Tuesday polls: Why is Washington polled more frequently than OH and FL? (Updated with... 2nd poll from WA!)

A few surveys were released over the past day but it is worth noting that we have still not gotten a comprehensive set of state polls since Barack Obama clinched the nomination. The most recent polls from FL, OH and PA, for instance, all date back to mid-May. Yet, the trickle of surveys from second-tier races continues. We at least got a new poll from Michigan, which is shaping to be one of the most premier battleground states this year:

  • In Michigan, Rasmussen finds Obama with his first lead since early February -- though it remains within the margin of error, 45% to 42%. Last month, McCain edged Obama by 1%, a finding confirmed by many other Michigan surveys. Obama also has a slightly lower favorability rating than his rival.
  • In New York, Quinnipiac finds Obama to be leading 50% to 36%. This remains perhaps tighter than Democrats would like to see in the Empire State, but it is a slight progression for Obama and a significant improvement among white voters.
  • In Washington, which has long been one of Obama's strongest states, SUSA shows him crushing McCain 56% to 39%.
  • He gets 89% of registered Democrats (!) and the margin of his lead is entirely due to the shift of the partisan breakdown (40% Dem-28% GOP versus 36-33 in the 2004 exit polls).
  • Update: Well, it seems I chose the headline of this entry appropriately as we got a second poll from Washington this afternoon. This one (released by Rasmussen) shows Obama leading McCain 53% to 35%, a larger margin than SUSA's poll (and up from 11% last month), confirming that the state's 10 electoral votes are more solidly in the blue column than they were in 2000 and 2004.
  • In Georgia, finally, a new Rasmussen poll finds McCain leading by a substantial though certainly not overwhelming margin, 51% to 41%.
Michigan is shaping up as one of the blue states that Obama is the most endangered in and the biggest along with Pennsylvania. Obama's hope to have a second path to the White House that would accomodate losing Ohio and Florida, a path that wins the Southwest and perhaps Virginia, would only be valid if he can hold on to the 38 electoral votes that come in PA and MI, and up to today it is the latter states that has looked more troubling for the Illinois Senator. Democrats hope that Obama will regain his footing as the conversation turns to the economy and we will be monitoring Michigan numbers very closely.

That Obama has a stronger lead in Washington than he does in New York State confirms the Illinois Senator's strength in the West. This is often coupled with a relative weakness in states East of the Mississippi (starting with the Appalachia region) but as long as Obama holds on in the Northeast and strongly contests Ohio there is a lot of potential for him in Western states. Georgia, meanwhile, is an interesting state as it is part of the "second-tier" of Southern states (along with SC and MS) that some Democrats believe will get competitive once Obama conducts a massive registration drive and drives up black turnout. The numbers are not there right now for Obama to pull this off, and we will know whether he can make those states competitive as much from registration data as from surveys.

Meanwhile, four down-the-ballot polls find no surprises -- though some of these findings are important:

  • In New Jersey, Senator Lautenberg is ahead 48% to 39% against former Rep. Zimmer in a new Quinnipiac poll. Independents favor the challenger by 8%.
  • Washington's gubernatorial race is still a toss-up, with Christine Gregoire edging Dino Rossi 50% to 47% in SUSA's latest poll.
  • Update: A second poll of this match-up was released by Rasmussen and finds Gregoire ahead by 7%, 50% to 43%. That's actually an improvement for the Republican.
  • Indiana's gubernatorial race also favors the incumbent as a Benenson internal poll taken for the Long Thompson campaign finds the challenger trailing Gov. Daniels 46% to 39%. This is the second poll of the race in three days. The previous one found Daniels ahead by 16%.
  • In Georgia, Saxby Chambliss looks safe as he beats his 3 Democratic challengers by margins ranging from 15% to 23% in a Rasmussen poll.
The New Jersey Senate race looks like it might remain tight for a few months, and winning the Democratic primary has not given Lautenberg a bounce. This is the second poll in a week that finds him up single-digits. In fact, it might have highlighted the problem of his age. But Democrats should feel no panic and Republicans should develop no hope about a New Jersey race until early October. If there is any lesson we learned in 2004 and 2006, it is that New Jersey likes to tease Republicans. Yet, the second poll finding a competitive race is certainly an unexpected and positive development for the NRSC.

There is no better confirmation of the tightness of the Gregoire-Rossi rematch than the fact that, in the same sample, Barack Obama leads by 17% while Christine Gregoire struggles to stay ahead. Polls taken since 2004 have shown that this race will go down to the wire and that Washington Republicans have not forgotten the shady recounts of 2004.

As for Georgia, it looks like Senator Ensign, the chairman of the NRSC, will get his wish and Chambliss will be part of his "firewall" to salvage 41 seats. Of course, Georgia was never really on the Democrats' target list and the DSCC would love nothing more than or Ensign to cultivate this 15% margin rather than protect more endangered seats.

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  • I don't think Obama has a chance in Georgia and Mississippi and he would be wasting his time trying that hard. Money better spent in Virginia and Missouri.

    By Anonymous Ron, At 11 June, 2008 15:51  

  • We learned that New Jersey teases Republicans in the last 2 elections? Try the last 10 elections. Republicans thought they could win every NJ senate race since 1988, and they lost them all.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 11 June, 2008 15:58  

  • Georgia is interesting. As of the most recent count, it had @ 5.2 MM registered voters. Assuming the 51-41 split you refer to, and 100% participation (unrealistic, I know), that means that somewhere on the order of 2.65 MM will vote for McCain and 2.13 will vote for Obama - a gap of @0.5 MM votes.

    Someone (I believe it was Jim Webb) stated that GA has @ 0.6 MM unregistered Afro-Americans. This is confirmed n Newsweek at http://www.newsweek.com/id/138611

    Let's assume a get out the vote drive registers 0.54 MM, or 90% of them, and that 0.49 MM of them (or 90%) vote for Obama. That's a net gain of 0.440 MM votes for Obama, reducing the McCain margin to 60 K. Now you're looking at a very tight race, and that assumes 100% turnout.

    If you reduce the registered turnout and the turnout of newly registered AA voters, but preserve the 51-41 and the 90-10 splits, things get even more interesting.

    For instance at 70% turnout, or 3.65 MM, McCain receives 1.86 MM votes and Obama receives 1.5 MM - a gap of 0.360 MM votes. Now factor in the newly registered. Assume that 70% of them turn out, say 0.380 MM, and apply the 90-10. That's a net gain to Obama of 0.342 MM. You can do the math, but it's close to a dead heat.

    I'm sure there is a flaw in my analysis somewhere, but if this is anywhere near accurate, Obama can create real difficulties by conducting a hyper-aggressive voter registration drive enlisting AA churches and other social institutions. If anyone has addition data on the GA demographics, I'd be interested in seeing it.

    By Anonymous zoot, At 11 June, 2008 16:02  

  • Obama has a chance in GA if:
    A) He is able to spend considerable money there and McCain can not (very likely)
    B) Barr pulls 5% or more of the vote (possible)
    C) Obama registers 100s of thousands of new voters (likely)


    Obama's polling improves considerably with consolidation of the Democratic party, McCain gaffe etc (tossup). Of course if that happened, Obama would probably open up leads in North Carolina, Virgnia, Ohio and Colorado and GA would not be crucial at that point.

    NY will never be competitive for the GOP.

    By Blogger st paul sage, At 11 June, 2008 17:30  

  • "I don't think Obama has a chance in Georgia and Mississippi and he would be wasting his time trying that hard."

    Even if he can't win the EC votes, he could help turn these states a little bluer and help some down ticket races.

    If he wins and helps the Democrats reach 60+ seats in the senate, it would be huge.

    By Anonymous C.S.Strowbridge, At 11 June, 2008 22:54  

  • Obama and Dean's 50-state strategy is really showing its strength now. The Democrats' special election pickups were proof that the strategy can work, and the nomination of Obama has brought the Dems together around it. Even if Obama *somehow* manages to lose in November, the Democratic party will be stronger because of what they're doing now.

    By Blogger Stephen, At 12 June, 2008 10:24  

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