The Plank

3 Am Polls: Mccain Running Out Of Time, Undecideds

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Barack Obama's position has become somewhat stronger since our update
this afternoon. We now have him with a 5.8 point lead in the national
popular vote, and winning the election 96.3 percent of the time.
Earlier today, those figures were 5.4 and 93.7, respectively.I
continue to find a hair's worth of tightening on balance in the
state-by-state polls -- even as Obama's position in the national
trackers seems to be roughly as strong as it has ever been. This,
ironically, is the exact reverse of the position we saw earlier in the
week, when the national polls seemed to be tightening even as the state
polls weren't.However, Obama's win percentage has ticked upward again for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, he's gotten some relatively good numbers out of Pennsylvania
since our last update, with PPP and Zogby giving him leads of 8 and 14
points, respectively, and Rasmussen showing his lead expanding to 6
points after having been at 4 before. (The Zogby poll is probably an
outlier, but may serve to balance out outliers like Strategic Vision on
the other side).Secondly, McCain's clock has simply run out.
While there is arguable evidence of a small tightening, there is no
evidence of a dramatic tightening of the sort he would need to make
Tuesday night interesting.Related to this is the fact that
there are now very, very few true undecideds left in this race. After
accounting for a third-party vote, which looks as though it will come
in at an aggregate of 2 percent or so (after doing some work on this
tonight, I concluded that I had been slightly underestimating the
third-party vote before), I am showing only about 2.7 percent of the
electorate left to allocate between the two major-party candidates.
Even if John McCain were to win 70 perecnt of the remaining undecideds
(which I don't think is likely), that would only be worth a net of
about a point for him. Frankly, McCain's winning scenarios mainly
involve the polls having been wrong in the first place -- because of a
Bradley Effect or something else. It is unlikely that the polls will
"tighten" substantially further -- especially when Obama already has
over 50 percent of the vote.It's very late, obviously, so we won't get into too much more detail, but a couple of quick notes.-->
Don't worry too much about that SurveyUSA result in Minnesota, which
shows Obama just 3 points ahead. SurveyUSA's polling in Minnesota has
been very, very weird all year; they've never shown Obama with larger
than a 6 point lead in their likely voter model, and had McCain ahead
in the state as recently as October 1st. SurveyUSA does not have a
Republican lean in general, but in Minnesota, it has consistently had a
huge one.--> A couple of the national polls have now started
to predict how undecided voters will behave and allocate them between
the two major-party candidates. I use the versions of these surveys
before any such allocations are made, as from my point of view it isn't
the pollster's job to get into the prediction business (our model has
its own ideas about how to handle undecideds).

There's More...

 --Nate Silver

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