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Today’s Polls: Obama and Clinton chasing 50% against McCain

Barack Obama has been under the 50% threshold in his match-up against John McCain in each update since March 19th. He is now within percentage points of that number, checking in at 49.8% in today’s update, his best standing since that March 19 date. Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, has a 46.8% win percentage, her highest-ever number since we began tracking these results in early March.

The first bit of new polling data comes from Rasmussen, which shows a huge, 29-point lead for Hillary Clinton in New York, as well as a relatively impressive 17-point margin for Barack Obama. This is part of a recent pattern in which Democrats have begun to consolidate their numbers in traditional Democratic-leaning states, as we’ve also seen reflected in recent polling of Minnesota and New Jersey.

We also have a Downs Center / SurveyUSA poll in Indiana that shows both Democrats with a tiny advantage over John McCain: Clinton by 3 points and Obama by 1 point. This is now the second set of polling — last week’s Sezler polls being the first — that shows the Democrats tied or ahead of John McCain in Indiana, and it may be time to begin to take Indiana a little more seriously as a swing state.

Finally, in North Carolina, Research 2000 shows John McCain with a solid lead over both Democrats: he leads Barack Obama by 9 points and Hillary Clinton by 12.

Also, a very quick methodological note: for the time being, I am forcing Obama’s regression model to include the Mormon variable, even though it is just slightly below the statistical significance threshold that we usually require. If we were not making this adjustment, the model would show Obama being highly competitive in Utah, a result which seems implausible on its surface. Another alternative would be to combine Mormons and white evangelicals into one variable — this would very much be theologically incorrect, but among other things it would clear room for the inclusion of another regression variable (such as unemployment rates) into our model. Thoughts?

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