ARG is out with a bevy of national and state polls in the past few days which are interesting, to say the least. In the national numbers (note: scroll down to Sep 16th item) McCain is up 48-45, a 9 point shift since the end of August. But the internals are really interesting for Obama: McCain has gained 14 points with Democrats and Obama has lost 13 points! No wonder team Obama is worried.
This is important - the poll shows a large defection from Team Obama, and nearly all of them are going to McCain instead of stopping in the ‘undecided’ column. McCain is now getting nearly 20% of Dems! And the numbers are too large to be a sampling error problem. The size can be argued, but not the movement. And it looks to be women doing the moving:
McCain leads Obama 50% to 42% among men (47% of likely voters). Among women (53% of likely voters), Obama and McCain are tied at 47% each. In the August 30-September 1 survey, Obama was leading among women 52% to 40%.
In the states polls FL is 46-46 (which is possible I guess). OH is 50-44 McCain, which is in line with polls showing OH heading into the McCain camp. But the one state poll that caught my eye was Obama’s home state of Illinois - he is only ahead by 6 points (51-45). Another state that surprised me was NH, where McCain holds a 48-45 lead. In CO it is McCain 46-44 (which was trending much higher towards Obama after the Democrat Convention).
More states will be coming out and I still have my eyes on PA and VA - those will indicate which way the race is going. Stay tuned.
Update: From some comments I am seeing on other sites regarding this post I feel compelled to make clear what is safe and not safe to do when analyzing polls. I like polls which are separated by weeks because you get really clean samples. The old adage that a poll is a snapshot is important to keep in mind. The camera may be fuzzy and the tint a little too blue or red, but looking at snapshots across decent time intervals of the same poll will catch trends - changes. The size of the defection of Dems in the ARG poll is debatable, as are the bottom line horse race numbers. But the fact there is a clear movement of Dems from left to right is real.
Comparing across polls is really risky, which is why RCP tries to average across a large number of polls in a single time period. But even then, unless you can see the internals and judge the validity of the voter model (CBS is ridiculously tinted blue in their sample) you must add large error bars to the averages. Fundamentally the race has not changed - it is shifting into a new phase with lots of states in play. Obama is way behind Kerry and Gore at this stage in the campaign. And all year the race horse numbers have only occasionally and possibly accidentally been accurate predictions.