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Why Look at National Polls?

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My NationalJournal.com column, on the utility of national polls now that our attention is turning to the state-by-state electoral college battle, is now online.

As I was writing it, Nate Silver posted an observation that may be a bit contra-theory:

There have now been six [state level] polls that were in the field since the Democratic primaries were concluded, and for which we have a previous trendline against which to compare. Barack Obama has gained ground in all six of those polls; his average bounce has been about 5 points.

We also have new surveys this morning showing Obama with significant leads in New Jersey (by Quinnipiac University) and Wisconsin (by the University of Wisconsin and WisPolitics.com and our own Charles Franklin). Still the first clear sign of an post primary Obama bounce came from the national tracking surveys.

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