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FiveThirtyEight

Politics

Most of the attention has been focused recently on national polls, but we do have a couple of state-level results to look at as well. The most noteworthy is Strategic Vision’s new poll in Pennsylvania, which shows Barack Obama ahead by 9 points. Strategic Vision had polled Pennsylvania several times in March and April in conjunction with the Democratic primary, and had shown John McCain with leads ranging from 3 to 10 points. At the time, it was the only poll to show McCain with that magnitude of advantage, so some of this may be regression to the mean — but nevertheless this is a result the Obama campaign will take. Pennsylvania has been demoted to the 6th most important state in our Tipping Point rating, behind Ohio, Michigan, Colorado, Virginia and Florida. There is a reasonable argument to be had that the McCain campaign should forsake the state, and concentrate its efforts in Michigan and Ohio.

Strategic Vision also polled Washington; that poll showed Obama ahead by 11, consistent with other polling in the Evergreen State.

And Public Policy Polling has their monthly number out in North Carolina: John McCain is ahead by 3 points. North Carolina polling has been bounded within a very narrow range; in fact, all three of the most current polls of the state (PPP, Rasmussen, Civitas) show the same exact 3-point margin for John McCain.

And what of those national polls? There is, obviously, a lot of noise in the data. Simultaneously, over the weekend, polls were conducted showing anything from a 12-point lead for Obama to a 4-point lead for McCain (certain caveats may apply to the latter of these results). The Rasmussen and Gallup national trackers also render a split verdict: Obama’s lead in the Rasmussen poll is back down to just one point, while he maintains a relatively strong 6-point advantage in Gallup.

Overall, however, our model thinks the polling situation looks a fair bit better for Obama than it did 7-10 days ago. It is not clear whether or not Obama is on any sort of upswing, but he at least seems to have halted the momentum that McCain had coming out of the July 4 holiday. Whatever the merits of Obama’s overseas trip, it may have taken oxygen from the “Obama is a flip-flopper” narrative that had dominated the discussion in late June and early July, and that alone may be worth a point or so in his polling.

EDIT: It’s also important to mention: Our trendline adjustment is designed to be sensitive — but not that sensitive. Do Obama’s polls on Monday look worse than his polls on Friday or Saturday? If you look at the national trackers, they do. But the model was never giving credit to Obama for the entirety of that bounce in the first place. And Obama’s polling today generally looks better than it looked one week or two weeks ago, which is more along the lines of the time horizons that the model is thinking about.

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