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McCain’s Momentum: A State-by-State Overview of Recent Polls

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After trailing Barack Obama in virtually every national matchup poll from mid-May through late July, John McCain is now running even with Obama or has taken the lead outright, according to several recent national surveys – including a brand new Reuters / Zogby poll that gives McCain his largest advantage in more than four months
(5 points).

But how is McCain’s national momentum playing out in the most important polls – those 50 individual states that will cast electoral votes?

To gauge McCain’s momentum at the state level, Smart Politics examined 19 states in which polling had been completed within the last two weeks by a non-partisan survey organization, provided that organization had also conducted a similar poll in the state since late June. The 19 states are Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Virginia, and Washington.

Smart Politics then compared the net difference between McCain and Obama from the most recent poll (all conducted from August 7 to August 18) to the previous survey from that same polling organization (most conducted in mid-July).

The news is not good for the Obama camp.

· Of these 19 states, 13 saw a net change between the candidates of more than two points in either direction.

· Of these 13 states, 9 saw a meaningful bump up for McCain: New York (+10), Washington (+9), Indiana (+7), Iowa (+5), Nevada (+5), Florida (+4), Michigan (+4), Colorado (+4), and North Carolina (+3).

· Only 4 states indicated momentum for Obama: Kansas (+9), Maine (+6), Ohio (+5), and Illinois (+4).

The most troubling part of this snapshot for the Obama campaign is not simply that McCain appears to have momentum in more than twice as many states as Obama, but the particular states where this momentum is taking place.

Obama’s positive movement appears in three states where the outcome was virtually certain before the campaign even began: two Obama states (Illinois and Maine) and one McCain state (Kansas). Obama’s only real uptick in a battleground state came in Ohio.

McCain’s momentum, however, is seen across several battleground states: Indiana, Iowa, Nevada, Florida, Michigan, Colorado, North Carolina, and Washington. Although Obama is still leading in the most recent Iowa, Michigan, and Washington surveys, he has lost his advantage over McCain from previous polling in Indiana, Nevada, Florida, and Colorado.

There will be little opportunity for Obama to sustain a bounce from either his forthcoming VP pick or his elevated profile at the Democratic National Convention, as McCain’s VP pick and the Republican National Convention will take place shortly thereafter. Obama will likely need to acquit himself well in the upcoming autumn debates to see a return to his pre-August standing.

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