Nate Silver

Over at the Campaign Spot, Jim Geraghty wonders how the new ABC/Washington Post poll could have the temerity to suggest that Barack Obama is winning more support among Democrats than John McCain is among Republicans: The ABC/WashPost poll in late September found 86 percent of Republicans for McCain, 88 percent of Democrats for Obama. PUMAs don't exist anymore? Colin Powell and Christopher Buckley are leading the exodus of Republicans for Obama? I suppose it's possible, but I have my doubts. I suppose I have my doubts too, except that this finding is now reflected in any number of polls.

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How the West Was Lost

Two regions in this election contain a disproportionate number of battleground states: the Rust Belt (including Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin) and the Interior West (Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada). On that score, each candidate would seem to have a home-region advantage, with Barack Obama representing Illinois in the heart of the Rust Belt region, and John McCain Arizona in the Interior West. Studies have proven the presence of a strong “friends and neighbors” effect in a candidate’s home state: They tend to outperform their demographics among voters who know them the bes

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Today's Polls: T-15

It's been a confusing day of polling -- one of those where I'm happy to have a computer handy to do my dirty work for me.The trend over the past 7-10 days remains slightly toward McCain. It is difficult to pinpoint, however, just where the movement started. If I take the average of my daily point estimates from Thursday through Sunday -- since the final presidential debate was concluded -- I show Obama at a +6.0. That compares with a +6.6 in the ten days that proceeded the debate.

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Well, scratch West Virginia from the swing state list for the time being. Both Public Policy Polling and Mason-Dixon have new polling out in the state, and they give John McCain leads of 8 and 6 points respectively. It's possible that this is one of those areas where McCain's attacks on Barack Obama are having some resonance. It's also possible that the state was never all that close to begin with, and that the ARG poll from two weeks ago that gave Obama a substantial lead was one of those infamous ARG outliers.

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Not that you haven't heard the news, but...My predisposition is to be skeptical of the value of endorsements in presidential general elections. Endorsements generally serve as an informational shortcut for voters, and therefore their importance tends to be inversely proportional to the stature of the contest involved. When you're voting for Dog Commissioner, and you have no information about the candidates, you might well go with whomever your local paper decides to endorse.

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John McCain has once again improved his position in the national tracking polls, having gained ground in 4 of the 5 6 trackers that published today (Rasmussen and IBD/TIPP were the exceptions).** Our model now perceives that Obama has come somewhat off his peak numbers, which were realized perhaps 5-7 days ago.At the same time, McCain's improved position in the trackers is a little bit difficult to reconcile with certain other pieces of evidence.

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In Chuck Todd we trust; all others must bring data. And right now, we're in something of a holding pattern waiting to see the next turn in the race. Obama's momentum has possibly stalled out, but probably has not yet begun to reverse itself. It's also possible that Obama's momentum was on the verge of reversing itself before Wednesday night's debate, but that the debate was enough to hold McCain off or perhaps even shift things further in Obama's direction.

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Scrap The Squigglys

  I'm with Mike Murphy on this one. The presence of on-screen results from dial-testing groups is something that needs to be reconsidered during future presidential debates. It's not that the squiggly lines aren't fun to watch. Rather, they're too much fun to watch. It's hard to avert your eyes from them. It's hard to separate your own, independent reaction from theirs.

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With seven different daily tracking polls to work with -- one of which releases three separate versions of its model each day -- there is a lot to choose from for those who might seek to cherry-pick results.Slow news day, Matt? If this is a two-point race right now, I'll eat Drudge's fedora. None of the dozen or so other polls that were in the field this week shows a race that close. Nor do either of the alternate versions of Gallup's model, including the so-called Likely Voters II model that I find most credible.

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The polls take a back seat to tonight's debate, but let's give you the numbers and then touch upon a couple of high-level themes:Still lots of blue in that table. But this was at least a day in which things did not appear to get any worse for John McCain. McCain improved his position in three of the seven tracking polls; Obama gained in one, and the other three were flat.

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