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Today’s Polls, 5/23

Another busy polling day, and one of Barack Obama’s stronger ones in some while.

The headline is probably in Ohio, where SurveyUSA shows Obama with a 9 point lead over John McCain. Hillary Clinton was not surveyed in this matchup. It’s interesting to wonder, as Markos Moulistas has speculated, whether Obama polls stronger when Clinton’s name is not mentioned in the same survey. There would be a fairly easy way to test this: if a pollster rotates the question order of Clinton and Obama (as they probably should be doing), we could see whether one Democrat tends to benefit from going first. We may explore this topic further in the upcoming days.

In Pennsylvania, Rasmussen has Obama +2, Clinton +11. This is another of those good news, bad news results for Obama: it’s stronger than his last Rasmussen poll in the Keystone (which showed him trailing by a point), but somewhat weaker than his other results in the state. For Clinton, of course, this is unambiguously a good result, and Pennsylvania now looks so strong for her — we have her at 86 percent to win the state — that she might be able to get away with a limited investment of resources there in November.

We actually have two new New Hampshire polls. Rasmussen has Obama ahead by 5, and Clinton ahead by 10. But there is also a Dartmouth poll showing McCain leading both candidates: he was 2.5 points ahead of Obama and 8.8 points ahead of Clinton (they list the decimal point, so I do too). Of the two polls, Rasmussen is the one to take more seriously, simply because the Dartmouth poll had a small sample size and was in the field as much as three weeks ago. Nevertheless, this underscores one of my theories about New Hampshire: it has a very engaged electorate, and it tends to serve as a weathervane for currents of momentum.

Finally, a Research 2000 poll for Daily Kos shows McCain leading Obama by 15 points and Clinton by 19 in Mississippi. Mississippi has occasionally been discussed as a reach state for Obama. I don’t buy that, as even with extremely heavy black turnout, the demographics just aren’t favorable enough for him to get the state closer than about 8 points. Nevertheless, the Senate race in Mississippi looks to be competitive (Roger Wicker, who inherited the seat from Trent Lott, had a 46-42 lead in the R2K poll), so there may be incentives for the Democrats to invest some time there.

Nate Silver founded and was the editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight.