Mark Blumenthal | November 1, 2008
Topics: Status Update
Not surprisingly, yesterday was another heavy day of new poll releases: 37 new statewide surveys and 10 national releases, yet these surveys indicate no clear trends and leave our bottom line electoral vote count unchanged. McCain does a little better on some polls and on some of our statewide trend estimates, Obama does a little better on others. The net result -- for today at least -- looks mostly like random noise.
If we do "apples-to-apples" comparisons, looking only at how the most recent surveys compare to previous tracks by the same pollster, the pattern is mostly random. Of the 37 new statewide surveys, 16 represent track updates from previous polls conducted released since October 15; McCain gains at least nominally on 7, Obama on 4 with unchanged margins on 5. If we look back a bit farther, and examine the 25 new polls that track previous polls released since October 1, the pattern is almost perfectly random: 10 show nominal gains for McCain, 9 show nominal gains for Obama and 6 show zero change in the margin.
The pattern is similar in terms of how these new surveys affect our trend estimates in battleground states. Since yesterday, 9 states show slight increases for Obama, 6 for McCain. Compared to last Saturday, 14 states show slight gains for Obama, 9 for McCain.
Yesterday's polls did help shift two states from the lean to strong categories. In New Mexico, a new PPP survey shows Obama leading by 17 percentage points (58% to 41%). That margin is significantly better than any other New Mexico poll to date, although the Obama margin on our trend estimate had been increasing as a result of two recent Rasmussen surveys that put Obama ahead by smaller double-digit margins. Obama now leads by nine points (52.6% to 43.6%) on our trend estimate, enough to qualify for dark blue "strong" Obama status.
In Mississippi, polls have been relatively rare (just four in October), a condition that makes our trend line more sensitive to recent results. The new Daily Kos/Research 2000 survey, showing McCain leading by 13 points (53% to 40%), helps boost McCain's lead on our trend estimate back to nearly ten (50.9% to 41.3%) enough to shift back to "strong" McCain. It had been "lean" McCain for a single day, due to a closer Rasmussen result released on Thursday.
For some reason, yesterday probably marked a new general election record for new releases in a single day in New Hampshire, where six new surveys show Barack Obama leading comfortably, by margins varying between 7 and 15 percentage points. The new results increased Obama's margin on our trend estimate only slightly. He now leads by 11.4 points (52.5% to 41.1%) in a state that John Kerry carried by a single percentage point in 2004 (of course, those with a healthy sense of irony and caution will recall another big day for polls in New Hampshire earlier this year).
The trend estimates indicate continuing progress for McCain in Pennsylvania, a state that has been the focus of increased Republican candidate time and television advertising. A new poll from Republican affiliated Strategic Vision and a new tracking release by Muhlenberg College both show Obama leading by single digit margins with McCain at 44%. Our trend estimate shows Obama leading by 9.6 points (51.8% to 42.5%) enough to remain in the "strong" Obama column.
Yesterday's new national poll releases, however, yesterday provided no good news to those looking for a late shift to McCain. Obama's margin on our national trend estimate clicked up slightly yesterday (to +6.0) for the first time in a week. The table below shows how yesterday's new polls compare to the previous non-overlapping samples from the same pollsters. The pattern of change in this table looks mostly random -- 5 nominal shifts to Obama, 3 to McCain and one unchanged.
I did a separate update last night comparing the Friday daily tracking releases to those from Thursday. Again, if anything, the pattern suggested a slight improvement for Obama.