Monday polls: First VP tests, and Obama's big Oregon lead

The Democratic Party's unification process continued today. After Senator Byrd this morning, Warren Buffet endorsed Barack Obama; he had announced for a long time that he would not endorse before the end of the primaries and had made appearances with both candidates. Meanwhile, Politico reported that Patti Solis Doyle -- yes that Solis Doyle -- is in talks with the Obama campaign about joining their general election efforts; sure, she appears to be a long time friend of David Axelrod, but it is nonetheless a blow to Clinton that even the woman who coined the term "Hillaryland" is now preparing for her loss.

In other words, everyone but the Clinton campaign is acting like the primaries are over and that Obama has become the presumptive nominee. And that's exactly what makes tomorrow's Election Day -- and the two campaign's dual spin -- so surreal.

The most dramatic evidence of the shifting dynamics of the Clinton-Obama race was provided by Gallup's tracking poll where Obama suddenly and dramatically opened his biggest lead yet, forcing Clinton under the 40% bar for the first time. He is now ahead 55% to 39%. Ironically, Clinton progressed in the general election, now ahead of McCain by 4% while Obama is ahead by 1%. Meanwhile, three new primary polls show a much more comfortable Obama lead in Oregon than Suffolk implied this morning:

  • SUSA shows Obama ahead 55% to 42% in Oregon. His lead comes entirely from a 28% lead among men, as the two are tied among women.
  • PPP finds Obama to be ahead 56% to 38%. Obama is at 60% among those who have already voted.
  • In Kentucky, SUSA confirms that Clinton will triumph. She is ahead 62% to 31% -- so Obama can expect to do much better than in West Virginia.
Don't forget that Oregon's voting is conducted entirely through mail, and voters have until tomorrow to return their ballots. So most of the votes are already in. Also, a huge victory in Oregon could not be enough for Obama to avoid the embarrassment of Wednesday morning headlines; Oregon voting stops at 11pm ET and while the state should be called fairly soon the size of Obama's victory could not be known until after press time. Also, Obama's speech in Iowa should come before counting starts in Oregon.

Also today, SUSA released a new poll of New Mexico testing potential vice-presidential match-ups! The numbers show a lot of discrepancy, way more than any vice-presidential pick would ever impact any ticket, and a lot of it is due to name recognition at this stage, but it is still a fun exercise:

  • McCain and Obama are (conveniently) tied at 44% in a straight match-up. Obama gets 67% of the Democratic vote and only 51% of the Hispanic vote -- a very weak showing in a key constituency that Obama must do well in.
  • Obama prevails when paired up with Edwards as he improves his share of the Dem vote: He leads McCain-Huckabee by 3, McCain-Romney by 6 and McCain-Pawlenty by 9 (Pawlenty suffers from an obvious lack of name recognition).
  • But Democrats do badly with most other VP tickets: In the match-ups with Pawlently alone (useful to compare people with comparably low name ID), the GOP leads by 7 if Obama picks Sebelius, 4 if he picks Rendell.
  • A very interesting lesson is what happens if Obama picks Republican Chuck Hagel, as his share of the Demcoratic vote drops dramatically. He only gets 52% (!) of the Democratic vote in a match-up with McCain-Pawlently, for instance. The parallel lesson is that McCain is a bit weaker if he picks Lieberman as his vice-president.
Finally, we also got a Senate poll today from Minnesota, in the race that has possibly been polled more than any other in the past few months:

  • Senator Coleman is in single-digits but above 50 percent, leading Al Franken 51% to 44% in the Star Tribune poll.
The article emphasizes that Franken looks to have been hurt by the tax scandal that has engulfed his campaign recently. He should find a way to deal with it soon, because Coleman is a good enough politician that he will make sure to use it relentlessly in the coming months. There is no question that Franken looked much better in late February/March and that Coleman has been regaining strength ever since Franken looked to have closed in on his party's nod.

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