Yesterday's new polls helped solidify Barack Obama's standing on our electoral map, although the most recent updates and national tracking polls showing relative stability in the race. Still, with Ohio shifting to the lean Obama column, we now show 306 electoral votes in the Obama column, and 268 electoral votes -- just two shy of the 270 needed to win -- now in the strong Obama column.
Of 29 new statewide polls we logged yesterday, the most recent updates indicate no consistent trend. Six (6) of the new polls are updates by previous tracking surveys by the same pollster earlier in October. Of these, 3 show gains for Obama, 2 shows gains for McCain and the margin on one is unchanged. If we include the three updates from Quinnipiac University from previous tracks fielded in late September, the tally is 4 up for Obama, 3 up for McCain, one unchanged.
However, Obama's performance on three new Allstate/National Journal surveys, and seven new "Big 10" Surveys in midwestern states (the latter representing updates from surveys conducted just after the peak of McCain's post convention bump peaked in mid-September), have a greater impact on our trend estimates.
The net impact of the new surveys on our trend estimates is virtually all good news for Obama, expanding his margins over McCain in 11 of 12 battleground states.
The one exception to the overall trend is Pennsylvania, where we logged five (yes five) new surveys yesterday. The results are remarkably consistent, showing Obama with leads of 10 to 13 percentage points and 51% to 53% of the vote. The new surveys narrow Obama's margin on our trend estimate to 13.4% (52.9% to 39.5%). The margin is just over two points narrower, but still comfortably in the "strong" Obama category.
Two new surveys in Ohio from Quinnipiac and Big Ten, both show Obama leading by double-digits, margins far greater than other recent Ohio polls. Their impact on the trend estimate is a 2.8-point jump in Obama's Ohio margin there -- he now leads by 4 points (49.5% to 45.5%) -- enough to shift Ohio and its 20 electoral votes to the "lean" Obama column.
Three new surveys in Minnesota also show Obama ahead by double digits, expanding his trend estimate there by nearly two percentage points (to +8.8%, 51.4% to 42.6%), enough to shift Minnesota's 10 electoral votes to "strong" Obama.
In Michigan, the new Big Ten survey showing Obama with a crushing 22 point lead is also the first new survey there in two weeks. That scenario gives the new survey great influence in the way the regression trend line plots, so it increases Obama's margin by an almost ridiculous 5.9 points in one day. Still, notice that our trend line is still cautious about the most recent polls, drawing the Obama line just below his recent results and the McCain line just above his.
A new Wesleyan University poll in West Virginia, showing McCain leading by five points, helps narrow his lead there slightly, though I had neglected to notice that new polls from Wednesday shifted West Virginia to the strong McCain classification.
Today's results may represent a momentary high water mark, given some of the surprisingly positive results for Obama released yesterday, but it's worth taking note of Obama's current dominance on the electoral map. Our strong Obama classification (typically involving leads of eight points or more) now accounts for 268 electoral votes, just two short of the 270 needed to win. We show another four states, representing 38 more electoral votes, in lean the lean Obama column, for a total of 306. And Obama has a nominal lead in five of the remaining seven states classified as "toss-ups."
Yesterday's national trackers were a picture of statistical noise, as noted previously (3 up slightly for Obama, 2 up slightly for McCain, 3 unchanged). While Obama's margin increased slightly again yesterday -- for the fifth straight day -- the more recent twitches in the national trend may represent the impact of the brief lull in non-tracker national surveys last week. The trend for the national trackers (in the chart below) has flat-lined over the last two weeks.
Trend in the 8 National Tracking Polls: