Monday, November 3, 2008

538 And Rasmussen: Obama Still Has Healthy Lead

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll once again shows Barack Obama with 51% of the vote while John McCain is five points back at 46%. This is the 38th straight day that Obama's support has stayed between 50% and 52%.

In the Electoral College projections, Rasmussen shows Obama leading 260 to 160. When states that are leaning in one way or the other are included, Obama leads 313 to 160. A total of 270 Electoral College votes are needed for victory.

At Nate Silver’s five, Obama's position became somewhat stronger since its Sunday afternoon update. Silver has him with a 5.8 point lead in the national popular vote, and winning the election 96.3 percent of the time. Earlier, those figures were 5.4 and 93.7, respectively.

Obama's win percentage ticked upward for a couple of reasons, Silver maintains.

Firstly, he's gotten some relatively good numbers out of Pennsylvania with PPP and Zogby giving him leads of 8 and 14 points, respectively, and Rasmussen showing his lead expanding to 6 points after having been at 4 before.

Second, Silver reports, McCain's clock has run out. While there is arguable evidence of a small tightening, there is no evidence of a dramatic tightening of the sort he would need to make Tuesday night interesting.

Moreover, there are very few true undecideds left.

After accounting for a third-party vote which looks as though it will come in at an aggregate of 2%, Silver shows only about 2.7% of voters left to allocate between the two major-party candidates. He predicts that even if John McCain were to win 70% of the remaining undecideds, it would only be worth a net of about a point for him. Frankly, McCain's winning scenarios mainly involve the polls having been wrong in the first place – because of a Bradley Effect or something else. It is unlikely that the polls will "tighten" substantially further – especially when Obama already has over 50% of the vote.

A couple of quick notes from Silver on yesterday’s individual state and national polling:

• He says people shouldn't worry too much about the SurveyUSA result in Minnesota which shows Obama just 3 points ahead. SurveyUSA's polling in Minnesota has been “very weird” all year; they've never shown Obama with larger than a 6 point lead in their likely voter model and had McCain ahead in the state as recently as October 1st. SurveyUSA does not have a Republican lean in general but, in Minnesota, it has consistently had a huge one.

• A couple of the national polls have started to predict how undecided voters will behave and allocate them between the two major-party candidates. Silver uses versions of these surveys before any such allocations are made as he doesn’t believe a pollster's job is to be in the prediction business.

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