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Three weeks after his election as president, the public’s confidence in Barack Obama remains “remarkably consistent” and “doesn’t yet appear to be have been affected, positively or negatively, by news coverage of the president-elect’s staff and Cabinet appointments, or by reports of his economic and other policy plans,” Gallup reports this morning.

The polling firm’s daily tracking poll now shows 65% of those surveyed say they’re confident in the Democratic president-elect’s ability to be a good president. The figure has stayed between 63% and 67% since Election Day. Margin of error: +/- 3 percentage points.

obama_confidence

Source: USA Today

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WASHINGTON – In the final weekend of a long race for the White House, Barack Obama promised to heal America’s political divisions while rival John McCain fought to hold on to Republican-leaning states and pledged to score an upset.

For Obama, buoyed by record campaign donations and encouraging poll numbers, it was a time for soaring rhetoric and forays into Republican territory. “We have a righteous wind at our back,” the Democrat said Saturday.

McCain saw the weekend as a final opportunity to persuade voters to prove the polls and pundits wrong and sweep him into office.

“We’re a few points down but we’re coming back,” he told supporters in Virginia.

Obama campaigned Saturday in Nevada, Colorado and Missouri, all states that voted for President Bush four years ago, while McCain struggled to keep Virginia from voting for a Democratic presidential candidate for the first time since 1964.

McCain also made a quick sidetrip to New York City and an appearance on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” where he joked about his campaign and his latest plan to win over voters.

“I thought I might try a strategy called the reverse maverick. That’s where I’d do whatever anybody tells me,” McCain said. If that failed, he quipped, “I’d go to the double maverick. I’d just go totally berserk and freak everybody out.”

Both men appealed to supporters to turn out on Election Day, saying the stakes could scarcely be higher.

“If you give me your vote on Tuesday, we won’t just win this election — together, we will change this country and change the world,” Obama said in a nationwide Democratic radio address.

Vice President Dick Cheney endorsed McCain, saying Americans “cannot afford the high tax liberalism of Barack Obama and Joe Biden.”

Obama, campaigning in Colorado, pounced on the remark, saying McCain had earned the endorsement through supporting the Bush administration’s failed social and economic policies.

“Bush and Cheney have dug a deep hole,” Obama said. “Now they’re trying to hand the shovel to McCain.”

An Associated Press-Yahoo News national poll of likely voters showed Obama ahead, 51 to 43, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. McCain’s campaign says its internal polling shows the gap closing.

From CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand

Check out CNN’s Electoral Map. (CNN) — Some tough news for John McCain in his own backyard, as his home state of Arizona moves from “safe McCain” to “lean McCain” in the latest CNN poll of polls.

And the Republican nominee continues to lose ground in reliably-red areas, as North Dakota moves from “lean McCain” to “toss-up” – meaning three electoral votes that had been counted for McCain are now considered up for grabs.

But there’s some good news for McCain down south: Louisiana has moved from “lean McCain” to “safe McCain.” And the movement on the map is far from done.

Barack Obama now leads McCain by 131 electoral votes, up from his 128-vote lead yesterday. CNN now estimates that if the presidential election were held today, Obama would win 291 electoral votes and John McCain 160. There are 87 electoral votes up for grabs. Again, 270 electoral votes are needed to win the White House.

The CNN Electoral Map is based on analysis from the CNN Political Unit and takes into account a number of factors, including polling, state voting trends, ad spending patterns, candidate visits, and guidance from the campaigns, parties, and political strategists. The list will be updated regularly as the campaign develops over time.

Source: CNN Politics

So has John McCain’s big play for Pennsylvania, where he’s hoping to poach 21 electoral votes out of the Democratic column, been paying off in the opinion polls?

The answer: Not in any way to speak of — even though McCain and Palin have have each visited the state many times in the last two weeks, and Palin is herself spending all of today there.

McCain’s own level of support has recovered somewhat from a deep hole he was in weeks ago — when the economic crisis hit, he was down by as much as 15 points — but his gains haven’t significantly weakened Barack Obama’s position. McCain has simply grabbed back some of his lost support from the undecided column, but Obama hasn’t actually lost much from what he gained during the same period.

The graph from Pollster.com illustrates the situation very clearly:

Only two polls in the last week, from Mason-Dixon and Strategic Vision (R), have put Obama below 50% support, while most others have him above that key level. For example, CNN has Obama up 55%-43%, and the local college Franklin & Marshall has him up 53%-40%.

Obama should still be expected to score a decent-sized victory here, unless the polls turn out to be drastically wrong or show a dramatic swing to McCain in the next few days.

Source: TPM

A growing number of voters have concluded that Senator John McCain’s running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, is not qualified to be vice president, weighing down the Republican ticket in the last days of the campaign, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

All told, 59 percent of voters surveyed said Ms. Palin was not prepared for the job, up nine percentage points since the beginning of the month. Nearly a third of voters polled said the vice-presidential selection would be a major factor influencing their vote for president, and those voters broadly favor Senator Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee.

And in a possible indication that the choice of Ms. Palin has hurt Mr. McCain’s image, voters said they had much more confidence in Mr. Obama to pick qualified people for his administration than they did in Mr. McCain.

After nearly two years of campaigning, a pair of hotly contested nominating battles, a series of debates and an avalanche of advertisements, the nationwide poll found the contours of the race hardening in the last days before the election on Tuesday. Twelve percent of the voters surveyed said they had already voted. These were among the findings:

¶Mr. Obama is maintaining his lead, with 51 percent of likely voters supporting him and 40 percent supporting Mr. McCain in a head-to-head matchup.

¶Some perceptions of race are changing, with a marked increase in the number of people who say they believe that white and black people have an equal chance of getting ahead in America today.

¶Mr. McCain’s focus on taxes, including his talk about Joe the Plumber, seems to be having some effect, as a growing number of voters now say Mr. McCain would not raise their taxes.

¶Eighty-nine percent of people view the economy negatively, and 85 percent think the country is on the wrong track.

¶Mr. Obama continues to have a significant advantage on key issues like the economy, health care and the war in Iraq.

The survey found that opinions of Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain had hardened considerably, as 9 out of 10 voters who said they had settled on a candidate said their minds were made up, and a growing number of them called it “extremely important” that their candidate win the election. Roughly half of each candidate’s supporters said they were “scared” of what the other candidate would do if elected. Just 4 percent of voters were undecided, and when they were pressed to say whom they leaned toward, the shape of the race remained essentially the same.

Bolstered by the fiscal crisis and deep concerns about the direction of the country, Mr. Obama has seemed to solidify the support he has gained in recent months. When likely voters were asked whom they would vote for in an expanded field that included several third-party candidates, Mr. Obama got the support of 52 percent of them, Mr. McCain 39 percent, Bob Barr 1 percent, and Ralph Nader 2 percent.

The nationwide telephone poll was conducted Saturday through Wednesday with 1,439 adults nationwide, including 1,308 registered voters. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

The poll was conducted as a wide range of state polls have shown Mr. Obama, of Illinois, ahead or tied in several crucial contested states, including some traditionally Republican states that Mr. McCain, of Arizona, must carry to win the election.

The survey suggested that Mr. Obama’s candidacy — if elected, he would be the first black president — has changed some perceptions of race in America. Nearly two-thirds of those polled said whites and blacks have an equal chance of getting ahead in today’s society, up from the half who said they thought so in July. And while 14 percent still said most people they knew would not vote for a black presidential candidate, the number has dropped considerably since the campaign began.

Mr. McCain’s heavy focus on taxes in the final weeks of the campaign seems to be having some effect, the poll found. Forty-seven percent of voters said Mr. McCain would not raise taxes on people like them, up from just 38 percent who said so two weeks ago. (And 50 percent said they thought Mr. Obama would raise taxes on people like them, while 44 percent said he would not; both numbers are similar to two weeks ago.)

With just days until Americans choose a new president, the survey found them deeply uneasy about the state of their country. Eight-five percent of respondents said the country was pretty seriously off on the wrong track, near the record high recorded earlier this month. A majority said the United States should have stayed out of Iraq. And President Bush’s approval rating remains at 22 percent, tied for the lowest presidential approval rating on record (which was President Harry S. Truman’s rating, recorded by the Gallup Poll in 1952).

Mr. McCain’s renewed efforts to cast himself as the candidate of change have apparently faltered. Sixty-four percent of voters polled said Mr. Obama would bring about real change if elected, while only 39 percent said Mr. McCain would. And despite Mr. McCain’s increased efforts to distance himself from President Bush, a majority still said he would generally continue Mr. Bush’s policies.

Dixie Cromwell, a 36-year-old cosmetologist from Shelby, N.C., who is a Republican, said in a follow-up interview that she had already voted for Mr. Obama.

“I generally vote Republican, but this year I voted Democrat,” she said. “I just don’t feel we can go through any more of the same old thing that we’ve been going through with the Republican Party.”

Mr. Obama’s policies were seen as much more likely to improve the economy, provide health insurance to more people, and scale back military involvement in Iraq than Mr. McCain’s were. But Mr. McCain enjoyed an advantage when it came to questions about which candidate would make a better commander in chief: 47 percent of voters said Mr. McCain was very likely to be an effective commander in chief, compared with 33 percent who said Mr. Obama would be.

While a majority viewed Ms. Palin as unqualified for the vice presidency, roughly three-quarters of voters saw Mr. Obama’s running mate, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, as qualified for the job. The increase in the number of voters who said Ms. Palin was not prepared was driven almost entirely by Republicans and independents.

Over all, views of Ms. Palin were apparently shaped more by ideology and party than by gender. Ms. Palin was viewed as unprepared for the job by about 6 in 10 men and women alike. But 8 in 10 Democrats viewed her as unprepared, as well as more than 6 in 10 independents and 3 in 10 Republicans.

Here’s our daily composite of the six major national tracking polls. The recent tightening in the race appears to have stopped for today, with Obama’s lead expanding slightly:

    • Gallup: Obama 51%, McCain 44%, with a ±2% margin of error, unchanged from yesterday.

    • Rasmussen: Obama 51%, McCain 46%, with a ±2% margin of error, compared to a 50%-47% Obama lead from yesterday.

    • ABC/Washington Post: Obama 52%, McCain 44%, with a ±2.5% margin of error, unchanged from yesterday.

    • Hotline/Diageo: Obama 48%, McCain 42%, with a ±3.3% margin of error, compared to a 49%-42% Obama lead from yesterday.

    • Research 2000: Obama 50%, McCain 45%, with a ±3% margin of error, compared to a 50%-44% Obama lead yesterday.

    • Zogby: Obama 50%, McCain 43%, with a ±2.9% margin of error, compared to a 49%-44% Obama lead from yesterday.

Adding these polls together and weighting them by the square roots of their sample sizes, Obama is ahead 50.5%-44.2%, a lead of 6.3 points, compared to the 50.2%-44.4% Obama lead from yesterday.

Your Daily Politics Video Blog: Most of the attention is on the presidential race. But there’s also that question of whether the Democrats are going to put together that 60 vote majority in the senate. In today’s episode we look at the 12 top senate races that will determine whether the Democrats will go into 2009 with that filibuster-proof majority.

Oh boy!!

Nothing would make McCain happier than to see the KGB return in Russia – he might be happy to know that some Russian from the Old Guard still see America – as he sees Russia – as Cold War enemy – the perfect storm for another – Cold War – or the going back in time.

A new Pew Research poll shows Sen. Barack Obama holds his widest national margin yet over Sen. John McCain, 53% to 39%, among likely voters.

Key findings: “Obama’s gains notwithstanding, a widespread loss of confidence in McCain appears to be the most significant factor in the race at this point. Many more voters express doubts about McCain’s judgment than about Obama’s: 41% see McCain as ‘having poor judgment,’ while just 29% say that this trait describes Obama. Fewer voters also view McCain as inspiring than did so in mid-September (37% now, 43% then). By contrast, 71% of voters continue to think of Obama as inspiring.”

“In addition, Sarah Palin appears to be a continuing – if not an increasing – drag on the GOP ticket. Currently, 49% of voters express an unfavorable opinion of Palin, while 44% have a favorable view.”

Pew interviewed 2,599 registered voters on both landline phones and cell phones.

Source: Political Wire

A new Politico/Insider Advantage survey finds he leads in four key counties, an advantage that could determine the winner of four vital swing states.

A new Politico/Insider Advantage survey finds he leads in four key counties, an advantage that could determine the winner of four vital swing states.

Sen. Barack Obama holds leads in four key counties that will go a long way toward determining the eventual winner in four important swing states—Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia—according to a new Politico/Insider Advantage survey.

Obama is poised to expand on recent Democratic gains in three populous suburban counties—Pennsylvania’s Bucks County, Missouri’s St. Louis County and Virginia’s Prince William County. In a fourth, Ohio’s Franklin County, home to Columbus and its suburbs, the Politico/Insider Advantage survey also found Obama with the lead.

Read more here

Source: Politico

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — His backers feeling increasingly confident, Democrat Barack Obama made a slight nod to his Republican rival on Saturday and asked voters to have faith in him as the next president.

Even as he criticized John McCain’s economic policies, Obama acknowledged that the GOP nominee has asked his supporters to temper their attacks on him.

“I appreciated his reminder that we can disagree while still being respectful of each other,” Obama told thousands of supporters at the first of four outdoor rallies in Philadelphia.

“Sen. McCain has served this country with honor,” he said two hours later, in the city’s Germantown neighborhood. “He deserves our thanks for that.”

“I appreciated his reminder that we can disagree while still being respectful of each other,” Obama told thousands of supporters

At a town-hall event Friday in Minnesota, McCain took the microphone from a woman who said Obama is an Arab. McCain said, “No, ma’am,” and he called Obama “a decent, family man.”

McCain drew boos at the same event when he told a supporter who expressed fear at the prospect of Obama’s election that the Democrat is a “person that you do not have to be scared of as president of the United States.”

Those reassurances aside, McCain’s TV ads continue to attack Obama sharply. Some hit his ties to a former radical who co-founded a violent anti-war group in the 1960s. Yet on Saturday at an event in Iowa, McCain didn’t mention the past association and focused on their policy disagreements.

Obama referred to the ads Saturday. “We’ve seen rough stuff on the TV from them,” he said. “I can take it for four more weeks,” but the nation cannot take “four more years of Bush-McCain economics.”

“I will be a president who puts you first,” he said, asking voters not to lose hope in the economy before President Bush can be replaced.

Polls show Obama leading in several battleground states, and some of his top surrogates feel victory is nearly in reach.

“The one thing we can’t let happen is for us to be overconfident,” Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell told donors at a Friday fundraiser, where he introduced Obama.
 

McCain drew boos when he told a supporter who expressed fear at the prospect of Obama’s election that the Democrat is a “person that you do not have to be scared of as president of the United States.”

 
Although Obama says anything can happen in the campaign’s final 24 days, hints of his optimism are creeping into his unscripted remarks.

“In some ways this is a celebratory event” as “we’re now coming to the end of what has been a two-year process, an extraordinary journey,” Obama said at a second Philadelphia fundraiser Friday night. The host, Comcast executive David L. Cohen, said the two events raised more than $5 million.

As 250 major donors ate beet salad and mahi-mahi under a huge tent, Obama seemed to look ahead to his first term as president.

“We’re going to have to make some priorities, we’re going to have to cut some things out,” he said, referring to expensive goals such as improving health care, schools and college affordability.

“I’m going to be in some fights with my own Democratic Party in getting some of that done,” he said.

Defying tradition in GOP-leaning states, he said, he is leading McCain in Montana and North Carolina. His lead in Virginia, which Democrats last carried in 1964, is 6 or 7 percentage points, he told the donors.

Obama added, however: “Who knows what can happen in the next 25 days?”

Democrats have carried Pennsylvania in recent presidential elections, although sometimes narrowly. McCain has campaigned aggressively in the state, but polls show Obama leading.

Under a brilliant blue sky, Obama’s four events here drew 60,000 people according to Philadelphia police

Democrats usually win huge margins in Philadelphia and try to minimize their losses in the state’s smaller cities and more rural areas. Obama’s barnstorming of Philadelphia was designed to drive his base’s vote as high as possible.

Under a brilliant blue sky, Obama’s four events here drew 60,000 people according to Philadelphia police, but it was impossible to verify the estimates. At some sites, thousands of people were unable to get through the gates. They stood on cars and craned their necks for a glimpse, sometimes blocks away. Crowds cheered Obama’s motorcade as it arrived and left each site.

Obama read the same speech each time, but he ad-libbed a bit and seemed increasingly buoyant as the day progressed. Telling his favorite new story about buying pie from a Republican-leaning Ohio diner owner, he joked with a woman who called out from the Germantown crowd.

“You will make me some pie?” he asked. “What kind of pie do you make? Sweet potato pie?”

As the crowd roared, he poured it on. “We’re going to have to have a sweet potato pie contest,” he said. “I’ll be the judge, because I want my sweet potato pie.”

Source: AP

Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. was joined at an appearance on Sunday in Scranton, Pa., by Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. was joined at an appearance on Sunday in Scranton, Pa., by Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

SCRANTON, Pa. — The Democratic vice-presidential nominee, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., sharing a stage with Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton for the first time this year, said the campaign of Senator John McCain was stooping to stunts and “ugly inferences” because it was losing and was out of ideas.

Rousing a crowd estimated by the police at 6,000 on an otherwise quiet day on the campaign trail, Mr. Biden said Mr. McCain’s campaign had become erratic, a reference to Mr. McCain’s changing positions on the financial crisis and his decision two weeks ago to suspend his campaign briefly to deal with it.

“Presidents have to supply steady leadership,” Mr. Biden told the friendly crowd in this northeastern Pennsylvania city where he spent the first 10 years of his life. He said Mr. McCain had become increasingly desperate and negative because he saw the presidency “slipping from his grasp.”

A spokesman for the Republican National Committee dismissed Mr. Biden’s remarks as “standard stuff” from the Democratic ticket. He declined to comment further.

The Scranton event drew a larger-than-usual crowd for Mr. Biden because of the presence of the Clintons. Mr. Clinton remains popular in this heavily Democratic, blue-collar city, and Mrs. Clinton’s father grew up and is buried here. The Clintons were in Scranton on Sunday to attend the christening of her brother Tony’s newborn son, Simon Joseph Rodham.

“We’ve done it before, and we’ll do it again. America will once again rise from the ashes of the Bushes.” Hillary Clinton

In the Democratic primary in April, Mrs. Clinton trounced Senator Barack Obama 74 to 26 percent in Lackawanna County, which includes Scranton. Mr. Obama has deployed Mr. Biden here and in other white working-class enclaves to try to win those voters who preferred Mrs. Clinton by such huge margins.

Mr. Clinton, in brief remarks at the beginning of the program, spoke as much about his wife as about the Obama-Biden ticket. People close to Mr. Clinton say he remains bitter about suggestions by Mr. Obama’s supporters that he incited racial animosity during the primaries in support of his wife’s candidacy.

Mr. Obama has been sparing in his use of the former president as a campaign surrogate, although Mr. Clinton left Scranton immediately after speaking to campaign for Mr. Obama in Virginia, a state, Mr. Clinton noted, that had not gone Democratic in a presidential contest for 40 years.

Mr. Clinton said Mrs. Clinton had already made 50 appearances on behalf of Mr. Obama. “She has not only done more to support him than any runner-up in the Democratic primary process in my lifetime,” he said, “she has done more than all the other runners-up combined.”

He spoke warmly of Mr. Biden, whom he has known for more than two decades. He said the choice of vice president was more crucial this year than in the past because the next president would be consumed by the global financial emergency.

“I hope you know that the next vice president for the first two years will be relatively more important in the larger world than has ever been the case because the president is going to have to close the door to the Oval Office and get this country out of the ditch,” Mr. Clinton said.

But he did say that in their televised debate 10 days ago Ms. Palin said she was not certain that global warming was caused by human activity.

“How in the hell — heck — are you going to change it,” Mr. Biden said, “unless you know what caused it?”

In her remarks, Mrs. Clinton offered an updated version of an applause line from her own campaign, saying: “It took a Democratic president to clean up after the last President Bush. It’s going to take a Democratic president to clean up after this President Bush.” (In the primaries, it was “It took a Clinton …”)

She then added a new coda: “We’ve done it before, and we’ll do it again. America will once again rise from the ashes of the Bushes.”

Mr. Biden barely mentioned his Republican vice-presidential rival, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska. But he did say that in their televised debate 10 days ago Ms. Palin said she was not certain that global warming was caused by human activity.

“How in the hell — heck — are you going to change it,” Mr. Biden said, “unless you know what caused it?”

The Democratic ticket is leading in Pennsylvania, according to recent polls, although the McCain campaign is devoting a significant effort to trying to narrow the gap.

Source: NYT

PRINCETON, NJ — The latest Gallup Poll Daily tracking report shows Barack Obama with a 52% to 41% lead over John McCain.

These results, based on Oct. 5-7 polling, are the best for Obama during the campaign, both in terms of his share of the vote and the size of his lead over McCain. (To view the complete trend since March 7, 2008, click here.)

Nearly all interviews in today’s report were conducted before Tuesday night’s town hall style debate in Nashville. Any movement in voter preferences as a result of this debate will be apparent in coming days.

Voter preferences seem to have stabilized for the moment, as Obama has held a double-digit lead over McCain in each of the last three individual nights of polling.

Concern about the economy seems to be playing to Obama’s advantage; he overtook McCain when the financial crisis worsened in the middle of September, and his strong showing today coincides with the worst rating of the economy this year (59% of Americans describe current economic conditions as “poor”). — Jeff Jones


(Click here to see how the race currently breaks down by demographic subgroup.)

Survey Methods

For the Gallup Poll Daily tracking survey, Gallup is interviewing no fewer than 1,000 U.S. adults nationwide each day during 2008.

The general-election results are based on combined data from Oct. 5-7, 2008. For results based on this sample of 2,747 registered voters, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±2 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones (for respondents with a landline telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell phone only).

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

Source: Gallup

At the vice presidential debate in St. Louis, the McCain campaign rented out a stadium to re-energize the conservative base in light of Sarah Palin’s recent gaffes. Despite the revival feel, zeal for Palin isn’t translating in the polls. While some would argue Palin exceeded expectations, unregistered voters seem unimpressed.

Source: ANP

PRINCETON, NJ — Barack Obama leads John McCain, 49% to 44%, when registered voters are asked who they would vote for if the election were held today, according to the latest Gallup Poll Daily tracking update.

These results, from Sept. 24-26, are almost entirely based on interviewing conducted before Friday night’s first presidential debate. This suggests Obama was moving into a slightly better positioning as the two met in Mississippi to debate foreign policy matters and the economic crisis. The five percentage point lead for Obama in today’s update is one of his best in recent weeks, just short of the six-point advantage he had in Sept. 17-19 polling. McCain had been running ahead of Obama since the Republican National Convention earlier this month, but as the financial crisis deepened Obama regained the lead positioning he had enjoyed through much of the summer. (To view the complete trend since March 7, 2008, click here.)

The initial impact of the debate — and perhaps more importantly, the political spin in the days after — on voter preferences will be apparent in the next few days of Gallup Poll Daily tracking, with Tuesday’s report the first for which all interviews will be conducted after the debate. — Jeff Jones

Source: Gallup Daily

Several people commented the John McCain never glanced over once to look at Obama – McCain’s debating style indicates that he is depending of some sort of old guard force – to be there to automatically back him up – which will be there to assist him in getting others to see why Barack Obama should not be standing next to him in this debate.

What he fails to comprehend and perhaps is most afraid of is that Obama represents – the new guard – what we saw in the turn out of 200,000 people in Germany – what we saw on the last day of the Democratic Convention and with his acceptance speech – that Barack Obama is leading the charge as the new guard – with a new vision – that this can’t be put down with a few sarcastic old guard remarks and condescending phrases. Either way the new reality is Obama’s – like it was also Gore’s and Kerry’s – as it’s time move away from the old way and in a whole new direction.