Presidential Race Maps Writing on the Wall

Check Out VOICES ON THE GROUND!

Posted Sep 30, 2008 at 2:06 PM by Maurice Berger

Don't forget to check out our newest feature: Voices on the Ground. Voices is our public forum for observations and images (including photographs and YouTube content) about Election 2008. It's another way that PollTrack lives up to its motto of tracking the election from the ground up. Keep your eyes and ears open--and let us know what you see or hear in your community (or in your travels).

Today's Map: Indiana Returns To "Leaning Republican"

Posted Sep 30, 2008 at 1:59 PM by Maurice Berger

Based on a recent modest up tick in John McCain's numbers in the state (which had been sagging recently), PollTrack moves Indiana back into the "Leaning Republican" column on Today's Map.

Third Party Candidates: Can They Swing This Election?

Posted Sep 30, 2008 at 11:22 AM by Maurice Berger

On our new Voices on the Ground page, reader Oliver Wasow asks about the Barr/Nader factor and whether third party candidates can make a difference in this election. While Ralph Nader and Bob Barr are barely registering in national polls--their PollTrack averages are 3% and 1.5% respectively--they can make a difference in this election. Take the new ABC News/Washington Post Poll released this evening: Obama 50% to McCain 46%, a net plus of 4% for Obama. Add in the two third party candidates, and the numbers change subtly, but significantly: Obama 48%, McCain 45%, Nader 3%, Barr 2%. There is no guarantee that Nader and Barr will continue to draw the same level of support on election day; but the reverse is also true--their numbers could increase. If the election draws closer again--keep in mind, that the three point margin for Obama is within the poll's margin of error--third party candidates could draw away enough votes from the Democrat or Republican to swing a very close state or two.

Sarah Palin: A Liability Or An Asset?

Posted Sep 30, 2008 at 8:47 AM by Maurice Berger

The PPP survey released today in Florida (see below) had another significant finding that mirrors a number of other statewide polls across the nation in recent days--Sarah Palin's popularity is faltering: "Palin's net favorability with Florida voters has dropped 12 points over the last three weeks," the survey reports. Is this another reason for the decline in McCain's numbers? Palin's debate performance seems crucial: it could either further her decline with voters or give her (and the ticket) a boost, after a bad week. One thing is certain: the Alaska governor remains popular with Evangelical and conservative Christian voters as well as other sectors of the Republican base. Her success with this constituency is crucial to the success of the ticket in November. But will Palin continue to appeal to the all-important independent demographic or to working class white women? And, in the end, will voter perceptions about her have any demonstrative effect on the election? 

Florida: It Could Be The Economy

Posted Sep 30, 2008 at 6:35 AM by Maurice Berger

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Florida suggests that the faltering economy is helping Obama in the state, who now leads by 3% (PollTrack's average still gives McCain a minute +0.03% lead): "64% of Floridians surveyed say the economy is their top issue, and Obama has a 55-40 lead with those voters. In a January PPP poll just 26% of voters in the state said they were most concerned with the economy. The events of the last few weeks seem in particular to have helped move independents into the Obama camp. Three weeks ago the candidates were tied, now Obama has a 48-40 advantage with those voters."

Tomorrow's Map: Florida Now "Too Close To Call"

Posted Sep 30, 2008 at 4:56 AM by Maurice Berger

With the most recent polls in Florida indicating a tie--and McCain's average lead in the state withering down to a tiny +0.3%--PollTrack moves FL from "Leaning Republican" to "Too Close To Call" on Tomorrow's Map.

New Election Day Map Projection: Obama-269, McCain-225

Posted Sep 30, 2008 at 3:55 AM by Maurice Berger

PollTrack has new a new projection for its Election Day Map: Obama 269/McCain 225. Our long-term prediction now sees Virgina, Florida, and New Hampshire as "Too Close To Call."

What About Those Clinton Voters?

Posted Sep 30, 2008 at 2:36 AM by Maurice Berger

In a bit of news that seems antithetical to Obama's improving poll numbers, a statewide poll released yesterday by Middle Tennessee State University reports that Democrat is still having a problem winning over voters who supported Hillary Clinton in Tennessee's primary back in February. If the election remains close, this "Clinton gap" could spell trouble for the Democrat. MTSU observes: "The McCain campaign seems to have had modest success at attracting supporters of former Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, whom 22 percent of Tennesseans say they voted for in the Democratic primary. A quarter of those who voted for the junior senator from New York in Tennessee’s Democratic presidential primary say that they would now vote for McCain and Palin in the general election. However, 56 percent of those who report that they voted for Clinton in the primary say that they would now vote for Obama and Biden. The rest of Clinton’s supporters remain undecided at this point or say they would vote for someone other than McCain or Obama." Overall, McCain's PollTrack average in the state is a healthy +14%.

Virginia: Another Red Flag For McCain

Posted Sep 30, 2008 at 1:09 AM by Maurice Berger

In another sign that McCain may be having trouble holding onto to traditional Republican territory, the PollTrack average for Virginia now shows Obama with a tiny lead of +1.4%. Though very small, the Democrat's advantage means something in a state that has voted Republican in every presidential cycle since 1964 (Lyndon Johnson won the state that year in an electoral landslide against Republican Barry Goldwater).

North Carolina: It's The Economy

Posted Sep 29, 2008 at 11:55 AM by Maurice Berger

A Public Policy Polling survey, released this afternoon, reveals one important reason for Obama's dramatic upswing in North Carolina: the economy. The poll found that, "over the last year there's been a strong relationship between the number of North Carolinians listing the economy as their biggest concern, and Obama's standing in the polls. In January when just 39% of voters said it was their biggest issue John McCain led by 14 points. In August with it up to 48% Obama trailed by just three. Last week with 58% listing it number one the race was tied, and now with the number up to a record 64% Obama has taken a small lead. He is up 55-38 among respondents citing the economy as their main concern."

North Carolina: A Warning Sign For The McCain Campaign?

Posted Sep 29, 2008 at 8:14 AM by Maurice Berger

Obama has pulled ahead in PollTrack's average for North Carolina, albeit by a tiny (and statistically insignificant) lead of +0.7%. What is significant, however, is that McCain's lead in the state two weeks ago was strong enough to fall into the "Safe Republican" category. Last week was, indeed, brutal for the Arizona Senator. NC should be easy Republican turf, so any movement towards the blue zone, even to this very slight degree, is a real warning sign for the McCain campaign.

Today's Map: Movement Towards Obama in Pennsylvania

Posted Sep 29, 2008 at 7:31 AM by Maurice Berger

With a slew of recent polls indicating a average lead for Obama of +4.8%, PollTrack moves the state from "Too Close To Call" to "Leaning Democrat" on Today's Map.

Obama's Daily Tracking Poll Average Drops Back A Bit

Posted Sep 29, 2008 at 7:02 AM by Maurice Berger

Today's daily tracking poll average shows Obama up by 4%, a drop of 2.3 from yesterday. What does this mean? Perhaps nothing. Rolling samples taken mostly over the weekend are often unreliable, since its harder to capture representative samples as leisure-time activities draw large blocs of voters out of the home (and away from pollsters' phone calls). It could be the inclusion of the GW/Battleground daily tracker in today's average--a poll not issued on Saturday or Sunday--that is driving the Democrat's numbers slightly downward. (The poll has consistently given McCain a modest lead of 1% to 2% over the past week, contradicting other surveys. The pollster's models for likelihood of turnout and party affiliation and enthusiasm may be responsible for this variation.) Or is the bloc of undecided voters--that 8% to 12% of the electorate now in the middle--fluid and therefor easily impressed by shifting news events or campaign strategies? In a few days, these samples may settle into something approximating a trend. Or not. Stay tuned.

Will The Economic Crisis Have A Lasting Effect On Election 2008?

Posted Sep 29, 2008 at 1:47 AM by Maurice Berger

Yesterday's PollTrack daily tracking average gave Obama a significant 6.3% edge. These results suggest that last week was a bad one for John McCain. His assertion that the "fundamentals of the economy are strong"--just days before the full gravity of our economic crisis became clear did not help his numbers. Surveys last week also indicated that the electorate is inclined to blame Republicans for the economic mess. Additionally, Sarah Palin took a hammering in the media as did McCain's effort to suspend his campaign. The big question: has the economic crisis--and McCain's response to it--provided Obama with an opening? Do Obama's numbers indicate that the tide is turning in election 2008? Or will the pendulum swing back in the coming weeks? October is a tricky month in presidential campaigns, a time when voter sentiment can harden, but also a period in which the debates, political strategies, and unexpected news events have made a difference (to wit, the expression, "October Surprise"). Al Gore began October 2000 with an large deficit in the polls. By month's end, he was tied with his opponent, winning 500,000 more votes than George W. Bush on election day. Conversely, in October 1988, a series of withering Republican campaign commercials and weak debate performances by Democrat Michael Dukakis resulted in a durable Republican advantage that carried George H. W. Bush well across the finish line. Yet, in 1980, the one--and only debate--between Reagan and Carter in late October shook up a heretofore tied up race and yielded the Republican a stable and significant lead. One major qualifier: US presidential elections are not decided by the popular vote (as 2000 dramatically confirmed). In this sense, neither candidate has come anywhere near sealing the deal. In fact, from an electoral perspective, the race is closer to a tie than Obama's modest national lead might suggest. More later.

Bloomberg/LA Times Poll: First Debate Did Little To Alter Race

Posted Sep 29, 2008 at 12:49 AM by Maurice Berger

According to a poll released last night by Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times, last Thursday's presidential debate "changed the preferences of few voters, reinforcing previous perceptions about the candidates' strengths and continuing to give Sen. Barack Obama an advantage over Sen. John McCain. . . .  Obama scored much higher among these voters on the economy, as he did in a national poll last week, and McCain reaffirmed the perception that he is better on national security." Several other polls released on Sunday suggested that voters, by varying margins, gave the debate win to the Democrat. What effect these perceptions will have on the election is unclear.

Tomorrow's Map: Michigan Trending Democrat

Posted Sep 28, 2008 at 9:14 AM by Maurice Berger

As last week drew to a close, the state of Michigan began to show signs of life for Obama. PollTrack moves the state from "Too Close to Call" to "Leaning Democrat" on Tomorrow's Map, thus concluding that the recent statewide trend towards the Democrat (as reported this morning) may continue this week.

Five Weeks Out: Who Is In A Better Position To Win?

Posted Sep 28, 2008 at 2:28 AM by Maurice Berger

PollTrack's state-by-state analysis of the electoral map suggests that Obama is now in a better position to reach 270 electoral votes. Why? Because most of the states that are now rated "Too Close To Call" have gone Republican in recent cycles (FL, VA, IN, OH, CO, NV, NC) versus two that have gone blue (MN, PA) and one more that has flipped in the last two presidential races (NH). Furthermore, at this point, Obama is in a slightly better position in the two blue swing states than McCain is in most of the red, where the Republican now leads in six, but by just a few points, and trails in the seventh (CO). This suggests--at this point in time--that Obama is having an easier time holding onto his turf than McCain. Can this electoral equation shift? Absolutely, and did in the weeks following the Republican convention, when McCain pulled into the stronger position. The danger for McCain, however, is that the race has returned, more or less, to pre-convention numbers that had remained stable since June. In other words, with the race back to where it was--with Obama holding a modest but discernible lead--it is possible that the wave of support that the Democrat has ridden for all but a few weeks could solidify, making it much more difficult for McCain to reclaim the momentum. For Obama, the danger lies in the electoral math if the race should remain close: even if he wins all of the states won by Democrat John Kerry in 2004--including NH, where the race is now a virtual tie--he will still need to pick off Ohio or several other states that have gone Republican in recent years. The next few weeks will be very important for both candidates.

Today's Map: Michigan Now "Leaning Democrat"

Posted Sep 28, 2008 at 1:09 AM by Maurice Berger

With the only survey indicating a lead for McCain in Michigan (MRG of Lansing) now more than a week old and five new polls indicating a significant upswing in support for Obama, PollTrack moves the state from "Too Close To Call" to "Leaning Democrat" on Today's Map.

Obama's Daily Tracking Average Is Up

Posted Sep 27, 2008 at 5:11 AM by Maurice Berger

Reflecting a week of numbers trending upward in battleground states, Obama's national daily tracking poll average lead this afternoon is +5.3%. The tally today: Obama 49%/McCain 43.7%. PollTrack cautions not to read too much into these numbers vis-a-vis last night's debate, since the lion's share of survey samples were taken before the event (daily tracking results represent a rolling average of three to four days).

Today's Map: Iowa Looks Strong for Obama

Posted Sep 27, 2008 at 2:49 AM by Maurice Berger

Obama's relentless and enthusiastic campaigning in Iowa during the primary and caucus season may have paid off. While the race continues to be relatively close in a number of contiguous states (MN, MO, WI, for example), the Democrat is pulling ahead in Iowa. PollTrack moves the state from "Leaning" to "Safe Democrat" on Today's Map.

One Debate Down: Will We Know Who Won?

Posted Sep 27, 2008 at 12:39 AM by Maurice Berger

One debate down. Three to go. PollTrack cautions gainst reading too much into public opinion surveys over the next few days. Momentum over the past week has gone modestly in Obama's direction in a number of battleground states. In the ten days before that, McCain pulled into a small lead nationally and improved his standing in some of these states. In the absence of a startling blooper or knock-out punch--neither of which appears to have happened in last night's debate--the lead may remain with Obama. Still, the political unconscious is a complex and unpredictable part of the formation of voter sentiment. Yes, the next few days of polling may reveal something approximating an early response to the debate. More likely, it will continue to reflect an electorate that is uncertain and anxious, especially in the midst of--and now I quote both candidates--the "worst economic crisis in our lifetime." Right now, this anxiety appears to be benefiting the Democrat. But down the road, the question remains: Did something--a particular answer, a style, a mannerism, psychological quirk, or tick--work its way into unconscious perceptions about the candidates? And could this "something" eventually blow the race open?

Tomorrow's Map: PA Moves From "Too Close" to "Leaning Democrat"

Posted Sep 26, 2008 at 7:13 AM by Maurice Berger

With most polls showing Pennsylvania trending back to Obama (to a modest degree), PollTrack moves the state from "Too Close To Call" to "Leaning Democrat" on Tomorrow's Map.

The Undecided Factor: Will The Debates Make A Difference?

Posted Sep 26, 2008 at 4:09 AM by Maurice Berger

The presidential debates could matter a lot in this election. No matter who is leading in any individual poll, all surveys report a fairly significant bloc of undecided voters, anywhere from 5% to 18%. PollTrack guesses that voters are pretty confused right now. While each candidate can count on a solid bloc of very committed voters, neither candidate consistently breaks the 50% in PT's national daily and periodic polling averages. The wavering segment in the middle--unaffiliated, independent, and undecided voters--has been fairly fluid the past two months, affording both candidates the lead at one point. One widely quoted article reported this week "the norm is for very little swing in candidate support" in the period immediately following presidential debates. PollTrack cautions against reading too much into voters' initial responses to the candidate's debate performance. Yet, debates have mattered a great deal. But their effect takes time to enter into voter's conscious and unconscious decision making. Most important, debates can affirm or allay doubts already present in the minds of voters: Michael Dukakis's dispassionate answer to a 1988 hypothetical debate question about whether his liberal views on crime and justice would be shaken if his wife were raped went right to voters' concerns about his clinical and unemotional approach to politics and governing. Conversely, Ronald Reagan's adept and reassuring debate performance in 1980 convinced voters that he was not, as many feared, an extremist out of touch with the middle of the country. PollTrack imagines that the debates in this cycle could well have a similar and powerful effect on the electorate.

A Big Call in North Carolina

Posted Sep 26, 2008 at 1:40 AM by Maurice Berger

Three polls in a row--Rasmussen, Civitas, and PPP--report that the race in North Carolina is a virtual tie, with Obama leading by 2% in one, the others a dead heat. PollTrack moves the state from "Leaning Republican" to "Too Close To Call" on Today's Map.

Today's Map: Florida Moves From "Leaning Republican" to "Too Close To Call"

Posted Sep 26, 2008 at 1:35 AM by Maurice Berger

While McCain's numbers in Florida have remained relatively static, Obama's appear to be improving slightly in recent days. As a result, PollTrack moves the state from "Leaning Republican" to "Too Close To Call" on Today's Map.

Tomorrow's Map: Missouri Moves From "Safe" to "Leaning Republican"

Posted Sep 26, 2008 at 1:34 AM by Maurice Berger

With the numbers getting closer in the most recent polls out of Missouri, PollTrack moves the state from "Safe" to "Leaning Republican on Tomorrow's Map.

Michigan Is Hard To Read

Posted Sep 25, 2008 at 8:47 AM by Maurice Berger

Michigan is one state that may go back and forth this election season. On the basis of several new polls released over the past 24 hours, it would seem that the people of the great state are having troubling making up their minds (or pollsters are having a hard time making up their's). As reported earlier, the state's economy is doing poorly, and statewide public opinion surveys suggest that Michigan's Democratic governor is unpopular right now (see below, 24-Sep/Michigan: Movement on Today's Map). Thus, the economy may well cut both ways for the national contest as a political issue in the state. How schizophrenic are the numbers? Take a look: MRG of Lansing: McCain +3%. NBC/Mason Dixon: a tie, at 46% to 46%. Detroit Free Press: Obama +13 (yes, 51% to 38%). PollTrack leaves the state "Too Close To Call" on Today's Map and will pay very close attention to the next round of statewide polling and its internal data.

Tomorrow's Map: New Call For North Carolina

Posted Sep 25, 2008 at 8:26 AM by Maurice Berger

On the basis of the most recent surveys in North Carolina, PollTrack moves the state from "Safe" to "Leaning Republican" on Tomorrow's Map.

Election Day Map: Now 269 Obama/265 McCain

Posted Sep 25, 2008 at 6:38 AM by Maurice Berger

With the lead in New Hampshire see-sawing in recent polling, PollTrack moves the state from WIN-Obama to "Too Close To Call" on Election Day Map Today.

Daily Trackers Show Improvement for McCain

Posted Sep 25, 2008 at 5:25 AM by Maurice Berger

Four daily tracking polls released today all indicate improvement for McCain. Gallup now calls the race a tie at 46% (from a +6% lead for the Democrat only five days ago). Battleground continues to give McCain a razor-thin lead: 48% to 47%. And Hotline/FD and Rasmussen both indicate a small drop in Obama's numbers over the past three days. Obama now holds a 1.5% lead in the PollTrack national daily tracking poll average: 47.3% to 45.8%.

Tomorrow's Map: NH Now "Too Close To Call"

Posted Sep 25, 2008 at 3:50 AM by Maurice Berger

With statewide polls in New Hampshire showing the race tightening--and more ominously for the Democrats, incumbent Republican John Sununu taking the lead in the US Senate race from Democratic challenger Jeanne Shaheen--PollTrack moves the state from "Leaning Democrat" to "Too Close To Call" on Tomorrow's Map.

Obama's Independent Problem?

Posted Sep 25, 2008 at 1:39 AM by Maurice Berger

With Obama's numbers improving in a number of battleground states, the candidate still appears to have a problem with independent voters. Yesterday's NBC/Wall Street Journal survey reports that in this key demographic, McCain leads Obama by 14%, up 6% from a month earlier. And while voters overall say they identify with Obama's values and background by a 50%-44% margin, those numbers are essentially reversed among independents. Obama leads overall in the poll by +2%: 48% to 46%.

Polling: The Cell Phone Question

Posted Sep 25, 2008 at 1:21 AM by Maurice Berger

Do pollsters under-represent younger voters by excluding from their samples voters who use cell phones exclusively? Pew Research seems to think so: After including cell phone-only households in three recent polls, the organization notes "a virtually identical pattern is seen across all three surveys: In each case, including cell phone interviews resulted in slightly more support for Obama and slightly less for McCain, a consistent difference of two-to-three points in the margin." PollTrack wonders: why then did many public opinion surveys during the Democratic primary season routinely OVER estimate Obama's actual support? And to what extent are pollsters' attempts to weight their samples to correct this deficit solving or adding to the problem? Another question: how do we evaluate Pew's reported discrepancy if the election is not until November and there are no hard results against which to gauge their polling estimates?

Tomorrow's Map: Iowa Moves From "Leaning" to "Safe Democrat"

Posted Sep 24, 2008 at 11:13 AM by Maurice Berger

With Obama's numbers in Iowa perking up in recent polling, PollTrack moves the state from "Leaning" to "Safe Democrat" on Tomorrow's Map.

Today's Map: PollTrack Now Has Poll Averages for EVERY State!

Posted Sep 24, 2008 at 7:28 AM by Maurice Berger

With new numbers just in from Hawaii, PollTrack has a milestone to report: we now have poll averages for every state on Today's Map. Only DC remains unpolled. Remember: Roll over a state for poll averages, click for commentary.

Today's Map: South Carolina Moves from "Leaning" to "Safe Republican"

Posted Sep 24, 2008 at 4:16 AM by Maurice Berger

One the basis of new polling numbers, PollTrack moves South Carolina from "Leaning" to "Safe Republican."

Michigan: Movement on Today's Map

Posted Sep 24, 2008 at 4:11 AM by Maurice Berger

While PollTrack recently moved Michigan to "Leaning Democrat" on Today's Map, it left it "To Close To Call" on Tomorrow's Map. Why? Because the state may not behave like its neighbors in this cycle. The local Democratic party is doing poorly in the state--especially Govenor Jennifer Granholm--blamed for the local and especially harsh downturn in the economy. While the Democratic brand may be helping Obama right now in a number of states, it may be hurting him in Michigan, where his PT average lead just dropped below the 4% mark and a new Marketing Resource Group of Lansing poll shows McCain up by 3%--46% to 43%. Thus PollTrack moves the state back to "Too Close To Call" on Today's Map.

Why Are The National Polls In Flux?

Posted Sep 24, 2008 at 3:52 AM by Maurice Berger

National polls are all over the pace this morning. It all depends on the polling organization you read. Battleground has McCain up 2%. ABC News/Washington Post has Obama up 9%. Some surveys show a close race (Ipsos-McClathcy: 44% to 43% Obama), others a statistically significant lead (Obama is +6% in Hotline/FD daily tracking poll). What's going on? For one, there are significant variations in the way these surveys measure party affiliation, voter intensity, and the likelihood of voting. Push the number in favor of a huge Democratic turnout and Obama leads accordingly, Draw them back to traditional levels of voter turnout and intensity and McCain leads or ties. Just as important: the nation may well be stunned and confused by last week's devastating economic news. Voter anxiety can cause swings in voter sentiment. One more factor to consider: the issue of how polling organizations pose questions to voters and in what order. Imagine an interview that begins with or emphasizes questions relating to the Wall Street crisis. This sample might skew in favor of the Democrats, given voters' inclination in recent polls to say that Obama and not McCain could best handle the economy.

Public Skeptical About Wall Street Bailout

Posted Sep 24, 2008 at 1:15 AM by Maurice Berger

The country is divided on more than just the election. A Washington Post-ABC News poll released yesterday reports that the American public is "evenly divided on the recent steps taken by the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department to rescue the financial services industry -- 44% approve, 42% disapprove. Skepticism cuts across party lines: "Approval is under 50 percent among Republicans (49%), independents (46%) and Democrats (42%)."

Tomorrow's Map: Colorado Moves From "Too Close" to "Leaning Democrat"

Posted Sep 23, 2008 at 9:05 AM by Maurice Berger

On the strength of Obama's numbers in the most recent polls coming out of Colorado, PollTrack moves the state from "Too Close To Call" to "Leaning Democrat" on Tomorrow's Map.

Daily Tracking Poll Average: Down To Slightly More Than +1% Obama

Posted Sep 23, 2008 at 5:02 AM by Maurice Berger

Despite the slight up tick in support for Obama this week, PollTrack's daily tracking poll national average shows the race once again drawing down to a virtual tie: 47.0% to 45.8%, giving the Democrat a scant 1.2% advantage. Nevertheless, Obama's numbers do seem to be improving in several battleground states, including Michigan and Colorado.

The Clinton Effect: Is Obama Still Struggling With Her Supporters?

Posted Sep 23, 2008 at 3:56 AM by Maurice Berger

An Associated Press-Yahoo News survey released today reports that Barack Obama's support from former backers of Hillary Clinton "is stuck smack where it was in June . . . a stunning lack of progress that is weakening him with fellow Democrats in the close presidential race." The poll indicates that "among adults who backed his rival during their bitter primary campaign, 58 percent now support Obama. That is the same percentage who said so in June, when Clinton ended her bid and urged her backers to line up behind the Democratic senator from Illinois."

Today's Map: Montana Moves From "Leaning" to "Safe Republican"

Posted Sep 23, 2008 at 1:04 AM by Maurice Berger

On the basis of McCain's overall strength in Montana--and its voting patterns in presidential cycles (save for 1992, when Ross Perot's third party bid handed the state to Bill Clinton, its gone Republican in every election since 1964)--PollTrack moves the state from "Leaning" to "Safe Republican" on Today's Map.

Lifetime Television: Palin Helps McCain With Female Voters

Posted Sep 23, 2008 at 12:26 AM by Maurice Berger

Despite recent suggestions that Sarah Palin's popularity is leveling off, a new Lifetime Television poll finds McCain's running mate "has greatly increased the GOP ticket's appeal to women." One important finding: McCain-Palin holds a 44% to 42% lead over Obama-Biden on who has a "better understanding of women and what is important" to them. Obama's lead was a whopping 34% in July, 52% to 18%.

Today's Map: New Hampshire Moves Back To "Too Close To Call"

Posted Sep 22, 2008 at 12:15 PM by Maurice Berger

What PollTrack giveth, it sometimes must take away (on the same day). A University of New Hampshire poll released this hour suggests that Obama is not doing as well in the state as several recent polls suggest. Indeed, the survey gives McCain a modest 2% lead--47% to 45%. This number suggests a broader pattern and problem for the Obama campaign--connecting with white working class voters, even in a state like New Hampshire where the economy and political environment have recently favored Democrats. PollTrack now calls the state "Too Close To Call."

Today's Map: New Calls for Florida and Michigan

Posted Sep 22, 2008 at 12:01 PM by Maurice Berger

New polling released today suggests that Michigan and Florida may be reverting to recent statewide electoral patterns. PollTrack now moves Florida from "Too Close To Call" To "Leaning Republican" and Michigan "Too Close To Call" to "Leaning Democrat on Today's Map.

Voters Blame Republicans For Financial Crisis: An Obama Advantage?

Posted Sep 22, 2008 at 11:18 AM by Maurice Berger

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released today reports that registered voters, by a two to one margin "blame Republicans over Democrats for the financial crisis that has swept across the country the past few weeks — one factor that may have contributed to an apparent increase in Barack Obama’s edge over John McCain in the race for the White House." CNN continues: "47 percent of registered voters questioned say Republicans are more responsible for the problems currently facing financial institutions and the stock market, with 24 percent saying Democrats are more responsible. One in five of those polled blame both parties equally, and 8 percent say neither party is to blame."

Today's Map: New Hampshire Moves from "Too Close To Call" To "Leaning Democrat"

Posted Sep 22, 2008 at 7:42 AM by Maurice Berger

With the latest statewide survey suggesting improvement for Obama--and a political environment in the state that may favor the Democrats this year--PollTrack moves New Hampshire from "Too Close To Call" to "Leaning Democrat" on Today's Map.

Minnesota Trending Blue on Tomorrow's Map

Posted Sep 22, 2008 at 7:37 AM by Maurice Berger

With recent polls suggesting that Obama's numbers are improving in Minnesota, PollTrack moves the state from "Too Close To Call" to "Leaning Democrat" on Tomorrow's Map. The state remains "To Close To Call" on Today's Map.

ND Now "Safe Republican" on Today's Map: Is Obama's 50-State Strategy Failing?

Posted Sep 22, 2008 at 3:41 AM by Maurice Berger

With McCain's lead growing dramatically in North Dakota--and word from Associated Press this morning that the Obama campaign has pulled much of its staff from the state and is redistributing workers to former Democratic strongholds MN and WI, where the race has grown extremely close--PollTrack moves the state from "Leaning" to "Safe Republican" on Today's Map. As the electoral landscape draws back to where it was in 2004--with the addition perhaps of VA as a viable new battleground state--is this yet another sign that the Democrat's 50-State strategy is not working?

Election Day Map Today: All States Now Called

Posted Sep 22, 2008 at 1:54 AM by Maurice Berger

PollTrack has analyzed statewide polling across the country and has now made calls in every state. If the election were held today, PollTrack predicts that Obama would win by eight electoral votes, 273 to 265. The map will change as trends develop, so check in often.

It's Still Very, Very Tight

Posted Sep 22, 2008 at 1:32 AM by Maurice Berger

A bunch of new statewide polls suggest the race for electoral votes is as tight as the national contest. (For nearly a week, Rasmussen's daily tracker, like most others, has reported a dead heat, with Obama holding a razor-thin +1% lead. Battleground has McCain up by 1% this morning.) A Suffolk University survey in Nevada shows McCain just one point ahead of Obama (his overall PT average is + 1.7%). Alarming for the Democrats is Pennsylvania, where Obama's lead has whittled down to 2% in the latest NBC News/Mason-Dixon poll. (PollTrack saw this coming twelve days ago, when most analysts continued to call the state blue.) And Rasmussen has McCain ahead in North Carolina  by only 3%, but the Republican's PT average in the state continues to be a healthy +8%. Stay tuned. PollTrack suggests that the debates may be even more important in this election. A poor or stellar performance by one of the contenders or a major gaffe could be the tie breaker (or might confirm underlying perceptions about a candidate and thus swing wavering voters). Or the race could stay close to the end, reflecting the sharp divisions that have polarized the nation in the past four cycles.

Tomorrow's Map: ND and MT Move From "Leaning" to "Safe Republican"

Posted Sep 22, 2008 at 1:06 AM by Maurice Berger

With the latest polls in Montana and North Dakota indicating that McCain has taken a comfortable lead, PollTrack moves the state from "Leaning" to "Safe Republican" on Tomorrow's Map.

Obama And The Race Factor: Is This Why It's So Close?

Posted Sep 21, 2008 at 11:56 AM by Maurice Berger

Extrapolating from a series of questions it asked voters to gauge their racial attitudes, a new poll released yesterday reports that support for Obama "would be as much as 6 percentage points higher if there were no white racial prejudice." In other words, Obama would be 6% to 8% ahead of McCain right now if racism were not a factor in this election. According to the the survey--conducted by AP-Yahoo in association with Stanford University--"the percentage of voters who may turn away from Obama because of his race could easily be larger than the final difference between the candidates in 2004 — about two and one-half percentage points." The survey is based, in part, on the following finding: "40 percent of all white Americans hold at least a partly negative view toward blacks, and that includes many Democrats and independents." The poll's finding may help explain the closeness of the presidential contest at a time when the Republican brand is weak.

Today's Map: SC and WV Move From "Safe" to "Leaning Republican"

Posted Sep 21, 2008 at 3:56 AM by Maurice Berger

On the basis of recent polling in each state, PollTrack moves both South Carolina (Rasmussen: McCain +6%) and West Virginia (Mark Blankenship Enterprises: McCain +5%) from "Safe" to "Leaning Republican" on Today's Map. Both states continue to trend "Safe" on Tomorrow's Map.

Today's Map: Florida Moves From "Leaning Republican" To "Too Close"

Posted Sep 21, 2008 at 2:15 AM by Maurice Berger

Two new polls issued today show the race in Florida growing tighter: SunSentinel/Research 2000 and Miami Herald/SP Times both indicate a statistical tie with McCain up by +1% and +2% respectively. The MH/SP Times survey suggests that the faltering economy is helping Obama to gain traction in the state. McCain's average lead in the state has now dropped to a just under +3%. A Survey USA poll taken during the same period, continues to report a 6% lead for McCain. PollTrack now moves Florida from "Leaning Republican" to "Too Close To Call" on Today's Map.

Tomorrow's Map: Oregon Moves from "Leaning" to "Safe Democrat"

Posted Sep 21, 2008 at 2:01 AM by Maurice Berger

With Obama's numbers looking strong in Oregon (but not quite at the +10% average mark), PollTrack moves the state on Tomorrow's Map from "Leaning" to "Safe Democrat."

Gallup: Economic Crisis of Slight Benefit to Obama

Posted Sep 20, 2008 at 5:14 AM by Maurice Berger

Gallup reports a slight--but only slight--benefit for Obama in the voters' candidate preferences, vis-a-vis the current economic crisis: "Even though Americans divide evenly as to which candidate can better handle the Wall Street crisis, Barack Obama seems to benefit politically, as slightly more voters say it increases their likelihood of voting for him (29%) than say it makes them more likely to vote for John McCain (23%)"

Today's Map: Iowa Moves From "Safe" to "Leaning Democrat"

Posted Sep 20, 2008 at 2:05 AM by Maurice Berger

The two most recent polls issued in Iowa could not be more divergent. Survey USA (one of the more accurate polls during the primaries) gives Obama a whopping 11% lead (54% to 43%). Big10Battleground, a public opinion survey of Midwest voters, reports that the race is tied at 45%. A few more polls may clarify this situation. Statistical glitches or divergent polling models could be to blame. Survey USA shows the race tied among men, for example, numbers that would make Iowa an outlier, since most states report a gender gap (though one smaller than 2004) in which men favor the Republican, women the Democrat. Yet, there is reason to believe that the Democrat may be doing well in Iowa. During the primary and caucus season, Obama spent an inordinate amount of time and money in the state, building a solid organization, good will, and introducing himself to voters. He won the state's caucus by an impressive margin in a hotly contested and highly competitive race. By contrast, McCain lost this first-in-the-nation barometer of party preferences. Until further polling clarifies the situation, PollTrack moves Iowa on Today's Map from "Safe Democrat" to "Leaning Democrat."

Is Palin A Drag On The Republican Ticket?

Posted Sep 19, 2008 at 5:57 AM by Maurice Berger

In politics, what goes up invariably comes down. Sarah Palin's popularity is no exception. Research 2000 reports a stunning drop in the VP candidate's favorable/unfavorable ratings. According to the survey, 52% of voters last week approved and 35% disapproved of the GOP vice presidential nominee. This week, her approval rating is at 42%, while 46% disapprove. Newsweek reports a similar drop: "Over the course of a single weekend . . . Palin went from being the most popular White House hopeful to the least."

Literally A Tie + Obama's and McCain's Ceiling

Posted Sep 19, 2008 at 1:48 AM by Maurice Berger

Two new daily trackers just released underscore the closeness of Election 2008. Rasmussen: 48% to 48%. Battleground (the fourth addition to our daily tracking average): 47% to 47%. It couldn't get any closer according to these surveys. One thing to consider: while Obama has made little overall gain in his numerical ceiling since before the conventions (his numbers hovered in the mid-to-high 40s), McCain seems to have made a healthy 3-4% gain that now appears stable. Once stuck in the low 40s, McCain now enjoys a ceiling similar to Obama's, in the mid-to-high 40s.

The State Of The Race: 45 Days To Go

Posted Sep 19, 2008 at 1:33 AM by Maurice Berger

Yesterday, a rush of statewide surveys resulted in a changed Today's Map. What are the implications of Indiana going from red to gray, Minnesota from blue to gray? One important observation: it looks like the national divisions of 2000 and 2004 are still around. With the exception of usually true-red Indiana (PollTrack still believes the state will eventually trend back to the Republicans), the same swing states are drawning down to a tie. (And, yes, despite the fact that no Democrat has won the state's electoral votes since LBJ in 1964, Virginia is now a swing state: it has actually grown bluer in recent years. Consider the 2006 senate race, where Democrat James Webb defeated Republican George Allen by a mere 8,000 votes.) PollTrack suspects that these divisions may be sharpened by the relative strengths and weaknesses of the two candidates. McCain has been able to solidify the Republican base, take the lion's share of the very dependable (re: voter turnout) 65+ demographic, and appeal to independents. Obama does well with urban voters, young people, African-Americans, and Hispanic voters. The problem for both: they each appeal to the same constituent demographics as Gore and Bush, Bush and Kerry, leaving a slim pool of swing voters (married suburban women, for example) to essentially break the tie. PollTrack suggests that other factors--preeminently Obama's race, women disaffected by the Obama campaign's handling of Hillary Clinton, McCain's age, and Palin's  religious conservatism--are making it difficult for either candidate to eat into the other's base or to pick off large segments of independent and unaffiliated voters.

Today's Map: Minnesota is "Too Close" Again (From "Leaning Democrat")

Posted Sep 18, 2008 at 10:40 AM by Maurice Berger

Three recent polls indicate a dramatic tightening of the race in Minnesota. It's so close at this point--Obama leads by little more than 1% on average--that PollTrack moves the state back from "Leaning Democrat" to 'Too Close To Call" on Today's Map.

Tomorrow's Map: Ohio Moves From "Leaning Republican" to "Too Close To Call"

Posted Sep 18, 2008 at 10:30 AM by Maurice Berger

The race is getting closer in Ohio. Could McCain's slip up on Monday hurt him in a state where many voters are hurting due to the failing economy? PollTrack moves Ohio From "Leaning Republican" to "Too Close To Call" on Tomorrow's Map.

Today's Map: Indiana Moves from "Leaning Republican" to "Too Close To Call"

Posted Sep 18, 2008 at 10:25 AM by Maurice Berger

PollTrack has just looked over 30 statewide and national polls released today. The race is definitely drawing closer in many states and in the nation as a whole. A new call: Indiana moves from "Leaning Republican" to "Too Close To Call" on Today's Map.

One More Interesting Tidbit in the CBS News/New York Times Survey

Posted Sep 18, 2008 at 3:37 AM by Maurice Berger

One more important bit of information inside the numbers of the CBS News/New York Times survey released late last night: the volatility of the race: "Roughly twenty percent of both McCain and Obama supporters say they have not yet settled definitively on their chosen candidate." The next significant opportunity to bring some stability to the numbers (save a major league gaffe): the debates.

Update: McCain Continues to Best Obama in New Poll

Posted Sep 18, 2008 at 2:58 AM by Maurice Berger

It looks like the race could stay a tie. A new Battleground Tracking poll released this morning continues to show McCain in the lead, 47% to 45%. And the question of the economy may not help Obama break the tie, given the concern of many voters about the Democrat's perceived lack of experience or specific programs. Today, a Rasmussen national survey reports: "Neither presidential candidate has convinced a majority of voters that they know how to handle the country's growing economic crisis, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Just 24% say it's Very Likely that Barack Obama will bring the kind of change that is needed to Wall Street."

The Pendulum Swings Back To Obama

Posted Sep 18, 2008 at 1:42 AM by Maurice Berger

As of this morning, PollTrack's reading of national periodic and daily tracking surveys issued over the past few days suggests that momentum has swung back to Obama. A CBS News/New YorkTimes survey issued last night, for example, gives the Democrat +5% among likely voters: 49% to 44%. A Quinnipiac national poll released this morning reports a similar lead for Obama: 49% to 45%. And yesterday's daily trackers (save Rasmussen, which gave McCain an insignificant 1% lead, but today shows the race tied at 48%) reported Obama running slightly ahead of his Republican rival. How significant is this swing? PollTrack observes that Obama's numbers have improved in both national and some statewide samples taken just in the past few days. These samples may reflect public discontent or anxiety about McCain's much publicized remark om Monday that the "fundamentals of the economy are strong," a comment followed by increasingly devastating economic news. The CBS/NYT survey points out, for example, that the 61% of voters who believe the economy is getting worse are now "heavily for Obama." Can the Obama campaign succeed in painting McCain as out of touch on the economy? If so, the candidate may be able to increase his lead beyond the statistical tie of recent weeks. Right now--and as it has been for weeks--the race remains a statistical tie (PollTrack's national average yesterday: 45.7% to 45.7%) with the lead in flux, depending on the direction of female and independent voters.

Today's + Tomorrow's Map: NM Moves from "Too Close" to "Leaning Democrat"

Posted Sep 17, 2008 at 8:59 AM by Maurice Berger

With recent numbers indicating improving numbers for Obama in the state (particularly among Hispanic voters), PollTrack moves New Mexico from "Too Close To Call" to "Leaning Democrat" on both Today's and Tomorrow's Map.

Today's Map: WI Moves from "Leaning Democrat" to "Too Close To Call"

Posted Sep 17, 2008 at 8:46 AM by Maurice Berger

Due to the dramatic narrowing of the polls in Wisconsin and the extreme closeness of the margins of victory in the last two presidential cycles, PollTrack moves the state on Today's Map from "Leaning Democratic" to "Too Close To Call"

"Obamicans": The Myth of The Expanding The Electoral Map

Posted Sep 17, 2008 at 5:11 AM by Maurice Berger

Back during the primaries, Obama partisans and surrogates touted the idea that their candidate's popularity was so broad and deep that he would flip Republican voters (into so-called "Obamicans") and get the lion's share of independents in November. During the primaries, his campaign did capture its share of crossover voters, including a modest number of Republicans. What a difference five months makes. Now, the picture is quite different: with Republicans firmly in McCain's grasp and independents leaning his way, the electoral map is much as it was in 2004. During the primaries, pundits talked about Obama redrawing the electoral map by winning in traditional Republican strongholds in November (such as Kansas, the Dakotas, Georgia, and North Carolina). As PollTrack has noted before, this is not panning out. Further proof that both camps are relying on the same limited field of battleground and swing states comes this morning from the Wisconsin Advertising Project: "Despite much talk about an expanded playing field, by and large, states receiving advertising in 2008 look similar to the states targeted in the 2004 presidential campaign. The Obama campaign aired ads in seventeen states from September 6-13, while the McCain campaign aired ads in fifteen of those same states."

The New Jersey Question

Posted Sep 17, 2008 at 1:17 AM by Maurice Berger

What's going in New Jersey? Two new polls--Quinnipiac and Marist--show the race drawing close, with Obama holding a modest 3% lead: 48% to 45%. Two additional polls report Obama with a lead virtually unchanged from a month ago, at +8-9% (Monmouth and Research 2000). Three important points: [1] there is little disagreement in Obama's numbers across the four polls--he touches or just grazes the 50% mark in each. [2]  McCain's numbers have improved across the surveys from a month ago (due to white undecided voters breaking his away according to several polls)  [3] The narrowing of the race actually fits an historical pattern in New Jersey: Republican presidential candidates often see their numbers inch up in September/October only to see this improvement evaporate by Election Day. With no real shift in Obama's base numbers in the state, PollTrack continues to call New Jersey "Leaning Democrat" on Today's and Tomorrow's maps.

National Daily Tracking Average: Obama Back to (A Tiny) Lead

Posted Sep 16, 2008 at 6:54 AM by Maurice Berger

Our averaging of the three daily tracking polls--Hotline/FD, Rasmussen, and Gallup--today puts Obama back into the lead, by an insignificant 0.7%. The latter two polls actually continue to report a lead for McCain (+1%), but Hotline calls it +4 Obama. It's worth noting that Hotline has proven the most erratic of the three pollsters, trading leads on an almost day to day basis. Is the momentum turning every so slightly back to the Democrat? PollTrack's averaging of periodic and daily national polls continues to give McCain a small lead: +1.3%. Stay tuned for tomorrow's numbers, especially for Rasmussen and Gallup.

The Experience Question

Posted Sep 16, 2008 at 2:44 AM by Maurice Berger

On the experience question, Rasmussen reports (9/15) the following numbers: "Sixty-three percent (63%) of voters say John McCain is prepared right now to be president, and 50% say the same thing about Democratic vice presidential candidate Joseph Biden. Forty-four percent (44%) say the man at the top of Biden's ticket, Barack Obama, is ready, but 45% say he isn’t." On Mccain's running mate: "Over half of voters (52%) say McCain’s running mate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, is not prepared to be president, but 33% disagree"

Who Benefits From The Wall Street Crisis?

Posted Sep 16, 2008 at 1:13 AM by Maurice Berger

Will the Wall Street crisis, high gas prices, and the struggling economy automatically help the Democrats? Not necessarily. Public opinion on the campaigns' approach to economic issues is split, with Obama ahead when the question is more general (who would best handle the economy, who best understands your economic concerns), but sometimes breaks for McCain when questions are more specific (who would better handle the deficit, who do you trust to negotiate trade agreements, who do you trust to balance the federal budget). This pattern, of course, may change if events on the ground become dire or begin to have an immediate impact on voters. But consider this: a candidate's experience also matters when voters are feeling anxious. And in this regard, McCain has a considerable edge in public opinion surveys on the question of who has the adequate experience to be president. In times of war or economic crisis, voters often turn to the candidate who in their eyes best represents stability or measured change, rather than dynamic change.

Dueling Poll Results: Are The Voters or The Polls in Flux?

Posted Sep 15, 2008 at 7:43 AM by Maurice Berger

With Survey USA showing Obama up by 4% in Virginia and Siena reporting today that the Democrat's once commanding lead in New York has shrunk to 5%, it's time to take a deep breath. Both polls contradict most other surveys in the two states. PollTrack suspects that statistical irregularities, conflicting models, and margins of error are only part of the problem. Also in play: voter attitudes are in flux. After Labor Day the electorate traditionally begins to pay attention. Yet, never before have voters been bombarded with more and more varied news sources--from broadcast TV and cable news and newspapers to myriad political and news websites and news magazines. Like the polls, voter sentiment itself may be volatile because news cycles now turn over in a matters of hours rather than days or even weeks.

Election Day Map Today

Posted Sep 15, 2008 at 1:51 AM by Maurice Berger

Based on statewide polling over the past month, PollTrack has a number of new calls on Election Day Map Today. In the coming weeks--as trends are established and voter opinion appears to be solidifying--more states will be added to the final tally. Stay tuned . . .

Can Either Candidate Break The Tie?

Posted Sep 15, 2008 at 1:35 AM by Maurice Berger

Although the Republican base is fired up and McCain claims a  significant lead among independents, Democratic party identification and voter enthusiasm is also way up (Rasmussen gives the Democrats a 5% advantage). Thus, neither candidate is walking away with the election at this point. Even a cursory glance at the electoral map suggests conditions far similar to the razor close count of 2000 and not 1988 or 1992, where one party gained lasting momentum and was able to pick off enough swing states to capture a solid electoral majority. If Obama were poised to do this, he would need to win a bunch of states that have gone Republican in the last two cycles but were also won by Bill Clinton in 1992 and/or 1996: Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Montana, Georgia, Florida. All these states are now moving solidly into the Republican column. Similarly, McCain is behind in New Jersey, Wisconsin, and Michigan (though by smaller margins than Obama in TN, KY, MN, GA, WV), states he would need for a big win.

Unless dramatic on-the-ground events (perhaps spurred by this weekend's Wall Street meltdown) or a striking under-performance or major league blooper in the debates throws off one of the candidates, it's conceivable that the election will remain close to the very end. Then it will be up to voter enthusiasm and turnout to propel one or the other over the victory line.

Tomorrow's Map: MN Moves From "Leaning Democrat" to "Too Close To Call"

Posted Sep 14, 2008 at 5:02 AM by Maurice Berger

Since the late-1960s, Minnesota has trended Democratic in presidential elections. Indeed, since 1968, MN has gone to the Democrat all but once (in 1972). In recent years, however, the state has been trending red, with one senate seat and the governorship now Republican. Indeed, MN was almost evenly divided in the 2000 and 2004 presidential cycles. Thus, it should not be surprising that two polls released in the past 24 hours--by the Minnesota Star Tribune and Survey USA--show the race a statical dead heat, with the two candidates tied in the former (at 45%), and Obama ahead by a statistically insignificant 2% in the latter. A few weeks ago, a CNN survey had Obama leading by 12%. PollTrack now calls the race "To Close To Call" on Tomorrow's Map and keeps it "Leaning Democrat" on Today's Map.

Today's Map: Iowa Moves from "Leaning" to "Safe Democrat"

Posted Sep 14, 2008 at 1:42 AM by Maurice Berger

Good news for the Obama campaign in Iowa, the state that started it all for the candidate back in January: a new poll released by the Des Moines Register, the only survey to correctly predict Obama's surge in the days leading up to the Iowa Caucus, reports that the Democrat has taken a commanding 12% lead in the state. This combined with a recent CNN poll suggest that Obama is doing very well in Iowa. PollTrack moves Iowa from "Leaning" to "Safe Democrat" on Today's Map Today.

Rasmussen: McCain Hits the 50% Mark

Posted Sep 14, 2008 at 1:28 AM by Maurice Berger

A new Rasmussen Daily Tracker released this morning suggests that McCain has hit an important milestone: for the first time since Obama wrapped up the Democratic nomination last spring, McCain has touched the heretofore elusive 50% mark in voter support. Will it last? It certainly has proved elusive for Obama who has not been able to sustain support at this level for more than a day or two.  What may be more troubling for the Obama campaign are  the implications of the sophisticated and complex model employed by Rasmussen for determining voter enthusiasm and predicting voter turnout. Their model now gives the Democrats a significant 5% advantage. Despite this, McCain has held a 3% lead over the past three days, this morning inching up to the 50% mark.

Today's Map: South Dakota Moves from "Leaning" to "Safe Republican"

Posted Sep 13, 2008 at 8:42 AM by Maurice Berger

The Palin nomination and the RNC seem to have greatly improved McCain's standing in some western, Rocky Mountain, and plains states. PollTrack moves South Dakota from "Leaning" to "Safe Republican on Today's Map Today (as well as on Tomorrow's Map).

Is Either Candidate Pulling Ahead?

Posted Sep 13, 2008 at 2:03 AM by Maurice Berger

PollTrack has received a number of E-mails from Democrats concerned about Obama's chances in November. The short answer: no candidate is decisively ahead and the race is fairly even both in national support and electoral votes. It is clear that McCain came out of his convention stronger than Obama. It is also true that the momentum is now with the Republican. But the race is close enough that either candidate can win. By contrast, President Bush came out of his convention in 2004 with a sizable bounce that he maintained throughout much of September. Strong debate performances by Sen. John Kerry allowed the Democrat to narrow the gap considerably, though not entirely close it.

PollTrack suspects that the debates will be an important factor in this election. Since 1960 in presidential races in which debates were held (1960, 1976, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, and 2004), the debates were usually decisive. Indeed in contested cycles, where an incumbent did not sail to victory--races that include all but 1984 and 1996--the debates were the decisive factor in most instances. Here are a few debate bloopers and  successes that really made a difference: Nixon's listless appearance and five-o'clock shadow in 1960; Ford's gaffe about Poland in 1976; Dukakis' cold and dispassionate response to a question about whether his liberal views about crime and punishment would be shaken if his own wife were raped; Reagan's ability to convince a skeptical nation that he was not an extremist in 1980; and George H. W. Bush caught on camera glancing at his watch while his opponent, Bill Clinton, was addressing dire economic issues in 1992.

In the short term: watch to see if McCain's bounce translates into improvement in the statewide contest for electoral votes. Right now, the answer is a mixed bag: McCain appears to be benefiting form a sizable bounce in Southern states and smaller but marked improvement in number of western, plains and Rocky Mountain states. Obama's numbers remain very strong in New England (save New Hampshire). Numbers for the mid-west, rust belt, and mid-Atlantic states are unclear at this point, though Obama appears to be loosing a little ground in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. New York and California seem solidly behind the Democrat.

Is New Jersey Close?

Posted Sep 12, 2008 at 11:45 AM by Maurice Berger

A Marist survey released this evening suggests that the race in New Jersey may be drawing closer. A month ago, Quinnipiac reported a 10% lead for the Democrat. Marist now shows a 3% difference, 48% to 45%, among likely voters. An averaging of the latest polls in the state gives Obama a 4.5% advantage. PollTrack continues to call the state "Leaning Democrat."

McCain's Bounce

Posted Sep 12, 2008 at 7:18 AM by Maurice Berger

PollTrack has just perused a bunch of national periodic and daily tracking polls released today. The conclusion: the race is very close, with McCain holding onto a 2% to 3% aggregate lead. Another conclusion: McCain 's bounce may have solidified to a certain extent. Obama's bounce, on the other hand, appears to have been blunted, then erased, followed as it was by the VP announcement and the Republican convention a few hours later.

Tomorrow's Map: Ohio Moves Back To "Leaning Republican"

Posted Sep 12, 2008 at 3:39 AM by Maurice Berger

PollTrack has had a chance to digest six polls released over the past few days for the key battleground state of Ohio. It appears that the Quinnipiac survey (which showed Obama up by five) is an "outlier"--a poll that lies dramatically apart from the rest (the other polls give McCain the advantage, from +1 to + 7%, with an average of +4%). It appears that the momentum in Ohio is moving in McCain's direction. This PollTrack moves Ohio on Tomorrow's Map from "Too Close To Call" to "Leaning Republican."

Obama's 50-State Strategy: Is It Working?

Posted Sep 12, 2008 at 1:30 AM by Maurice Berger

PollTrack observes that the so-called 50-state strategy of the Obama campaign--the idea that the electoral map can be realigned to flip into the Democratic column traditional Republican strongholds such Alaska, the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, Montana, North Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia--may not be working. With the Republican party unified--and Sarah Palin firing up the party's most faithful voters--most of these states are now out of reach. Over the past week, McCain's numbers are improved dramatically in these states, in some cases tilting them into the "Safe" column (indeed all of the above states, save VA, where McCain has moved into a tiny lead, are growing redder). Is the Obama campaign squandering its resources in states it cannot win, thus diluting its power in states that have traditionally been close but winnable for the Democrats?

The good news for Obama--but one that brings the 50-state strategy into question--is that the candidate is holding his own in nearly all of the states that John Kerry won in 2004, leading in many by significant margins. Still, in order to reach the magic number of 270, Obama will need to pick off a few states that either are inevitably Republican (but have shifting demographics that favor the Democrats, like VA, which has gone red in every presidential cycle since 1964) or have a demographic that gives the Dems a fighting chance to flip the state (CO, NV, NM, FL). Will competing in states that are not winnable make it more difficult for the Obama campaign to pick off states that are?

Tomorrow's Map: NC Moves from "Leaning" to "Safe Republican"

Posted Sep 11, 2008 at 2:01 PM by Maurice Berger

On the heels of Palin's nomination and the RNC, North Carolina--once a state the Obama campaign believed it could pick off from the Republicans--is moving in McCain's direction. While it remains "Leaning Republican" on Today's Map, the trend toward red pushes it to "Safe Republican" on Tomorrow's Map.

Prediction Market: McCain Moves Ahead

Posted Sep 11, 2008 at 5:42 AM by Maurice Berger

Intrade, the preeminent online "prediction market"--where online bidders place bets on the outcome of forthcoming political, social, and cultural events--has some troubling news for the Obama campaign: McCain has for the first time moved ahead of his Democratic rival on the question of who will win in November. While this number is not in and of itself meaningful, it suggests one implicit problem for the Democrats: the perception, in the minds of many voters, that an Obama victory is no longer inevitable. (See below, "Most Americans Now Think McCain, Not Obama, Will Win," 8 September.)

Today's Map: Georgia Moves from "Leaning" to "Safe Republican"

Posted Sep 11, 2008 at 3:29 AM by Maurice Berger

Georgia was one state the Obama campaign believed it could pick off from the Republicans through a marked increase in African American voter enthusiasm and statewide support for Libertarian candidate and native-son Bob Barr. It looks like Obama's strategy is not paying off, with several polls in the state showing a widening lead for McCain. PollTrack moves Georgia from "Leaning" "to "Safe Repubican" on Today's Map.

Today's Map: PA Moves from "Leaning Democrat" to "Too Close to Call"

Posted Sep 11, 2008 at 1:46 AM by Maurice Berger

With three new polls all showing the race in Pennsylvania drawing down to a statistical tie--Obama now leads by an average of just over 2%--PollTrack moves the state on Today's Map from "Leaning Democrat" to "Too Close to Call." It is quite possible that the RNC and Palin are helping McCain in the more conservative middle section of the state--an area rich in small towns, Evangelical and Christian conservative voters, and gun owners. In many ways, the state's population is closely divided, with more liberal cities such as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh anchoring its Democratic base and small cities and towns in the middle trending Republican. Often, it comes down to turnout in these areas as well as how the vote breaks down in the suburbs of the larger cities, a demographic that has been somewhat fluid in previous elections.

Tomorrow's Map: Ohio Moves from "Leaning Republican" to TCTC

Posted Sep 11, 2008 at 1:38 AM by Maurice Berger

Two polls show released over the past few days by Quinnipiac  University and CNN/Time show Obama ahead in Ohio (by 5% or 2%, respectively); Fox/Rasmussen, on the other hand, gives McCain a lead of 7%. These results suggest that voter models and markers for voter enthusiasm--or even perhaps discrepancies in data collection--are producing divergent conclusion about this mother of all battleground states. The averaging of these survey results results is a dead heat: 46.7% to 46.7%. As a result, PollTrack now moves Ohio from"Leaning Republican" to "Too Close To Call" on Tomorrow's Map Today.

Tomorrow's Map: ND Moves from TCTC to "Leaning Republican"

Posted Sep 10, 2008 at 9:35 AM by Maurice Berger

New polling in North Dakota suggests that the state, now "Leaning Republican," is clearly trending Republican. So PollTrack moves North Dakota on Tomorrow's Map from "Too Close To Call" to "Leaning Republican." It appears that the Republican ticket--now decidedly Western in its make up--is seeing improving numbers in western, Rocky Mountain, and plains states, from New Mexico up through Montana and the Dakotas.

Tomorrow's Map: New Hampshire Moves to "Leaning Democrat"

Posted Sep 10, 2008 at 9:03 AM by Maurice Berger

A new CNN/Time poll shows a marked improvement for Obama in New Hampshire--bringing the state more into line with the rest of New England, the region with some of the Democrat's strongest numbers. PollTrack continues to call the state "Too Close To Call" on Today's Map. But it appears to be trending Obama's way. Thus, New Hampshire moves to "Leaning Democrat" on Tomorrow's Map Today.

Independents Moving in McCain's Direction

Posted Sep 10, 2008 at 6:42 AM by Maurice Berger

Echoing a host of polls taken since the Republican National Convention concluded last week, a Fox News survey released this afternoon reports a "substantial shift in the vote preference. . . .  Independents now break for McCain by 15 percentage points, 46% to 31%." A month ago, Obama had a 1% lead among independents. The poll gives McCain an overall advantage of 3%: 45% to 42%. Significantly for both camps, it registers a large block of undecided voters, suggesting that this election is very much up for grabs.

Tomorrow's Map Today: New Call--Pennsylvania

Posted Sep 10, 2008 at 5:41 AM by Maurice Berger

New polling over the past few days suggests that the race may be tightening in Pennsylvania. PollTrack continues to rate PA "Leaning Democrat" on Today's Map. But, for now, Pennsylvania moves from "leaning Democrat" to "To Close To Call" on Tomorrow's Map, suggesting possible momentum towards McCain in this key battleground state.

The Palin Effect IV: Wait And See

Posted Sep 10, 2008 at 1:45 AM by Maurice Berger

A new NBC/Wall Street Journal survey out yesterday indicates that both candidate's favorable ratings are up, higher than those for Bush and Kerry in 2004. This suggests that both candidates have fired up their respective bases (plus a good number of independents as well). Conclusion: the election remains a statistical tie, with neither candidate pulling significantly ahead of the other.

The Palin Effect continues to improve McCain's standing. The same poll reports an alarming decline in white female support for the Democrat as well as a significant drop in female support overall. The survey observes: "In last month's NBC/WSJ poll, Obama was leading McCain by 14 points among female voters; now that lead is just four points. Moreover, Obama was up by 20 points in August among women ages 18-49; now McCain is ahead by three points. And last month, Obama held a one-point lead among white women; now McCain is up among them by 10 points."

But will this continue? It's hard to say. Palin is the least vetted of the four candidates on the respective Democratic and Republican tickets. On the other hand, she has tapped into and ignited a demographic crucial to winning in November and heretofore skittish about Obama: married white women (especially in small towns, rural areas, and some suburban districts). These voters tend to skew more conservative than single women and they tend to vote much more reliably. By activating voter enthusiasm among Evangelicals, Christian conservatives AND a significant swath of the female demographic, Palin, for now, helps give McCain a slight edge. But for how long?

Today's Map: Montana Moves from "Too Close To Call" to "Leaning Republican"

Posted Sep 09, 2008 at 8:21 AM by Maurice Berger

PollTrack just had a sneak preview of new polling numbers from Montana. It appears that the RNC and Sarah Palin are, at least for now, significantly improving McCain's numbers in a state that usually votes Republican in presidential cycles (though Bill clinton won the state in 1992, in part because independent candidate Ross Perot siphoned off a considerable number of Republican and libertarian voters unhappy with incumbent George H. W. Bush but unwilling to support the Democrat).

PollTrack now moves Montana from "Too Close To Call" to "Leaning Republican"

Independents Trending Towards McCain

Posted Sep 09, 2008 at 5:49 AM by Maurice Berger

In an observation with possibly serious implications for the Obama campaign, Gallup now reports that independent voters have shifted dramatically towards McCain. He now holds a 15% advantage with these voters according to Gallup.

Palin has helped McCain consolidate the Republican base. The question, if Gallup is correct: Why are independents moving in the Republican's direction?

I another poll released today, Public Policy Polling (PPP) reports that McCain has a statistically significant lead in Florida: 50% to 45%. (PollTrack continue to call the state "Leaning Republican."). In a telling detail--which tends to confirm Gallup's results-- undecided or unaffiliated white voters are now almost all breaking for McCain. Over the past few months, McCain's share of these voters in Florida has gone from 53% to 55% to 61%

PollTrack's Data Sources

Posted Sep 09, 2008 at 4:07 AM by Maurice Berger

Over the next two months, PollTrack's polling analysis will rely on hundreds of national and statewide public opinion surveys. The following is a partial list of PollTrack's data sources. The list includes polling organizations as well as surveys commissioned by local and national media outlets:

ABC News/Washington Post
AEA/Capital Survey
AP/Ipsos
Associated Press/GfK
Associated Press/Yahoo News
Arizona State
Battleground
Big10Battleground
CBS News/New York Times
Ciruli Associates
Civitas/Telephone Opinion
CNN/Opinion Research
CNN/Time
CNU/Virginia Poll
Columbus Dispatch (Ohio)
Democracy Corps
Des Moines Register
Deseret News (Utah)
Detroit Free Press
Detroit News
Elway Poll
Florida Chamber of Commerce
Fox News/Opinion Dynamics
Fox News/Rasmussen
Franklin and Marshall
Gallup
Gonzalez Research
Greg Smith & Associates
Hoffman Research
Hotline/FD
Howey-Gauge
IBD/TIPP
Insider Advantage
Insider Advantage/PollPosition
Ivan Moore Research
Kitchens Group
LA Times/Bloomberg
Marist
Mark Blankenship Enterprises (WV)
Marketing Resource Group of Lansing (MI)
Mason-Dixon
Miami Herald/SP Times
Minnesota Public Radio
Morning Call/Muhlenberg College (PA)
NBC News/Wall Street Journal
Newsweek
North Dakota UTU
Ohio Newspaper Poll
Pew Research
Portland Tribune Poll (Oregon)
Public Policy Polling (PPD)
Quad City Times/R2000
Rasmussen Reports
Reno-Gazette Journal (Nevada)
Research 2000
Reuters/CSPAN/Zogby
Rocky Mountain News/CBS4
Quinnipiac
Saint Anselm/SRBI
Seltzer
Siena
Sooner Poll
Star Tribune (Minnesota)
Suffolk
SurveyUSA
Susquehanna
University of Cincinnati
University of Iowa
University of New Hampshire
University of Texas
USA Today/Gallup
WSOC-TV (NC)
Zogby

PollTrack: Close But Trending McCain's Way

Posted Sep 09, 2008 at 1:49 AM by Maurice Berger

Looking at the bulk of national polling completed entirely after the Republican National Convention, PollTrack now sees the race as statistically tied but trending in McCain's direction. It appears that the RNC was successful in erasing Obama's "bounce," increasing voter party identification for the Republicans, and improving McCain's numbers in a range of categories, from his potential as leader and commander in chief to his handling of Iraq and the economy.

The thing to watch: state polls. Are national numbers translated into an improved performance for McCain in battleground states? The earliest signs suggest an up tick in support for McCain in some of these states.

Another thing to watch: the media's vetting of Palin. Will the luster wear-off her candidacy? If so, will races that now favor McCain--Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina, Missouri, all states with significant Evangelical populations--become closer?

Today's Map: WA Moves From "Safe" to "Leaning Democrat"

Posted Sep 08, 2008 at 11:14 AM by Maurice Berger

PollTrack observes that the race in Washington state appears to be tightening, not surprising given the closeness of statewide races in recent years. The last race for governor ended in weeks of recounts, with a few hundred votes separating the candidates at one point. A US Senate race in 2000 was also astonishing close. (That year, a recount was ordered in the US Senate race when the eventual winner Democrat Maria Cantwell held a 1,953-vote lead over Republican Sen. Slade Gorton.)

PollTrack moves Washington from "Safe Democrat" to "Leaning Democrat"

Today's Map: Michigan "Leaning Democrat" to "Too Close To Call"

Posted Sep 08, 2008 at 5:40 AM by Maurice Berger

A new Public Policy Polling survey released today indicates a close race in Michigan, with Obama leading by 1%--47% to 46%. This poll alone would not have caused PollTrack to reevaluate the Michigan race. The problem for Democrats: their relatively poor performance with women in this survey (he now has only a 3% lead) and others. Over the past five presidential cycles, the Democrats' lead among women in Michigan and other states in the region has been considerable higher. The PPP survey also indicates that Palin seems to be a hit with Michigan voters, with "45% of respondents say they are more likely to vote for McCain because of his running mate selection."

Thus PollTrack moves Michigan from "Leaning Democratic" to "Too Close To Call" on Today's Map Today.

Or Is It A Tie: Have the "Bounces" Canceled Each Other Out?

Posted Sep 08, 2008 at 4:42 AM by Maurice Berger

Two new polls suggest that the presidential numbers, rather than a plus for either candidate, have to returned to the dead heat recorded before conventions. A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll reports a 48% to 48% split, with no "bounce" for either candidate and a surprisingly small pool of undecided voters. Similarly, a Hotline/FD daily tracking poll (which commenced on Friday and will be added to our daily tracking average), shows the race tied at 44%, but with a larger number of undecideds.

The next few days may help sort things out.

New Poll Shows McCain +10%: A Dramatic Turnaround for the Republican?

Posted Sep 08, 2008 at 1:52 AM by Maurice Berger

A new USA Today/Gallup Poll released this morning (this is a periodic survey, not a daily tracker), suggests a dramatic turnaround for the McCain campaign: when the poll's filter was narrowed to include only those most likely to vote in November, McCain's lead is now at an astonishing +10% and well over the 50% mark, at 54% to 44%. With all registered voter, McCain's lead shrinks to 4%, 50% to 46%.

The "likely voter" number may be an anomaly. By using earlier voter models, thus underestimating turnout for the 18-29 year-old vote demographic, for example, the poll may skew the numbers in McCain's direction (earlier models would favor turnout among the +65 set, a demographic with a consistently high turnout, the age group most likely to vote for McCain according to previous surveys).

Nevertheless, pollsters are fairly adept at determining voter enthusiasm, a key factor in turnout. Since Obama's primary and caucus winning streak in February, enthusiasm among younger voters appears to have dropped considerably according to a number of surveys. In 1972, support for the anti-war candidate, Senator George McGovern (DEM-SD) was extremely high among young voters during the primary season. By election day, their support failed to translate into votes and Nixon won by a landslide. Younger voters are notoriously unreliable on Election Day, as are single women, another demographic now trending towards Obama.

Overall, PollTrack has noticed a marked improvement in McCain's numbers in surveys released in the wake of the Republican National Convention. The answers to a broad range of questions about the relative merits of the two candidates in the Survey USA poll released yesterday (see below)--a survey that suggests that more voters now believe McCain, and not Obama will win in November--indicates a clear increase in voter confidence for the Republican over the Democrat in virtually every category, including handling the Iraq war and foreign policy, commander in chief credentials, and even on the economy (Obama still wins on this one, but by a smaller number than earlier surveys).

More Americans Now Think McCain , Not Obama, Will Win

Posted Sep 07, 2008 at 4:30 PM by Maurice Berger

A new Survey USA poll taken after the Republican National Convention reports that more Americans now think McCain, and not Obama, will win in November. McCain leads Obama, 49% to 44%, among respondents who were asked "if you were placing a bet today" who do you think will be elected president? In recent months, most public opinion surveys have indicated that voters believed Obama would win.

If this trend holds, it could prove problematic for Obama, especially at a time when the Republican brand is on the wane and a Democratic win had seemed likely to many voters.

McCain Moves Ahead . . . For Now

Posted Sep 07, 2008 at 5:12 AM by Maurice Berger

An average of Daily Tracking Polls, now indicates that McCain has moved into the lead. Indeed, the Gallup tracker just released shows McCain with a 3% advantage--48% to 45%. PollTrack's daily average gives McCain a 1.5% lead overall. McCain has heretofore not been able to hold any statistical lead for more than a few days during the past two months.

If his lead holds, McCain's post-convention "bounce" may be steeper than Obama's (right now indicating an 8% up tick for the Republicans since the height of the Democratic "bounce" at roughly 4% to 5%). Does the fact that the Republicans went last also give them a long term advantage, allowing their gains to solidify? Time will tell.

2008: Looks Like A Nail Biter . . .

Posted Sep 07, 2008 at 2:04 AM by Maurice Berger

With National periodic and daily tracking polls now reporting the race a tie (Rasumssen this morning: 48% to 48%) and both candidates appearing to inch up over the 45% level, are we in for a nail biter of a campaign?

The answer would appear to be yes. In 2006, the Democrats took back both houses of congress in a political environment that was even worse for the Republicans than it is today. Yet, the national race remained very close. Indeed, the Democrats took back the Senate by winning two highly contested elections-- Montana, and Virginia--by 3,000 and 8,000 votes respectively out of millions cast. In other words, the nation was and remains fairly evenly divided.

Conventional wisdom suggests that Obama should be way ahead right now--given voters generally negative view of the Republican brand. Yet, sharp divisions within the electorate suggest that both parties are evenly divided in support, with each maintaining a base of about 40%. This leaves independents, unaffiliated, and undecided voters to make up the difference. And these voters, too, appear to be wavering and divided. After the DNC, many independents shifted towards Obama. Now they are moving back to McCain. With the Democratic and Republican bases now firmly in place, it is this shift that will account for each candidate's lead (or lack thereof) in the coming weeks.

These conditions are not that different from the last three presidential and national cycles. Indeed, the grand national realignment that the Obama campaign touted several months ago--in which Democrats maintained they would be competitive in tradition Republican strongholds such as the Dakotas, North Carolina, Georgia, Indiana, Nebraska, and Kansas--does not appear to be materializing. McCain is now leading in all of these states (by significant margins in some, and with only North Dakota possibly in play), in good part because he has solidified the Republican base and fired up Evangelicals and Christian conservatives.

Right now we're back to an electoral map that appears similar to 2000 and 2004--with just a few extra swing states thrown in (Colorado, Virginia, and New Hampshire being the most volatile right now).

A nail biter, indeed.

Gallup: Obama's Vanishing "Bounce"

Posted Sep 06, 2008 at 5:18 AM by Maurice Berger

Today's Gallup Daily Tracking Poll, like Rasmussen, concludes that Obama's "bounce" has vanished in the wake of the Republican National Convention. Gallup now now calls the race "Too-Close-To Call," with Obama's 8% advantage dwindling to 2%, 47% to 45%.

Watch the 50% Mark and the Palin Effect III

Posted Sep 06, 2008 at 1:57 AM by Maurice Berger

It looks like the timing of the conventions--virtually back-to-back--as well as the relative success of the Republican National Convention in communicating its message to voters may have significantly blunted the 5% "bounce" that Obama received coming out of his convention. The two daily trackers--Rasmussen and Gallup--both show a renewed tightening of the race, with numbers falling back to a point or so of where they were before the start of either convention. This morning, Rasmussen shows Obama with a 3% lead: 49% to 46%.

There is a good news for both candidates in Rasmussen's numbers. For Obama, it's the candidate's proximity to 50%. Obama appears to maintain a base number in the upper forties, McCain in the mid to lower-forties. The big question: will McCain's convention produce more than a tradition "bounce" of 4-5%. If so, his numbers could inch up towards the magic number of 50%. Right now, it appears that the race has returned to its pre-convention status, with fluid numbers, Obama above 45%, McCain slightly below, and both candidates very close.

As for the McCain campaign, Rasmussen suggests that Obama's lead among women has dropped by 50% over the past five days, down to 7% from a lead of 14% after the Democratic National Convention.  The jury is still out on whether Palin has improved McCain's standing among women. But one thing is certain: all too often the pundits have reduced the "female vote" to a rigid stereotype, one that implies that most women are pro-choice, anti-gun, and feminist. Yet in many swing states--including PA, OH, MI, WI--large blocs of female voters, especially working class and/or married women, trend conservative in their cultural and social beliefs. Could this demographic account for McCain's improving numbers among female voters?

McCain Wins Speech Viewership War

Posted Sep 05, 2008 at 8:18 AM by Maurice Berger

More viewers tuned into John McCain's acceptance speech last night than Obama's a week ago. And more than 13 million more people watched Palin's speech than Biden's. Here are the final Nielsen numbers for all four events:

McCain: 38.9 million

Obama: 38.4 million

Palin: 37.2 million

Biden: 24.0 million

As for gender: more women tuned into Obama's speech; more men for McCain's.

More on "Bounce" and the Palin Factor

Posted Sep 05, 2008 at 5:20 AM by Maurice Berger

PollTrack's average of today's daily trackers has dropped back to +3% Obama, a point or so shy of where it was at the start of the Democratic convention (and from a high of +7 DEM earlier in the week). Obama now leads McCain, 48% to 45%. The bulk of these surveys, which represent a rolling average of the preceding three or four days, was taken before McCain's speech last night.

If this trend continues, it will underscore the extent to which the back-to-back conventions may have canceled each other's "bounce."

In other polling news, Rasmussen has just released a poll reporting that Sarah Palin is now viewed favorably by 58% of voters. Perhaps more surprising is the rapid rise of her popularity: according to Rasmussen, her favorable rating is now higher than either McCain's or Obama's.

McCain's "Bounce"?

Posted Sep 05, 2008 at 1:45 AM by Maurice Berger

Rasmussen's latest daily tracker would seem to confirm the conclusion of the CBS News poll released late last night: the race is tightening back to at least a statistical tie. Rasmussen Reports indicates a 3% point drop for Obama over the past two days (with most of this sample taken before McCain's speech). Obama now leads in this survey, 48% to 46%.

Early results from the week also suggest that Sarah Palin and her speech were well received by voters. PollTrack will have more detailed results later today and tomorrow.

The jury is still out on the question of McCain's "bounce" as well as the potential of back to back conventions to cancel out gains made by either party (or by the first convention). PollTrack will have a better sense of this next week (but clues will roll out over the next few days, as they have in the Rasmussen and CBS surveys, as voters begin to digest the messages of both conventions)

CBS News: Obama Loses Six Points Since Last Weekend

Posted Sep 04, 2008 at 11:39 AM by Maurice Berger

A newly released CBS News poll reports that the race for the White House is now a tie--42% to 42%--with Obama dropping 6% and McCain gaining 2% since its last opinion survey taken last weekend, just after the Democratic National Convention.

A trend? A statistical anomaly?  Stay Turned.

The Beginning of a McCain "Bounce"?

Posted Sep 04, 2008 at 1:46 AM by Maurice Berger

Rasmussen's Daily Tracker released this morning reports that this is "the second straight day that the results have inched very slightly in McCain’s direction as the GOP convention gets underway and seeks to overcome Obama's convention bounce" Are we seeing the start of McCain's convention bounce, even before McCain's speech and the effects of Palin's dramatic speech set in with voters?

In another positive sign for the Republicans, only 42% of Independents believe Obama is more qualified than Palin to be president. And by a margin of ten to one, Rasmussen reports that voters believe that "journalists are trying to hurt Palin's campaign rather than help." The Republican's adept anti-media rhetoric may indeed be working.

Palin and the McCain "Bounce"

Posted Sep 03, 2008 at 4:59 PM by Maurice Berger

Sarah Palin's speech--both a blistering attack on Obama and an emotional appeal to small town, middle-American values--no doubt fired up the Republican base. It, also, no doubt fired up the Democratic base.


The dueling bases each hover around 40%, leaving a large bloc of independent, undecided (including many Reagan Democrats and a smaller number of moderate Republicans), or unaffiliated voters. Thus, the key demographic to watch--one that will determine the height and depth of McCain's post convention "bounce"--are these voters. Obama has seen a modest up tick in support from these voters in his post convention numbers.

Is this the result of a successful convention, one that delivered the candidate's message effectively and helped build trust among unaffiliated voters?

Or are these voters reacting to Palin, whose hard right politics and religious fundamentalism edge her towards the political extreme rather than the center? Has the hint of scandals turned off voters who now suspect that McCain—a candidate whose major selling point is his bold and clear-headed judgment—exercised poor judgment or even political expediency during the vetting process?

Can one commanding speech alter this dynamic? And, perhaps most important, will the choice of running mates in this election, as in most presidential cycles, have little effect on the outcome?

Today's Map: New Call--Minnesota

Posted Sep 03, 2008 at 9:19 AM by Maurice Berger

Based on polling over the past week, PollTrack moves Minnesota, a key swing state, from "To-Close-To-Call" to "Leaning Democrat."

The Palin Effect II: Evangelicals and The Republican Base

Posted Sep 03, 2008 at 1:04 AM by Maurice Berger

The other problem for the Democrats is the rapid fire timing of McCain's announcement of his running mate in the hours after Obama's speech, a move justified by a party whose convention was just days away. While the jury is still out about whether Palin improves McCain's support among women--though conservative women do seem to be warming to the nominee--one thing is certain: Palin has dramatically improved McCain's standing with religious conservatives and Evangelical Christians, the base of his party. The enthusiasm among these voters--a bloc that heretofore has been slow to support or trust McCain--is extremely high at the moment. The announcement resulted in an almost instantaneous rush of cash into Republican coffers, igniting "a wave of elation and emotion that has led some grassroots activists to weep with joy."

The intensity level among these voters matters a lot for the Republicans. Evangelical Christians, for example, are among the most reliable voters (along with the 65+ set, now also leaning McCain's way). In 2004, a close election as this one may well be, these voters came out in exceedingly high numbers, thus assuring President Bush's victory.

How Palin does tonight--in a much anticipated speech, her introduction to the nation--may well determine if voter enthusiasm for Palin extends beyond these religious conservative voters.

Obama Has His Bounce, But For How Long?

Posted Sep 03, 2008 at 1:02 AM by Maurice Berger

A slew of polls released over the past 48 hours report good news for Obama: a 4% -5% "bounce" nationally over surveys conducted before the Democratic National Convention. While this represents an average post-convention bounce, several of the polls report another milestone for the Democrat--he's broken the 50% mark.

Yet, PollTrack wonders: how durable will these numbers be given the odd timing of the conventions. In most presidential cycles, the three to four week lag between events gives voters time to digest the convention and its messages and get to know the candidate even better, all before the other party has its turn.

 

Bounce: The Long View

Posted Sep 02, 2008 at 1:30 AM by Maurice Berger

A new poll issued today by CBS News suggests that Obama received a modest "bounce" out of his convention. According to the poll, he now leads 48% to 40%, up five points from their last survey a few weeks ago. These numbers, of course, conflict with CNN/Opinion Research and other polls that show no "bounce" at all. Rasmussen's numbers this morning are starting to tick upward for Obama, suggesting a modest but discernible "bounce."

Two factors are at play: for one, the true impact of events on the ground may not be known for weeks. Public opinion is often slow to form. In 1984, Democrat Walter Mondale's announcement of Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate--the first women to appear on the national ticket of either party--produced a flurry of media excitement and a modest jump in the polls. Within weeks, any gain had evaporated.

Just as important: presidential races are not decided by popular vote, but rather by 51 state-wide races (D.C. has three electoral votes). Thus, PollTrack will keep a close eye on public opinion surveys as they emerge out of battleground states in the coming weeks.

One demographic to watch closely: so-called Reagan Democrats--white, conservative, mostly working-class who broke with their party to support Ronald Reagan in the 1980s--in key states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. Many of these voters so far have been disinclined to vote for Obama but disgruntled with Republicans. Did the DNC succeed in increasing their trust in Obama? Will McCain's VP pick appeal to these voters? Will McCain and Palin's speeches, and the Republican National Convention in general, convince these voters that they are true "mavericks" who proffer real change and a departure from the policies of the Bush administration?

Indeed, the race appears very fluid right now, with CBS News reporting that "a significant number of voters who have yet to finally make up their minds."

Palin: The Experience Question

Posted Sep 01, 2008 at 1:54 AM by Maurice Berger

Possible problem for McCain: today's CNN/Opinion Research poll also reports that by a margin of 50% to 45% voters believe that Sarah Palin is not qualified to be president. While she has solidified McCain's support among religious conservatives and Evangelical Christians, could her perceived lack of gravitas suppress McCain's numbers among independents, moderate Republicans, and conservative Democrats. Or, as in the case of Dan Qualye, also roundly criticized for being inexperienced and untested at the time of his nomination by George H. W. Bush in 1988, will the public pay more attention to the top of the ticket, where McCain's experience relative to Obama could be a net plus for the Republican.

 

CNN + Rasmussen: The "Bounce" May Be Gone

Posted Sep 01, 2008 at 1:32 AM by Maurice Berger

A new CNN/Opinion Research poll taken entire after the Democratic National Convention suggests that the race between Obama and McCain is exactly as was before the convention: tied. According to the new poll, Obama leads by one point, 49% to 48%. Yesterday and today, Rasmussen's daily tracker observes a similar contraction to pre-convention numbers. So any "bounce" in public opinion generated by Denver appears to have evaporated.

The reason: it's likely the the rapid fire succession of the two VP announcements and conventions--the latter a few days apart rather than three to four weeks apart, timing that has occurred only a few other times in the history of the two parties--has made it difficult for the Democrats to sustain their "bounce." Further complicating things for Obama is the popularity of Sarah Palin among Christian conservatives, a nomination that has now pushed McCain's Republican party support to well over 90%.

The "bounce" generated by the DNC may have been canceled out by the buzz generated by McCain's announcement of his running mate. Writes CNN pollster Keating Holland: "The convention -- and particularly Obama's speech -- seems to be well-received. And the selection of Sarah Palin as the GOP running mate, also seems to be well-received. So why is the race still a virtual tie? Probably because the two events created equal and opposite bounces --assuming that either one created a bounce at all."