General election surveys diverge, show Texas potentially competitive

A few general election polls were released today, some of which contradict the idea that Obama is opening up a clear and consistent electability gap. And overall, the surveys suggest the Democrats might be entering the general election phase with a slight advantage.

  • First, the New York Times survey shows Obama crushing McCain nationally -- 50% to 38% -- while Clinton and McCain are tied at 46%.

  • AP-Ipsos also gives an advantage to Democrats: Obama is ahead 48% to 39%, while Clinton is up 46% to 41%.

  • Finally, Rasmussen's daily tracking poll shows a reversal: After weeks of Obama running much strongly than Clinton, they now run roughly even, Obama losing to McCain 47% to 43% and Clinton 47% to 44%.
  • Update: The LA Times/Bloomberg poll came out as well tonight, showing McCain ahead of both Clinton (by 6 points) and Obama (by 2). The national polls are not agreeing at all on the state of the race, pointing to how fluid the campaign is (understandably given that the primaries are not even over).
The most surprising survey comes from SUSA's poll from Texas, known as one of the most reliably Republican states in the country:

  • McCain leads both Democrats by single-digits: 49% to 43% against Clinton, 49% to 41% against Obama.
  • Obama does better among African-American voters (88% versus 74%) but Hillary does much better among Hispanics (a 17% gap rather than a 6% gap).
Texas is never put on the list of swing states, and it is still very unlikely that McCain will really tremble. Not to mention that the Democratic nominee will not need Texas to get to the White House. But it is easy to overstate Republicans' Texan dominance. After all, Bush did win the state by huge margins (61-38 in 2004), but some of that edge came from the fact that Texas was Bush's home state. After all, Texas already had a minority white population by the 2000 census, so strong numbers among blacks and Latinos could keep the Democrat at a strong level. And while a Democratic win is very unlikely, a challenge could force McCain to spend time and valuable resources defending the Lone Star State (just as Bush unsuccessfully tried to force Gore to defend California in the closing weeks of 2000).

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