In my last post I said the tightening of the race at the national level would mean more if it was reflected in state-level polling, particularly in the big-ticket battleground states. We are now seeing the same trend: a slight – and I emphasize slight – movement toward McCain in three of the four biggest battleground states for which polls have come out in the last two days.
In Florida, there have been three recent polls indicating a slight movement toward McCain:
SurveyUSA has McCain up 49-47, a gain of 1% for McCain since the last Survey poll three weeks ago.
PPP has Obama up 1%, 47-46, a gain of 1% for McCain since the last PPP survey 3 weeks ago.
Rasmussen has McCain up 48-47, a gain of 6% for McCain since the last Rasmussen poll a week ago.
As a result, Obama’s lead in the polls in Florida has been narrowed to 2%.
In North Carolina, 3 polls have come up in the last two days showing a net average gain for Obama:
Rasmussen has Obama up 51-48, a gain of 3% for Obama in NC since the last Rasmussen poll a week ago.
Civitas has Obama up 48-45, a gain of 2% for McCain since the last Civitas poll 2 weeks ago.
PPP has Obama up 51-44, a gain of 4% for Obama since their last poll 1 weeks ago. .
As a result, the RCP average has Obama ahead in NC by 2.3%
In Ohio, three polls have come out in the last two days:
Rasmussen has McCain up 49-47, a gain of 4% for McCain since their last poll a week ago.
Suffolk, however, has Obama up 51-42. They have no other polls in October.
NBC/Mason Dixon has McCain up 46-45. They have no other polls in October.
As of today, the RCP average has Obama ahead in Ohio by 2.8%.
In Pennsylvania., two polls came out in the last two days:
MorningCall (a daily tracking poll) has Obama up 52-42, a gain of 2% for McCain in the last three days.
Susquehenna has Obama up 48-40. They did not poll previously in October.
RCP still gives Obama a commanding lead here of 11%
Interestingly, McCain has devoted a huge amount of campaign time to Pennsylvania, a state that I think frankly he has little chance of winning. Although the tracking poll suggests he might be cutting into Obama’s lead, he still trails by a considerable margin. So why campaign there at all? All I can think of is that McCain’s internal polling shows that he has an outside shot in this state, and given its size, and the fact that he has few other options, McCain believes it’s worth making a play here. Of course, John Murtha’s recent comments (in his defense, he no longer is calling western Pennsylvanians racist – - instead they are “rednecks”) may keep this state in play for McCain.
It is important, however, to keep these battleground state-level movements in perspective. All are in states that, with the exception of Pennsylvania, Bush won in 2004, but which RCP currently gives to Obama. So McCain is fighting to hold onto states that went Red in 2004. Obama can conceivably lose three of these (maybe all four) and still win the election. So we ought not to make too much of these microtrends – they are interesting so far only in that they confirm the national tracking polls that show this race is tightening.
Not surprisingly, there is no evidence at either the national or state level of a bump in support for Obama due to the Powell endorsement. This is to be expected, of course, and it’s worth a separate post explaining why the media consistently misreads the importance of endorsements generally, and Powell’s endorsement in particular. I’ll try to get to that in my next post.