The Plank

Today's Polls: Obama Steady In Battlegrounds, Running Up Score In Blue States

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John McCain is making no progress in his pursuit of the White House.
Our model now projects Barack Obama to win 351 electoral votes to John
McCain's 187, and to win the Electoral College 96.7 percent of the time
to McCain's 3.3 percent. Both numbers are unchanged from yesterday.Let's take a look at the polls, and then run through a couple of big-picture themes:Theme #1. If the national polls are tightening, there is no evidence of it in the state numbers.
If the national tracking polls moved at all today, they moved slightly
in McCain's direction, as he gained ground in the Rasmussen and
Research 2000 polls, whereas the other six trackers were essentially
flat. However, there has really been no sign of tightening in the state
polls.Our model places more emphasis on state polling, and
there's a pretty good reason why: they give us a lot more data to look
at. Today's for instance, there were 3,539
"fresh" interviews conducted (e.g. those that were not already
accounted for in previous' days tracking polls) between eight national
polls that we added to our database. By contrast, there were 22,881 fresh interviews conducted between 31 new state polls.If
the state polls aren't showing movement toward McCain, then it is
probably the case that any perceived movement in the national polls is
sampling noise. If anything, in fact, the state polls are showing
movement toward Obama on balance, not just in battleground states like
Virginia, but also in non-battlegrounds as diverse as New York,
Oklahoma, Oregon and Arizona.Theme #2. Obama has begun to run up the score in some non-battlegrounds.
Polls in states like Washington, New York and California are now
showing very large leads for Barack Obama. As some of these states have
large populations, they are providing a bit of cushion to Obama in his
popular vote margin. To a lesser extent, Barack Obama has also gained
ground in some red states like Arizona and Georgia. As a result,
whereas for the past several weeks we had shown Obama as being more
likely to win the Electoral College while losing the popular vote,
those probabilities have now begun to equalize themselves -- his
popular vote was not quite as efficiently distributed as it was before.Theme #3. We are approaching a pollster consensus in some battlegrounds.
In certain states, the range of the polls has narrowed. Missouri and
North Carolina now look like true toss-ups. Florida looks like a
toss-up, leaning Obama. Ohio and Nevada lean clearly toward Obama, but
McCain remains within striking distance. Colorado and Virginia lean
more strongly toward Obama, and McCain may or may not be within
striking distance. Pennsylvania has failed to tighten materially, and
is probably not within striking distance. Likewise, Wisconsin,
Minnesota and Iowa appear safe for Obama.States where there is
a bit more disagreement are Indiana and New Hampshire. The former can
be described as a toss-up and the latter as a lean Obama state, but the
range of polling is wider than in most other states. Meanwhile, there
has been relatively little polling of New Mexico, and it is hard to
tell whether McCain is viable there or not.

--Nate Silver

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