Presidential Race Maps Writing on the Wall

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).