Tracking polls update, 30 September

Politics, Presidential Elections, US Elections, US Politics

Today’s daily tracking polls offer a mixed picture, roughly showing a stabilisation of Obama’s lead.

Daily tracking polls, 30 September

Daily tracking polls, 9/30 - click to enlarge

Gallup has Obama’s lead down 2 points, from +8 to +6, but the other three trackers all have his lead increasing by a percentage point. Rasmussen and Hotline both have it growing from +5 to +6, while Research 2000, the Daily Kos-sponsored poll, has him going up from +9 to +10.

Both Rasmussen and Hotline have basically has Obama’s lead stable at 5-6 points for four days in a row now. Basically, it seems Obama’s lead grew as the financial crisis first became clear, then stabilised, made another jump when McCain “suspended” his campaign, and now has stabilised again.

Obama’s well; impact of debate hard to distinguish from impact of McCain’s political stunts last week

McCain announced the suspension of his campaign on Wednesday the 24th. The first day of polling after this announcement was included in the daily tracking poll releases of the 26th, and that day Obama’s average lead in the tracking polls jumped from 3.3% to 5%. As the three- and four-day rolling polls started including more days from after McCain’s announcement, Obama’s average lead increased further, to 5.5% on Saturday, 6.5% on Sunday and 6.8% on Monday. The public was obviously not impressed by McCain’s political theatre.

By then of course the debate had taken place too, though. The first day of polling after the debate was included in the releases of Sunday the 28th, when Obama’s average lead jumped up a full point to 6.5%. But that jump can’t be read to directly indicate the impact of the debate. That’s also the day, for most of the tracking polls, when the last pre-suspension day of polling rolled out from the sample. In short, just like the previous two days which also saw notable gains for Obama, it was a day on which a day’s worth of polling from before McCain’s suspension of the campaign was replaced by a day’s worth of post-suspension polling.

It’s the two days since that which seem a more logical focus for measuring the impact of the debate. And on these two days, Obama’s lead basically stabilised, with his average lead rising from 6.5% to 6.8% and 7.0%. Just going on these tracking polls, the debate was indeed something of a draw, then. Which arguably counts as a tactical victory for Obama, since he’s the one ahead, and a draw is a perfectly adequate result if you’re 7 points out ahead.

Obama’s apparent “ceiling” of support little cause for worry, says Gallup; enthusiasm gap grows

What related news do the tracking polls have for us today? Gallup’s Lydia Saad notes that Obama “has yet to cross [the] symbolic threshold” of 50% in the polls, but is sceptical about the importance of that. Delving into the historical data, she reminds us that “voter support for George W. Bush only once exceeded 50% in his 2004 campaign against John Kerry, [..] in mid-September. In 1988, George H.W. Bush reached or surpassed the 50% mark once at the very beginning and then not again until the last two weeks of the campaign.”

Rasmussen and Research 2000/Kos both have data on the candidates’ favourability ratings. Rasmussen has Obama viewed favorably by 58% of voters, McCain by 55%. “However, 40% have a Very Favorable opinion of Obama while 26% have a Very Unfavorable view. The comparable numbers for McCain are 26% Very Favorable and 24% Very Unfavorable.” So both have an equal number of enemies, both have an equal number of friendly acquaintances, but in Obama’s case significantly more of those acquaintances are actually good pals, so to say. Mind you, the R2000/Kos poll doesnt agree. It has a much more favourable balance for Obama: he gets 57% favourable versus 31% unfavourable, while McCain has 43% favourable vs 46% unfavourable. Make of it what you will.

The Hotline poll today highlights the enthusiasm gap. “GOP voters’ reported enthusiasm levels for their candidates have remained relatively flat. Democratic voters, on the other hand, not only display far greater enthusiasm levels for their candidate than their Republican counterparts (69% – 50%), but their levels of enthusiasm have been steadily increasing, from 60% in the September 26 Poll, to 69% in today’s Poll.” Independent voters on the other hand, are no more enthusiastic than GOP voters, or slightly less so.

Obama closing in Florida, leading in North Carolina and expanding lead in Pennsylvania

There haven’t been as many state polls out these past few days as before, since, as Daniel Nichanian at Campaign Diaries notes, “it makes little sense to conduct surveys that are in the field both before and after the presidential debate.” But check out the updates from yesterday at or at the link above for Campaign Diaries, or check out the one from this morning at

Pollster’s Mark Blumenthal notes that all seven state polls included in their update today “showed improvements of between two and five percentage points on the margin for Barack Obama”, and that includes polls on Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Virginia.

The North Carolina poll is from PPP and has Obama in the lead by 2 points; as Nichanian points out, that’s “for the second time ever and for the second time in a row”. In Florida, two polls within a day, from Rasmussen and Survey USA, show Obama neck-and-neck with McCain (in a tie and behind by 1 point, respectively).

Nichanian’s update also has Obama “widening the gap to 7% and 8%” in Pennsylvania in two different polls, when “both pollsters (Morning Call and Rasmussen) had Obama leading by 3% and 4%” in their last poll — suggesting “that Obama is solidifying his claim on blue-leaning states (he opened a wide lead in a number of Michigan surveys last week).”


1 Comment

  1. sozobe  •  Oct 1, 2008 @8:31 am

    Love it. Read it a few times and got something new out of it each time. Thanks!

    I’m glad the enthusiasm gap is growing again. I think the idea of Palin is being eclipsed a bit by the reality of Palin.

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