The Plank

Today's Polls: Republicans Needn't Worry -- Yet


It's the final day of the Republican Convention, and the polls have not
moved an inch in John McCain's direction. Time for conservatives to get
nervous? Probably not yet.True, Barack Obama held steady in the Rasmuseen tracker, which reads 50-45 Obama today, just as it did yesterday. And Obama actually picked up a point in the Gallup tracker (more precisely, McCain lost a point), bringing his lead to 7 points.These
are three day tracking polls, however, and so all that's happened so
far is that one-third of the interviews will reflect one-third of the
convention speeches. That's Tuesday night, when Fred Thompson delivered
a rousing speech and Joe Lieberman delivered a soporific one. But
almost none of these interviews will reflect Sarah Palin's speech,
which was delivered too late in the evening to register.If the
polls don't move by tomorrow, then it's time for the Republicans to get
a little nervous. If they don't move by Saturday, then it's time for
them to get a lot nervous. But most likely they will move.Then
again, post the Palin selection, Gallup already had John McCain winning
the Republican vote by something like a 90-7 margin. It's hard to do a
lot better than that; Bush won the Republican vote 93-6 in 2004. So if
this was a convention designed to appeal to the base, and the base had
already gotten behind McCain, it's possible that there isn't that much
ground to make up. Conceived of a bit differently, perhaps the Palin
bounce was effectively the
GOP's convention bounce, and made what was actually a fairly large
convention bounce for Obama look like an average-sized bounce. I'm not
necessarily saying this is the case -- Palin drew massive ratings last
night and usually there is some sort of bump based on emotion alone.
But it is the one thing that would make me a little bit worried if I
were a Republican.We also have a couple of state polls to look at today. CNN
has three polls out: Obama leads by 14 points in Minnesota, 13 points
in Iowa, and 1 point in Ohio. (Note: we use the version of the polls
with third-party candidates included. Without third-party candidates,
Obama's leads are 13, 15, and 2 points respectively in the three states
listed above). I've never been sold on either Minnesota or Iowa being
particularly competitive, so seeing double-digit numbers like this
doesn't surprise me at the height of Obama's convention bump. However,
I think you can argue that this is actually a pretty decent result for
McCain in Ohio, as it appears to be running a couple of points behind
Obama's national standing at this moment in time.In North Carolina, meanwhile, a Greenberg Quinlan Rosner
poll for Democracy Corps has John McCain ahead by 3 points -- about the
same margin he's held in nearly all polls of North Carolina -- but this
survey was in the field a couple of weeks ago, before the conventions
or VP selections. GQR has a pretty good reputation and I hope they'll
indulge us with more state polling, but this isn't a particularly
meaningful data point.There are also partisan polls out in
Alaska (showing McCain with a large lead) and North Dakota (showing
Obama with a small one) but being partisan polls, we don't list them; is our recommended destination for an all-inclusive approach. And look for new numbers in Indiana from Howey Politics tonight.

--Nate Silver 

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