Nate Silver

One of the nice things about being a Democrat with a stock portfolio is that your risks are fairly well hedged. If the market goes up, then you make money, and if the market goes down, then you're more likely to see a Democrat elected President.But seriously, folks.Does the stock market rally of the past two days benefit McCain? Maybe a little, but I doubt all that much. For one thing, As I said yesterday, I'm not sure that Obama's bounce over the past couple of days has all that much to do with the economy.

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On the strength of an abundance of state and national polling, Barack Obama has retaken the lead in our Electoral College projection. Our model now forecasts him to win the election 61.2 percent of the time; it also gives him a slight, half-point advantage in the popular vote. Yesterday, Obama was projected to win the Electoral College just 45 percent of the time, so this is a rather dramatic move upward.How can the numbers move so sharply in just 24 hours? I have tweaked the model slightly at a couple of points recently in order to make it more sensitive to new information.

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One of the unpleasant things you discover when you sit in major league baseball press boxes from time to time is that the press -- or at least the print media -- actually do not like close baseball games. A walk-off home run or a blown save means that they have to re-write their lead paragraph and perhaps their entire game story, leading to angry phone calls from their editors, and forcing them to work later than they might otherwise like to.I was reminded of this when seeing this headline from Mark Halperin today:A tight race? It certainly is a tight race, and has been all year.

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There is a veritable orgy of polling out today, so let's give you the numbers first, and then take a gaze from 30,000 feet.There are certainly some hints that Barack Obama has gained back a couple of points' worth of ground in the past 24-96 hours, although so far this remains more apparent in the national trackers than in state polling. Our model is designed to react somewhat conservatively to new information, lest it mistake noise for signal.

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Although the national tracking polls are trending upward for Obama, this set of state polling is a strong one for John McCain:Ohio, certainly, is a Lean McCain state now. It has been polled extensively over the past week, and all polls but Quinnipiac show McCain with a lead in the neighborhood of 3-4 points. As we're getting into electoral crunch time, the key dynamic to watch is the performance of the three or four tipping point states like Ohio, Virginia, and Colorado, both relative to one another and relative to the national popular vote estimate.

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I'm not going to be able to do today's update justice, but let's touch upon a couple of themes quickly:Firstly, Obama has been polling a couple of points ahead of our trendline for the past couple days. That could be noise, or it could be a sign that the race is turning a bit. Our model inherently behaves conservatively, and assumes the former until "proven" otherwise.Secondly, Obama obviously got a very good number in Virginia today. That is not enough to turn the state into a toss-up all by itself; we still have Virginia as lean McCain.

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Two new polls from Minnesota suggest a tight race in the Land o’ Lakes. The Star Tribune’s poll, which had shown a double-digit lead for Barack Obama in May, now shows a dead heat at 45-45.

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Although we think that John McCain may still be in the midst of some sort of convention bump, so far there has been no real letting up of his improved performance in state-level polling:Ignore, for a moment, the series of Internet-based polls that John Zogby released today. What else do we see?We see John McCain continue to consolidate his advantage in red states like Utah and South Dakota.We see Nevada polling pretty close to the national averages, as it has all year. Right now, our model forecasts a 2.2-point victory for John McCain in Nevada, versus a 2.4-point victory nationwide.

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One of the truisms of political reporting is that it is exceptionally results-oriented. When a campaign wins, essentially every aspect of that campaign is deemed to be praiseworthy, and when a campaign loses, almost every aspect of the campaign is deemed to be a failure.Think how much different the conventional wisdom would be if Al Gore had won 300 more votes in Florida. Bush's strategy of rallying to the evangelical base would have been considered a failure, as would the Rovian politics of personal destruction.

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Another fairly strong polling day for John McCain:The University of Cincinnati's highly-rated Ohio Poll has John McCain leading by 4 points in the Buckeye State. There are no particular demographic quirks in these results; Barack Obama is simply a little behind where he needs to be across the board. The U. of C. (no, not the real U.

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