position.”


Rasmussen and Hotline trackers also moved in Obama’s direction last night. Rasmussen went from McCain +2 to McCain +1. Hotline went from Obama +1 to Obama +4. Research 2000 held steady at Obama +4.

All this suggests, it is 1992 all over again in the sense that “it is the economy, stupid!” Obama’s got to hammer that issue and explain to average voters how they will be better off economically if he’s presidents (while reminding them they are worse off than they were 8 years ago).

Both Kofinis and Shallman also agreed that the debates, and especially the first debate, will be critical as voters see Obama sitting next to McCain and can take a measure of whether he makes them feel safe. That is the key test for Obama, they argue, as he wins on the issues but some people are just not sure he’s ready. The first debate is on foreign policy I think. If Obama seems steady there and looks presidential, they argue he’ll win.

Today is a good day!

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Fundamentals of Our Economy

This is a video clip from this morning of John McCain again saying that “the fundamentals of our economy are strong.”

I’m no economist but gas prices are high, banks are failing, home foreclosures are everywhere, unemployment is over 6% for the first time in a very, very long time, the trade deficit is out of control, the dollar is weak, and Wall Street is about as jittery as can be. But John McCain says, “the fundamentals of our economy are strong.”

He has uttered a lot of lies in recent weeks but this one has got to be the most ridiculous. See the video here:


Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying McCain should be trying to whip people up into a panic. But this response from McCain is a real window into the kind of president you can expect him to be. He will tell you this is just a function of the business cycle, that the “fundamentals are strong, and that the market will get itself out of this mess.” He will tell you that there is no role for government in regulating the businesses that got us into this situation and he will tell you the answer is to continue to cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans … ya know, to spur investment. Those are the same policies that have brought us to this place and they are the same “heck of a job Brownie!” policies you’ll get under a McCain presidency.

Morning Polls

The McCain bounce is REALLY slowly fading in all the trackers now. It is REALLY slow but it is happening I think.


1) The Rasmussen tracker went from McCain +3 to McCain +2.

2) The Research 2000 tracker went from Obama +2 to Obama +3.

3) The Gallup tracker has remained steady for several days now at McCain +2

4) The Hotline tracker isn’t out yet today but, yesterday, had Obama +2.

I think McCain still has a slight edge 1-2 points at the national level but Obama probably has a very slight edge in the Electoral College as much of McCain’s gains has come in deep red states. The playing field of battlegrounds has certainly shrunk but I do think we’ve weathered the worst of the convention/Palin storm. I am very encouraged by that SurveyUSA poll in Virginia. Let’s hope we see other state-level polls like that one. Another poll (Suffolk University) out in Ohio today shows McCain up by 4 there. Ohio is a must-win for McCain but not necessarily for Obama. Still, we remain in striking distance there.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Morning Polls

… slowly, slowly, Gallup Tracker is moving back towards even. Obama is now down 2 after being down 5 earlier this week. This is the kind of slow-fade of the convention bounce that Nate Silver had predicted. Here’s hoping it is accurate.


Friday, September 12, 2008

Morning Polls

The Gallup Tracker is moving slightly back towards Obama (went from McCain +4 to McCain +3) overnight and Rasmussen moved from the race being tied to McCain +3.

Let’s hope the Palin interview was viewed like we all saw it. Watching the media cover it this morning makes me feel like people didn’t see it like we did. They are all talking about how the questions were patronizing and that she seemed rehearsed but fine. I don’t even know who the people in this country are anymore.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Palin on Foreign Policy

Palin’s interview with Charlie Gibson was painful to watch – more painful to watch than it is to read it. It is absolutely clear she has NO idea what the Bush Doctrine is. It is REALLY scary to me that she could potentially be called upon to serve as President within months.


Matt Damon is a Genius

… my political views from Matt Damon. Seriously, this is a pretty good critique of the Palin pick from Jason Bourne:


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

That NC Poll

You probably saw that NC poll from SurveyUSA yesterday putting McCain up by 20 there. McCain surely leads in NC … but not by 20. A PPP poll out this morning has McCain up by 4. I don’t think PPP is as good as SurveyUSA generally but PPP was right on the spot in polling the NC primary.

Brian Schaffner has a good read on the situation:


Morning Polls

As I predicted yesterday, McCain’s bounce has now crested and is beginning to fade. Rasmussen Tracking had them tied nationally for 2 straight days and I predicted Obama would edge ahead today. Like clockwork, Obama is now ahead by 1 indicating a better night of polling last night for Obama. I think the bounce will further erode slowly but surely in the coming days. The Gallup Tracker is not out yet but had McCain up by 5 nationally for 2 straight days. I would be shocked if we don’t see that number come down in this morning’s tracker (usually released around 10AM PST).

Relax all. The Palin floodwaters are finally beginning to recede.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Morning Polls

I feel like the McCain bounce is just now starting to fade. NBC/Wall St. Journal poll has Obama up 1 nationally. Rasmussen (tied) and Gallup (McCain +5) both remained the same Tuesday morning. I bet they both move back in Obama’s direction (even if slightly) on Wednesday morning. We’ll see if I’m right when we all wake up.

Hope is on the way!!!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Morning Polls

Everyone settle down! The USA Today poll (McCain +10) was of likely voters and McCain is only up by 4 among registered voters (are we really taking USA Today seriously these days?). Likely voter screens are overly sensitive to short-term enthusiasm (like a convention bounce) and are silly to use at this early point (yeah, it is still early). 4 points is about a normal bounce I think will fade over the coming days. CNN has a new poll out showing the race unchanged since the middle of last week (still tied). I think CNN’s poll understated Obama’s support last week but this one might very, very slightly understate McCain’s support but, whatever, it is probably close.

Rasmussen tracker moved from tied to +1 McCain this morning (Thursday night cycled out of their numbers and Nate Silver had that as being a good night for Obama). The Gallup Tracker numbers show McCain moving from +3 to +5 but I really think that is going to be the near-term crest for him (tomorrow should stay the same or drop – there’s a prediction! You can see if I’m right tomorrow. Go ahead and panic if I’m wrong).

By the end of the week, things should setting into about a tie I think.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Morning Polls

Stay calm as you read the polls over the next few days!

McCain appears to have gotten his bounce (perhaps a slightly bigger one than Obama but we don’t know for sure yet).

This morning, both the Gallup Tracking Poll and the Rasmussen Tracking Poll moved substantially in McCain’s direction. There are several reasons not to let this worry you:

1) Polling on weekends (Friday and Saturday nights) is notoriously sketchy as it is harder to reach some kinds of respondents, etc.

2) The bounce that McCain received (AND the bounce Obama received) will fade. It ALWAYS does.

3) If you read Nate Silver’s piece on the single day effects on the tracking polls, you know that a very good night of polling (Weds. night) just cycled out of both of these samples and that explains a good chunk of McCain’s jump today.

Here’s Nate Silver’s take on where we are:


The reality is the race is close and it is currently fluid. But something will happen tomorrow or the next day that we haven’t anticipated and will shake up the race again … and again and again.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


“One of the things I like most about Sarah Palin is that she makes Americans feel like anyone can be President.”

- Anonymous delegate at the GOP Convention interviewed by Samantha Bee on the Daily Show

We Democrats have nothing to add to this description.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Walter Reed ... Middle School

So, if you watching McCain’s speech last night like I did, there was a point early in the speech where you were probably wondering, “what is that picture of a building behind McCain on the screen?” It looked to me, at first, like it was a mansion of some kind. It is not a readily-recognizable building and made a muddled message coming from the speech a tad more muddled.

Well, the blogosphere has been hard at work figuring out this mystery and it appears we have a (bizarre) answer. The image is of Walter Reed Middle School in North Hollywood, CA.

Now, while I’m sure the folks over at the WRMS (I am having shirts printed up) appreciate the free publicity, it begs the question, “what the hell is that about?” It seems to me the best guess is that some flunkie on the campaign was told to get an image of Walter Reed Hospital (pictured below) and mistakenly used Walter Reed Middle School.

I know McCain’s campaign is incompetent but, seriously, could this have really happened this way?

Here is Walter Reed Medical Center:

Old Walter Reed Hospital by tiz_herself.

From TPM:

Mystery Solved!

09.05.08 -- 2:39AM

By Josh Marshall

A lot of people were asking tonight: what the hell was that mansion up behind John McCain tonight during the first part of the speech? As I noted below, the TV close-ups only showed McCain's head against the grass in the picture, which made it look like he was reprising his famed green screen performance. And when they panned out, it looked like McCain was showing off one of his mansions.

Well, several readers have written in to tell me that the building is actually the main building on the campus of the Walter Reed Middle School in North Hollywood, California. And sure enough, this page on the school's website makes it pretty clear that they're correct.

You can compare below ...


So it's not a mansion, but a middle school. But that still doesn't answer the question of why they picked this picture to have him standing in front of -- when I would imagine that 99.9% of the US population would have no idea what they were looking at.

(ed.note: Thanks to TPM Readers JR and EK for cluing us in.)

Late Update: I'm surprised this hadn't occurred to me. But several readers have suggested that perhaps one of the tech geeks charged with setting up the audio/visual bells and whistles for the evening was tasked with getting pictures of Walter Reed Army Medical Center but goofed and got this instead. At first I thought, No, that's ridiculous. This is a major political party with big time professionals putting this together. Nothing is left to chance. I mean, is this the RNC or a scene out Spinal Tap or Waiting for Guffman? I still have a bit of a hard time believing they're quite that incompetent. But when you figure in what appears to be the utter lack of any logic for this school being behind McCain and the fact that it has 'Walter Reed' in its name, I'm really not sure you can discount this possibility.

(ed.note: Special bonus snark: That's not stock photo keyword searching we can believe in.)

Nate Silver Cracks the Trackers

Nate Silver, again, is a real genius. You may have noticed that the Rasmussen Tracking Poll shows a little bump for McCain today. But don’t over-read it. Silver points out that last night’s sample (which is all after Palin’s Wednesday night speech) still has Obama with a slight lead. The Gallup Tracking Poll just came out and shows a similar trend.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Crackin' a Trackin' Poll

There seems to be an unusually strong reaction in the trading markets this morning, with John McCain's stock at Intrade having gained 5 points, moving up to 44.7 percent. There are a number of reasons that trading markets can move, but I don't think it is warranted in reaction to the Rasmussen tracking poll alone, which today showed Barack Obama's lead diminishing from 5 points to 2.

The reason is that, as many of my commentators have pointed out, the movement was in part the result of a very good Obama night of interviews cycling out of the three-day rolling average. A while ago, I developed an algorithm for trying to extract the daily results for tracking polls from the rolling averages. I'll describe this methodology at more length when we have a bit more time to work with -- this is a slightly more difficult problem than it seems at first glance, and by no means is the method foolproof. But here is its best estimate of the results from individual nights' interviews in the Rasmussen tracking poll going back to Saturday the 22nd, when Joe Biden was officially rolled out as Barack Obama's VP:


Note that Monday night -- when Gustav dominated the news and the disclosure of Bristol Palin's pregnancy had broken -- was a very good night of polling for Obama, something which could easily enough be inferred because he moved up by 3 points in the rolling average that day. The algorithm estimates that the polling that day was Obama +11. But that day cycled out of the three-day rolling average today, meaning that Obama was liable to lose ground unless he had another equally huge night.

Our best estimate of the result from last night -- the first night in which voters had a chance to react to Sarah Palin's speech -- was Obama +2 (actually, Obama +1.7). That's down from his results for most of the past week or so, but not really that bad after what was supposed to be a huge emotional crescendo for the GOP.

Remember, moreover, as I've said many times, that a bounce is usually just a bounce -- meaning that it is something ephemeral which will fade fairly quickly. While the effects of various sorts of news events are difficult to disentangle from one another, I would guess that if McCain can't close to at least a rough tie in the tracking polls over the weekend, we will most likely see Obama a couple of points ahead by a week from today, once the race has a chance to stabilize a little bit.

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