Dozens of polls are now released each day on the presidential race, with the media focus largely being on whether or not John McCain is making any gains in the battleground states he needs to hold (namely, holding Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, and Virginia) and/or pick up (Pennsylvania). Campaigns on both sides can point to polls that indicate whether McCain is in dire straits or is still competitive in most of those states (Pennsylvania so far being the exception).
But there is another group of polls that have been released in recent days that tell just as interesting a tale as these traditional battleground states: red states that show Barack Obama to be extremely competitive. The bad news for McCain is that even though he will likely win these states, the fact they could very well be decided by single digits means many of the battleground states probably will not. Some recent eyebrow-raising surveys include (all polls of likely voters):
Georgia: Obama 48%, McCain 47% (Insider Advantage, October 23)
Montana: Obama 44%, McCain 40%, Paul 4% (Montana State University, October 16-20)
South Dakota: McCain 48%, Obama 41% (KELO-TV, October 13-15)
These surveys, when taken together with polls of contests further down the ballot, reflect not so much a collapse of John McCainâ€™s candidacy, but that of the Republican brand. Several U.S. House races are also showing Democrats in position to strongly content for seats in deep red districts:
Idaho-01: Minnick (D) 51%, Sali (R) 45% (SurveyUSA, October 18-20)
Wyoming At-large: Lummis (R) 50%, Trauner (D) 46%, Herbert (L) 4% (SurveyUSA, October 18-19)
Alaska At-large: Berkowitz (D) 51%, Young (R) 43% (Ivan Moore, October 17-19)
Beyond the â€˜usual suspectsâ€™ U.S. Senate seats the Democrats are poised to pick up (e.g. New Mexico, Colorado, Virginia, New Hampshire) some other Senate contests with now seemingly vulernable Republican incumbents have inspired genuine concern among the GOP faithful that the Democrats could reach 60 seats (e.g. Mitch McConnell-KY, Saxby Chambliss-GA, Elizabeth Dole-NC).
It is quite likely that when the early returns tell us the margin of victory in states like North Carolina, Georgia, and Kentucky, we will know the extent of the Democratâ€™s (and Obamaâ€™s) success nationwide a week from Tuesday.