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Please begin with an informative title:

On a rather slow start to the week, for the first time in a long time, it would be fair to say that a few downstream polls are probably of equal or greater importance than polls of the presidential affair between Mssrs. Obama and Romney.

Not that the presidential race isn't important, of course. It's just that there really isn't all that much new to say about them, based on today's data. Florida is a coinflip. Most of the other key battlegrounds are also close, as they have been for a while.

Rasmussen has Romney leading. Gallup and other pollsters don't.

If ever there was a status quo day on the White House polling front, this is it.

But two primary election polls out of the Wolverine State are drawing a lot of attention, as is another poll of what may well be among the closest House races in the nation come November.

On to the numbers:

PRESIDENTIAL GENERAL ELECTION TRIAL HEATS:

NATIONAL (Gallup Tracking): Obama d. Romney (47-45)

NATIONAL (Marist for McClatchy): Obama d. Romney (48-46)

NATIONAL (Purple Strategies): Obama d. Romney (47-45)

NATIONAL (Rasmussen Tracking): Romney d. Obama (46-44)

COLORADO (Purple Strategies): Obama d. Romney (45-44)

FLORIDA (Mason Dixon): Obama d. Romney (46-45)

FLORIDA (Purple Strategies): Romney d. Obama (48-45)

OHIO (Purple Strategies): Obama d. Romney (48-45)

VIRGINIA (Purple Strategies): Obama d. Romney (46-44)

DOWNBALLOT POLLING:
ME-02 (Normington Petts & Associates for Michaud): Rep. Mike Michaud (D) 62, Kevin Raye (R) 30

MI-SEN—R (Practical Political Consulting): Peter Hoesktra 75, Randy Hekman 11, Clark Durant 8, Gary Glenn 6

MI-13—D (PPC for Inside Michigan Politics): Rep. John Conyers 48, Glenn Anderson 26

MI-14—D (PPC for Inside Michigan Politics): Rep. Gary Peters 41, Rep. Hansen Clarke 34

ND-GOV (Rasmussen): Gov. Jack Dalrymple (R) 61, Ryan Taylor (D) 26

PA-12 (Benenson Strategies for House Majority PAC): Rep. Mark Critz (D) 44, Keith Rothfus (R) 38

A few thoughts, as always, await you just past the jump ...
Intro

You must enter an Intro for your Diary Entry between 300 and 1150 characters long (that's approximately 50-175 words without any html or formatting markup).

Those downballot races are of importance for two reasons. For one thing, they are more immediate—three of the polls out today measure voter preferences in the Michigan primaries, which are on tap at the start of next month (almost three weeks from today). For another, there is some genuine movement in one of them that merits watching.

That movement comes from the Michigan 14th district, where the overwhelming assumption was that sophomore Rep. Gary Peters, who watched his district get shot out from under him in a masterful GOP gerrymander, was on somewhat of an ill-fated mission to wrest an African-American majority seat away from fellow Democratic incumbent Hansen Clarke. After all, as our own redistricting analysis showed, Clarke had repped almost 80,000 more voters in the new 14th than had Peters. But a new poll from PPC (on behalf of local outlet Inside Michigan Politics) actually gives Peters a narrow advantage. The same polling outfit also shows that John Conyers might have a challenge in the neighboring 13th district. Conyers leads a raft of opponents (most notably Glenn Anderson), but does so with just 48 percent.

However, if there is a reason to curb any enthusiasm for these polls, there is a third Michigan poll out today that is simply strange. It is a poll the same pollster conducted, but does not appear to have been for Inside Michigan Politics. And it has Pete Hoekstra leading the GOP primary to challenge Debbie Stabenow. In itself, that is far from a surprise. However, PPC has Hoekstra winning with 75 percent of the vote, which is substantially higher than anyone has speculated. What's more: The poll has (and this is always a big honking red flag) no undecideds. The four candidates add up to 100 percent of the vote. In a second-tier Senate primary? There is little to no chance that a completely decided electorate is legit.

On the bright side, we'll know in three weeks whether this local outfit is prescient, or way off the fairway.

In other polling news ...

  • Today marked this month's go-round of the "Purple Poll," a monthly offering by consulting firm/polling outfit Purple Strategies (so named because the two principals are of different parties ... red and blue make ... ta-da!). Three of the four states measured this month go in the direction of the president, though all except Ohio moved very incrementally (Florida and Virginia eased a single point in Obama's direction). Ohio, however, moved markedly, from a three-point deficit to a three-point lead. However, this doesn't seem to be legitimate improvement in the president's standing. Purple's April poll had Obama up by five in the state, leading me to conclude that perhaps the June sample was simply a touch too pessimistic, and this is more of a representative look at the Buckeye State, whereas last month may not have been.
  • Big words come flying out of the camp of Republican challenger Kevin Raye in Maine today, with the release of a new internal poll for veteran Democrat Mike Michaud showing the gap at an eye-popping 32 points. Now, look, I don't buy Michaud up two-to-one, either. The district isn't that blue, and Michaud has only beaten serious Some Dudes by that kind of margin. What's more, there have been multiple public polls of the race that showed Michaud leading, but by more modest margins. However, Raye's team referred to poll as comedy, and suggested Michaud was using the poll to compensate for disappointing funding numbers (Raye out raised him between the primary and the end of the quarter). Well, Team Raye, there's only one way to show your cards: where is the counterpoint? My guess: they won't show their hand, because it probably looks like most of the other polling. In other words, if they had numbers showing Raye in single digits, they'd have dropped 'em weeks ago. My guess is that they have the same 15-20 point lead for Michaud that has been roughly the sweet spot for the other polls to date.
  • Finally, a word about the House of Ras: Analysts can quibble with the degree to which the Bain story, and Team Romney's horrifically bad attempts at damage control, will impact the presidential race. But I doubt you'll find one, even on the right, who will say it should give Mitt Romney a three-point bump. Yet that's exactly the trajectory Rasmussen's tracking poll has taken since late last week. Maybe America, and not just team Mitt, wants that Obama character to apologize for being such a gosh-darned meanie, too.
Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Mon Jul 16, 2012 at 05:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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