Polls continue to show a tight race among likely voters heading into the convention:
You might sense two somewhat contradictory trends if you're looking at the national numbers. On the one hand, Obama's faring pretty well in the most recent Rasmussen and Gallup surveys. On the other hand, the monthly polls have shown a tightening race. Combined, these two trends have eviscerated the gap between tracking and monthly polling that was so evident earlier this month, giving us something of a moment of clarity, as Nate Silver put it.
You might also note that the YouGov/Economist and Reuters/Ipsos polls aren't included in the RCP average. That's because they're conducted online, and John Zogby's horrible "interactive" surveys poisoned the well of online polling over the last decade. But at the moment, the internet-based surveys seem to be producing numbers relatively consistent with the nation as a whole. And perhaps more importantly, many of the IVR surveys now rely on internet panels to compensate for their inability to reach out to cell phone voters. So I think that the time has come to return the internet surveys back into the RCP average.
The state polling is marginally more interesting, particularly in Nevada, where PPP shows a tight race. But what seems to distinguish Nevada from the other battlegrounds is Obama's high floor. He's exceeded 49 percent in all but one of the polls over the last few months, and that's enough to give Obama a clearer advantage than his three or four point lead in the polls, since Romney just doesn't have too many undecided voters to work with.
While the polls have occasionally pointed toward a relatively tight race (closer than 10 points) in New Jersey and Connecticut, there are two polls today showing Obama holding a more sizable 13 and 14 point advantage. These states don't figure into the electoral college calculus.
Odds and Ends
--Tropical Storm Isaac continues to pound Louisiana with heavy rain and winds. The people of Louisiana—as well as the GOP—really dodged a bullet on this one. Isaac finally closed a complete eyewall just prior to landfall, and even continued to strengthen onshore. If Isaac had another day over water, or had expelled dry air out of its inner core earlier, things could be looking even worse than they do now.
--The talk about Romney's welfare strategy continues unabated with a series of pieces by Ron Fournier detailing the GOP's approach. But one line stood out to me. Fournier talked to GOP strategists who believe the attacks have yielded Romney an extra point or two among white working class voters. As we've said, there's evidence of tightening in the race, but that's occurring nationally, not just in the states, so I had assumed it was some slowly building momentum following the Ryan pick. I'd love to see whatever data best supports the conclusion that welfare is moving the numbers.
--A flash poll conducted after the first night of the RNC shows Romney with higher favorability ratings, but it's not worth the hype. The poll of nine battleground states—but not Ohio!—is the first of its kind, so there's not a great baseline for comparison. And the poll concedes that only a fraction of voters watched Ann Romney, which complicates the headline that the convention is giving Romney an early boost.