Tuesday, October 21, 2008

"Morning" Polls

I put "morning" in those sarcastic air quotes because I am not posting this in the morning and some of these polls have come out late today. Regardless, here it is - a massive data dump all at once.

The overall takeaway here is that I to see the continued narrowing that Nate Silver says he sees (though he hasn't posted his take on today's data yet). The race did narrow last week but, since Saturday or so, things seem very stable to me and Obama never really dropped below the 50% threshold in the trackers I consider most useful (Rasmussen and Gallup). The lead is smaller than it was a week ago but not by much and I am not seeing continued movement in McCain's direction.

At the national level, this was a good morning for Obama in the trackers. Gallup Likely Voter II Model goes from Obama +9 to Obama +10. Rasmussen holds steady at Obama +4 but he's still at 50% there. Hotline moves from Obama +5 to Obama +6 and R2000, which had narrowed considerably, holds steady at Obama +8 though his overnight sample last night was his best in about 5 days. The ABC/WP tracker holds steady at Obama +9. Meanwhile, Pew has a national poll out that puts Obama up by 14 (not a typo) and NBC/WSJ has a national poll out that puts Obama up by 10 (in fact, the numbers in this poll are EXACTLY the same as the Gallup tracker - 52-42 for Obama over McCain). Ipsos has Obama up by 8 nationally.

The state polling out this afternoon looks like this:

Colorado (Insider Advantage) - Obama +5
West Virginia (Rasmussen) - McCain +9
South Carolina (Rasmussen) - McCain +11
North Carolina (Insider Advantage) - Obama +1
North Carolina (SurveyUSA) - Tied
North Carolina (Civitas) - Obama +3
Indiana (PPP) - Obama +2
Kentucky (SurveyUSA) - McCain +13
Oklahoma (SurveyUSA) - McCain +24
Oklahoma (TvPoll.com) - McCain +31
Wyoming (SurveyUSA) - McCain +21
Wyoming (Mason Dixon) - McCain +26
Florida (PPP) - Obama +1
Pennsylvania (Muhlenberg) - Obama +10
New Jersey (Quinnipiac) - Obama +23
New Jersey (Monmouth) - Obama +17
Illinois (Chicago Tribune) - Obama +24
Nevada (Insider Advantage) - Tied
Vermont (Macro) - Obama +22

So, what are we to make of all this? We could start to digest all this by picking out the state poll with the single best piece of news for each side. The PPP poll in Indiana is very good news for Obama. It is another red state that is in play and PPP actually has him in the lead. Now, I defy you to find a single piece of good news in all this from the McCain campaign's perspective. I guess you could say it is good news he's tied (according to SurveyUSA only but they are good) in North Carolina. But, if you had told John McCain 2 years ago that "the good news is you're tied in North Carolina with 2 weeks to go!" he might have decided against running. That's really bad "good" news.

A different way to look at all these numbers is to try to determine a trend. It does seem that McCain has narrowed the gap in many key battleground states like Florida, Colorado, and Nevada. But take another long look. How many states on that list above are states John Kerry won in 2004? Vermont, Illinois, New Jersey, Pennsylvania. That's it. And Obama's lead is at least 10 points in all four. Now, according to John King of CNN yesterday, the McCain campaign is planning to break through and pull an upset in Pennsylvania and, indeed, McCain himself was campaigning in Pennsylvania today. Take a look at the RCP log of Pennsylvania polls. There, you'll find that John McCain has not led in ANY publicly-released poll since April. In October, John McCain has not been closer than 8 points behind in any publicly-released poll. Maybe he has secret numbers that look better, but I doubt it.

Update: I take it all back. John McCain is sure to win Pennsylvania with soaring oratory like this:

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