The Plank

Today's Polls: Obama's Firewall


Four polls are out today, but the Presidential race looks to have settled into something of a steady state.In Colorado, a Public Policy Polling
survey has Barack Obama ahead by 4 points. The margin is identical to a
poll conducted last month, although each candidate has gained a point
against undecided.In Virgina, it's McCain by one in a new SurveyUSA
poll. SurveyUSA's Virginia numbers have fluctuated somewhat wildly over
the course of the cycle, with margins ranging from Obama +7 to McCain
+12, but this is a modest improvement for McCain from their late June
edition, when Barack Obama had led by 2.Lastly, Rasmussen Reports polls have Barack Obama ahead by 5 points in Iowa -- down from 10 last month -- and ahead by 10 points in Oregon -- up a tick from 9 points last month.Let's set Virginia aside for a moment, as well as Oregon, which has never looked especially competitive and where neither campaign is doing any advertising.
It's Colorado and Iowa, along with New Mexico, that form Obama's
firewall. If Obama holds the Kerry states but wins those three, he
doesn't need to win Ohio, Florida, or any of the higher
degree-of-difficulty states. And so far, Obama's lead in these states
has been very consistent. In 16 Iowa polls conducted since Super
Tuesday, Obama has led all 16. In 11 New Mexico polls over the time
span, he has led 9, been tied once, and trailed in the other. And in
14 polls of Colorado, he has led 11 times, trailed twice, and been tied
once.If I were John McCain, I'd be very skeptical about my
prospects in Iowa, where I didn't really campaign during the primaries
and where my agricultural policies are unpopular. Likewise, I'd look at
Obama's strong national numbers among Hispanics, and conclude that New
Mexico is probably moving in the wrong direction. Which means that I'd
be devoting an awful lot of resources to Colorado, possibly conceding
states like Pennsylvania and Minnesota in order to do so.

--Nate Silver

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