Polls: Obama Pre-Convention Numbers Rise In Key Swing States

Pollsters have been productive in the week before the Democratic Convention. In the last 24 hours, they put out eight surveys from states that are rated toss-ups or lean, including polls from three of the big four (MI, FL, and PA). And after a week of worrisome results for Democrats, today’s survey should reassure them. Obama takes a solid lead in Minnesota for the first time in four polls, leads outside of the margin of error in Michigan and Pennsylvania as well as in Bush-state New Mexico, and he is within 2% in red Florida, North Carolina, Nevada.

McCain receives good news as well, however, as he looks to be in the running in Pennsylvania, fully closes the gap in New Hampshire in two separate polls and jumps 13% in Minnesota if Tim Pawlenty is included as his VP. Here is the full roundup:

  • In Florida (polling history) it’s a one point race as McCain stays stable at 47% and Obama rises by 1% at 46% in ARG’s latest poll. Obama’s share of the Democratic vote is slightly lower than McCain’s share of the GOP vote, but Democrats make up a bigger proportion of the sample. And take a look at this: “45% of likely voters say they would never vote for John McCain in the general election, up from 32% in July, and 33% of likely voters say they would never vote for Barack Obama in the general election, down from 39% in July.”
  • In Pennsylvania (polling history), Obama leads 45% to 40% in a new Rasmussen poll (48% to 45% with leaners). That’s a slight tightening over the past month.
  • In Michigan (polling history), a new Detroit Free Press poll conducted by Ann Selzer brings good news to the Illinois Senator, who leads 46% to 39%. Obama leads 2-1 among first time voters.
  • Insider Advantage’s first poll of North Carolina (polling history) has a tight race well within the margin of error, with McCain leading 45% to 43%.
  • In the race for New Mexico’s five electoral votes, Obama maintains his lead in Rasmussen’s latest poll, 47% to 41%. The margin is 48% to 44% when leaners are factored in. Obama
  • In New Hampshire, Rasmussen finds that Obama has lost the large lead he once enjoyed. Up 11% in June and 6% in July, Obama now gets 43% to McCain’s 42%. The margin stays the same with leaners, 47% to 46%. McCain has solidified the Republican base.
  • Another poll from the state, released by ARG, finds Obama ahead 46% to 45%. He led by 2% last month.
  • In Minnesota (polling history), a Minnesota Public Radio has Obama’s first double-digit lead in the state in a while, up 48% to 38%. Nader gets 3%. But when Pawlenty is included as McCain’s running-mate, the GOP ticket jumps 13%!
  • In Nevada, a Research 2000 poll shows a one point race, with Obama getting 44% and McCain 43%.
  • In Maryland, finally, Obama is up 53% to 41% (53% to 43% with leaners) in a Rasmussen poll.
  • In Kansas, it’s McCain on top by a large margin in SUSA, 58% to 35%. No surprises here.

None of these results are surprising, though it is so rare to see numbers from New Mexico or Nevada that any poll release from those states is an event. Obama looks to be building a consistent lead in NM in particular, but it is difficult to draw any conclusions given that there have only been 4 polls released in more than two months - three of which have come from Rasmussen. (Needless to say, Obama would be very close to the prize if he were to start with New Mexico and Iowa leaning in his direction.)

Obama supporters will be happy to see that these polls do not find McCain gaining in states like Florida, North Carolina and Minnesota - states in which other August surveys found McCain improving his position. And the Michigan survey has to be particularly heartwarming for Democrats, as Ann Selzer is a very reputable pollster (albeit one that is based in Iowa) and Michigan looks to be one of the most dangerous states for Obama. As I said above, however, the NH surveys are great news for McCain, as they mostly erase the notion that Obama has an advantage in the Granite State (though David Broder has concluded that the state leans Obama). McCain could gain some valuable breathing room if he were to capture those 4 electoral votes.

Meanwhile, in down-the-ballot polls:

  • In New Hampshire’s Senate race, Jeanne Shaheen maintains a double-digit lead in ARG, 52% to 41%. That includes a 61% to 33% lead among independents. In July, Shaheen led by 22% - but that had always been somewhat of an outlier.
  • In the New Mexico Senate race, today’s Rasmussen poll is the first sign that Tom Udall might not be as safe a bet as we thought, as he loses significant amount of ground. He still leads 51% to 41%, however (52% to 44% with leaners).
  • In the North Carolina gubernatorial race, the Civitas institute finds a close race, with Perdue leading 43% to 41%. She was up by 3% last month.
  • In the NH’s gubernatorial race, no surprises as Gov. Lynch crushes his minor Republican opposition.
  • In MO-09, an internal poll for the campaign of Judy Baker finds the Democrat narrowly ahead of Blaine Luetkemeyer, 41% to 39%. However, Republicans are much more undecideds than Democrats.
  • And in the Kansas Senate race, Senator Roberts crushes his opponent Jim Slattery despite talk by some Democrats that this is a winnable race. Roberts leads 58% to 31%.

Some interesting numbers here as well, and ARG’s poll is the second in as many days to find Shaheen with a double-digit lead. For an incumbent to enter the fall trailing is always a bad sign, but to have been stuck in the low 40s since the first polls of the cycle is devastating. At least, Sununu has a big enough warchest that he will be able to deal some harsh blows and perhaps tighten the race, but Shaheen retains a clear advantage. As for the New Mexico race, Pearce and Udall have exchanged ads lately, and the Club for Growth has gotten involved on the Republican’s behalf. Yet, no other poll has shown any sign that the race is anything but a blowout for Udall, so we will have to wait and see what other surveys have to say about this.

As for MO-09, this is the first poll to be released from this race. It is great news for Judy Baker that she is this competitive in a conservative district, as her primary opponent’s supporters said that she was too liberal to fit the district. There are two ways to read the results, however. On the one hand, Luetkemeyer has much more of a reserve and could progress as the primary wounds heal; on the other, this reveals a deep malaise with the GOP in Missouri (one that cost Jim Talent his Senate seat in 2006 and that is putting Jay Nixon ahead of his gubernatorial race right now) and that will boost Baker.

Read more at Daniel Nichanian's blog, Campaign Diaries.