Mark Blumenthal | October 2, 2008
Topics: Status Update
Marc Ambinder called it the "ObamaPollSplosion." Michael Scherer wasn't sure what to call it, but his headline read "Poll Dance: All Together Now." Whatever the label, yesterday was certainly quite a day for fans of Barack Obama.
In the last 24 hours, we have logged 12 new national polls and 19 new statewide surveys (and that doesn't count 3 new "pre-debate" snapshots also released yesterday by Quinnipiac University) . Ten (10) of the statewide polls and 10 of the national surveys tracked results from prior surveys conducted since September 1. The result?
- 8 of the 10 statewide tracks showed movement in Obama's direction.
- 7 of the 10 of the national updates showed movement in Obama's direction.
- We logged new polls in 7 of the states we currently classified as toss-up or lean, and our estimates in all 7 states moved in Obama's direction.
- The new polls were enough to nudge Pennsylvania (and its 21 electoral votes) back to lean Obama, and Missouri (11) to toss-up, changing our electoral vote count to 250 for Obama, 163 for McCain and 125 in the toss-up category.
The only consolation for Republicans in yesterday's results were that the daily national tracking polls were relatively stable as compared to the previous day's results. The DailyKos/Research2000 track showed a slight gain for Obama, the Gallup Daily and Diageo/Hotline polls showed a slight decline. The GWU Battleground poll showed a four point net shift to Obama, but it was likely the result of a change in their weighting procedure.
Of all the results yesterday, the most consequential are from Florida. Three new polls, from CNN/Time, Suffolk University and Quinnipiac University (plus a fourth pre-convention snapshot from Quinnipiac) all showed Obama leading by margins of 4 to 8 percentage points. As a result, our usually conservative trend estimate shifted a remarkable 2.6 points in Obama's direction. Although we still classify Florida as a toss-up, Obama currently leads by about a point (47.7% to 46.6%).
Incidentally, before the release of the CNN and Suffolk polls, I received a number of emails asking about the trustworthiness of the Quinnipiac polls. One thing to keep in mind is that our new charts allow you to compare the trend-line for any individual pollster to the overall trend, so you can make your own judgements about whether a particular pollster typically gets different results than the others.
Try this with the chart above: At the end of the trendlines, two of the red dots at the bottom right corner represent the McCain percentage on the two most recent Quinnipiac polls. The blue dot in the upper right corner is the latest CNN/Time percentage for Obama. Click on these dots and you can connect-the-dots for each pollster. How does the pollster trend line compare to our overall trend estimate? And here's one more option. To see the relationship more clearly you might want to click through to the full Florida chart, and use the "choices" tool to display only the Obama or McCain trendline.
Incidentally, Marc Ambinder asked yesterday whether "the polls ever swung this much, this late, and NOT swung back?" Given that so little about the last year has been typical, I'm not sure why we would expect the next five weeks to be any different, however, here are two ways to try to answer that question: First, back before the conventions, we collected poll data for prior presidential elections going back to 1980, and Charles Franklin produced charts showing the trend in the margins for each election. Very few showed much movement in October. It is also worth examining Gallup's remarkable collection of trial-heat trend charts dating back to 1936.
Second, check out Brian Schaffner's post here last night, in which he examines the potential for McCain to come back by winning over the remaining undecided (their ranks are narrowing) or by converting Obama supporters (past panel studies have shown that 95+% of supporters in September stick with that choice on Election Day).