Saturday polls: Obama opens lead in NH, and why so many polls from WA?

After yesterday's Newsweek poll showing Obama enjoying a dramatic bounce, the USA Today/Gallup poll looks to be more in line with what we have been seeing from other institutes:

  • Obama is leading McCain 50% to 44%, which is the margin the latest NBC and CBS polls found as well.
  • Obama enjoys the support of a high 84% of registered Democrats, and has a 12% lead among independents.
The Newsweek poll had similar internal numbers for the different partisan groups, confirming the analysis I offered yesterday that partisan breakdown would be the key measure of this election. While Newsweek's poll found a stunningly strong breakdown for Democrats (55% of respondents described themselves as such versus 36% of Republicans), it is not out of line with SUSA's repeated findings of a massive swing towards Obama's party compared to the 2004 exit polls.

Meanwhile, a number of state polls were also released in the past 48 hours, some of them from crucial swing states:

  • In New Hampshire, Obama has opened a big lead according to Rasmussen's latest poll. He is ahead 50% to 39%, up from a 5% lead last month.
  • In Nevada, Rasmussen finds McCain holding on to a lead, 45% to 42%. This is down from a 6% lead last month.
  • Obama's favorability rating is only at 50%, versus 58% for McCain.
  • In Iowa, SUSA finds Obama leading 49% to 45%, somewhat of a disappointing result given that some Democrats believe Obama is in a position to put this Bush state away early.
  • Update: A commenter makes the good point that I should have thought about that polls from Iowa when the state is flooded cannot possibly be reliable.
  • In California, nothing much has changed since 2004 according to SUSA's latest poll. Obama is ahead 53% to 41%, including a 65% to 26% lead among Hispanics and a 42% gender gap.
  • Finally, SUSA released a poll from Washington, again. It shows Obama leading McCain 55% to 40%, which is the margin he has enjoyed in most other polls from the state.
Washington is vying for the title of the most-polled state this cycle. SUSA is releasing a poll from the state every two weeks, and we now have a lot of data points confirming that Obama has successfully put the state away. However much McCain wanted to contest it, the state's move back to the safe-blue column (which had already helped Kerry in 2004) is continuing. Do we really need this many polls from the state to confirm that?

The polls from Nevada, New Hampshire and Iowa are certainly more interesting for it is in these states that the election should be decided. While Ohio and Florida certainly hold more electoral votes, Obama will need an alternative path if those 47 electoral votes stay in McCain's column, one made up of smaller states like NV, NH and IA. Keeping New Hampshire's 4 electoral votes might not seem to be that important a priority, but the state is among the only vulnerable Kerry states from 2004. And it would enable Obama to win the election by pulling out Iowa and Nevada and just one other (say, New Mexico). Polls in Iowa have been favorable to the Democrat over the past few months, though Republicans must be relieved that they are still in a position to contest that one. And Nevada polls have been showing a very narrow advantage for the GOP candidate.

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