Thursday, October 23, 2008

Morning Polls

This morning features a wide array of polls that make you look, rub your eyes, look again, and then say, "I need to get some coffee." Let's start with the national trackers that are less "wild."

The Gallup Likely Voter Model II goes from Obama +8 to Obama +6 but it appears the drop is more the result of a good night from 4 days ago dropping out than things going bad last night. Rasmussen moves from Obama +6 to Obama +7. It is notable that Rasmussen has Obama doing better than Gallup because Rasmussen weights by party ID and is the more stable (or we might say, less sensitive) of the two. Hotline holds steady at Obama +5. R2000 holds steady at Obama +10.

Now, on to the state polls where we'll see the really wild stuff and let me just preface this by saying I don't have much regard for the Big 10 Battleground polls (they had some very wacky numbers in September) but I do have a high regard for Quinnipiac. Nate Silver provides his take of these polls here:

Texas (Rasmussen) - McCain +10
Pennsylvania (Muhlenberg) - Obama +10
Pennsylvania (Quinnipiac) - Obama +13
Pennsylvania (Big 10 Battleground) - Obama +11
Pennsylvania (National Journal) - Obama +10
Ohio (Big 10 Battleground) - Obama +12
Ohio (Quinnipiac) - Obama +14
Florida (Quinnipiac) - Obama +5
Michigan (Big 10 Battleground) - Obama +22
Minnesota (Big 10 Battleground) - Obama +19
Minnesota (National Journal) - Obama +10
Wisconsin (Big 10 Battleground) - Obama +13
Wisconsin (National Journal) - Obama +13
Iowa (Big 10 Battleground) - Obama +13
Indiana (Big 10 Battleground) - Obama +10
Illinois (Big 10 Battleground) - Obama +29
California (PPIC) - Obama +23

Okay. Let's start by pointing to some of the polls that strike us as a little less wild. The PPIC poll in California seems eminently reasonable to me. In 2004, John Kerry won in California by 9 points and the national polls are clearly about 10 points further in the Democrats direction right now. So, if California follows the nation, that puts the state about where this PPIC poll has it. The Texas poll from Rasmussen seems eminently reasonable as well.

The Pennsylvania numbers for both the Big 10 Battleground and the Quinnipiac polls seem to be about in line with other publicly-released polls including the Muhlenberg tracker and the National Journal poll out this morning. The Quinnipiac number in Florida seems a little bit better for Obama than where it seems the race is there right now but Nate Silver's numbers show Quinnipiac as having a 1-2 point Democratic lean anyway so if you shave a couple of points off that poll, it is not far off. I suspect Florida is about tied right now. Finally, the Big 10 Battleground numbers in Iowa and Wisconsin could be about right. I think Iowa is going to go for Obama, I think McCain is pulling out of Iowa in terms of media and I think Iowans know it. So I think Obama's lead in that state could easily be stretching to low double-digits like this. The same is true of Wisconsin. McCain appears to be pulling out of the state and this poll is not out of line with others in the state including the National Journal poll out this morning.

Now, in looking at the rest of these numbers, it is hard to pick out which is the most counterintuitive. I just don't think any of the rest of these numbers is absolutely correct but I'll discuss them in order from those I think are closest to being correct to those I think are the most off:

We start in Minnesota. Obama clearly leads in Minnesota and I think he probably leads by double digits. But 19? The argument for this being possible is that it seems McCain is pulling out of Minnesota too and I think there is every likelihood that the bonehead comments of Michele Bachmann in her race against Elwyn Tinklenberg (my favorite pastor in Minnesota's 6th congressional district) did not go over well statewide. I think she is now losing and it is possible it moved the statewide numbers to this kind of edge for Obama. I doubt it is quite this large but it is possible National Journal has Obama's lead at 10 and that seems plausible to me.

Next is Illinois. Nobody thinks Illinois will be close. It wouldn't be anyway but you add the home-state senator into the mix and it will be a blowout. 29 points? I think that's probably a bit high. But John Kerry won the state by 11 in 2004 so a margin above 20 points would not surprise anyone.

Next is Michigan. Obama clearly leads. He almost certainly leads by well into the double digits. But 22? Perhaps people there are still angry about how McCain so publicly pulled out of the state. Or maybe they're just angry. 22 seems high to me.

Next is Indiana. Big 10 Battleground has Obama up by 10 points. PPP had a poll out a few days ago with a much bigger sample size that had Obama up by 2. With PPP's slight Democratic lean, it seemed the race in Indiana was legitimately a tossup. Further evidence of a close race (or even a slight Obama lead) is the fact that McCain just made a significant ad buy in the state. But McCain wouldn't make a buy like that if he was down by 10 in the state. I think Obama may have moved into a slight lead there but not double digits.

Finally, there is Ohio. Big 10 Battleground has Obama up by 12. The thing that makes this hard to dismiss out of hand is that Quinnipiac has a poll out this morning showing Obama up by 14. What??? Quinnipiac is a good pollster though they have a slight Democratic lean. There are no other Ohio polls in this neighborhood. CNN/Time put an Ohio poll out yesterday showing Obama up by 4 but I thought THEY had a slight Democratic lean. If these polls are accurate, the race is just plain over. I don't think these polls are accurate.

Whatever we make of these polls, there isn't any bad news for Obama here. There are just 12 days to go and this is clearly NOT a sign that McCain is closing in but he is holding onto the lead in Texas ... so he's got that going for him.

No comments: