Presidential Race Maps Writing on the Wall

Majority of Americans Trust Administration On Benghazi Attacks

Posted Dec 28, 2012 at 12:08 PM by Maurice Berger

A new poll by CNN/ORC reports that a solid majority of Americans say that the Obama administration did not intentionally misled the public on what it knew in the wake of the Sept. 11 Benghazi attacks. 40% say the administration made misleading statements; while 56% saying reject that idea. Despite this positive result, the poll also reported that "only 43% [of Americans] are satisfied with the way the Obama administration has handled the matter in the past few months; half are dissatisfied."

PPP: Obama Close to 50% Mark

Posted Jun 22, 2012 at 9:13 AM by Maurice Berger

PollTrack has been tracking a modest uptick in national polling for President Obama. With a Meanwhile, a new Public Policy Polling survey reporting that Obama is hovering close to the all-important 50% mark. He now leads Mitt Romney, 49% to 45%

Variable #3: The Bradley Factor

Posted Nov 03, 2008 at 6:55 AM by Maurice Berger

The so-called "Bradley Factor" in contests with black candidates--in which white voters tell pollsters they are undecided or voting for the African-American candidate out of embarrassment or fear of being judged as racist, only to vote for the white challenger in the privacy of the voting booth--is the greatest variable in this presidential cycle. Since no African-American has ever served as the presidential nominee of a major party, there are no national models on which to gauge and understand the Bradley factor. As of this morning, there are enough very close battleground states--at this stage containing large, even unprecedented blocs of undecided and persuadable voters--to make this effect meaningful (if it were to occur). In Ohio, where a number of polls out this morning report only a +2% lead for Obama, any sharp movement of remaining wavering or undecided voters could throw the state to McCain. Ditto other races that are exceedingly close as of this afternoon: Florida, Missouri, North Carolina, and Indiana (though Obama could lose all five states and still win). The good news for Obama is that his lead in nearly all Kerry-blue and some swing states is by sufficient margins (and over the 50% mark) to offset any potential McCain advantage vis-a-vis the Bradley effect. BUT, there are signs out there that the ghost of Bradley is lurking, exemplified by Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell's publicly stated fear that PA is not a done deal for Obama (or Democratic Congressman Murtha's impolitic musings on the "racism" of western Pennsylvanians). Even though Obama holds a healthy aggregate lead in PA of +7.6% (a lead that is increasing as of this morning)--requiring at least an 8% swing to reverse the Democrat's numbers--a swing of a far greater magnitude, and with a within a much more liberal voting base, took place in the New Hampshire Democratic primary this January, when Obama entered Election Day with a +8.3% lead, but lost to Hillary Clinton by +2.6%. That a number of battleground states have drawn very close within the past 48 hours may, in fact, suggest that undecided voters (who now are predominantly center-right, older, and demographically disinclined to vote for Obama) may already be breaking for the Republican. If a substantial shift were to occur towards McCain, another question arises: will Obama's enormous advantage in early voting (and new voter registration) offset any of McCain's gains in the now surprisingly large bloc of voters who now call themselves undecided or still persuadable? And has the dramatic tightening in a few key swing states in recent days made the Bradley Effect more of a factor?

Morning Report: The Fundamentals Remain Strong For Obama

Posted Nov 03, 2008 at 1:43 AM by Maurice Berger

A close examination of polling out this morning suggests that while a few states have drawn very close--Florida, North Carolina, Montana, and Missouri in particular--the race is appearing to stabilize for Obama. Ohio and Virginia, though having drawn much closer over the past three days--and remain "Too Close To Call" on Today's Map--appear to lean to the Democrat as of this morning. Several states now appear to be leaning to McCain--West Virginia and Indiana. The great news for Obama: all nine states were won by George W. Bush in 2004. The Democrat holds a solid, unusually commanding lead in nearly all of the states won by Kerry, except Pennsylvania (and according to the Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby poll this morning, Minnesota, where the race has drawn down to 49% to 46% for Obama). The slight bit of good news for McCain, enough voters remain undecided or are persuadable in enough states to produce a few surprises. (This result would imply that these voters, now mostly white and center-right, would trend towards their demographic--as undecided voters often do--and thus would favor McCain by a considerable margin.) But with Obama at or above the 50% mark in many of these battleground states, McCain would also have to pick off a fairly large bloc of voters who now say they are committed to the Democrat. Obama's overall structural advantage in the Kerry-blue states of 2004 also leaves him in much better shape than McCain: the Democrat's lead in "Safe" electoral votes--in which a candidate has a demographic advantage in a state, leads beyond the margin of error, and has a top-line of 50% or more-- now stands at more than 100, 238 to 127. (Obama's number here could drop to 228 if more polls corroborate a narrowing race in Minnesota.) As of this morning, the map solidly favors Obama. PollTrack expects an enormous amount of fresh polling throughout the day, so stay tuned for updates.

As National Lead Narrows Somewhat, Are States Getting Closer, Too?

Posted Nov 02, 2008 at 2:00 AM by Maurice Berger

While national polling indicates a somewhat narrowed race from a month ago--Obama now has an aggregate lead in our daily tracking average of a little over +6%--this effect carries through only in some states. As of this morning, Obama maintains a commanding, "Safe" lead in almost all of the states won by John  Kerry in 2004 plus Iowa, for a total of 239 "Safe" electoral votes. McCain now safely holds on to 127 electoral votes. These numbers, of course, suggest a strong structural advantage for Obama in the electoral college, especially considering that his average leads in these "Safe" states rise to or well above the 50% mark. But something interesting is going on: in a some of the swing and red-leaning states that went for Bush in 2004, but in which Obama has been leading in recent weeks--Colorado, Nevada, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, and Missouri--the momentum seems to be with McCain over the past two-three days. The most recent polls indicate that the race may be moving into the two-close-to-call range in all of these states. Additionally, Pennsylvania has narrowed considerably in the last three days of polling--three polls show the race at +4% DEM, another, Morning Call Tracking, which had Obama up by as much as the mid-teens, now reports the race is down to +7% DEM--and thus PollTrack moves the state on Today's and Tomorrow's Map from "Safe Democrat" to "Leaning Democrat." Ohio may be narrowing as well: Obama's PT average has dropped to +4.2%, while one poll out this morning, Mason-Dixon (one of the most accurate pollsters over the past two cycles), reports that McCain has pulled into a very modest +2% lead, 47% to 45%. Additionally, Obama's aggregate top-line in the state has dropped below the 50% mark to 48.8%. While early voting in Ohio should favor Obama in the end, PollTrack moves the state on Today's Map from "Leaning Democrat" to "Too Close To Call." An in Indiana, where Obama has drawn the race to a virtual tie, PollTrack moves the state on Tomorrow's Map from "Leaning Republican" to "Too Close To Call."

Daily Tracking Poll: Obama Up Again

Posted Nov 01, 2008 at 9:29 AM by Maurice Berger

Today's PollTrack daily tracking poll average shows Obama up +6.3%, 50.2% to 43.9%. This is a slight uptick from yesterday, though one poll--GWU/Battleground which has shown the race at around +4% DEM all week--does not issue trackers over the weekend. Several things to note: IBD/TIPP today reports the undecided block at +8.7%. Zogby, one of this cycle's more erratic pollsters, writes this morning that the McCain "made solid gains in Friday's single day of polling," pulling into a lead on that single day, 48% to 47%. And AP/Yahoo yesterday reported a staggering 14% of voters who say they are undecided or still persuadable and thus could change their mind by Election Day. Is this volatility real? Hard to say. The good news for Obama: he leads in all national surveys, has a near lock on almost every state won by John Kerry in 2004, has McCain struggling in a number of true-red states (NC, VA, IN, ND, MT), and has a considerable structural advantage in many battleground states --from early voting that favors him to a top-line above the 50% mark on average in many of these contests. The possible good news for McCain: most of the undecided and much of persuadable bloc is made up of voters who demographically trend Republican. Most undecided voters, if they actually vote, usually break towards their demographic. (Many polls actually indicate a very high degree of enthusiasm among uncertain voters, a sign that they may show up in the end.) A large bloc of undecided voters--if it is true that this bloc hovers around the 8-10% mark nationally--moving lockstep in one direction or another could still significantly impact the race. 

Obama Owns the 50% Mark: Another Important Structural Advantage

Posted Oct 30, 2008 at 4:47 AM by Maurice Berger

One significant, though unreported, structural advantage for Obama on the electoral map: of the 255 EVs he now leads "safely" (according to PollTrack's averages), he reaches or exceeds the 50% mark in all. In other words, he not only maintains a +10% advantage in these states, but rises above the 50% threshold, thus making it all the more difficult for McCain to catch up, especially considering that third party candidates are drawing at least a few percentage points in many of these states. Additionally in all of the remaining 51 EVs that now "lean" to Obama on Today's Map, but not by a "Safe" margin--Ohio, New Hampshire, Virginia, Colorado, and New Mexico--he still rises above the 50% mark. And in one state, still "Too Close To Call" on Today's Map, Nevada, he has just inched up to the 50% mark. So the Democrat now reaches or exceeds the magic threshold in 270 EVs. McCain by contrast is "Safe" in 127 EVs, reaching or exceeding the 50% mark in all. He leans in an additional four states, but reaches the 50% threshold only in two, West Virginia and Georgia. Incredibly, in his home state of Arizona (as well as Montana) he fails to hit 50%. In the remaining states that are now rated "Too Close To Call"--Florida, North Carolina, Missouri, Indiana, and North Dakota--Obama holds a very slight lead in all but IN, but does not hit the 50% mark in any. Nevertheless, even with polls reporting that McCain is narrowing the gap in some battleground states, these numbers add up to a map that fundamentally favors Obama.

"Leaners" Lean Towards Obama

Posted Oct 30, 2008 at 2:45 AM by Maurice Berger

While polls contradict each other, some showing Obama significantly ahead, others indicating a close national or statewide race, it's usually the way "leaners" and persuadable voters are counted that makes the difference. In other words, when only voters who are certain of their choice are included in a sample, the race is somewhat closer. When voters who are persuadable or leaning one way or another are factored in, Obama often holds a solid advantage. There is a bit of good news in this for each candidate. For McCain, these numbers suggest a fluidity in the race: neither candidate has sealed the deal with voters. The fluidity of voters leaning towards Obama's may also suggest their reticence or anxiety about the candidate. The good news for Obama is really quite good: with leaning and persuadable voters included, he jumps well over the 50% mark in many surveys and states, suggesting that a solid majority of voters are ready--or nearly ready--to vote for him. The next few days are crucial for both camps. If Obama can successfully close, finally securing leaning, persuadable, and undecided voters he has the potential of a solid, and perhaps commanding electoral majority. But if these voters break for McCain, we may see a much closer race, though the structural stability of the Democrat's numbers--he leads by more than 10% on average in 255 EVs--will make any path to victory for McCain extremely limited and difficult.

Six Days To Go: The Fundamentals Remain Strong For Obama

Posted Oct 29, 2008 at 2:30 AM by Maurice Berger

While most tracking polls showing the race narrowing over the past few days (to within a few points according to IBD/TIPP, GWU/Battleground, Galup (traditional) over the past few days and Rasmussen this morning), the fundamentals of the election still markedly favor Barack Obama. The biggest plus for the Democrat: he now holds "Safe" level leads in states with a total of 255 electoral votes, 259 EVs with New Hampshire, which is trending "Safe." With this potential margin in the electoral college, Obama will need to pick off only one or two more states which now "Lean" to him: a combination of North Carolina, Colorado, Nevada, Virginia, or New Mexico, for example, or even just Ohio or Florida. The only hope for McCain rests on one odd factor in national polling: the large bloc of voters who say they are still persuadable. Rasmussen reports this morning, for example, that among "likely voters" Obama leads by +3%, 50% to 47%. Among voters who are absolutely certain of the decision, the Democrat leads by the same margin, but at 46% to 43%. In the latter numbers, Obama drops well below the 50% mark; just as significant, the pool of decided voters drops to 89%, leaving another 11% who are "leaning," wavering, not sure, undecided, or voting for a third party candidate. Yet, even if McCain were to make up the difference by election day--with a large swing of persuadable voters in his direction--he would still have a major structural disadvantage in the electoral college. If Obama now wins all the states that are now called "Safe Democrat" on Today's Map (a likely scenario if history is any guide), he would only need a few more states to win. With a +6% average in Ohio, +7 in Colorado, +7 in New Mexico, +6.5% in Virginia, +3 in Florida he has a much better shot at squeaking by in enough swing states to cross the finish line. Still if McCain's gains were dramatic--and other factors, such as the "Bradley Effect," which could be skewing polling results towards Obama--were operative, anything is possible. BUT, the opposite outcome may be even more likely: with "Leaners" now skewing slightly to Obama, he could benefit from a swing of persuadables in his direction, movement that could result in an electoral mandate in which true-red states, such as North Carolina, Virginia, and Indiana, and red-leaning battlegrounds, such as Missouri, Florida, and Ohio fall into the Democratic column. Stay tuned.

One Reason The Polls May Be Narrowing

Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 2:31 AM by Maurice Berger

PollTrack would like to suggest one reason why the presidential contest may be tightening somewhat: Republican voters--and conservative leaning independents--are coming home. Over the past decade, the nation has tended to be polarized along party lines; in the past four presidential and national cycles, party loyalists and fellow travelers eventually dropped back into the fold. Another, related reason may be that Obama peaked too soon. Generally, a candidate wants to reach peak numbers as close to the election as possible. With Obama polling as much as a +14% lead just a week ago, the only way his numbers can go is down as Republicans and conservative voters come home to their party.  Despite this narrowing, the underlying dynamics of the race have remained relatively stable for the past three weeks, with Obama in the high-40s, McCain in the mid-40s. Thus even if wayward Republican and conservative voters fall into line, it will difficult for McCain to make up his current deficit of around -5%. (This is true, of course, as long as independent voters favor the Democrat; after the conventions, they tilted sharply to McCain for a few weeks.) The electoral math may be even more daunting, given the Democrat's significant lead in all of the blue states and a modest advantage in most of the battleground states. With McCain rumored to be pulling out of Colorado (a rumor denied by the candidate and the RNC), he will need to pick off a blue state or two in order to reach 270 EVs. His campaign hints that it will fight for Pennsylvania, where Obama now has a +11.5% advantage according to PollTrack's average (though the internal polls of both campaigns apparently show a closer race).

Two Weeks Out: The Fundamentals Favor Obama

Posted Oct 20, 2008 at 2:35 AM by Maurice Berger

With Obama leading in all of the states won by John Kerry in 2004--and McCain behind or struggling in a number won by George W. Bush--the fundamentals of the election still favor the Democrat. Perhaps the most positive sign for Obama is the stability of the national numbers over the cycle. Although there is evidence that these numbers are drawing closer (PT's polling average is inching below the 5% mark), the baseline number for each candidate has remained the same for all but a few weeks in September: Obama in the upper forties, McCain in the mid 40s. Only Obama has been able to register above the 50% mark for more than a few days (indeed, all of the daily trackers have placed him at or above 50% at some point during the past three weeks). The durability of these numbers suggests an underlying dynamic that tilts decidedly blue at this point. Having said this, even a durable and longstanding wave of support can break down in the waning days of an election. Indeed, Al Gore--facing an Republican opponent who rode a yearlong wave of support--made up a 10% deficit in the final month of the 2000 campaign. The other issue (all too relevant to 2000): the popular vote may not reflect McCain's ultimate strength on the electoral map. As Obama wracks up enormous leads in many of the blue states (including many of the blue battlegrounds such as Wisconsin, Iowa, and Michigan)--far out-pacing either Gore or Kerry--his leads in a number of battlegrounds are tenuous at best. McCain has drawn Ohio down to a tie. His numbers are perking up in West Virginia and Florida. Indeed, if McCain can solidify or win back support in Republican leading states--in other words if the electoral map returns to its traditional divisions--the election could come down to two states with dramatic voter registration shifts in recent years: Colorado and Virginia, both traditionally Republican but increasingly hospitable to Democrats. With Obama ahead in the three 2000/2004 "swing" states (New Mexico, New Hampshire, and Iowa swung between the two parties in the last two close elections), however, McCain's route to victory is nevertheless far narrower and more difficult than his opponent.

Three Weeks To Go: Is It Over?

Posted Oct 14, 2008 at 3:58 AM by Maurice Berger

Perusing the latest round of national and statewide polls--and looking back at the numbers over the past two weeks--it's fair to sat that the momentum is clearly with Obama. For one, the Democrat has grazed the 50% mark continuously for more than two weeks in most daily tracking polls. Just as important is the consistency of McCain's numbers, hovering around the 45% mark. Since June, the race has remained relatively stable, save for a few weeks in early September when McCain lead by a few points. Another positive for Obama: he's up as much as +10% in a number of key battleground states--including robust leads in PA, MI, WI--advantages that may well be insurmountable at this point. The Democrat is also ahead in all of the states won by John Kerry in 2004. So the overarching dynamic of the race has favored Obama, allowing him to ride a more or less consistent wave of support that has placed him 3-5% ahead of his opponent for most of the past four months. He's also winning the expectations game, as voters by a significant margin expect him to win. Still, the election is not over. Indeed, over the past half century, competitive presidential cycles have often seen dramatic movement in the last few weeks. In 1980, Carter lead by 5-8% until the final weeks, when Reagan rapidly came up from behind to overtake him. In 1968, Democrat Hubert Humphrey made up an large deficit in the last month of the campaign against Richard Nixon.  In 1976, Gerald Ford closed a significant gap, nearly defeating Jimmy Carter after months of lagging way behind. In 2000, Al Gore made up a 7% deficit in the final weeks of the campaign. And in 2004, a series of solid debate performances helped Kerry to close within a few points of George W. Bush. The good news for Obama: the longer the underlying dynamics of the race remain the same, the more likely voter sentiment will begin to solidify. Yet, a large bloc of voters remain undecided or say they could still change their mind (more than 10% according to most national surveys). Will tomorrow's debate--like the first two--help Obama to seal the deal with voters? Can McCain alter the dynamics of the race, by changing the subject from the ailing economy to other matters? Will news events intervene? And what about an October surprise? Might it be just around the corner?

Rasmussen & Zogby Also Report The Race Tightening

Posted Oct 13, 2008 at 2:26 AM by Maurice Berger

This morning, both the Rasmussen and Zogby daily tracking polls--like Gallup's yesterday--suggest the race is tightening. Rasmussen gives Obama a +5% lead (50% to 45%), down from a high to +8% earlier in the week. Zobgy reports a 4% lead (48% to 44%). The good news for Obama: his base numbers have remained steady over the past two weeks, within a point or two, either way, of 50%, while McCain hovers around the 45% mark. The good news for McCain: despite a succession of bad news cycles for the candidate (and the Republican brand), Obama is not walking away with the election according to these surveys. Still, several periodic polls released over the weekend, report a big advantage for the Democrat: Newsweek--+11%, ABC News/Washington Post: +10%. The latter survey suggests that Obama's lead may be insurmountable: "Though every race is different, no presidential candidate has come back from an October deficit this large in pre-election polls dating to 1936." The same poll, however, also indicates an unusually fluid bloc of voters in the middle, some undecided, others swinging from one candidate to the other.  PollTrack will carefully monitor the daily trackers (as well as periodic surveys) over the next week to get a better sense of the state of the race. Also monitored: the extent to which any changes in the candidates' national numbers, if any, make their way into the battleground states. Generally, state polling lags behind national surveys by a week or two. Are two polls released over the weekend in Ohio and North Carolina--both showing McCain retaking a marginal lead--outliers or trend catchers? Stay tuned.

Daily Trackers Now Agree: Obama Ahead By +7%

Posted Oct 10, 2008 at 9:14 AM by Maurice Berger

All five tracking polls averaged in PollTrack's daily survey show a solid lead for Obama, ranging from +5% to +10%. The overall average for today: Obama, just grazing the 50% mark, at 49.6% to McCain, 42.6%. This give the Democrat an average daily tracking lead of +7%, just shy of his fall-campaign high of +7.3%, registered earlier this week.

Obama's Lead

Posted Oct 06, 2008 at 5:32 AM by Maurice Berger

Polltrack's average of Monday's daily tracking polls continues to show a statistically significant lead for Obama (+7.3%)--a figure that also places the Democrat a tiny fraction shy of the 50% mark: Obama-49.8% to McCain-42.5%. The big question: can the Republican ticket erase this increasingly durable Democratic advantage a month out from the election. One poll released today, by Democracy Corps shows a much closer race--Obama-48%, McCain-45%, Nader-3%, Barr-2%--so PollTrack will be watching the height and depth of Obama's national support over the next week. One red flag for the McCain campaign: the Democrat's national lead is translating into dramatically improved numbers in many battleground states.

Obama's Milestones: At the 50% Mark AND +7% In Daily Tracking Average

Posted Oct 04, 2008 at 12:23 PM by Maurice Berger

The week ends with two major milestones for the Obama campaign: a national lead in most surveys at or near the 50% mark and a statistically significant advantage over his Republican rival. With today's PollTrack national daily tracking poll average showing Obama up +7%, the Democrat is heading into the last month of Election 2008 in a position of strength. Obama's lead is larger than either candidate's thus far (and he is the first to hover at the 50% mark for more than a day or two). The longer Obama can remain at or near the 50% (or surge above it) and maintain a lead beyond the margin of error of most national polls, the harder it will be for McCain to remake the dynamics of the race. Yes, as this morning's post suggests, it's far from over for the Republican. The fortunes of the two candidates have swung dramatically over the past month. But the McCain campaign must act quickly or risk loosing a large bloc of independent and unaffiliated voters, who are growing increasingly comfortable with the idea of an Obama presidency, especially in light of the faltering economy. The two milestones confirmed by today's polls--and Obama's surge over the past week in a number of battleground states, including traditionally Republican ones, like Indiana and North Carolina--suggest that the Republican path to victory has grown narrower and more difficult.

The 50% Mark: Is Obama Over The Top?

Posted Oct 04, 2008 at 3:04 AM by Maurice Berger

Notable is Rasmussen Reports observation this morning about the baseline numbers of Obama and McCain. For over a week, Obama has held steady in their daily tracking poll at 50% to 51%. McCain, similarly, hangs on to a 44%-45% baseline support. While PollTrack's national poll average for Obama continues to show him slightly under 50%, these numbers nevertheless indicate that the McCain campaign is in trouble. (That third party candidates are currently polling at 4% to 5% collectively in some polls, adds to the significance of Obama's 48% to 49% standing in PollTrack's national average.) It is possible, at this point, for the Republicans to regain the lead? It certainly is. In 2000, Democrat Al Gore made up a 6% deficit in the last two weeks of the election, ultimately winning 500,000 more popular votes than George W. Bush. In 1976, Gerald Ford made up a 20% deficit in two months. The pattern of this election, thus far, suggests a volatile and fluid electorate: in early-August Obama held a 4-5% lead. By early September, it was +2% McCain. Now, it's hovering around +5% Obama. Indeed, in the two week period from early to mid-September, the election swung 8%. The danger for McCain: that the long-term "wave" of support for Obama--he has led in national polls for all but a few weeks since the end of the Democratic primaries in June--may begin to solidify. The danger for Obama: the passage of the bailout bill--coupled with Sarah Palin's well received debate performance--has given the Republicans an opening to change the subject and retake upcoming news cycles, perhaps with negative stories about Obama, his associates (e.g. Rev. Wright, Ayers, Rezko), and the idea that his "liberal" positions are out of step with middle America. The latter could be a potent strategy if voters remain impressionable and uncertain: the nation has not elected a left-of-center president since FDR, in his last re-election bid in 1944. Yet, with the economy in crisis and job loses way up, will an anxious electorate reject these attempts to cast doubts about Obama?

Bush Approval At All-Time Low: How Will This Effect Election 2008?

Posted Oct 01, 2008 at 1:17 AM by Maurice Berger

President Bush's approval rating has dropped to an all-time low, according to Gallup: "Before the U.S. House of Representatives voted down a proposed financial rescue plan endorsed by the Bush administration, just 27% of Americans said they approved of the job George W. Bush is doing as president, the lowest of his presidency and already down 4 points since the financial crisis intensified." To what extent, PollTrack wonders, is this decline, coupled with the voters' tendency in recent surveys to blame Republicans in general for the present economic crisis, contributing to McCain's declining polling numbers? Over the next month, will it be possible for McCain to transcend the negative standing of his party? Is his fate inexorably linked to the success or failure--or the public perception thereof--of the bailout package and its economic aftermath? Interestingly, while McCain's numbers have drawn back to pre-convention levels--and Obama's are up accordingly--the Democrat still does not break the 50% mark in most national polls. PollTrack observes that there remains a undertow of resistance to Obama in the electorate at large. This inability to seal the deal with the American voter may be due to a number of factors--including uncertainty about the candidate's experience, his inability to lock up support from working class and so-called Reagan Democrats (thus, McCain's leads in OH, TN, WV, and KY) and die hard Hillary Clinton supporters, overt or unconscious racism, or the perception that the Democrat is somehow "foreign" or "out of touch" with middle American values. Will the nation's economic implosion help Obama to seal the deal or will McCain retake the momentum?

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 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.

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.

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).

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?