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For the second (or third...or fourth) time this cycle, we have entered into a somewhat curious polling dichotomy. Republicans are clinging...with increasing national polling that shows Mitt Romney behind Barack Obama, but at least within a fairly modest margin.

Meanwhile, the polls that really count in a presidential election (state polls) show Mitt Romney in an increasingly perilous position as the clock winds down to just six weeks before Election Day. To wit: Mitt Romney now trails by double digits in two of his must-win states. And that is according to Republican pollsters. Meanwhile, the last four polls in North Carolina, a state most pundits concede to the GOP nominee, have either had Mitt Romney tied or trailing.

And the one part of the Obama 2008 coalition that everyone assumed was dust (the lone electoral vote in Nebraska's 2nd CD) is actually tied, with six weeks to go.

If you look solely at the national polls, you could see a path to victory for Mitt Romney. If you look at the entire picture, however, it becomes very, very difficult to see where Mitt Romney makes it to 270 electoral votes.

On to the numbers:


NATIONAL (Gallup Tracking): Obama 48, Romney 46

NATIONAL (Ipsos/Reuters Tracking): Obama 49, Romney 43 (LV); RV unavailable at press time

NATIONAL (GWU/Battleground for Politico): Obama 50, Romney 47

NATIONAL (Rasmussen Tracking w/leaners): Obama 48, Romney 48

NATIONAL (UPI/CVoter): Obama 49, Romney 46

NATIONAL (Winston Group--R): Obama 48, Romney 46

COLORADO (PPP): Obama 51, Romney 45

FLORIDA (American Research Group): Obama 50, Romney 45

FLORIDA (Mason Dixon): Obama 48, Romney 47

FLORIDA (PPP): Obama 50, Romney 46

IOWA (American Research Group): Obama 51, Romney 44

MICHIGAN (Rasmussen): Obama 54, Romney 42

MINNESOTA (Mason Dixon): Obama 48, Romney 40, Johnson 5

MONTANA (Mason Dixon): Romney 51, Obama 42, Johnson 2

NEBRASKA (Omaha World-Herald): Romney 51, Obama 40

NEBRASKA 2nd DISTRICT (Omaha World-Herald): Romney 44, Obama 44

NEVADA (American Research Group): Obama 51, Romney 44

NORTH CAROLINA (National Research for Civitas--R): Obama 49, Romney 45

OHIO (Ohio Newspaper Group): Obama 51, Romney 46

PENNSYLVANIA (Mercyhurst University): Obama 48, Romney 40

PENNSYLVANIA (Susquehanna Research--R): Obama 47, Romney 45

WISCONSIN (We Ask America--R): Obama 53, Romney 41, Johnson 1

CA-SEN (Field Poll): Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) 57, Elizabeth Emken (R) 31

MT-SEN (Mason Dixon): Denny Rehberg (R) 48, Sen. Jon Tester (D) 45, Dan Cox (L) 1

NE-SEN (Omaha World-Herald): Deb Fischer (R) 56, Bob Kerrey (D) 40 (LV); Deb Fischer (R) 52, Bob Kerrey (D) 42 (RV)

OH-SEN (Ohio Newspaper Group): Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) 52, Josh Mandel (R) 45

PA-SEN (Mercyhurst University): Sen. Bob Casey (D) 43, Tom Smith (R) 29

PA-SEN (Rasmussen): Sen. Bob Casey (D) 49, Tom Smith (R) 42

WI-SEN (We Ask America--R): Tammy Baldwin (D) 52, Tommy Thompson (R) 40

NH-GOV (Rasmussen): Ovide Lamontagne (R) 48, Maggie Hassan (D) 44

AR-01 (Talk Business/Hendrix College): Rep. Rick Crawford (R) 53, Scott Ellington (D) 28, Others 3

AR-02 (Talk Business/Hendrix College): Rep. Tim Griffin (R) 49, Herb Rule (D) 29, Others 7

AR-03 (Talk Business/Hendrix College): Rep. Steve Womack (R) 58, Others 22

AR-04 (Talk Business/Hendrix College): Tom Cotton (R) 51, Gene Jeffress (D) 22, Others 7

FL-09 (The Kitchens Group for the Grayson campaign): Alan Grayson (D) 48, Todd Long (R) 34

FL-26 (Benenson Strategies for House Majority PAC): Joe Garcia (D) 50, Rep. David Rivera (R) 41

MA-03 (Stinson Strategies for the Golnik campaign): Rep. Niki Tsongas (D) 52, Jon Golnik (R) 45

MI-01 (Garin-Hart-Yang for House Majority PAC, et al): Gary McDowell (D) 49, Rep. Dan Benishek (R) 40

MT-AL (Mason Dixon): Steve Daines (R) 46, Kim Gillan (D) 38, Dave Kaiser (L) 2

NE-01 (Omaha World-Herald): Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R) 69, Korey Reiman (D) 24 (LV); Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R) 66, Korey Reiman (D) 25 (RV)

NE-02 (Omaha World-Herald): Rep. Lee Terry (R) 52, John Ewing (D) 39 (LV); Rep. Lee Terry (R) 51, John Ewing (D) 38 (RV)

NE-03 (Omaha World-Herald): Rep. Adrian Smith (R) 70, Mark Sullivan (D) 19 (LV); Rep. Adrian Smith (R) 70, Mark Sullivan (D) 18 (RV)

NY-20 (JMC Analytics for the Dieterich campaign): Rep. Paul Tonko (D) 50, Bob Dieterich (R) 31

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

A simple average of the six national polls released today put the lead for President Obama over Mitt Romney at 2.7 points. While five of the six pollsters gave Obama a lead (Rasmussen did, as well, before they pressed leaners, which moved it back to a tie), the margins were mostly quite modest.

Conservatives and media hordes eager to paint the picture of a coin flip race have seized on these national polls as evidence that, despite a couple of brutal weeks for Team Romney, the race is far, far from over.

State polling, meanwhile, tells a very different story. And what is especially notable about that state polling is how much of it emanates from sources that are normally far from bullish on President Obama. Here are three relevant examples:

  • Rasmussen showing Barack Obama with a double-digit lead in Michigan, a state that many Republicans saw as targeted as recently as during the GOP conventions. That comes on the heels of Rasmussen also seeing a double-digit race in Pennsylvania.
  • We Ask America, which is affiliated with the right-leaning Illinois Manufacturers Association, not only had Barack Obama up double-digits in Paul Ryan's Wisconsin, they also had Democratic Senate nominee Tammy Baldwin up by twelve there, as well. This is one of those data points, however, that simply feels "too good to be true."
  • National Research is one of two pollsters employed by the conservative-affiliated Civitas Institute, and the one that explicitly is a GOP firm (having worked for campaigns, as well). They became the third pollster in a week to find Barack Obama now leading Mitt Romney in North Carolina.
  • Finally, while the pollsters at American Research Group (a.k.a. ARG, the pirate pollster) are not identified as a Republican pollster, their numbers thus far this cycle have been far from optimistic, from a Democratic perspective. And they release three state polls today, all of them in tossup states, and all of them showing the president leading by 5-7 points.

Scanning the state polls, there isn't much for Republicans to hang their hat on. Some might try to cling to the Susquehanna poll in Pennsylvania, but it is hard to get too fired up about a "newspaper" poll that was conducted by the same firm that cashes checks from the state GOP. Especially when you consider that it is at least five points removed from any other recent polling in the state.

There were a couple of decent GOP polls here, but not much to really change the calculus. A healthy lead in Montana, according to Mason Dixon, doesn't mean much when one considers that Obama is not even targeting the state's 3 electoral votes. A single-digit margin in Minnesota is thin grounds for celebration, seeing how even Team Romney has conceded the state. Mason Dixon's third poll of the weekend, the one-pointer in Florida, is offset by a pair of polls showing Obama with wider leads in the Sunshine State.

More data will undoubtedly flow this week, but there is little evidence that Mitt Romney's path to 270 electoral votes, and with it the White House, is any easier this week than it was last week. Indeed, the climb for Romney seems more arduous now than at any point this month.

In other polling news...

  • The news for Republicans might've been a bit better downballot. A series of Talk Business polls (conducted by Hendrix College) show that the GOP is essentially guaranteed a pickup in Arkansas-04, where GOP nominee Tom Cotton has a better than 2-to-1 edge over Democratic state senator Gene Jeffress in the district being vacated by retiring veteran Democratic Rep. Mike Ross. Compounding the wound, all three of the GOP's freshman lawmakers in the state are cruising, with all of them staked to leads of 20 points or more. Add to that slightly underwhelming numbers for Democrats in two second-tier House targets (MT-AL and NE-02), and it is clear that the Democrats are going to have to notch some real upsets to make it to 25 pickups and a return of the Speaker's gavel to Nancy Pelosi.
  • In their favor, however, are a pair of polls that show GOP incumbents not only trailing, but trailing by respectable margins. Both David Rivera (FL-26) and Dan Benishek (MI-01) trail by nine points, according to Democratic polling. Rivera did offer some (sketchy) counterpolling last week, but if Dan Benishek is polling, he is holding his numbers very close to the vest. That, ordinarily, is far from a good sign.
  • Worst polling call of the week: the campaign of Republican Bob Dieterich hyping...and I mean hyping...their own internal polling. Which showed their candidate getting smooshed by Democratic Rep. Paul Tonko by nineteen points. Why in the world would someone drop an internal poll showing their opponent up 19 points and at 50 percent? The polling memo explained: because Republican Chris Gibson was down by 17 points at this point in 2010! Of course, 2010 was a much better climate for the GOP. That, and NY-20 in 2010 was a fair fight district, while the new incarnation that Tonko and Dieterich are competing in went 58-40 for Barack Obama in 2008. Lastly, Chris Gibson was sitting on about a half million dollars for the stretch run. As of the last FEC filing (6/30), Dieterich was sitting on a little less than that. As in $31,000. Total.

    Other than that, though, their stories are completely analogous.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 06:30 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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