Presidential Race Maps Writing on the Wall

Abortion Became A Central Issue In Some US Senate Races

Posted Nov 15, 2012 at 9:09 AM by Maurice Berger

CNN's analysis of exit polls in the state of Missouri conclude that abortion played an important role in Democratic US Senator Claire McCaskill''s ability to overcome her republican challenger, even though she entered the race as a clear underdog. CNN writes, "in Missouri, Republican Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin said in a local news interview that women have biological ways to avoid pregnancy after a "legitimate rape." Tuesday's early exit polls show 51% of Missouri voters say they believe abortion should be legal all or most of the time. Of those voters, exit polls show 76% supporting Akin's opponent, Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill while 19% voted for Akin. Forty-seven percent of Missouri's voters say abortion should be illegal. Exit polls show Akin takes 67% of this group's votes while 27% of people who think abortion should be illegal supported Sen. McCaskill."

With Democrats In Missouri and Ohio Winning

Posted Nov 06, 2012 at 10:18 PM by Maurice Berger

. . . their US Senate seats, it is now certain that the Democrats will retain control of the Senate. 

Missouri: Strong Romney Lead

Posted Sep 05, 2012 at 9:26 AM by Maurice Berger

A new survey by Public Policy Polling suggest that Missouri continues to look like a tough sell for Barack Obama. The poll reports a strong +12% lead for Romney in the state, 53% to 41%.PollTrack moves the state on Today's Map from Leaning Republican to Safe Republican.

Romney Leads In Missouri

Posted Aug 29, 2012 at 9:45 AM by Maurice Berger

A new Mason-Dixon poll in Missouri reports that Mitt Romney leads President Obama, 50% to 43%. While other polls have shown an even closer race, PollTrack continues to rate the state Leaning Republican on Today's Map.

Election 2012: Missouri Tied?

Posted Aug 15, 2012 at 9:25 AM by Maurice Berger

In another sign that the Romney campaign may be in trouble, a new poll by SurveyUSA in Missouri (taken before Paul Ryan was aded to the GOP ticket) reports a virtually tied race, with Mitt Romney barely ahead of President Obama, 45% to 44%. While the state served as a nearly perfect bellwether of presidential cycles in the 20th-century, it has recently trended Republican. Indeed, by contrast, SurveyUSA reports that in the state's upcoming US Senate race between incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill and GOP challenger Todd Akin, the Republican leads by a significant +11%, 51% to 40%. Will the addition of Paul Ryan help Romney in the state of Missouri, as well as nationally? Stay tuned.

2012 US Senate: Are The Democrats In Trouble?

Posted Feb 02, 2011 at 12:26 AM by Maurice Berger

An analysis by Politico suggests that the GOP may have an inherent advantage in the 2012 US Senate races, and may well be poised to take over from the Democrats: "Montana Rep. Denny Rehberg will challenge Democratic Sen. Jon Tester in 2012, giving Republicans their first-choice candidate for the race and putting yet another incumbent in serious jeopardy. . . .  [An] Opinion Diagnostics survey of 400 likely Montana voters showed 49 percent backing Rehberg compared to 43 percent for Tester and 8 percent undecided . . . Rehberg’s announcement will mean Republicans have high-profile, formally announced challengers in four states where Democrats are up for reelection: Montana, Missouri (former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman), Nebraska (state Attorney General Jon Bruning) and Virginia (former Sen. George Allen). That’s not to mention the open Senate seat in North Dakota, where Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad’s retirement gives Republicans a strong pickup opportunity, and Florida, where several solid candidates are circling the race against Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson. Some of these candidates are facing competitive primaries, but the big picture is this: Senate Republicans have already put a sizable list of Democratic seats in play and they only need to net four to hit the 51-seat mark."

Sen. John McCain Officially Wins Missouri

Posted Nov 19, 2008 at 2:48 PM by Maurice Berger

More than two weeks after the election, Sen. John McCain officially wins Missouri. The final electoral count for Election 2008: Obama-365, McCain-173. The state's 104 year-streak of serving as the nation's bellwether (missing only 1956) may be coming to an end, as its demographics are tilting slightly Republican in recent years.

Electoral College Stands Tentatively At Obama-365 to McCain-173

Posted Nov 19, 2008 at 1:47 AM by Maurice Berger

With the Associated Press calling Nebraska's Second Congressional District for Obama (the state and Maine are the only two not winner take all) and NBC calling Missouri for Obama, the tentative electoral count for the 2008 presidential cycle is 365 to 173. When the Missouri tally is made final by the state, PollTrack with enter the final on the Election Day Map and archive it (and the blog). we will continue to have updates on the election and its aftermath over the next month.

Three States Remain "Too Close To Call": Missouri, Indiana, North Carolina

Posted Nov 05, 2008 at 1:09 AM by Maurice Berger

Of the five states that PollTrack marked as "Too Close To Call," three remain virtually tied this morning: Missouri, Indiana, and North Carolina. At nearly a perfect 50% to 50% it may take a few days to get final results from these states, AFTER absentee and provisional ballots (and in some cases military ballots) are counted. As of 9:00 AM EST, Missouri leans ever so slightly to McCain, Indiana and North Carolina ever so slightly to Obama. The extraordinarily high African-American vote in NC is no doubt a key factor in this decidedly red-leaning state possibly flipping into the Democratic column.

Where Are The Bellwethers: Missouri, Ohio, Nevada?

Posted Nov 04, 2008 at 3:56 AM by Maurice Berger

Where are are three bellwethers on election day? Obama is up in Nevada; Missouri and Ohio remain too close to call. Does the status of the latter two--Missouri is virtually tied this morning, with McCain up by +0.7%--suggest a close election? Hard to say. Interestingly, in the Missouri Democratic primary back in February, on "Super Tuesday," Obama won the state by 1.4%; his popular vote lead for all the primaries and caucuses was under 1%, like MO very close indeed. Yet, in the past few cycles, Missouri has actually trended Republican, affording Bush a higher margin of victory than the national totals and in 2000, he won MO but lost the popular vote. Ohio was relatively close in both elections, so the state's demographics trend towards close presidential races. If the numbers in Nevada hold, they could be a harbinger of a modest, but comfortable win for Obama.  Polltrack's nagging historical question: will Missouri pick the eventual winner tonight, as it has done in all but one presidential cycle since 1904? Or will Nevada emerge as the new reliable national bellwether?

Morning Report: Obama Well Over The Mark, 291 to 163, with 84 TCTC

Posted Nov 04, 2008 at 1:41 AM by Maurice Berger

On election morning, it is clear to PollTrack that the fundamentals of the race decidedly favor Obama. He has wracked up significant margins in early voting according to nearly all polls, though in a few states, preeminently Florida, its unclear who has the edge and by how much. He maintains "Safe" leads in virtually all of the Kerry-blue states from 2004, and robust leads in a few Bush states as well (Iowa and New Mexico). Additionally, he holds a modest, but statistically significant, advantage in another two: Colorado and, amazingly in a state that hasn't gone Republican since 1964, Virginia. McCain, on the other hand, maintains 127 "Safe" electoral voters, and 32 "Leaners," one comfortably (West Virginia), and three by a very slim margin, helped by red-leaning statewide demographics (Montana, North Dakota, and Georgia). The Republican, unlike Obama, leads in NO Kerry-blue states (though his campaign insists it has a chance in PA) and is struggling in several states won by Bush: Indiana, North Carolina, and Missouri, all three virtually tied and thus remain too close to call. And the two candidates have drawn the mother of all battleground states, Florida and Ohio, to a tie. Indeed, of the 12 true swing states in 2004, Obama now leads in all but these two states. If Obama simply maintains most of the states he now takes on PollTrack's map, he wins. McCain, on the other hand, would have to run the Bush-red deck now on the map, including all red-safe and red-leaning states, the five that are now too close to call, AND pick off a Kerry-blue state or two from Obama. In the end, turnout means everything in this--and all--elections. And the "wave" matters, too. If momentum remains sharply with Obama--e.g., voters are comfortable with him and angry about what they see as Republican mismanagement of the economy--the Democrat will win an electoral landslide. If McCain's newfound "momentum" turns out to be real and more than moderate--indeed, in most statewide surveys, voters who have already cast their ballots favor Obama by a significant margin, those who plan to vote today, lean to McCain, to varying degrees--the race could end closer. In this regard, Obama has another structural advantage in many states: with voting going on since early October in some places--a time when the Democrat was riding high in the polls--he comes into today's contest with a real edge. Yet, if turnout is unprecedented then the make-up of the electorate could determine the outcome of close states. This explains the near impossibility of predicting the outcome of states are now virtually or literally tied--MO, IN, FL, OH, and NC--simply from present-day polling, historical voting models, and demographics. Will this show of voter enthusiasm merely underscore Obama's longstanding popularity and the intensity of his supporters, or might Republicans, Evangelicals, and center-right white working class voters come home to McCain in larger than expected numbers?

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."

Today's and Tomorrow's Map: Bellwether Nevada Moves From "Too Close" To "Leaning Democrat"

Posted Oct 31, 2008 at 2:56 AM by Maurice Berger

With several polls indicating a solid rise of support for Obama in Nevada--and crucially an exhaustive survey released yesterday that now confirms both the solidity and enthusiasm of the Hispanic vote in the southwest for the Democrat--PollTrack moves the state from "Too Close To Call" to "Leaning Democrat" on both Today's and Tomorrow's Maps. The implications of Obama's advantage with Hispanic voters in the southwest cannot be clearer: McCain is now struggling even in his home state of Arizona, where his PT average lead has dropped well below the +10% mark. Nevada is also one of three bellwether states, so Obama appears to be in very good shape, now leading in Ohio and Nevada. Only Missouri remains too close to call on both maps.

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.

Obama: Ad War Dominance

Posted Oct 29, 2008 at 6:44 AM by Maurice Berger

In a sign of the economic disparity between the two presidential campaigns, Nielsen reports that Obama continues to outspend McCain in the key battleground states: "In Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, Obama placed 155% more ad units (62,022 vs. 24,273) than McCain between October 6 and October 26, 2008... Obama's advertising continues to be heaviest in Florida, where he ran 18,909 ads between October 6 and October 26, outpacing McCain's 5,702 ads by 232%." Over the past few days, Nielsen reports, McCain has closed the gap slightly. More eye-popping, perhaps, is the Republican's newest ad buy: Montana, a state George W. Bush won by nearly twenty points four years ago." Yet, despite this enormous disparity, the race remains close in most of these states, though all, except PA, lean Republican.

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.

Where Are The Three Bellwethers: Missouri, Ohio, Nevada?

Posted Oct 26, 2008 at 4:25 AM by Maurice Berger

As PollTrack has written (6 October 2008, Nevada: The New Bellwether?), three states have been bellwethers in presidential cycles over the past fifty years: Missouri, Ohio, and  Nevada. Missouri has voted with the winner in every presidential election since 1904 (save 1956), Ohio has picked the eventual victor since 1964 (no Republican has won the presidency without it, and only twice has a Democrat), and Nevada, beginning in 1980, has gone with the national winner, both in close elections (2000 and 2004) and blowouts (Reagan vs. Mondale in 1984). How are the candidates doing in these important indicator of the national mood? In two, Missouri and Nevada, Obama leads by a tiny margin. In Ohio, the state now leans slightly to Obama. So from the perspective of electoral bellwethers, it's now three up, Obama--a good place to be 10 days before a national cycle, though the race remains "Too Close To Call" in MO and NV.

McCain's Challenge IV: Money

Posted Oct 25, 2008 at 1:50 AM by Maurice Berger

Another challenge now facing McCain: money. With Obama opting out of public funding, he has virtually unlimited resources in the final ten days of election 2008. The biggest challenge for McCain, then, is getting his message out against a tidal wave of Democratic television advertising. Nielsen's accounting of ad expenditures confirms that over the past week, Obama's outlay for TC spots in seven key battleground states dwarfed McCain's by 150%: "In seven key swing states--Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia--Obama placed 150% more ad units (53,049 v. 21,106) than McCain between October 6 and October 22, 2008. Obama’s advertising has been most prolific in Florida, where he ran 15,887 ads between October 6 and October 22, 2008, outpacing McCain’s 4,662 ads by 240%." The bulk and frequency of TV ads are only one factor in the overall success of a campaign--and electoral history is littered with losers who outspent their opponents--but having this kind of ad advantage no doubt helps Obama in the homestretch of this campaign.

Is McCain Giving Up On New Hampshire and Wisconsin?

Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 6:51 AM by Maurice Berger

The political world is buzzing with another rumor--just up on ABC News--about McCain's on-the-ground operation: that his campaign is giving up on New Hampshire and Wisconsin. If this is true--and so far, such reports have not been entirely accurate--then the Republican playing field has narrowed once again, and perilously for McCain. Both states were won by John Kerry in 2004. Obama now leads in both, in the latter by more than +10% according to PollTrack's average. If McCain withdraws from the two states, he is also effectively withdrawing to the very limited boundaries of the 2004 political map. He now must win nearly all of Bush's states to beat Obama--a difficult proposition since the Democrat leads by a healthy margin in several, including Colorado, New Mexico, and Iowa, and by a slight advantage in a few others, including North Carolina, Nevada, and Missouri.

Election Day Map: Obama-273 McCain-209 TCTC-56

Posted Oct 19, 2008 at 3:38 AM by Maurice Berger

With Missouri narrowing down to a dead heat--and Obama drawing a record crowd of 100,000 in St. Louis--PollTrack has moved the state from "WIN Republican" to "Too Close To Call" on Election Day Map. The newly calibrated map stands at: Obama-273 McCain-209 TCTC-56.

Obama Ahead In Key Counties

Posted Oct 17, 2008 at 10:01 AM by Maurice Berger

According a just released survey by Politico/Insider Advantage/Majority Opinion Research, Obama is expanding on recent Democratic gains in three suburban counties crucial to winning their respective states— Pennsylvania’s Bucks County (+6 DEM, 47% to 41%), Missouri’s St. Louis County (which does not include the city of St Louis, +16% DEM, 53% to 37%) and Virginia’s Prince William County (+8 DEM, 50% to 42%). In Ohio’s Franklin County, which covers Columbus and its suburbs, Obama also leads, but by a smaller margin (+%, 45% to 40%). These numbers bode well for the Democrat, who must carry these counties by a healthy margin to assure statewide victory. One note of caution, all four polls still register a large portion of undecided or uncertain voters, numbers that are unusually high at this point in a presidential cycle. Another Insider Advantage/Majority Opinion Research poll issued earlier in the week reported Obama leading in three other key counties in battleground states: Washoe County, Nevada, Wake County, North Carolina; and Hillsborough County, Florida. McCain's sole lead is in Jefferson County, Colorado.

Party Weighting: The Great Unknown Of Election 2008

Posted Oct 17, 2008 at 2:13 AM by Maurice Berger

One way pollsters process raw data from samples is to filter it through party weighting models. In other words, a model that organizes voters by party and then weights the sample to reflect the percentage of likely voters from each party (as well as independents). With Democrat enthusiasm up this year, most pollsters give the party a considerable edge. In Rasmussen's weighting, for example Democrats outnumber Republicans  39.3% to 33.0%. For Zogby, it's closer: 38% to 36%. This weighting, in part (but several others factors are also at play), is responsible for the large swing in national numbers, from an Obama lead of +2% to +14%. PollTrack wonders: as national results are clearly narrowing, is Republican interest in the election gaining on Democratic? While Obama's campaign has fired up certain demographic groups --African-Americans, single women, young voters, for example--what of the traditional Republican constituencies: the over 65 set, Evangelicals, conservative Christians, and older white men? The latter groups tend to have exceptionally high turn out, literally making the difference for George W. Bush in 2004. There is anecdotal evidence that Evangelical voters, for a range of reasons--from anxiety about Obama to excitement about Sarah Palin--are growing increasingly enthusiastic about the Republican ticket. While some periodic polls (like CBS News/New York Times and Pew) show a very large lead for the Democrat, are these surveys underestimating the potential turn out of groups that--as a rule--vote in consistently and often extraordinarily numbers? Pollster John Zogby notes: "What troubles me is when I see some of my colleagues have 27% of the respondents that are Republicans. That's just not America, period. [Party affiliation fluctuates over time] it doesn't change "day-to-day, and it never fluctuates by eight points in a short time period." Will the 2008 election break the mold--resulting in an unprecedented jump in Democratic turn out--or will Republican and conservative voters also show up in significant numbers, thus drawing the race much closer (especially in battleground states that already tilt Republican, such as MO, NC, FL, NV, CO, and OH)?

Could A Narrowing In National Numbers Be Significant?

Posted Oct 16, 2008 at 2:45 AM by Maurice Berger

A reader asks: why is a narrowing in the national polls significant, especially with Obama more than 100 electoral votes ahead of McCain on Today's Map? With nearly twice as many persuadable and undecided voters than at this point in the 2004 election--and 45% of respondents saying that Obama is not qualified to be president (only Michael Dukakis in 1988 had a higher rating in this regard)--any tightening of the race could be meaningful. And if history is any guide, the survey that now shows the race the closest--IBD/TIPP--was also the most accurate in predicting the outcome of the last presidential election. (Given PollTrack's reliance on polling averages, you might want to take this observation with a grain of salt.) National numbers, however, are not the whole story: we elect presidents not through natiowide totals but 51 winner-take-all statewide contests (save for NE and ME, where EVs are split by congressional districts). Ultimately, national advantages often trickle down to the states. As national numbers change, so eventually can the numbers in battleground states. The average lag between national and statewide trends is a week or two. Indeed, today, we're seeing a slight tightening--and improvement in McCain's polling averages--of several states, including North Carolina, West Virginia, Missouri, and Colorado. Still, a number of national polls report a wide lead for Obama, so statewide trending could also increase the Democrat's advantage in the battlegrounds.

Missouri: Another Troubling Sign For McCain

Posted Oct 13, 2008 at 10:12 AM by Maurice Berger

Missouri is a bellwether state that has voted with the winner in every presidential cycle since 1904, with one exception, 1956. (The state has been trending Republican in recent cycles; still as of 2004, its record survives.) Last month, McCain saw great improvement in his numbers in Missouri, pulling into a modest but solid lead. Two new polls released today, by Fox News/Rasmussen and Survey USA, suggests a surge of sorts for Obama in the Show-Me State, with leads of +3% and +8% respectively. (The Survey USA poll also suggests that McCain lead among white voters has "evaporated.") Despite its red-ward trend, is MO still a bellwether for the country, mirroring McCain's diminished national standing?

Today's & Tomorrow's Map: Missouri Moves From "Leaning Republican" to "Too Close To Call"

Posted Oct 06, 2008 at 10:39 AM by Maurice Berger

With the polling average in Missouri drawing town to a virtual tie, PollTrack moves the state from "Leaning Republican" to "Too Close To Call" on Today's & Tomorrow's Map.

Nevada: The New Bellwether?

Posted Oct 06, 2008 at 1:28 AM by Maurice Berger

Since 1904, every victorious presidential candidate has won Missouri, save Eisenhower in 1956. In that cycle, favorite son Harry Truman asked the voters of his beloved state to support Democrat Adlai Stevenson (and show the nation that they still loved Truman, who left office four years earlier, battered in the polls). They did. One other deviation, re: Missouri: Bush won the state in 2000; but Gore won the national popular vote that year. Still, the state voted for the eventual victor in the race. And a caveat: Missouri has been trending Republican in recent cycles, though Democrat Claire McCaskill won its closely fought US Senate race in 2006. Ohio has been a bellwether of sorts for one party: no Republican has won the presidency without it. It has also picked the eventual winner in every election since 1964. The question: are there any new bellwethers on the horizon. Perhaps, one: Nevada. In the last seven presidential cycles, beginning in 1980, the state has gone with the national winner, both in close elections (2000 and 2004) and blowouts (Reagan vs. Mondale in 1984). With its population rapidly expanding--and its demographics shifting accordingly--the Silver State is starting to look more like the rest of America. How does the presidential race look in Nevada these days? All but tied up (+1.8% DEM), with Obama and McCain exchanging leads over the past month. I would keep my eye on Nevada. (Though it might not be a bad idea to keep Missouri and Ohio in your sights, as well.)

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.

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 . . .

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?

New Swing State Analysis: FL, IW, MN, MO, OH, PA

Posted Aug 13, 2008 at 3:15 AM by Maurice Berger

Why is it so close? Indeed, since Obama's widely reported overseas trip--and the rush of anti-Obama ads and videos that paint the candidate as elitist and out of touch with most voters--McCain has shown signs of closing the gap further. In a few key swing states, such as Missouri and Florida, McCain is actually pulling ahead by a modest margin. While my polling average for Florida (for the past month) shows the election extremely close (+1.8% REP), the most recent round of polling indicates a modest surge for McCain, thus the state is now "Leaning Republican." In the mother of all swing states, Ohio, McCain has pulled even to an absolute tie (45.3% to 45.3% poll average). And the race has narrowed slightly in Pennsylvania, Iowa, and Minnesota, although the Democrat retains his lead in all three states. The candidates' inability to break the 50% mark in any swing state, suggests that neither is walking away with this race.

Terry Madonna, poll director of the Franklin & Marshall organization, says of the narrowing of the race in Pennsylvania: "[Obama's] on third base, but so far he can't seem to find a way to get home. Look at the underlying trends. The economy is a huge issue. Bush's ratings are terrible. But too many voters are concerned about Obama's experience, and don't yet have enough confidence in his ability to lead."