McCain and Obama Tied in Battleground States

Barack Obama is leading John McCain in virtually every major national survey taken in the past week, including a whopping 9 point lead in the latest ABC-Washington Post poll.  In the eight polls being averaged at RealClearPolitics, Obama leads in all but the Battleground Tracking poll (McCain +2) and by a combined mean of 3.7 points.

Strangely, however, there has been little movement in the so-called Battleground States.  RealClearPolitics currently shos Obama with slight leads in Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Michigan and McCain with slight leads in Ohio, Florida, and Virginia.  In no state is the lead more than four points.

NPR released its Battleground Survey [PDF] today.   It’s a bipartisan poll conducted by people who actually get paid by political candidates whose careers are at stake, not media outlets interested in ginning up a cheap story.  The Republican team is led by Glenn Bolger of Public Opinion Strategies (Disclosure:  My wife is their COO) and the Democratic team is led by Stan Greenberg  of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research.  They apply honest to goodness likely voter screens, too, rather than merely taking the answers from any old registered voter.

Since the polling team last surveyed likely voters in August, a lot has changed. The number of battleground states has shrunk — from 19 to 14 — as Alaska, Georgia, North Dakota and Montana returned to their Republican roots.

In August, Obama led in the 14 states by 3 points. Now McCain leads in those states by 2, and the underlying political landscape has shifted a bit as well.

In August, by a 7-point margin, more voters identified themselves as Democrats. Now, in the battleground states, the Democratic advantage in party identification has shrunk to 2 points.

You can look at the survey results yourself easily enough; they’re nicely broken down into charts and such.   Here are some particularly interesting ones:

The race remains where it was before the conventions: Both candidates are popular, both candidates are generally strong with their base despite some suspicion, and swing state independents are split. Interestingly, though, Democrats overwhelmingly (83%) think Obama will win whereas only two-thirds of Republicans (67%) think McCain will win.

Historically, debates have tended to have a minor impact on the race. It may well be the same this time. But it does appear that there are plenty of voters still up for grabs and they seem to be interested.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2008, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. sam says:

    McCain just announced he’s suspending his campaign to return to DC to work on the bailout, and has asked that this Friday’s debate be rescheduled. McCain spoke to Obama, and asked him to return to DC and work with him on the problem.

  2. I think this campaign is more likely to turn on a gaffe than the debates.