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Today’s Polls, 7/17

A trio of polls from Rasmussen Reports contain relatively good news for Barack Obama.

In Nevada, Obama leads by 2 points after having trailed McCain in each of Rasmussen’s last three polls of the state. We tend to group Nevada together with Colorado and New Mexico; but really the states do not have that much in common. Colorado is young, wealthy, and well-educated –increasingly hard to distinguish from reliably blue states like Minnesota or Washington. New Mexico, by contrast, has considerably below-average incomes, and is one of just three majority-minority states on the US mainland.

And Nevada presents a whole different set of circumstances, full of unionized workers and libertarians and Mormons and professional gamblers; and a whole host of local issues ranging from Yucca Mountain to one of the nation’s highest foreclosure rates. Point being, it’s a difficult state to figure out to begin with, and especially so given its paucity of polling. But between this poll and the Democrats’ major gains in voter registration, I think we have to give a slight edge to Obama in Nevada, even though my model is still wont to give a slight edge to McCain.

In North Carolina, John McCain leads Barack Obama by 3 points, which is about the same lead he’s held in nearly every poll of the state since April. While the state should remain reasonably close, our model does not particularly like North Carolina as an investment target for Obama, figuring that Obama won’t win it without having won Virginia, and that if he’s won Virginia, he won’t need it.

Lastly, in Arkansas, McCain is 13 points ahead. Obama had trailed 9 points in the June edition of this poll, but by margins a large as 29 points earlier in the spring. Arkansas can’t be completely dismissed as an electoral target, simply because if the Clintons commit themselves to some vigorous and sincere barnstorming on Barack Obama’s behalf, they’ll bring some voters in along with them. But 13 points worth? Probably not without a Clinton on the ticket.

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