Thanks to the excellent Political Wire, it seems apparent that Barack Obama's lead in the national polls is probably slipping.
It quotes a new CNN poll which puts Obama's lead at 51-46, down from eight points a couple of weeks ago. It also says the latest Diageo/Hotline survey shows Obama ahead 47-42, its smallest lead for two weeks. However, contrary to that, the latest Gallup poll shows the national margin widening to 11 points, 52-41, although this is based on registered voters and its two models of likely voters show 5 and 9 point gaps respectively.
Yet, even if Obama's national lead is being cut, the state polls seem to be showing a different story. In Virginia, Rasmussen has Obama up by 10 points, 54-44, an increase from a three-point lead. Survey USA puts the gap in the state at six points, down from its previous 10-point gap, admittedly, but still a healthy advantage for Obama. At the same time, the latest poll in Ohio gives Obama a whopping nine-point lead. And according to PPP, Obama has a seven-point lead in North Carolina.
Let's just repeat those figures for a moment. Obama is possibly as much as 10 points ahead in Virginia, nine points in Ohio and seven in North Carolina.
So what on earth is going on? I think the best explanation is that Republicans who previously had some doubts about McCain are now coming round to him, showing an apparent rise in his national polling numbers. But those voters are most likely to be in already strong Republican areas, or in Democratic states where Obama knows he's going to win anyway and is not putting in the same amount of effort - eg New York or California. But where the fight is fiercest, in the battleground states, people seem to be responding to Obama's message - not to mention his significant advantage in TV ad spending and field campaigning - which means he may be pulling away in some of the key states.
All this means that even if John McCain can even things up on a national level, he still faces a big uphill struggle to make much headway in terms of the electoral college. And that is very good news for those of us hoping for an Obama victory.
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