Saturday, November 1, 2008

Morning Polls

With just 3 days to go, we are seeing the trackers start to converge around the same snapshot of where the race is. Gallup moves from Obama +9 to Obama +10. Rasmussen moves from Obama +4 to Obama +5 and Obama remains at 51%. Hotline remains at Obama +7 but the important news from this poll is that the race went from 48-41 to 51-44 overnight. Splitting up the undecideds (if that's what's happening) is obviously not what McCain needs to be doing with so little time left. R2000 moves from Obama +6 to Obama +7. Take a look at the estimates for each candidate in all the trackers (at least the ones I pay attention to - not much respect for Zogby and the others) below:

52-42 (Gallup - Expanded)
52-42 (Gallup - Traditional)
51-44 (Hotline)
51-44 (R2000)
51-46 (Rasmussen)

The point is these trackers are not disagreeing much with one another. The only place there is really any substantive disagreement is on McCain's level of support. This is not terribly surprising because McCain's support has been more "soft" for some time. So, what we're likely seeing among these pollsters is variation based on how hard the pollster presses these "leaning" voters. Obama has fewer of them and more "certain" supporters.

There are two other interesting tidbits in Gallup's write-up this morning. Gallup has just increased their estimate of voter turnout from 60% to 64% of eligible voters. That would put voter turnout at its highest level in decades ... and more turnout is certainly good news for Barack Obama. Secondly, Gallup estimates that 27% of registered voters have already voted! Wow. Remember that some states do not have early voting programs so the numbers are much, much higher in states that do. A very sizeable proportion of the vote is already locked in in some key states like Florida, North Carolina, Colorado, and Nevada and all indications are that Obama is winning in this early vote. We know this not only from the party registration breakdown of those who have voted early but also from Gallup's writeup. They say, "The vote choices of these early voters -- all of whom are included in the likely voter pool since they are definite voters -- skew more toward Barack Obama than the sample average." In other words, among the more than one quarter of voters who have already voted, Obama appears to be winning by MORE than 10 points nationally. Yow!

Some state polling:

Iowa (R2000) - Obama +14
Kentucky (R2000) - Obama +17
Minnesota (R2000) - Obama +15
Oregon (R2000) - Obama +16
Oregon (Rasmussen) - Obama +12
Pennsylvania (Muhlenberg) - Obama +8
Pennsylvania (Rasmussen) - Obama +4
Wisconsin (UW) - Obama +10
Wyoming (R2000) - McCain +25

There is some slightly good news in the state polling for John McCain in Pennsylvania. The slightly good news for McCain is that it is now clear the race in Pennsylvania has narrowed. The Muhlenberg tracker has clearly narrowed over several days. More importantly, Rasmussen's polls are worthy of more respect than the two pollsters who showed Pennsylvania narrowing in the last couple of days (Mason Dixon and Strategic Vision). But the reason it is only "slightly" good news is ... Obama does still lead by 4 and Obama's number is still at 51% in the poll. We have just 72 hours left for campaigning and John McCain does still need to pull some voters away from Obama to win the state.

None of the other state polling has any important news for us this morning. The truth is that, if everything holds the way it has been going, Obama doesn't need any of Florida, Ohio, or Pennsylvania to win because he's winning in Colorado, Virginia, and Nevada.

Let me repeat that. If Obama wins all the Kerry states EXCEPT Pennsylvania, but wins Virginia, Iowa, New Mexico, Colorado, and Nevada (and he has leads in all these states), Obama wins exactly 270 electoral votes. However, he is currently winning in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, and North Carolina and there remain other target states like Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota, Montana and yes ... Arizona.

If Obama wins any one of the big three (Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida), he'll win for sure. But he still has paths to victory without any of them. UPDATE: In case you think I'm making this up, here is Nate Silver's piece this morning basically making the same point about Pennsylvania - he calls it his "Pennsylvania Sanity Check" because so many readers are emailing him freaking out that Obama is only up by 4 there.

That's why McCain's hill is so hard to climb right now. Nate Silver has McCain's chances of winning down to 2.8% as of last night. That sounds about right to me.

3 days to go!!! Breathe in. Breathe out.

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