Monday, September 29, 2008

The latest polls look good for Obama

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Nate Silver looks at the numbers:

Here's the long and short of it for John McCain: Barack Obama has as large a lead in the election as he's held all year. But there is much less time left on the clock than there was during other Obama periods of strength, such as in February, mid-June or immediately following the Democratic convention. This is a very difficult combination of circumstances for him.

On the strength of a set of national tracking polls that each show Obama at or near his high-water mark all year, our model projects that he would win an election hold today by 4.2 points. It discounts this lead slightly to a projected margin of 3.3 points on November 4, as most races tend to tighten as we approach election day.

This lead might not sound like that much, but it's fairly significant: we've been through two conventions and one debate, voters have dug their heels in, and Obama's position in the Electoral College is extremely robust.

Let's not get too excited, though -- despite Obama pulling away somewhat during the financial "crisis" and, from what the polls are saying (if less so the pundits), winning Friday's first debate.

October has a tendency to bring a surprise or two, and any sort of national security or foreign crisis, or "crisis," could give McCain a significant boost. As well, a serious Obama blunder or otherwise some sort of distraction that energizes the sensation-hungry media -- and we know McCain is all about the "Hail Mary" distractions -- could alter the dynamic of the race just enough for McCain to close the gap.

Still, I'm certainly more optimistic now than I have been in some time.

Am I delusional, or what?

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