The bad news for Republicans heading into tonight’s first Presidential debate is that Mitt Romney trails in almost every poll, by an average of three points in the Real Clear Politics Average, and that Democrats have moved ahead in enough states to maintain control of the United States Senate. In fact, had I written about the polls a week ago, I would have used the headline, “Blue, blue, all is blue.”
Note that we’ve gone to a lighter shade of blue for this week’s headline because there’s good news for Republicans. A week ago, Obama was up four points in the Real Clear Politics average, so he’s lost a point prior to the debate, and many of the State Senate races are too close for comfort either way.
For example, as of today RCP has Republicans picking up three seats (Montana, North Dakota, and Nebraska) but losing two (Maine and Massachusetts) for a net gain of one, leaving Democrats with 52-48 control of the Senate.
The biggest surprises are Wisconsin where Democrat Tammy Baldwin has moved five points ahead of former Governor Tommy Thompson (so much for Paul Ryan helping the ticket in his home state) and Connecticut where wrestling maven Linda McMahon has moved within a couple points of Democrat Chris Murphy (Pollster actually has her 0.3 points ahead in its averages). It’s so tight in the Nutmeg State that ultra liberal media phenom Chris Matthews is actually picking McMahon to win.
Elizabeth Warren has taken the lead from Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown in recent days (up between one and two points depending on which average one uses), but I suspect that’s because Obama has pulled so far ahead in the Bay State that he’s taken Warren with him. Look for 60-40 as the over-under there. If Obama hits 60 percent at the top of the ticket, Brown will be in trouble.
The three big states at the Presidential level (Florida, Virginia, and Ohio) now have three Democrats in rather firm control for the Senate. Kaine has moved 4.8 points ahead of Allen in one Virginia average, 1.9 points in another. Sherrod Brown and Bill Nelson are also farther ahead than I thought they’d be, Brown by as much as nine points over Josh Mandel in Ohio (I thought Brown would be in trouble, but like in Massachusetts, Obama appears to have coattails here).
You know you’re being inundated with polls when even the averages tell different stories.
Going into tonight’s debate, Obama is up 49.1-46.0 (3.1 points) in the RCP average. He’s up 48.7-44.4 (4.3 points) in the Pollster average. Pollster has him with 303 electoral votes to 191 for Romney with only North Carolina and Florida as toss-ups. Update--it just changed to 290-191; they moved Virginia back to toss-up. See what a state of flux we're in!
RCP has Obama at 269 (enough for an Electoral College tie) and Romney at 181. Thus Romney would have to win all the toss-up states (Colorado, Nevada, Iowa, Virginia, Florida where Obama leads and North Carolina and Missouri where Romney is ahead). Ohio and New Hampshire are in the Obama camp according to both surveys.
Nate Silver at fivethirtyeight.com (my favorite numbers cruncher) give Obama an 84.7 percent chance to be re-elected. He has the Electoral College at 319-218 and the popular vote at plus 3.9 percent for Obama (51.4-47.5).
For the record, let’s get individual polling numbers out at this landmark juncture.
National Journal is out today with a 47-47 tie. Gallup has Obama up four (49-45); even Rasmussen (which Fox News usually point to as it tries to make the race look close) has Obama up two today (49-47).
That 49-47 seems to be a magic number. That’s exactly what ABC News/Washington Post and Politico/GWU/Battleground polls have Obama up. NPR, on the other hand, has the Demagogue in Chief up seven points (51-44). Never trust NPR!
State polls usually take a few days to reflect gaps closing, but NBC/Marist has Obama’s lead down to only a point (47-46) today in Florida and only two (48-46) in Virginia. He still leads by eight in Ohio (51-43), a real problem for Romney. Again, so much for that strategy of picking Ryan to help in the Midwest. I contended all along that Romney really needed a boost in the Southwestern states which Marco Rubio could have provided. If Romney loses by failing to carry Colorado and Nevada (not to mention Florida), blame it on the Veep pick!
The good news for Republicans is that they continue to hold a lead in the generic Congressional ballot and will most likely maintain a fairly big lead in the House. RCP pegs it at 226-183, a 43 seat advantage. After Rasmussen had Democrats ahead by a single point a few weeks ago, it’s back to a four point Republican lead now (45-41). The RCP average has it virtually tied, but they factor in some Democrat polling outfits (such as NPR) which simply cannot be trusted.
While we can’t look at all the polls out this week, two stand out as indications why the GOP should hold the House. In Massachusetts, the tainted Congressman John Tierney has fallen six points behind Richard Tisei (37-31) in the sixth district, and in Utah, Saratoga Springs mayor Mia Love (the African American who wowed the country at the GOP convention) has moved from 15 points down to six points ahead (49-43) of Jim Matheson.
Lest I be accused of cherry picking positive polls for Republicans, I refer you back to the slew of bad news for the GOP at the Senate level. In fact, look at Indiana which appeared to be a sure hold for Republicans with Dick Lugar six months ago. He was ousted by Richard Mourdock to his right in the primary, and now Democrat Joe Donnelly is running neck and neck and is actually up by two points in one poll. I doubt he’ll pull the upset, but it’s a sign of the blue wave that this one is even close.
Missouri is particularly intriguing. After being left for dead by his fellow Republicans, Todd Akin is within 2.3 points of Clair McCaskill in the RCP averages. Rasmussen and PPP both have him down six (46-40), but We Ask American has McCaskill up only one (46-45). Go figure.
I’m having trouble making sense out of the WMUR/Granite State poll, not the one which has Obama up 15 points over Romney in New Hampshire but the one which has Maggie Hassan up two points over Ovide LaMontagne either 42-40 or 38-36 depending on which sampling you focus on. Ovide is doing much better with independent voters than Romney, so he should be doing better overall, but with so many undecided voters, it doesn’t really matter at this point. Time will tell on that race. I was going to write a blog that if only we had the None of the Above option; New Hampshire would be better served.