The Plank

Today's Polls: Mo-mentum?


If Memorial Day marks the start of political spring training, and Labor
Day the start of the playoffs, the July 4th holiday might be the
beginning of the regular season. John McCain comes out of the break
with one of his stronger polling days in some time.There are two polls out in Missouri, both of which give McCain the lead. Rasmussen places his lead at 5 points, and Public Policy Polling
puts it 3. This marks a reversal from a period where Obama had been
polling fairly strongly in Missouri, having held the lead in
Rasmussen's last poll conducted about a month ago.There might, however, be a relatively simple explanation for this one: McCain has been saturating the state with advertising. Should Obama fight back? Well, he already is, having tripled his staff in the state.
So, we might have the makings of an old-school air-versus-ground
battle. But I also think that Missouri could be a little bit of a trap
state for Obama. Our model, which now accounts for the relationships
between the states in more sophisticated ways (more on this shortly),
found only 43 simulation runs out of 10,000 when Obama won Missouri
while losing Ohio. Missouri is essentially Ohio with 15 percent more
evangelicals -- I don't think that's outweighed by its sharing a border
with Illinois, but I can understand if the Obama people feel
differently.Another interesting state is New Jersey,
where Rasmussen shows John McCain closing to within 3 points (5 if
leaners are not included). Rasmussen has generally had New Jersey much
closer than other pollsters, and as we noted this weekend, it is an exceptionally expensive state to compete in.
Nevertheless, it has different demographics from virtually any other
swing state -- McCain's one window into the Mid-Atlantic region. If he
runs somewhat to the left, emphasizing his fiscal conservatism to
wealthy New Jersey suburbanites while deemphasizing the guns and gays
stuff (Scott Rasmussen also likes the offshore drilling issue for him here), the state could be competitive.Lightning Round: In a now somewhat outdated Pan Atlantic SMS
poll of Maine, Barack Obama has a 14-point lead (counting leaners). The
poll also has great numbers for Susan Collins. And in Alabama, a Capital Survey poll has Obama within 13 points after having trailed by 24 last month. Lastly, the Zogby Interactive
results are now incorporated into the averages. Although we discount
the value of these polls heavily, there are nevertheless 34 of them,
and they provide enough help to Obama numbers in states like Arizona
and North Carolina to mitigate McCain's gains in Missouri and New
Jersey. Obama, however, has been polling below his trendline for the
past couple of days, including mediocre results in the Gallup and
Rasmussen trackers. If that continues through the end of the week, we
may be able to credit McCain with a little momentum.

--Nate Silver


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