Polls are nothing more than a snapshot in time, meant to create a narrative that one candidate is winning or pulling away and another is falling and fading. Most polls have awful sample skews and/or ask the questions in a way that show obvious bias.
Nonetheless, some scattershots:
- AP poll has Obama up 1, 47/46
- CBS/NYT Colorado: Obama 48/47
- CBS/NYT Virginia: Obama 50/46*
- CBS/NYT Wisconsin: Obama 51/45
- Rasmussen New Hampshire: Romney 48/45
- WeAskAmerica Virginia: Obama 49/46
Digging deep into the polls, we find some have relatively normal sample sizes (CBS/NYT Colorado has R+1) but some are so weird (CBS/NYT Virginia had a D+11 sample size, which is +5 more than ’08 turnouts, but Romney is crushing with indies 53-42).
Let me address that Virginia poll. A 4-point race with a +11 Democratic sample, nearly double 2008, where the Republican wins indies by double-digits. Let me tell you, if you adjust that poll to even ’08 turnout, Romney is at least tied or barely ahead in Virginia.
That Colorado poll, with an R+1 sample, suggests Obama wins independents by a single point, 47/46. Obama took Colorado purely by running up his margin with independents in the suburbs, where Republicans still have a huge voting edge. Romney is probably a marginal favorite in Colorado.
Let’s say Romney is the favorite in Colorado, Florida, Missouri, North Carolina, and New Hampshire…Obama is the favorite in Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Michigan…now its 248R-243O…I think Iowa goes Romney, but (at this point) Wisconsin goes Obama…254R-253O…Romney has to take Ohio to win (272) as Virginia doesn’t get him there (267)…or he can lose Ohio, win Virginia, but he has to steal a state (Wisconsin is the best bet). There are some unusual paths for him, but there are paths based on polling.
- All Signs Point to a Tight Race: Those watching the daily tracking polls know that, while the President has seen a bounce from his convention, his approval has already begun to slip, indicating it is likely to recede further. In eight states, Pollster.com’s reporting of the most recent statewide polls puts the margin between the two candidates at less than three points, virtually guaranteeing a tight race.
- Next, the battlefield has actually expanded, not contracted. Note that Wisconsin is now in play and our campaign is now up with ads in that state, while the latest poll numbers from the Albuquerque Journal in New Mexico show the race closing there. And this tightening is not an anomaly. Consider the traditional Democratic strongholds of New Jersey and Connecticut, won by President Obama in 2008 by margins of 15 points and 22 points, respectively. In both states, Pollster.com’s reporting of the most recent statewide polls puts Obama’s lead at only seven points in each of these states.
- In North Carolina, fresh off of hosting the Democratic National Convention, the Obama campaign is laying the groundwork for a stealth withdrawal. In a state the President won by a mere 14,000 votes in 2008, all one has to do is look at the Obama campaign’s television buy in the state to understand how they view their chances there. The Obama campaign’s North Carolina television buy has dropped 35% compared to June, and they have run more than twice as much advertising over the past two weeks in Rochester, Minnesota (hitting a small slice of Iowa), than they have in any North Carolina market.