And, yes, kids ... that is a new track record for the Wrap.
Going into tonight's final presidential debate, the data points to a simple conclusion. It is, for all intents and purposes, a tie. The national polling average from the polls over the weekend shifted back ever so slightly to Mitt Romney, but the most clear characteristic of those national polls is that they are all over the darned map.
At the swing state level, we did a five-poll analysis of those states last week. This week, the dynamic has changed a bit, but the actual preferences, basically, have not. Mitt Romney's path to 270 is there, but it is still not as easy as the president's path to reelection.
More on that after the jump. For now, though, on to the numbers, of which there are a load:
NATIONAL (ABC/WaPo Tracking): Obama 49, Romney 48DOWNBALLOT POLLING:
NATIONAL (American Research Group): Romney 49, Obama 47
NATIONAL (CBS News): Obama 48, Romney 46
NATIONAL (Greenberg Quinlan Rosner for Democracy Corps): Obama 49, Romney 46
NATIONAL (GWU/Politico): Romney 49, Obama 47
NATIONAL (IBD/TIPP Tracking): Obama 47, Romney 43
NATIONAL (Ipsos/Reuters Tracking): Obama 46, Romney 46 (LV); Obama 45, Romney 42 (RV)
NATIONAL (Monmouth University): Romney 48, Obama 45
NATIONAL (NBC News/Wall Street Journal): Obama 47, Romney 47 (LV); Obama 49, Romney 44 (RV)
NATIONAL (PPP Tracking): Obama 48, Romney 48
NATIONAL (Rasmussen Tracking): Romney 49, Obama 47
NATIONAL (UPI/CVoter): Romney 48, Obama 47
NATIONAL (Zogby for the Washington Times): Obama 50, Romney 47
COLORADO (Rasmussen): Romney 50, Obama 46
FLORIDA (Angus Reid): Romney 51, Obama 46
FLORIDA (Grove Insight for Project New America--D): Obama 48, Romney 45
FLORIDA (PPP): Romney 48, Obama 47
FLORIDA (SurveyUSA): Obama 47, Romney 46
IOWA (PPP for HCAN): Obama 49, Romney 48
IOWA (Rasmussen): Obama 48, Romney 48
MARYLAND (Washington Post): Obama 60, Romney 36 (LV); Obama 60, Romney 35 (RV)
MASSACHUSETTS (Kimball Consulting--R): Obama 55, Romney 39
MICHIGAN (Angus Reid): Obama 52, Romney 43
MISSOURI (PPP): Romney 52, Obama 46
NEW HAMPSHIRE (Univ. of New Hampshire): Obama 51, Romney 42
NEW JERSEY (Stockton Polling Institute): Obama 53, Romney 38
NEW JERSEY (SurveyUSA): Obama 54, Romney 40
NORTH DAKOTA (Rasmussen): Romney 54, Obama 40
OHIO (Angus Reid): Obama 48, Romney 48
OHIO (Gravis--R): Obama 47, Romney 47
OHIO (PPP): Obama 49, Romney 48
OHIO (Pulse Opinion Research for Let Freedom Ring PAC--R): Romney 47, Obama 46
OHIO (Quinnipiac): Obama 50, Romney 45
OHIO (Suffolk University): Obama 47, Romney 47
PENNSYLVANIA (Angus Reid): Obama 52, Romney 42
PENNSYLVANIA (Muhlenberg College for the Allentown Morning Call): Obama 50, Romney 45
PENNSYLVANIA (Pulse Opinion Research for Let Freedom Ring PAC): Obama 48, Romney 44
PENNSYLVANIA (Gravis--R): Obama 48, Romney 45
VIRGINIA (PPP for HCAN): Obama 49, Romney 47
VIRGINIA (Pulse Opinion Research for Let Freedom Ring PAC--R): Obama 47, Romney 46
VIRGINIA (Wenzel Strategies for Citizens United): Romney 49, Obama 47
WASHINGTON (Strategies 360): Obama 52, Romney 39
WISCONSIN (Angus Reid): Obama 51, Romney 46
WISCONSIN (Grove Insight for Project New America): Obama 47, Romney 44
WISCONSIN (Pulse Opinion Research for Let Freedom Ring PAC--R): Obama 50, Romney 47
FL-SEN (Angus Reid): Sen. Bill Nelson (D) 56, Connie Mack IV (R) 39A few thoughts, as always, await you just past the jump ...
FL-SEN (Rasmussen): Sen. Bill Nelson (D) 48, Connie Mack IV (R) 43
FL-SEN (SurveyUSA): Sen. Bill Nelson (D) 48, Connie Mack IV (R) 40
MD-SEN (Washington Post): Sen. Ben Cardin (D) 53, Dan Bongino (R) 22, Rob Sobhani (I) 14
MA-SEN (Kimball Consulting--R): Elizabeth Warren (D) 48, Sen. Scott Brown (R) 46
MI-SEN (Angus Reid): Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) 59, Pete Hoesktra (R) 39
MO-SEN (PPP): Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) 46, Todd Akin (R) 40, Jonathan Dine (L) 6
NJ-SEN (Stockton Polling Institute): Sen. Robert Menendez (D) 52, Joe Kyrillos (R) 30
NJ-SEN (SurveyUSA): Sen. Robert Menendez (D) 53, Joe Kyrillos (R) 33
ND-SEN (Essman/Research): Rick Berg (R) 50, Heidi Heitkamp (D) 40
ND-SEN (Mellman Group for the Heitkamp campaign): Heidi Heitkamp (D) 45, Rick Berg (R) 42
OH-SEN (Angus Reid): Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) 52, Josh Mandel (R) 45
OH-SEN (PPP): Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) 49, Josh Mandel (R) 44
OH-SEN (Public Opinion Strategies for the Mandel campaign): Josh Mandel (R) 44, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) 43
OH-SEN (Pulse Opinion Research for Let Freedom Ring PAC--R): Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) 47, Josh Mandel (R) 41
OH-SEN (Quinnipiac): Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) 51, Josh Mandel (R) 42
OH-SEN (Suffolk University): Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) 46, Josh Mandel (R) 39, Scott Rupert (I) 6
PA-SEN (Angus Reid): Sen. Bob Casey (D) 51, Tom Smith (R) 45
PA-SEN (Muhlenberg College for the Allentown Morning Call): Sen. Bob Casey (D) 45, Tom Smith (R) 37
PA-SEN (Pulse Opinion Research for Let Freedom Ring PAC): Sen. Bob Casey (D) 47, Tom Smith (R) 46
RI-SEN (McLaughlin and Associates for the Peoples Majority PAC--R): Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D) 49, Barry Hinckley (R) 41
VA-SEN (Garin-Hart-Yang for the DSCC): Tim Kaine (D) 48, George Allen (R) 44
VA-SEN (Pulse Opinion Research for Let Freedom Ring PAC--R): Tim Kaine (D) 46, George Allen (R) 44
VA-SEN (Rasmussen): Tim Kaine (D) 49, George Allen (R) 48
VA-SEN (Wenzel Strategies for Citizens United--R): George Allen (R) 49, Tim Kaine (D) 46
WA-SEN (Rasmussen): Sen. Maria Cantwell (D) 52, Michael Baumgartner (R) 37
WI-SEN (Angus Reid): Tammy Baldwin (D) 50, Tommy Thompson (R) 47
WI-SEN (Feldman Group for the Baldwin campaign): Tammy Baldwin (D) 49, Tommy Thompson (R) 44
WI-SEN (Pulse Opinion Research for Let Freedom Ring PAC--R): Tammy Baldwin (D) 47, Tommy Thompson (R) 46
WI-SEN (Rasmussen): Tommy Thompson (R) 48, Tammy Baldwin (D) 46
MO-GOV (PPP): Gov. Jay Nixon (D) 51, Dave Spence (R) 40
NC-GOV (Rasmussen): Pat McCrory (R) 53, Walter Dalton (D) 42
WA-GOV (Strategies 360): Jay Inslee (D) 46, Rob McKenna (R) 46
CA-21 (FM3 for the Hernandez campaign): David Valadao (R) 41, John Hernandez (D) 37
CA-52 (Internal poll for the Bilbray campaign): Rep. Brian Bilbray (R) 48, Scott Peters (D) 44
CA-52 (San Diego Union Tribune): Rep. Brian Bilbray (R) 47, Scott Peters (D) 38
FL-02 (St. Pete Polls): Rep. Steve Southerland (R) 46, Al Lawson (D) 46
FL-09 (St. Pete Polls): Alan Grayson (D) 49, Todd Long (R) 32
FL-10 (St. Pete Polls): Rep. Dan Webster (R) 47, Val Demings (D) 42
FL-18 (St. Pete Polls): Rep. Allen West (R) 50, Patrick Murphy (D) 41
FL-22 (St. Pete Polls): Lois Frankel (D) 49, Adam Hasner (R) 42
FL-26 (St. Pete Polls): Rep. David Rivera (R) 46, Joe Garcia (D) 42, Others 4
IL-02 (We Ask America--R): Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D) 58, Brian Woodworth (R) 27, Marcus Lucas (I) 15
IL-11 (Garin-Hart-Yang for the House Majority PAC): Bill Foster (D) 49, Rep. Judy Biggert (R) 45
IL-17 (GBA Strategies for the Bustos campaign): Cheri Bustos (D) 49, Rep. Bobby Schilling (R) 45
MI-03 (Glengariff Group for the Detroit News): Steven Pestka (D) 35, Rep. Justin Amash (R) 34
MN-06 (Pulse Opinion Research for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune): Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) 51, Jim Graves (D) 45
MN-08 (Pulse Opinion Research for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune): Rick Nolan (D) 50, Rep. Chip Cravaack (R) 43
NH-01 (Global Strategy Group for the Shea-Porter campaign): Carol Shea-Porter (D) 46, Rep. Frank Guinta (R) 43, Brendan Kelly (L) 6
NY-06 (McLaughlin and Associates for the Halloran campaign): Grace Meng (D) 36, Dan Halloran (R) 33
NY-24 (Lake Research for the Friends of Democracy): Dan Maffei (D) 46, Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R) 44, Ursula Rozum (G) 6
The national polls are basically as even as they were on Friday, as a "lead" for Barack Obama of 0.1 points morphed in a "lead" for Mitt Romney of 0.2 points. To call that "float within the margin" would be the mother of all understatements.
Of course, sophisticated political junkies (like the kind, of course, that read Daily Kos and Daily Kos Elections) know that the game is won and lost not in the national popular vote, but in the states.
Ten days ago, on the edition of the Wrap for Friday 10/12, we looked at the electoral college picture. Let's see how things have changed, if at all.
First of all, it is high time to give Mitt Romney some states that we had not yet labelled as his "base states." That is because, simply put, there had been polling in the cycle that had the candidates tied, or had Obama leading, in those states. However, now, any prospect of Obama having a shot to win these four states has essentially passed. So let us add the following four states to Romney's "base states": Georgia, Missouri, South Carolina and Tennessee.
That puts us here:
ROMNEY "BASE STATES" (179 Electoral Votes): ALABAMA, ALASKA, ARKANSAS, GEORGIA, IDAHO, INDIANA, KANSAS, KENTUCKY, LOUISIANA, MISSISSIPPI, MISSOURI, MONTANA, NEBRASKA, NORTH DAKOTA, OKLAHOMA, SOUTH CAROLINA, SOUTH DAKOTA, TENNESSEE, TEXAS, UTAH, WEST VIRGINIA, WYOMINGAnd, with the movement of those states, we now have just a dozen "swing states" left, some of which are far less swing-y than others (Arizona, for example). Let's see where those states stand today, as opposed to where they stood 10 days ago.
OBAMA "BASE STATES" (201 Electoral Votes): CALIFORNIA, CONNECTICUT, DELAWARE, HAWAII, ILLINOIS, MAINE, MARYLAND, MASSACHUSETTS, MINNESOTA, NEW JERSEY, NEW MEXICO, NEW YORK, OREGON, RHODE ISLAND, VERMONT, WASHINGTON, WASHINGTON DC
Five poll average of "battleground states" (10/12 five-poll average in parentheses)So, such as it is, we see that only one state has "flipped," with Colorado going to the president. That only changes the overall picture slightly, with Obama now sitting, if these polling margins held, at 290 electoral votes. That is slightly better than the 281-257 margin the president enjoyed just ten days ago. Also, seven states moved (however incrementally) in the direction of the president, while a quintet of states (IA, NH, OH, PA, WI) moved in Mitt Romney's direction.
Arizona (11 electoral votes): Romney +4.4 (Romney +7.2)
Colorado (9 electoral votes): Obama +0.8 (Romney +0.2)
Florida (29 electoral votes): Romney +1.4 (Romney +1.8)
Iowa (6 electoral votes): Obama +2.2 (Obama +3.2)
Michigan (16 electoral votes): Obama +7.0 (Obama +4.4)
Nevada (6 electoral votes): Obama +5.2 (Obama +0.8)
New Hampshire (4 electoral votes): Obama +0.8 (Obama +4.8)
North Carolina (15 electoral votes): Romney +2.0 (Romney +2.6)
Ohio (18 electoral votes): Obama +1.0 (Obama +1.6)
Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes): Obama +3.6 (Obama +5.8)
Virginia (13 electoral votes): Romney +0.2 (Romney +1.0)
Wisconsin (10 electoral votes): Obama +3.8 (Obama +4.4)
However, the underlying peril in a "lead" for either presidential candidate is even more obvious now than it has ever been. With a shift in the winds of just two percentage points, either man could be on the receiving end of an electoral college defeat. If Romney could steal two percent from Obama, that would give him: Colorado, New Hampshire and Ohio. With that, of course, he would have the presidency (with 279 electoral votes).
However, if Obama could come rolling out of the final debate and tack on an additional two percent, he'd be in position for an electoral college landslide not too dissimilar from his 2008 electoral vote victory. Indeed, in that scenario, amazingly, the only state that would flip from 2008 to 2012 would be Indiana. Under that scenario, Obama would have a comfortable 347-191 electoral college majority.
Time will tell if the third debate acts a catalyst which creates momentum one way or the other. There is reason to suspect otherwise: there was virtually no movement out of the second debate, and competing against an NLCS game 7 and Monday Night Football, it seems unlikely that this debate will generate anywhere near the attention of the other two. Thus, the question becomes whether or not a noticeable drift develops. Because, if we know nothing else about this election, it is that it will only take a small wind at either candidate's back to create a game-changing situation in the electoral college.
In other polling news:
- Talk about going out on a limb: Either the GOP polling crew at McLaughlin and Associates has insight into this election cycle that no one else has, or they should probably never work in elective politics again after this cycle. They have two races that are essentially off of the radar as single-digit races in polls released today. In New York, they have Republican Dan Halloran within three points of Grace Meng in the race to replace retiring Democrat Gary Ackerman. That's a race so certain to go to the Democrats that no one has polled it. Meanwhile, in a race that has been polled (and was found to be going blue by no less than 20 points), McLaughlin has the GOP candidate (Barry Hinckley) within 8. Skepticism, it would appear, just might be warranted.
- Some mild skepticism might also be warranted for another poll, this one of the public variety. The San Diego Union-Tribune contracted for a poll (with a heretofore never-used pollster, at least at this level) in the toss-up race in CA-50, and found GOP incumbent Brian Bilbray up handily over Democrat Scott Peters. There are two reasons why my eyebrows got raised. For one, they give Bilbray twice the margin that Bilbray's own internal polling shows. That is immediate cause for head-scratching. Couple that with the fact that the U-T poll only has Peters getting 65 percent of Democrats, and you have a recipe for what might be a bad data point.
- Without question, though, the oddest data point (from my perspective) is that Illinois-02 poll put out by local (and Republican) pollsters We Ask America. Given all that has gone on, it is pretty stunning that not only is Jesse Jackson Jr. still staked to a reelection lead, he is comfortably out in front. While it might not be the 75-25 landslides to which he has become accustomed, there is also zero doubt as to the outcome, at this point. Just goes to speak to how unyieldingly Democratic that district truly is.