Daily Breakdown: A Tight Race Nationally And In North Carolina

by Nate Cohn | October 30, 2012

 A quiet polling day as Sandy made landfall in the northeast.

While there have been plenty of days when many felt that the trackers and national polls were unusually divergent, yesterday's polls were all tightly clustered around a tied national race. On average, the 19 national polls conducted since October 15 show Obama ahead 47.47 to 47.26, while Romney holds an even slighter 47.66 to 47.58 lead in the 12 national polls conducting live interviews with cell phones over the same period. 

Perhaps more surprising is a tied race in North Carolina, but that's exactly what yesterday's Elon University poll showed. While that result is probably still raising eyebrows, it's quite consistent with post-debate polling. Civitas, Grove (D), YouGov/Economist, PPP (D), and now Elon all show Obama within one point, tied, or in the lead, with only Rasmussen and Gravis showing Romney ahead by a larger advantage. How could North Carolina be close during a tied national election? Demographics. While Obama has bled white supporters nationally, his coalition was less dependent on whites in North Carolina than any other state. Demographic changes are sweeping the state at a fast enough rate to compensate for or potentially overwhelm declining turnout rates or losses among Obama '08 voters. 

While many have questioned whether Obama could still win North Carolina, the polls, demographics, registration numbers, and perhaps even the early voting numbers start to speak for themselves. Romney holds a 2 point lead in an average of North Carolina polls conducted since October 15, and that's despite two automated surveys showing Romney ahead by more than 6 points (Elon, Civitas, and Groves (D) each call cell phones). There's probably not much of a question that Romney remains the favorite, but if the Obama campaign's numbers show something similar to the public polls, Obama might try and squeeze in a stop in Charlotte or Raleigh next time he's in southern Virginia. 

The battleground state polls were also largely consistent with the recent polling. The only exception might be the Rasmussen poll of Ohio, where Romney holds his first lead in the state since a POR/Let Freedom Ring (R) poll showed Romney ahead by 1 point a few weeks ago. We'll see whether any other polls confirm Rasmussen's movement, but Obama still maintains a 2.2 point lead in the 18 Ohio polls conducted since October 15.

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