Articles and Analysis


Morning Status Update for Wednesday 10/29

Topics: Outliers Feature

The 24 new statewide and 10 new national surveys we logged yesterday show stability and some consolidation of Barack Obama's standing at the state level and perhaps a whisper of a narrowing in the national tracking polls.

Of the 24 new statewide polls, 8 were tracking surveys following up on earlier releases by the same pollsters earlier in the month. The pattern of change is random: 4 show slight increases for Obama, 4 show slight increases for McCain.

081029 new polls

Two new surveys show Obama leading in Nevada. Rasmussen Reports has Obama ahead by 4 (50% to 46%) and Suffolk University by 10 (50% to 40%). Both margins are bigger than our previous trend estimate for Nevada (+3.6), and they collectively increase Obama's lead on it to 4.7 points (49.7% to 45.0%), enough to nudge Nevada and its 5 electoral votes into the light blue "lean" Obama category.

In Pennsylvania, where the McCain-Palin ticket has been expending more time this week, two new automated surveys by Rasmussen and Insider Advantage both show Obama leading but by less than ten points. These two new results narrow Obama's lead on our trend estimate to 10.7%, with Obama still over 50 (52.0% to McCain's 41.3%), still enough to merit a "strong" Obama rating. Nonetheless, the 4.6 point narrowing there over the last week there represents the one significant narrowing for McCain over the last week. (Yesterday's rolling average tracking results for Pennsylvania from Muhlenberg University, added to our database too late for this update, shows Obama's support unchanged at 53% and McCain clicking up a point to 42% -- the 11 point margin on that survey is unchanged from a week ago).

In Ohio, two new polls from SurveyUSA and L.A. Times/Bloomberg show Obama leading by 4 and 9 percentage points respectively. Of ten surveys released in Ohio over the last week, 9 have given Obama leads ranging from 3 to 12 percentage points. Over the last week, Obama has gained nearly 5 points on our trend estimate there and now leads by 5.6 percentage points (49.7% to 44.1%).

Overall, yesterday's new surveys increase Obama's margins in 10 competitive states and McCain's in only 3.

081029 trends

Obama's lead on our national trend estimate has narrowed slightly over the last three days days (it now stands at 6.7 point -- 50.6% to 43.9%). However, the pattern is similar to what we saw last week, as releases by the stand-alone national surveys slowed and our daily number tends to be dominated by the tracking polls, including the four national pollsters that tend to show the closest margins (Rasmussen, IBD-TIPP, Zogby and GWU/Battleground).

Nonetheless, the individual daily trackers do suggest a hint of a narrowing in recent days. Three showed slight movement to McCain yesterday while four showed unchanged margins. Over the last week, five pollsters show slight improvement for McCain and three show slight shifts to Obama.

081029 trackers


A personal note: I have been offline altogether for the last 24 hours, and as such have not yet attempted to sort through the deluge of email I received yesterday. However, my family saw and was gratified by the many comments left on yesterday's post about the passing of my father-in-law, Frank Burstin. The beautiful tributes from from so many who never knew him were of great comfort. We offer our profound thanks for your kindness.


liz from NJ:


Last several days, a lot of poll results were missing in your site.

Do you think we can go back to the "full coverage"?



Looking at the trend estimate for battleground states, I just don't see how Obama can lose unless he relinquishes 8 points to Obama in each of those states. That's a lot of points in a lot of states.

OTOH, I do think such a lead may very well be what causes/caused the "Bradley effect" - We feel so safe in the pre-voting numbers that we don't get off our lazy asses and vote. Meanwhile, the anti-Bradleys/Obamas are more motivated than ever to keep what they perceive to be a black/muslim/alien/baby-eater out of office!!!

If Obama supporters don't text everyone they know, and drive their obama-supporting grandparents and neighborhood shut-ins to the polls, they are gonna lose!!!



I just don't see how Obama can lose unless he relinquishes 8 points to *McCain*...



Obama has an 8-point lead, or more, in enough states to earn him 272 EC votes. The only way he loses is if his ground game is not as strong as we thought and he can't get the people out to vote. Or, or there's massive voter fraud by the GOP.



On a side note, McCain is closing, but before any right-wingers get two excited, remember two points...

1.) This was expected.
2.) He's not closing fast enough.

And as a bonus...

3.) He's not closing in the places he needs to close.

Sure, he might pull out North Carolina and he might reduce Obama's lead in Pennsylvania to single digits, but that's not enough to matter.



Liz, do you think you might give the guy a break what with the passing of his father-in-law? Kthx.



I am awaiting with great trepidation the video from Bin Laden - coming out within days, as per 2004? Saying something ridiculous like, he is 'delighted and surprised to finally have a muslim in the White House' - although this is complete mularkey, might it not swing many less educated voters towards McCain, who wouldn't realize this was actually OBL's goal? I'm hoping this doesn't happen, but wanted to bring up that scary spectre...




I'm worried about this too.



At a six point spread your national trend icon should be light blue.



In states with a Libertarian bent, (AZ, NV, MT) McCain's % goes down on polls that include the 3rd party candidates in the survey. In state's close enough for it to matter (NV, MT) can Barr or Paul play spoiler? And is Paul even on the ballot?




I hope I'm right, but I think that if that video were going to come out (and yes, I've worried about it as well), I think it would have come out already...

Something like that would need MSM airtime to take hold...would need the pundits and commentators to latch on and hold the public's attention for a good week...

If we make it to the weekend without one, then hopefully we won't see one.

Still have to hope that it wouldn't change the final outcome...



Al Queda already endorsed JOHN McCAIN. See the "Endorsement from Hell" article in the NYTimes. This hasn't been getting much play from the "liberal" media (had they endorsed Obama, we'd still be hearing the chattering heads going on about it).

Security experts said they weren't surprised, since a McCain presidency would be better for Al Queda recruiting efforts.


Mark Lindeman:

@s.b.: The classification depends on the amount (and variability) of data, not just the average margin. Basically, a bunch of polls all of which show Obama ahead support a strong inference that he is ahead. That's all it means. It doesn't mean a landslide prediction.


Capricorn 1:

Has any pollster dared to predict what overall turnout might be, and is there any methodology to determine how that one element (setting aside questions to do with the Bradley effect or the percentage of early voting or other factors) might affect the outcome?

In other words, does a national turnout of 60 percent necessarily favor the electoral chances of one candidate over another, versus a turnout of 65 percent, and if so, by how much?

I'd also be interested to know whether pollsters are attempting to find out what overall turnout might be this time around.




Ron Paul is on the ballot here in MT and as you suggest, he may very will play the spoiler especially in the northwestern part of the state. I've believed that Obama can win here since I did exit polling during the primary. It will be close but I really believe he can pull it out.


This race is starting to look as close as it gets.

Yesterday I said I think Obama needs to be up 5-6 points in average of the respected tracking polls (Zogby, Rasmussen, Gallup-both, Tipp-IBD, GW, Ipsos-McC) to be ahead in the electoral college. After looking more closely at intensely blue states, I think that number is more like 6.0%. As of today, his lead is between 4.8% and 5.1% in those polls.

Obama will currently have a lead in the popular vote of 7 million coming out of just NY, CA, and Ill. The popular vote in all of the rest of Obama's safely blue states will essentially net against his deficit in McCain's safely red states. Just factoring in the 'safe' states for each candidate, Obama will have a popular vote lead of 6.8-7.0%.

Then come the battlegrounds. By definition, these states are closer than the others, with local polls showing them with 10 points.

If Obama is at 50-50 in the battelgrounds (Fla, NC, Va, Pa, NH, NV, MO, OH, IN, Col) he is President. That would translate into a national poll number of 5.8%. It would be very likely in this scenarion that he wins some and loses some but gets well past 270 EVs.

If he is at 48-50 in the battlegrounds, he is very likely president. This would translate into a 5.5% national pop vote lead. This would mean that he loses more battlegrounds than he wins, but probably surpasses 270.

But if Obama is at or below a 47.5-51.5 deficit in the battlegrounds, he starts getting in trouble in the Electoral college. This would mean that for every battleground he wins (on average) by 1 point, he loses another by 5 or more depending on the state. This starts pushing the statistical variance of these state polls.

I think we would all agree that a 44-54 deficit for Obama in the Battlegrounds would be a loss for him in the Electoral college. But that would STILL yield a 4.2% positive margin for Obama in the final national popular vote polls.

If the state polls are what they say here, I would expect Obama to win the popular vote by 10 or more points. Remember, state polls have smaller samples and traditionally much larger margins for error.

But if the daily national trackers are right, then Obama has to be trailing in the aggregate in the Battlegrounds simply to offset the enormous margins he has in his safe states.

If that is the case, the only question is by how much? This is why I conclude that if Obama is not above 6% in the final trackers, this is going to be a very close race with the near certainty that Obama wins the popular vote but could lose the EC.



Polls are NOT the same as VOTES. Registering is not the same as voting! Add the over confidence of Obama voters with supporters who think they voted by registering or voted by supporting to Republican suppression efforts and Republican owned and operated voting machines and secretary's of state and it is McCain in 08 by a steal. The blogosphere and mainstream media is blind to this "effect". It sets up the McCain upset. But it is no upset when votes are stolen, not counted, or suppressed.



@Liz from NJ-

Although it's counter-intuitive that someone who is apparently so addicted to this site that she notices some missing poll analysis would NOT be aware that Mark had a death in the family, we should give you the benefit of the doubt.

It's not conceivable that someone would be insensitive enough to make the comment you made if they were aware of Mark's situation.


George Not Bush:

GOP vote suppression remains a major concern -- and I echo the concern that overconfidence may depress Obama's turnout enough to put in McCain.

We do see Obama's campaign pulling out all stops to get their supporters to the ballot box early. Likely the early vote drive is a reaction to GOP vote suppression. If an early voter encounters registration or polling place difficulties, he or she (and the campaign) have the time to get that sorted out by election day.

There's also been lots of lawyers recruited.

The other problem faced by a GOP vote suppression effort is that flipping just Ohio or Florida will not do the trick this time around as it did in 2004 and 2000. Without Pennsylvania, they will have to pull the same trick in all of Virginia, Florida, Ohio, Missouri, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico and North Carolina. Obama's got lots of ways to get 270+


weigh in, with 6 days to go. I do believe the make or break State for everything to collapse heavily on McCain is INDIANA. If exit polls and early hard data show Indiana very close or a lead for Obama, all flood gates will open. And the potential for over 400 EVs is there.

Here is what I believe are the thresholds and the “dam breaking” potential for Obama come next Tuesday. Based on what I see from early voting, ground-game operations, public and private polling, and consensus among pundits (from FOX to CNN to MSNBC).

286 EV (90% chance)
1st Water Mark (the dam is cracking)

338 EV (75% chance)
2nd Water Mark (the dam has huge cracks)
1st WM + FL, OH, NV

375 EV (60% chance)
3rd Water Mark (the dam has broken!)
2nd WM + IN, MO, NC

393 EV (45% chance)
4th Water Mark (the city has flooded!)
3rd WM + ND, GA

411 EV (30% chance)
5th Water Mark (the county has flooded!)
4th WM + MT + AZ + WV

420 EV (15% chance)
6th Water Mark (holy sh*t)
5th WM + MS + SD

The third water mark minus 1 of those pickups is the MOST LIKELY scenario.




hello all,
I am lost and I was hoping you will be able to clear things up for me. I will start by admitting that I am leaning Mcain. But I do respect each individuals right to hold their own opinion. I respect those who tell me that they are voting obama and have a concrete understanding of why. Most of the responses I have gotten are "he's black", "i'm a democrat and thats all i'll vote", so far that is probably the extent of an credible explanations for voting for obama. but I respect them, at least they are honest.
Where I am completely baffled is how so many "americans" can stand behind a candidate that is a tried and true marxist, and not even trying to hide it, who's every relationship from his past has been with "american hating socialists", who believes the constitution is "outdated", and every speech this man has EVER given has came straight from the pages of sol olenski's "rules for radicals". If the main street media had actually done their job, obama would have been run out of town by means of pitchforks before the primaries were over, and I do believe that history will show that 2008 was the year "journalism" died in america.
Yet this phenomenon just continues to amaze me. So many americans are so caught up in the montras and bumper sticker slogans, that they are not even bothering to look at character, substance, experience, or leadership abilities.
Can anyone explain to me this "I am willing to be blindly led around by the nose" mentality that has seemed to grasp our country by the throat. This wonderful country that I was willing to serve in our military for 6 years to protect. Where has the United States of Ameica gone? I really don't want to live in the United Socialistic States of America.




I have to start by making a few observations. First, I doubt that you have any idea of what socialism or Marxism is. If you did, you would know that Obama is neither a socialist nor a Marxist. He is a moderate to liberal Democrat which would make him a centrist in most western democracies. Why am I voting for Obama - because since the days of Ronald Reagan this country has moved away from promise of the American dream of a fair and just society for everyone and toward banana republic in which the few wealthy and powerful exploit and control everyone else for their own profit. The result is a government that is no longer capable of responding to natural disasters such as Katrina, that is afraid to sit down at the negotiating table with other countries including our allies, will no longer regulate the giant corporations that control the government, and flagrantly violates constitutional rights in the name of national security. I don't think for a minute that Obama will solve all our problems. It will take his first term just to undo the disaster of the past eight years, but he will listen to the best minds in the country and at least begin to move us in the right direction. He represents to me the same hope that led me to work for Bobby Kennedy in 1968.




I like your question and I think it is particularly appropriate for a web site that is trying to make sense of an enormously complicated national voting process by looking at lot of very limited samples of data. I would suggest that you have a sample size problem and that this is the reason you are seeing so many things that don't make sense in the data that you are working with. I think you and I agree that a person who has the characteristics you listed would not enjoy popular support in a world that made sense. I'm guessing you are looking at all of your data and there are only three possible explanations: a) about half of all Americans are decidedly anti-American, b) about half of Americans are being completely deceived and aren't aware of your list of Obama characteristics, and c) your list of characteristics is not an accurate or representative sample. I think you have been working with (b) as your lead theory and you should seriously consider shifting over to (c). In support of (c), even though Obama has been running for president against very aggressive opponents for about two years, I would guess that five weeks ago you had not heard that he was a Marxist, that he was promoting radical socialism, that his primary agenda is wealth redistribution or even his association with ACORN. Is it possible for someone who is truly a Marxist, Socialist, Communist, terrorist-sympathizing, anti-American, Arab/non-citizen, Muslim man who pushes explicit sex education on kindergarteners and would kill defenseless babies because their mothers had wanted an abortion to rise to the top of a two party system in a modern, free democracy? I would suggest that, instead, his current opponents have a list of things Americans don't like and they are running an aggressive marketing campaign that tries to tie Obama to every single thing on that list, hoping that some of it will stick enough to matter. Is it more likely that one of our two major parties is evil and promotes the most evil candidate to the top every election or is it more likely that this is the most reliable method Republicans have found to get their candidates elected? I would suggest reading the Barack Obama wikipedia page, and think about whether or not you have good data. I think that you’ll find it contains a lot of well-referenced facts and there is a tab at the top that lets you review the thousands of discussions behind the current state of the article and those may help resolve any questions you might have about its bias. Did you know he taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School for twelve years? I didn’t until I read it there a few minutes ago. There was also a recent Frontline special profiling the two candidates that should be available online. I didn’t see anyone complaining about bias in it and follows the major developments in each man’s career. Good luck figuring things out! Everybody that comes here is trying to figure things out too.



The idea that Obama is a 'socialist' or is pushing socialist ideology is a fabrication of Fox News and the conservative press. Their goal is to get people scared - 'oh no, the Red Menace is back!'
Obama's tax increases for the wealthiest in this country (rescinding the Bush tax cuts) would raise taxes on the wealthiest from the current 36% to 39% (which is what it was under Clinton!). And raise capital gains taxes (income from stocks, etc.) from 15% to 25%. Hardly socialism!
Obama believes in capitalism and free markets. However, he feels some regulation is necessary - regulation that would have prevented the current Wall Street financial collapse, where major banks were able to make huge profits with 'financial instruments' that were a house of cards, not regulated - and the house just fell.
There is regulation in other parts of our USA life, and it is necessary! FDA for prescription drugs, USDA for food, FAA for aviation safety, etc etc. Regulation is responsible government, not socialism. Try CNN or anything else besides FOX!



gary, and thx,
I have to say thank you for your respectful and insightful responses. I was almost afraid to post on this site seeing how it does seem to lean to the left. I appreciate the civilized tone and the willingness to have an honest discussion.
let me now address some of your points. first on the "redistribution of wealth" issue. Obama says that 95% of the people in this country would receive a tax cut. the problem with this is that the top 1% pay 20% of the taxes. the tot 10% pay 40% of the taxes, the top 20% of those so-called evil rich people pay 54% of this country's taxes.
The bottom 40% pay absolutely NO income taxes. The bottom 50% pay exactly 2.59% of the taxes. So if you are going to take more taxes from the top 40% and give tax cuts to the bottom 40% (who once again pay NO income taxes) how is this different than a welfare payout? Those evil rich people who currently pay almost ALL of the taxes, are precisely the group I aspire to one day join. I am kind of like joe the plumber, I am no where near there, but I did start my own business last year and hope and pray that one day I will get there. Unfortunately, if I do work my butt off, take the time and personal risk that is necessary, and do succeed, obama wants to make sure that everyone behind me has a peice of what I have, IS THIS NOT SOCIALISM. Like so many of our young people in this country who have been failed by our liberal public schools and universities, I DO know what marxism and socialism are. I am VERY familiar with Stallen and Chavez. I am not some naive youngster. America has never been about equal wealth among people, but about equal opportunity among people, which I think we have definitely acheived. The big difference as I can see, is that obama wants to take from the wealthy and give to the poor, mcain wants to give everyone the same opportunity to succeed, it comes down to personal ambition and deire to succceed. it really boils down to personal responsibility. That is what the american dream is, NOT what kind of welfare benefits can I qualify for.
secondly, Acorn, ayers, Flagger, wright, rashid colliti, Jim Johnson and Franklin Reines (both who embezeled a total of 160 Million dollars from fannie mea, then wound up as the chief financial advisors on the obama campaign) are not issues that the mcain campaign just pulled out of thin air in the last few weeks. I heard the interviews with ayres, obama, chris dodd and barney frank more than a year ago. I have been researching them for a long time now. it is amazing what is available out there if you just look. And these comments come straight from the horses mouths, not propoganda by some radio talk show host. I could go on all night long with obamas past associations, but I wont.
As far as this finacial crisis that everyone wants to blame on bush and deregulation of the markets. EVERY bit of this financial crisis can be laid directly at the feet of Bill Clinton. I am not trying to trash the democratic party, but the CRA (community reinvestment act) that was passed by jimmy carter in 1977 proposed that banks lower their lending standards so that more people could qualify for home loans. It was relatively harmless until bill clinton gave it teeth in 1994. This bill forced lending institutions to make mortgage loans to people who otherwise would not qualify (sub-prime loans). in 1996 he made it even worse, banks were now fined and faced penalties if they did not meet certan quotas of these bad loans, in addition, clinton beefed it up and now said that these unqualified borrowers could now qualify for up to 120% of the homes value. With NO money down, and in most cases, the borrower did not even have to show proof of employment. That's right, we are going to give you a house, give you extra money in your pocket, not even demand that you put any of your own money down or even prove that you have the ability to pay it back, and when the economy finally rights itself and you default on your loan, it is all backed by the government, Hence the recent bailout bill. These Are the facts on this issue and I can and will provide the evidence to back it up.
Any economist will tell you that regulation does not promote free growth in our markets. This is all basic economics 101. We do not need the government to regulate business, we need government to get the hell out of the free market and it will regulate itself like it has done for so many years. It was governmental regulations that got us into this mess, and now they want us all to beleive that more regulation will get us out? How stupid do they really think we all are?
I have NEVER questioned him being a muslin or an Arab. I do have issues with the fact that the only copy of a record of birth has been proven to be a forgery, and now the governor of hawaii has ordered ALL of his records to be sealed and not accessed by ANYONE until the election is over, also the president of KENYA has also sealed all of his records and will not release them under ANY circumstance until after the election. This issue has thrown up a red flag for me.
I do not beleive fox (although I do not have cable or satelite and so never get to watch fox) that obama launched his career in the home of bill ayers. I beleive that bill ayers lauched obamas career in his home. I think obama has been being groomed for this for some time.
As far as the killing defensless babies, when the born alive protection act was introduced in the illinois senate, obama was the ONLY one that voted against it. Live, healthy babies were placed in the soiled utility closets until they finally died. This is fact and was tstified to in front of the illinois senate by two nurses that had witnessed it first hand. to this, obama replied, this bill puts undue stress on the hospital staff (because they would now have to actually provide medical care for an infant that was born healthy and alive), and would clearly undermind the mothers decision to have an abortion. And if you still have doubts about his sex education policy for k-12 children, take a serious look at the curriculum that was presented to the us dept. of education. It will scare the hell out of you. it is split up into four stages, stage 1 being k-4th grade. it states that children be taught about genitals, penisis, vaginas, intercourse, what masturbation is, masturbation should be done in a private place. Not at ALL like he has been portraying it for the last 19 months. Do the research and dont just beleive the hype. I challenge you to look at the documents and listen to the interviews and then explain to me how I am wrong. Beleive me I, I hve not taken this lightly.
This is the very first candidate since woodrow wilson that has actually scared me. If you dont beleive that communism can take a foothold in this country, take a long serious look at wilson. it was socialism at its best. 175,000 people were put into PRISON for talking out against the govenment. Why hasn't this been taught in our public schools?




I'm sure you're very familiar with Stalin when you can't even spell his name correctly (Stallen). Also, just to rebut your point, Clinton's party affiliation doesn't matter. What does matter is the fact that he deregulated lending practices, which is a conservative principle.


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