The Plank

Today's Polls: Who Has The Momentum?

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 Most of the attention has been focused recently on national polls, but
we do have a couple of state-level results to look at as well. The most
noteworthy is Strategic Vision's new poll in Pennsylvania,
which shows Barack Obama ahead by 9 points. Strategic Vision had polled
Pennsylvania several times in March and April in conjunction with the
Democratic primary, and had shown John McCain with leads ranging from 3
to 10 points. At the time, it was the only poll to show McCain with
that magnitude of advantage, so some of this may be regression to the
mean -- but nevertheless this is a result the Obama campaign will
gladly take. Pennsylvania has been demoted to the 6th most important
state in our Tipping Point rating, behind Ohio, Michigan, Colorado,
Virginia and Florida. There is a reasonable argument to be had that the
McCain campaign should forsake the state, and concentrate its efforts
in Michigan and Ohio.Strategic
Vision also polled Washington; that poll showed Obama ahead by 11,
consistent with other polling in the Evergreen State.And Public Policy Polling
has their monthly number out in North Carolina: John McCain is ahead by
3 points. North Carolina polling has been bounded within a very narrow
range; in fact, all three of the most current polls of the state (PPP,
Rasmussen, Civitas) show the same exact 3-point margin for John McCain.And
what of those national polls? There is, obviously, a lot of noise in
the data. Simultaneously, over the weekend, polls were conducted
showing anything from a 12-point lead for Obama to a 4-point lead for McCain (certain caveats may apply to the latter of these results). The Rasmussen and Gallup
national trackers also render a split verdict: Obama's lead in the
Rasmussen poll is back down to just one point, while he maintains a
relatively strong 6-point advantage in Gallup.Overall, however,
our model thinks the polling situation looks a fair bit better for
Obama than it did 7-10 days ago. It is not clear whether or not Obama
is on any sort of upswing, but he at least seems to have halted the
momentum that McCain had coming out of the July 4 holiday. Whatever the
merits of Obama's overseas trip, it may have taken oxygen from the
"Obama is a flip-flopper" narrative that had dominated the discussion
in late June and early July, and that alone may be worth a point or so
in his polling.

--Nate Silver

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