Today's Polls: Obama's Firewall

by Nate Silver | August 12, 2008

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

Source URL: http://www.newrepublic.com//blog/the-plank/todays-polls-obamas-firewall