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The State of the Race With 9 Days to Go

By Alan Abramowitz

There have been 35 national polls released since the first presidential debate, not counting tracking polls. Bush holds an average lead of 1.5 percent in these 35 polls. There is no trend evident. In 19 polls released between October 1 and 15, Bush led by an average of 1.6 points. In 16 polls released since October 15, Bush led by an average of 1.4 points.

Here are the results in the 11 most important battleground states. These are the 11 states identified as the key battlegrounds by the N.Y. Times today.

State (EVs)October pollsMean Bush lead/deficit

Based on the average of all October polls, Kerry is currently leading in 7 states with 87 electoral votes. Bush is currently leading in 4 states with 48 electoral votes. In addition to these battleground states, The Times has Kerry favored in states with 190 electoral votes with Bush favored in states with 213 electoral votes. Adding these to the electoral votes of the battleground states in which Kerry and Bush now have the edge and you get the following: Kerry 277, Bush 261.

Obviously, neither candidate has a secure lead in the Electoral College right now--a switch of one or two states such as Ohio, Wisconsin, or Florida could change the picture considerably. But based on this analysis of recent polls in the battleground states, if either candidate has a slight edge, it's John Kerry. And that's without even factoring in the expected late movement of undecided voters to Kerry.

(Note: source for national and state poll results is website 2.004k.com.)


When looking at state polls, it's important to realize that their level of methodological sophistication is, on average, less than that of the national polls run by the major networks and well-known polling organizations. Since it's well known that unweighted polls tend to undersample lower income and young voters, the net effect of unsophisticated analysis will be to bias polls toward Bush.

Note also that the great majority of state-level polls seem to report LVs rather than RVs.

A plausible guess is that Kerry will do, on average, a point or two better than predicted by state polls as a result of this average bias. This point or two is in addition to the Kerry advantage in late-breaking undecideds, and to the probable (in my opinion) Kerry advantage due to higher Democratic turnout.

The new battleground state polls by Zogby released today have Kerry behind in Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin and New Mexico. I can only hope that they are wrong.

This is very nice news. The only thing i wondered, to be fair, is that 2.004k.com doesn't seem to include Republican pollster Strategic Vision, or am i wrong on that. I'm wondering if its filtering out the outlier partisan Republican polling. Presumably, more Democratically favored polls are included. However, i notice over at mydd.com that Chris Bowers uses Real Clear Politics Data and even in his analysis with their conservative bias, still shows Kerry ahead. All in all very exciting.