New series of polls has Obama gaining ground in key Super Tuesday battlegrounds

So much for my complaint this morning that there weren't enough Super Tuesday polls. A series of surveys released early this afternoon (2 from Connecticut, 2 from New Jersey, 1 from New York, Illinois and Alabama) have Obama gaining ground in some key battlegrounds. He is clearly moving upwards, the question now being whether he will have time to rise a few more points to upset Clinton across the board come Tuesday. Now imagine how suspenseful this week would have been if Romney had won in Florida three days ago, as both races would then be tight heading into Tuesday.

Overall, all these polls paint a very divided Democratic electorate, with both candidates consistent in what groups they are strongest in. Keep an eye on the stunning gender gap in particular, that is often close to 30 to 40%. Obama gets men, Clinton gets women. Most polls also have Clinton up among whites and Obama among blacks, with Clinton holding firm among Latinos.

First, Gallup's national tacking poll that has the race tightening for the 9th straight day. Now, Clinton's lead is down to 3%, 44% to 41%. Among Republicans, McCain is ahead 39% to 24% against Romney and 17% to Huckabee. Fox News also has a national poll out and it shows a bit better news for Clinton, who is still leading 47% to 37%. The national polls are obviously very instructive at this point, since February 5th is as close to a national primary day as the US has ever seen.

And with that we got an impressive series of state polls. First up, Alabama and a new SUSA poll:

  • Among Democrats, Clinton and Obama are tied at 47%. Clinton has a massive lead among white voters (65% to 28%) and Obama among blacks (72% to 23%).
  • Among Republicans, McCain is ahead with 40% to Hucakbee's 31% and Romney's 21%.
Alabama should be one of the most fascinating states to watch on Tuesday night. Edwards's withdrawal means that the white vote will not divide itself between Clinton and Obama and the racial polarization of the Southern states will greatly help Clinton here. The proportion of black voters in Alabama is inferior to that of Georgia and South Carolina so that Clinton now has a chance of pulling out a victory here. Among Republicans, the few Southern states that are voting on Tuesday are must-wins for Huckabee, so these numbers are bad news for him.

Next, we move to the Tri-State area where Obama is climbing fast. First, New Jersey from which we get two polls today:

  • GQR has Obama closing the gap, now only behind 44% to 38%. Edwards supporters are moving to Barack, explaining his rise.

  • SUSA has better news for Clinton who is still ahead 51% to 39%. That is due to a massive edge among women, whom she leads 60% to 31%; Obama is ahead 50% to 40% among men, creating a 39% gender gap!
  • Among Republicans, McCain is up 48% to 25% for Romney and 9% for Huckabee.
Let's move next door to New York, where Clinton's lead is not as big as it once was:

  • SUSA has Clinton ahead 54% to 38%. 3 weeks ago, Obama was trailing 56% to 29% and while he is far from victory that bump means many many extra delegates.
  • Among the GOP, McCain is ahead 55% to 21% against Mitt Romney, seemingly benefiting from the support of former Rudy backers.
And that gets us to the tightest race of the region, Connecticut, where two polls paint two very different pictures:

  • SUSA came out with a truly shocking poll that shows Obama ahead 48% to 44% amidst a 30% gender gap. This poll conforms to a Rasmussen survey from a few days ago that had the pair tied at 40%.
  • Among Republicans, SUSA shows an unshakable McCain, up 53% to 31% on Romney.

  • ARG is more generous to Clinton, showing her ahead 48% to 35%. It agrees in McCain's lead, 43% to 25%. ARG's track-record over the past month is not particularly successful, so keep that in mind.
These numbers are very significant. On the GOP side, all three of these states are winner-take-all. Formerly Giuliani strongholds, they are now assured to go for McCain which means that he will get all of the delegates that are awarded in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey, 183 total! That will by itself guarantee that he will come out with a massive advantage over Romney who will be completely shut out.

Among Democrats, the Tri-State area is Clinton's base, her backyard. Any Obama victory in one of those 3 states would generate awful press for Clinton and would bode well for Obama. Furthermore, Clinton was hoping to bury Obama with a delegate lead out of these three states and it looks like that will not happen. New York especially has 281 delegates at stake, and if Obama is keeping it this close statewide it means he will also win some congressional districts and be very close in others, denying Clinton an advantage in delegate out of her home-state.

And that gets us to Obama's home state of Illinois, where a new poll from ARG shows Obama ahead 51% to 40% in his home-state. A Rasmussen poll this morning had him up at 60%, so both of today's ARG polls have Clinton higher than she is in other polls. There is no question that holding the race close here would give Clinton an unexpectedly high number of delegates. McCain is up 48% to 34% in the GOP race.

Finally, the last poll comes to us from one of the tightest battlegrounds we have on Super Tuesday, Missouri. SUSA came out with a poll that has both races very tight.

  • Among Democrats, Clinton is up 48% to 44%, in a 40% gender gap (+22 among women, -18 among men). Another gap here is between registered Democrats (who go for Clinton by 11%) and independents (who prefer Obama by 20%).
  • Among Republicans, McCain is ahead 34% to Romney's 30% and Huckabee's 28%, though he runs third among self-identified conservatives. This is the only state polled today that does not have McCain up big, for those keeping track of that.
Obama has long placed Missouri at the center of his Super Tuesday strategy, since he wants to make the argument that Clinton is having trouble winning away from the coasts.

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