July 20, 2008 - July 26, 2008


POLL: Rasmussen California (7/24)

Rasmussen Reports
7/24/08; 500 LV, 4.5%
Mode: IVR

Obama 52, McCain 42 (June: Obama 58, McCain 30)

POLL: Research 2000 South Carolina (7/22-23)

Research 2000/
DailyKos.com (D)
7/22-23/08; 500 LV, 4.5%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

South Carolina
McCain 53, Obama 40

"Outliers" for 7/26

Kathy Frankovic looks at the "experience gap" in foreign policy but wonders if it will matter.

Jon Cohen notes growing awareness that Barack Obama is a Christian.

Kyle Dropp reviews polls of Germans showing negativity toward the U.S. but a preference for Obama.

Alan Abramowitz examines the daily tracking polls , Gallup's data on swing states and joins Thomas Mann and Larry Sabato in decrying "The Myth of a Toss-up Election."

John Sides questions the clamied McCain gains in this week's Quinnipiac polls.

Marc Ambinder posts new data on independent voters from Alex Gage and Alex Lundry.

Chris Bowers sees Nader and Barr hurting McCain more than Obama.

David Hill says politicians of both parties are ignoring polls on energy policy.

Mark Mellman sees George Bush "sticking his toe into the mainstream of American public opinion on national security."

Gary Langer revisits the 2004 Dempsey-Shapiro survey on the partisan affiliation of the active duty military.

David Park says uncertain voters perceive little difference between Obama and McCain on the economy.

Political scientist Dan Hopkins quantifies (pdf) the Wilder effect (via Sides).

Continue reading ""Outliers" for 7/26"

A Different Approach to Measuring Vote Choice (and Lack of Choice)

Topics: Andy Smith , Barack Obama , CNN , John McCain , Measurement , UNH Survey Center

In the recent release of the Granite State Poll, Andy Smith (director of the UNH Survey Center) noted that Barack Obama led John McCain by three percentage points, 46 percent to 43 percent, with 3 percent favoring another candidate, and 8 percent undecided. In the next paragraph, however, he noted that "only 51 percent of likely voters say they have definitely decided who they will vote for, 21 percent are leaning toward a candidate, and 28 percent say they are still trying to decide."


The second sentence may seem incompatible with the first - 8 percent of voters undecided, at the same time there are 21 percent leaning and another 28 percent still trying to decide - but it's a compromise that allows Smith to use the standard vote choice question, while still measuring the extent of voter indecision.


The standard forced-choice (who would you vote for if the election were held "today") approach produces results showing that more than nine in ten voters have already made up their minds about whom to support for president. Such a finding defies credulity, as I argued in a previous post, because of many other indicators that suggest a substantial proportion of voters have not even begun to think about the election. This was a particularly problematic result during the early primary season, when anyone who had even a dollop of experience with elections knew that primary voters had not made up their minds weeks and months ahead of their respective elections, despite what the polls said.


During the New Hampshire primary season, CNN's Keating Holland and Smith experimented with a different approach for measuring voter preferences. I had suggested a dichotomous question up front, asking if voters had made up their minds (or not) who to vote for on primary election day, but Holland and Smith came up with an alternative three-part response - to ask up front if voters had definitely decided whom to support on primary election day, if they were leaning, or if they were still trying to decide. Following this question, regardless of the answer, all respondents were asked the standard vote choice question, whom they would vote for if he election were held today.


With this format, the pollsters were able to determine how committed voters were to a choice in January (primary election day), and also to measure their top-of-mind preference if the election were held "today." Asking the undecided question first did not appear to influence respondents' willingness to give a preference to the second question, thus allowing CNN and the UNH Survey Center to report numbers that were comparable to what other polling organizations were doing - but still being able to indicate the size of voter indecision.


In the final pre-election poll, the CNN/UNH Survey Center results were as close to the actual outcome on the Republican primary as any of the other polling organizations. On the Democratic side, the polling results were similar to the average of the other polling organizations, showing Obama over Clinton, when in fact Clinton won. But CNN and the Survey Center were able to announce up front that with three days to go, 21 percent of the Democratic voters said they were still trying to make up their minds - suggesting the potential for movement.


Because the experiment appeared to provide additional insight into the state of voters' minds, Smith has continued to ask the undecided question up front in the general election polling. That's what gave him the results noted at the beginning of this post.


There are several ways to report the results. In accordance with standard practice, Smith focuses on the "today" results. Alternatively, he could focus on the results that treat the "still trying to decide" as though, in fact, they are undecided. Both results are shown in the table below:




Standard Vote Choice Question

Results Filtered


















*Among those who said they had "definitely" made up their minds, 2 percent (1 percent of whole sample) said there were undecided who to vote for, giving 29 percent, instead of 28 percent, in the undecided column..



A more detailed table of filtered results would show the following:





Definitely Obama


Lean Obama


Other/Undecided (1%/29%)


Lean McCain


Definitely McCain





By the way, it's clear that McCain does better than Obama among people who say they have not yet decided whom to support, which is why the margin is 6 points in the filtered version and just 3 points in the standard version. Table 3 shows the crosstabs:






Still trying to decide





















(Weighted N)





If the above results are typical of national polls, then one reason that McCain may be competitive with Obama, despite the underlying factors that suggest a Democratic election year, is that voters who haven't yet made up their minds are more likely to have heard McCain's name. When pressed by pollsters who they would support "if the election were held today," they mention the more familiar name. That doesn't mean, however, that come election day, they will actually vote for McCain.


So, which is the more accurate representation of the results - the one showing just 8 percent undecided, or the one showing 29 percent undecided?


My own preference would be to report the results as shown in Table 2, or in Table 1 in the "filtered" column. Those results are not comparable to the way most polling organizations present their figures, but I think they give a more accurate picture of the state of the electorate's collective preferences than the standard approach. After all, it's difficult to argue that at this time in the campaign season, 95 percent of voters have already made up their minds.


However, the approach that Smith follows may be seen by the news media as more acceptable - initially focus on the standard vote choice results, but also follow up that presentation with figures showing how committed or undecided the electorate is, based on the undecided question that is asked first.




Continue reading "A Different Approach to Measuring Vote Choice (and Lack of Choice)"

Is the Race Narrowing?

Topics: 2008 , Barack Obama , John McCain

Is the presidential race tightening? Our national trend chart shows a two to three point decline in Barack Obama's support to the 44.7% indicated by our trend line this afternoon. Do we see the same pattern in the statewide polling released over the last few weeks?

The following table shows the results from 26 surveys released over the last two weeks where the pollster also did a survey using the same methodology at some point in June. Not surprisingly, the polls show considerable variation, although more show a net improvement of at least one point for McCain (17) than show movement in Obama's direction (7).

07-25 StateChange.png

If there had been no change anywhere in presidential preference between June and July, and if each poll used an identical methodology, then the June to July variation should be entirely random. In that case the pattern of change -- whether Obama or McCain gained -- should be like flipping a coin. About half the surveys would show improvement for one candidate, about half for the other. If we throw out the two ties, we have 24 tosses. The probability of flipping a coin and having it come up "heads" at least 17 times out of 24 by chance alone is about 3%. Pollsters usually consider a difference to be statistically significant when their level of confidence is at least 95%. So we can assume that a two or three point gain for McCain over the last month is probably real.

This week, some voices in the blogosphere have been wondering why Barack Obama's travels to the Middle East and Europe have not produced more of a "bump" in these surveys. As should be obvious from their timing, it is a bit premature to judge the impact of the trip from the state survey results. As for the national tracking polls, given their usual pattern of day-to-day random fluctuation, we are best advised to wait a week or so before coming to firm conclusions (even if today's results may suggest a bounce).

If I had to guess about the slight tightening of the race evident in the national chart and the table above, I would bet on a combination of two sources: The critical news coverage Obama received earlier in the month (the "flip flop" theme) and the McCain paid advertising wave over the last month or so that was reportedly heavier than Obama's.

It is always important to remember that the voters most likely to shift their preferences, especially at this stage of the campaign, tend to be those who pay little attention to news about politics. Political advertising -- which reaches out to those ordinarily not tuned in -- is more likely to reach low information voters.

POLL: Daily Tracking (7/22-24)

Rasmussen Reports
7/22-24/08; 3,000 LV, 2%
Mode: IVR

Obama 49, McCain 44

Gallup Poll
7/22-24/08; 2,695 LV RV, 2%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Obama 47, McCain 41

POLL: Critical Insights Maine (6/1-27)

Critical Insights
6/1-27/08 (released 7/25/08);
602 RV, 4%; 498 LV, 4.5%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

RV: Obama 51, McCain 31

RV: Collins (R-i) 51, Allen (D) 37
LV: Collins 50, Allen 40 (Oct: Collins 54, Allen 34)

POLL: Rasmussen New Mexico (7/24)

Rasmussen Reports
7/24/08; 500 LV, 4.5%
Mode: IVR

New Mexico
Obama 49, McCain 43 (June: Obama 47, McCain 39)
Sen: Udall (D) 61, Pearce (R) 35

Housekeeping: Our Classifications

Topics: ASU/Cronkite , Barack Obama , John McCain , Pollster , Pollster.com , Trend lines , Zogby

As of this morning we have made some small changes to the algorithm that classifies leaders in each state on the maps we display for the Presidential, Senate and Gubernatorial races. As quite a few readers noticed earlier in the week, there were some odd inconsistencies in the way the margins separating the candidates translated into "toss-up" or "lean" status. So we have changed the classification slightly to make the process more consistent and intuitive.

The bottom line is that the new criteria shifts three states into the yellow toss-up designation, Virginia, North Carolina and Arizona (more about that last one below). Also, two states that had been designated strong Obama (Michigan and Iowa) are now lean, while Georgia moves from strong to lean McCain.

The inconsistency between states was partly technical (having to do with the way we calculated the margin between the candidates) and partly a function of calculating a confidence interval around the trend line. That process meant that states with more polls in their chart were producing much narrower "margins of error" than polls with few.

So we have changed to using a confidence interval based on the average sample size for the available polls in each state (essentially the same approach we used during 2006). That means that the margin necessary to be classified a leader will be slightly smaller in states where pollsters tend to conduct more interviews (such as Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Texas). But overall, things will be more consistent.

This choice may tend to overstate the uncertainty about a leader in some cases, especially where we have a huge number of polls (such as the National trend). Given all of real-world variability (and volatility) built into opinion surveys, particularly the difficulty of approximating the "likely" electorate at this stage in the contest, we believe it is better to err on the side of less certainty rather than more.

We are also using a totally subjective standard which will on occasion produces some strange results. We believe the "smoothed" loess regression trend lines that appear in the charts provide the best visualization of the trends that underlie available data. It also has the very helpful feature of essentially ignoring "outlier" values in most instances. One poll in ten, no matter how out of line with the trend, rarely budges the trend line.

But there is one circumstance that can produce squirrelly results: When a new "outlier" poll appears in a state with relative few polls, especially if several weeks or months have passed since the last poll.

That, unfortunately, is exactly what happened in Arizona, not once but twice in late June. First, the ASU/Cronkite released a survey based on 175 interviews showing 34% of registered voters as undecided and producing much lower than usual percentages for both McCain and Obama. Next, the always shaky Zogby Internet Panel survey showed a three point Obama lead (and included Barr at 7%). The combination has narrowed the McCain's trend-line margin to just 3.5 percent, just enough to edge below the "toss-up" line.

If we throw out the Zogby poll, the trend lines would now show McCain leading by 10 percentage points. If we left the Zogby poll in, but threw the ASU/Cronkite poll out, McCain would lead by more than 6 points. Either margin would easily classify Arizona as lean McCain. The next poll out in Arizona will most likely have the same effect.

And as long as we are on the subject of housekeeping, please note that by popular demand we added back a "blog roll" of links to all 50 state charts and all of the charts with available data in race. That collection of links now appears on our front page and everywhere else on Pollster.com. So if you are not a fan of the maps, or just prefer to jump from chart to chart with one click, the links are back in place.

POLL: Frederick Colorado (7/16-22)

Frederick Polls (D)
7/16-22/08; 700 LV, 3.7%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Obama 45, McCain 41
Sen: Udall (D) 48, Schaffer (R) 39

POLL: Rasmussen Pennsylvania (7/23)

Rasmussen Reports
7/23/08; 500 LV, 4.5%
Mode: IVR

Obama 51, McCain 45 (June: Obama 46, McCain 42)

POLL: Research 2000 North Dakota (7/21-23)

Research 2000/
DailyKos.com (D)
7/21-23/08; 500 LV, 4.5%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

North Dakota
McCain 45,Obama 42

POLL: Research 2000 Mississippi (7/21-23)

Research 2000/
DailyKos.com (D)
7/21-23/08; 600 LV, 4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

McCain 51, Obama 42 (May: McCain 54, Obama 39)
Sen-B: Wicker (R-i) 45, Musgrove (D) 44 (May: Wicker 46, Musgrove 42)

POLL: Daily Tracking (7/21-23)

Rasmussen Reports
7/21-23/08; 3,000 LV, 2%
Mode: IVR

Obama 48, McCain 45

Gallup Poll
7/21-23/08; 2,660 LV RV, 2%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Obama 45, McCain 43

POLL: Rasmussen New Hampshire (7/23)

Rasmussen Reports
7/23/08; 500 LV, 4.5%
Mode: IVR

New Hampshire
Obama 49, McCain 45
Sen: Shaheen (D) 51, Sununu (R-i) 45

POLL: FOX National (7/22-23)

FOX News/
Opinion Dynamics
7/22-23/08; 900 RV, 3%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(story, results)

Obama 41, McCain 40 (June: Obama 45, McCain 41)
Obama 40, McCain 37, Nader 2, Barr 0

The Many Flavors of the Favorable Rating

Topics: National Journal

As I was laboring over last week's column, I received a one-line e-mail from a respected journalist: "Can you please rail against the NYT for their 'neutral' fav/unfav offering?"

Is that enough of a tease?  The rest of my NationalJournal.com column, on the differences in the way pollsters ask favorable rating questions, is now online.  I hope you will click through and read it all. 

The column also includes a prettier version of the following table, which shows the big differences in the favorable rating results for Barack Obama and John McCain on rcent national surveys.  The "All Other" column simply totals up all of the responses other than "favorable" or "unfavorable." 

08-07-24 Favorable ratings compared.xls.pngThe column did not allow room for the full text of each favorable rating, but I have included those here, after the jump.

Continue reading "The Many Flavors of the Favorable Rating"

POLL: Quinnipiac Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin (7/14-22)

Quinnipiac University/
Wall Street Journal/
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Colorado (1,425 LV, 2.6%)
McCain 46, Obama 44 (June: Obama 49, McCain 44)
Sen: Udall (D) 44, Schaffer (R) 44

Michigan (1,684 LV, 2.4%)
Obama 46, McCain 42 (June: Obama 48, McCain 42)

Minnesota (1,261 LV, 2.8%)
Obama 46, McCain 44 (June: Obama 54, McCain 37)
Sen: Coleman (R-i) 53, Franken (D) 38

Wisconsin (1,094 LV, 3%)
Obama 50, McCain 39 (June: Obama 52, McCain 39)

Click here for the full results.

POLL: Rasmussen Minnesota (7/22)

Rasmussen Reports
7/22/08; 500 LV, 4.5%
Mode: IVR

Obama 52, McCain 39
Sen: Franken (D) 49, Coleman (R-i) 46

POLL: NBC/WSJ National (7/18-21)

NBC News/Wall Street Journal
(WSJ story, results, WashingtonWire, NBC story, results, FirstRead)
n=1,003 registered voters, 7/18-21, margin of sampling error +/- 3.1%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews


Obama 47, McCain 41 (unchanged)

Bush as President: 30 approve, 64 disapprove

Obama's Overseas Screen Test

Topics: 2008 , Likely Voters , Obama , Steve Lombardo

Note: We are pleased to add Republican pollster Steve Lombardo, the president and CEO of Lombardo Consulting, as a regular contributor. His weekly email update, the LCG Election Monitor, is well known to political journalists and insiders as a source of straight-shooting analysis of political poll trends. Starting today, the LCG monitor will also be published every week right here on Pollster.com.

It is often difficult to accurately assess the electoral impact of events during a campaign - especially those that occur more than 3 months prior to Election Day. But in the case of Obama's overseas trip, I think we can mark this down as a substantial tactical and strategic victory.

First, as I have said before - in the words of my friend and colleague, the late Mike Deaver - elections are about impressions. And this trip (and the accompanying coverage and photos) has created an impression of Barack Obama as that of an engaged, serious and strong person. Second, the trip serves to negate the preexisting notion that Obama is not up for the job of President. While it likely has not completely reversed the "inexperienced" impression, the trip has begun the process. Time will tell if other moments can serve Obama in the same way. The campaign will be looking for them to be sure.

From a micro perspective Obama has swamped McCain in terms of positive media coverage, driven largely by this overseas trip. Media reports have, to this point, been almost uniformly glowing. This has been helped along, of course, by comments from Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki, which seemed to support Obama's plans for a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

Yes, there has been some criticism that this is a media stunt, but the vast majority of the coverage has been positive, suggesting that this was a sound strategy. Our sense is that when most Americans turn on their televisions, visit their favorite websites or open up their newspapers and see Obama sitting down with foreign leaders and chatting with American soldiers, most of them will say: "Sure, he looks presidential." In the end, that's all that matters.

John McCain has been hammering away at Obama on the stump and in this ad. This, too, is a pretty good strategy: trying to move the conversation away from whether Obama supported the war to whether he supported the surge. Obviously, Obama is vulnerable here. He stated that the surge would be counterproductive, and this line of attack serves to underscore the idea that he is not ready for the job. But this somewhat narrow approach may be obscured by events abroad (Afghanistan, Iran) and at home (gas prices, the economy). Remember that the economy is by far the number one issue in the country right now. Obama only needs to be in the ballpark with McCain on handling Iraq; if he dominates on the issue of the economy, he wins.

As we said in our last Election Monitor, this campaign will be a referendum on Barack Obama. If the American public comes to the conclusion that he can be an effective commander-in-chief - basically, if they become comfortable with the idea of him as President - then he should win the race. But the American public isn't there yet; the one area where Obama still trails McCain is on this key question of leadership and whether he has the "experience" to be president. This is obviously something that the Obama Iraq trip is designed to address. Our sense is that it is working; the question is whether the leadership "bounce" that Obama gets from the trip can be sustained.

Electoral Vote Projection Map

Our electoral vote map has not changed in the last two weeks. To this point, nothing has fundamentally altered the race, either nationally or in any key states. We will have to wait for next week's batch of polling data to see if Obama's overseas trip has any quantifiable impact on the race.

LCG electoral vote map 2008-7-22.png

However, there is some new polling data that does confirm a couple of our earlier predictions, as well as hint at one of the LCG Big Ten moving into the Obama column:

  1. Michigan (Toss-up). The upper-Midwest is clearly the Obama campaign's center of gravity. With his campaign headquarters and personal and political roots in Chicago, he has taken the sensible strategy of making strong plays for Iowa (which was won by less than 1% of the vote in both 2000 and 2004) and Michigan, a state that went Gore +5.2, Kerry +3.4. Horserace polling in Michigan has consistently shown Obama and McCain within the margin of error. However, the three most recent polls in Michigan (Rasmussen, Quinnipiac/WSJ/WP and PPP) show an average of Obama +8. If this recent bounce continues, we may have to move Michigan into the Obama column.
  2. michigan 7-22.PNG

  3. Iowa (Obama). We debated putting Iowa--a state that Bush won in 2004--in the Obama column so early, but every publically-released poll conducted in Iowa since the end of 2006 has shown Obama leading McCain, and now a new poll confirms a significant Obama advantage. A Rasmussen survey of 500 likely voters has Obama at a comfortable +10.
  4. North Carolina (Toss-up). As we mentioned in our initial comments on this electoral map, the fact that a state Bush won by at least 12 points in both 2000 and 2004 is a toss-up underlines the enormous structural advantage the Democratic Party has this year. We still think that McCain is likely to win this state, nevertheless, three new surveys (Rasmussen, SurveyUSA and PPP) show an average of just a 3-4 point lead for McCain and we will continue to treat this as a toss-up until something changes.
  5. NC 7-22.PNG

The Independent Vote

Just one more note before we go. So much has been made of the Independent vote that we decided to take a look at it, both in terms of how Independents are trending in 2008 and how that compares with previous elections. The chart below makes it clear that structural changes and disaffection with the current administration hasn't translated into increased support for Obama--yet. For all the talk of Bush's base-pandering and Obama's popularity among swing voters, the middle is being split between the two candidates, and it's been that way for the last eight years. For historical perspective, the small edge Obama currently enjoys is nothing compared to the huge Independent support garnered by Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

Ind 7-22.PNG

However, our sense is that McCain is doing better with likely voters and therefore, to win, Obama will need to open up a 4-7 point lead with Independents (think Clinton in '92 and '96).

We will be back again next week. Thanks to Pete Ventimiglia and John Zirinsky for their insights.

New Contributors

Topics: David Moore , Gallup , Margie Omero , Pollster , Pollster.com , Steve Lombardo

Yesterday, I explained some of the changes to the structure of Pollster.com. Today I want to tell you more about some of the new names that we have added to our menu of regular contributors.

The first two should be familiar. Democratic pollster Margie Omero has been a regular contributor since her first "guest pollster" item here last November. She has been understandably busy conducting surveys for her clients in recent months, but we look forward to her continuing presence here.

David W. Moore has been contributing items more recently. You may recognize Moore as a former Managing Editor of the Gallup Poll or as an author of several books on polling and pollsters. His latest book, The Opinion Makers, is forthcoming in September. His posts here will also appear on his blog, Skeptical Pollster.

Two names are new to our site but not to true political junkies. We are very pleased to add Republican pollster Steve Lombardo, the president and CEO of Lombardo Consulting, as a regular contributor. His weekly email update, the LCG Election Monitor, is well known to political journalists and insiders as a source of straight-shooting analysis of political poll trends. Starting today, the LCG monitor will also be published every week right here on Pollster.com.

Finally, regular Pollster readers will probably recognize Brian Schaffner, professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, from my regular links to his posts on the CCPS blog earlier this year. While his day job does not allow for the sort of daily blogging he managed this spring, we look forward to once or twice a month contributions from him here.

And finally, speaking of academics with day jobs, Pollster.com's co-creator Charles Franklin continues to be an integral part of this site. He has been busy this summer doing the work the University of Wisconsin pays him to do, but his regular contributions should return soon.

As you may have noticed already, the name of each now appears in the "Analysis" menu at the top of every page. Choose a name from the menu to see only the posts from that person. We have also created RSS feeds specific to each contributor that are available here.

POLL: Daily Tracking (7/20-22)

Rasmussen Reports
7/20-22/08; 3,000 LV, 2%
Mode: IVR

Obama 47, McCain 45

"63% Say Trip Does Not Make Obama More Fit to be President"

7/20-22/08; 2,640 LV RV, 2%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Obama 46, McCain 42

"Obama Gains Over McCain in Swing States Since June"

POLL: Rasmussen Florida (7/22)

Rasmussen Reports
7/22/08; 500 LV, 4.5%
Mode: IVR

Obama 49, McCain 47

POLL: PPP Virginia (7/17-20)

Public Policy Polling (D)
7/17-20/08; 1,327 LV, 2.7%
Mode: IVR

Obama 46, McCain 44
Sen: Warner (D) 57, Gilmore (R) 32

POLL: Monmouth New Jersey (7/17-21)

Monmouth University/
Gannett New Jersey
7/17-21/08; 698 LV, 3.7%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

New Jersey
Obama 50, McCain 36
Sen: Lautenberg (D-i) 45, Zimmer (R) 37

How to Find Charts on the New Pollster.com

Topics: Charts , Pollster , Pollster.com

Apologies for not posting this item sooner. Unfortunately, we ran into some unexpected problems this morning with the update. Among other things, we were not able to update the site until a few hours ago, so I was not able to post any sort of explanation of what has changed at Pollster.com, and what changes are still in store.

So let me start by reviewing the most pressing issues.

First, we know that comments were not working for much of the day today. We believe they are functioning properly now, but please email us if you experience any problems posting comments to the new site.

Second, while we think most readers will find the Flash maps provide the most convenient way to navigate the site, we overlooked the need to provide a bit more guidance on how to navigate in our push to get things up and running. We consider today's launch the first step in an ongoing upgrade process that will continue between now and late August. So if you have specific complaints or suggestions, please leave a comment below or send an email (though you might want to read the rest of this post before hitting the send button).

How Do I Find a Chart?

We believe the Flash maps that appear on our home page and elsewhere on the site provide the most convenient means of navigating to our charts. The maps do require the Adobe Flash Player plug-in for your browser (download it here, details on how to navigate without the Flash maps below).

The map on the main page initially displays results for the presidential race. Point your mouse at a state and the most recent trend estimate numbers pop-up small "tool tip" window (more details on how we generate the numbers and classify leaders here). Click on any state to go directly to our chart of the presidential poll results for that state.

If you want to find polls for other races use the "Map Chooser" pulldown in the upper left corner of any map and select another category: Senate or Governor (we will add a map for U.S. House races in August). Then follow the same procedure to click through to a state. The links will be active if we have poll data available.

Looking for a poll for a particular state from 2006, from the 2008 primaries or for the now inactive Clinton-McCain general election match-ups? To find these with the map, use the "Find All Polls" option to display the all-gray map. Click on any state to navigate to the index page for that state that lists links to every chart page ever created on Pollster.com (as a text-HTML link) for that state. Click on the small US icon in the lower right corner of the chart to display the index of all national trend charts (including Bush job approval).

We designed the state index pages to work automatically, so that new links will always appear there as we add new charts to the site.

But what if I cannot run Flash and cannot see the maps?

The main menu at the top of the page to the right of the (new) Pollster.com logo has an item named "The Polls." Hold your mouse over "The Polls" and a drop down menu will appear with links to main pages for various categories: President, Senate and Governor. Text links to state level charts are available on each page.

In other words....

To access the text links to the Presidential chart pages, choose "President" from "The Polls" menu. Those text links now appear below the map.

To access the text links to races for Senate or Governor (including data from 2006), click the appropriate category on "The Polls" menu and you will see a list of text links to those pages as well.

Also, you can click directly on "The Polls" in the main menu to go to a page of the same name that has text links to each of the 50-state index pages (listing all poll charts for each state) and also links to national trend charts that appear just below the map.

Where is the national Clinton-Obama trend? It's there. Click the link to the left. To navigate to any national level trend data, use the small USA icon in the bottom right of each map, or (for text links) click on "The Polls" on the main menu to get to our main Polls page.

What happened to the Bush job approval chart? It too is still there, as are the other national trends we posted on the old site. Links to all national trend data are available are on the main "Polls" page.

I will take full responsibility for temporarily pulling the Bush job approval from the main page. Charles Franklin has kindly maintained and updated those charts, but his day job understandably prevents more frequent updates. We are working now to bring his seven years of job approval data into our back-end database so that we can update the job approval chart whenever a new national poll is released. We hope to have that system in place during early August.

Again, today's launch is just the first step. We have more in the works, although today's changes are probably the most dramatic. We have made changes already today in response to the comments we received via email and welcome your suggestions for how to make this site better.

I will have more to say about changes on the blog side of Pollster a bit later.

POLL: Rasmussen Colorado

Rasmussen Reports
7/21/08; 500 LV, 4.5
Mode: IVR

Obama 50, McCain 47
Sen: Udall (D) 49, Schaffer (R) 46

POLL: Rasmussen Ohio

Rasmussen Reports
7/21/08; 500 LV, 4.5
Mode: IVR

McCain 52, Obama 42

POLL: ARG Florida, New Hampshire

American Research Group
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Florida (7/19-21/08; 600 LV, 4%)
McCain 47, Obama 45

New Hampshire (7/19-21/08; 600 LV, 4%)
Obama 47, McCain 45


7/13-15/08; 600 LV, 4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Obama 43, McCain 41, Nader 3, Barr 2

POLL: UNH New Hampshire

University of New Hampshire Granite State Poll
7/11-20/08; 475 LV, 4.5%
Mode: Live Telephone Interview

New Hampshire
Obama 46, McCain 43
Sen: Shaheen (D) 46, Sununu (R-i) 42
NH-01: Shea-Porter (D-i) 42, John Stephen (R) 36 (235 LV, 6.4%)
NH-01: Jeb Bradley (R) 46, Shea-Porter 40
NH-02: Paul Hodes (D-i) 44, Bob Clegg (R) 25 (240 LV, 6.3%)
NH-02: Paul Hodes 43, Jennifer Horn (R) 23

Gov: Lynch (D-i) 67, Kenney (R) 16

Pardon Our Dust

If you follow this site closely, you have probably noticed that my posts have been a bit sparse lately, and you may have experienced a few"site not available" error messages over the last week or two. Both issues are related to some changes on the site that will begin to become obvious in a few hours. We think you will approve what we have in store.

Meanwhile, we apologize in advance for one more brief service outage that you will encounter at about 9:00 p.m. Eastern time tonight (6:00 p.m. Pacific), as we make some changes to the "tubes" that bring you our site.

And tune in tomorrow (or later tonight) for a whole new Pollster.com...

Update (9:57 a.m EST): The new site is up, but we're working to correct a few bugs this morning, some obvious, most not.  The most obvious is the presidential map scoreboard, which as commenter Holdek points out, incorrectly adds up to 553 electoral votes (it should total to 538).  The "lean Republican" category has 15 electoral votes too many, the correct total should be 102, not 117.   Thus, the total McCain electoral vote count should be 199, not 214.  

For reasons having to do with file permissions, server issues and time zones that make my head hurt, we cannot change those scoreboard values, at least not for the moment.  We'll also be a little delayed posting poll updates this morning.

But we'll have much more later this afternoon.

POLL: Rasmussen Georgia, Alaska

Rasmussen Reports
Mode: IVR

Georgia (7/17/08; 500 LV, 4.5%)
McCain 53, Obama 42, Barr 1
Sen: Chambliss (R-i) 59, Jones (D) 29
Sen: Chambliss 51, Martin (D) 40

Alaska (7/17/08; 500 LV, 4.5%)
McCain 49, Obama 44
Sen: Begich (D) 52, Stevens (R-i) 44


Public Policy Polling (D)
7/17-20/08; 1,058 LV, 3%
Mode: IVR

Obama 48, McCain 40